Oops. I’m a dumbass. And so’s the Democratic Party.
We both forgot the immortal wisdom of J.Lo – to be “Jenny from the block.”
For my entire adult life, I’ve stated that I’m a Democrat because I believe the powerful will always take advantage of the people.
Traditionally, the Democrats represented the people, the Republicans the powerful.
As I’ve reflected on the election (for every waking moment since Tuesday at 11pm), I’ve gone through familiar stages of political maturation:
- How could so many people be so hateful and stupid?
- Maybe this will be good cuz the Dems will come roaring back in 4 yrs
- Maybe, just maybe, this will be OK cuz Trump has been pretending to be a dipshit.
- Oops, nope. He’s recruiting the most insider-y of insiders to form his administration.
- Wait, why did so many people switch from Obama to Trump?
- The economy’s really strong, right?
- Oh, wait a minute. Economy’s strong, people are unhappy. What’s up?
And then I remembered: it’s the economy, stupid. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs.
Economic indicators indicate that manufacturing is at an all-time high in the US. But it’s driven by robots, not workers.
Also, unemployment is at record lows. But people are working minimum wage jobs.
So where’s quality of life?
That’s what Hillary and the Dems failed to target.
And that’s why Trump won – because through his blustery bloviating, he inspired people to dream of quality-of-life under his administration.
As I was raking four million pounds of leaves, this weekend, (per Garrison Keillor’s prediction that Dems will get a lot of housework done, this week) I thought:
If the under-employed middle-class wonders why their lives aren’t as prosperous as the Kardashians and they listen to Mika Brzezinski looking fabulous while insulting Trump supporters with her big city ways and they’re made to think “you don’t get me at all” and Trump comes in and says “brown people are taking your jobs” and you work 2 jobs and still can only afford generic food at Super WalMart then YES you are going to be pissed that Clinton DIDN’T EVEN VISIT THE STATE OF WISCONSIN IN THE GENERAL ELECTION AND YOU’RE OBVIOUSLY GOING TO GALVANIZED BY SOMEONE WHO PROMISES TO RAISE YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE (even if Trump doesn’t know shit about creating jobs…only stiffing his own employees and contractors and making empty promises about magically reviving a dead coal plant.)
Pardon that run-on sentence. I’m a coastal elitist. I should know better.
I’ve come to realize this election was about “Love Trumps Hate” only for the Democrats.
For the critical sliver of Trump voters (who were expected to vote for Hillary), it was about quality of life. (I’m not talking about blatant bigots or country club Repubs who unpatriotically don’t want to pay taxes. Calm down.)
We have a really cheap, good quality of life, compared to the rest of the world. Goods are cheap, gas is cheap, food is really, really cheap.But this is a result of our unquenchable desire for cheap clothes from Bangladesh, cheap electronics from China, and harvesting cheap food on the backs of migrant workers.
We coastal elitists scream about civil rights and Roe v. Wade (with due reason, of course). But we forgot about the other branch of the Democratic base philosophy: quality of life.
I like to think I have a pretty good grasp of world economics. I know that globalization has brought countries together, binding them inextricably through consumerism, lowering prices and de-incentivizing war. It’s all resulted in factory mobility and lowering of prices…thanks to lowered wages.
And those jobs aren’t coming back to the US unless we commit to buying things made in America and corporate bosses take bonuses in the low millions, not the high millions.
And that costs more.
Because we like our cheap shit.
And we come back to the people vs. the powerful.
It’s a long-term view. The powerful want satisfaction NOW. They don’t want to think about the future (environment), they don’t want to be responsible NOW (regulation) and they don’t want to share their wealth (taxes).
The Democrats are long-term. They see consequences of environmental degradation, of worker exploitation, and of the need to lift everyone up.
And this is where Bernie was right and Hillary was wrong. Bernie spoke to workers and the down-trodden and the Democratic base.
Hillary, for all her experience and magnificent qualities, is part of the Clinton corporation that sold the Democratic base down the river in 1992 in the interest of triangulation. Bill Clinton helped the Democrats become the part of big money…and globalization…and lowering prices…and sending manufacturing to Mexico and China…and feeding our desire for cheap plastic products.
And THAT left the working class behind and drove them into the arms of Donald Trump, someone who inexplicably spoke the language of workers’ frustration.
The Democratic Party forgot one of its main pillars: workers. Yes: abortion rights, civil rights, the environment, gay rights, healthcare are integral to our progress and peace.
So I get it, now…how the don won.
Because we got dazzled by the rocks that we got.
We forgot to be Jenny from the Block.
* On another note, my last posting was about moving past our anger and trying our best to get our voices to the President-elect with a mini-movement labeled #HearMeTrump. Snap a selfie about what’s important and tweet it to the tweeter, Trump.