By Stephen P. Pizzo
So it dawned on today that we liberals/progressives have our eye on the wrong ball. We wake up each morning believing that, as terrifying as Donald Trump is, life will someday soon return to "normal." You know, like it was under President Obama, or for that matter, most of us would even settle now for George W. Bush "normal."
And so we work through each day, each week, each month of the Trump presidency buoyed by that belief, that Trump and Trumpism will face inevitable defeat, and America will return to the shining light of freedom and good governance.
Wrong. Dead wrong.
We see the polls but dismiss them. Trump remains the favorite of roughly 40% of Americans polled. Among Republican voters, he pulls as high as 90%. Expert election pollsters last week gave him a 50/50 chance of being re-elected.
Yet we resist digging deeper into those numbers, but rather dismiss them. "They'll change once these people see how Trump screws things up, or when manufacturing jobs don't return to rustbelt states, or when they see their tax refunds dwindle to a few cents if that."
No, they won't. They really won't desert Trump or those politicians who follow his authoritarian, anti-democratic path. They will remain committed to their current world and domestic views long after Trump is gone. We are not talking two more years or six more years, but decades...possibly permanently.
We like to complain that our national politics is in crisis, but without clearly understanding that this crisis has very long legs and an even longer tail. It goes back to the Reagan era, and it will extend itself well into our grandchildren's adult lives, maybe beyond.
Because the factors that fuel Trump supporters is not short term. In fact, the factors driving right-wing dissatisfactions will only increase in the months and years ahead. Those who lost their jobs to off-shoring or technology will see no relief. The promise of providing them "retraining" for new jobs is a mirage. The vast majority of displaced workers will not be retrained. The tech world needs only so many "coders." Besides basic coding will soon be mostly done by computers as well. Advanced coding requires more training than any retraining efforts can provide. Also, let's be frank, most displaced factory workers aren't retrainable to that level.
Any factories that do return to American soil will only do so if they can automate those factories. Many factories that once employed hundreds, can today reduce workers to a few dozen workers trained in automated production lines.
Many, if not most, Trump voters have serious problems with America's rapidly changing demographics. White folks are headed straight to minority status for the first time in our nation's history. After 250 years of lauding massive white, European immigration as the basis for America's strength, (Pluribus Unum, and all that) that 40% maybe more, now see immigration as a clear and present threat.
While they like to frame themselves as defenders of immigration laws, they are, in fact, racially motivated. Were we facing another white European influx, you can bet they'd be just fine with their new immigrant neighbors.
But wars, revolutions, sectarian violence, and climate change will not be forcing white folks in the world to run for their lives. Instead, it will be Africans, Middle Easterners, Mexicans, South Americans, Asians. So, rather than mellowing out, this increased immigration pressures will stoke more rightwing resentment and violence. For Trump supporters, this reality really does feel like a "national emergency." So what we can really expect in the years ahead is more, not less, immigrant-fueled anger form this enormous white demographic.
Trump voters are very much like similar Russian voters; they prefer a strong authoritarian leader to a democratic-minded leader. They don't like politicians who prefer compromise, but politicians who are dead-certain, seldom right, but never in doubt.
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