Robert Reich has advice to Democrats on How To Stop Trump. We ignore it at our electoral peril.
It’s the economy, stupid.
Why did working class voters choose a selfish, thin-skinned, petulant, lying, narcissistic, boastful, megalomaniac for president?
With the 2018 midterms around the corner, and prospective Democratic candidates already eyeing the 2020 race, the answer is important because it will influence how Democrats campaign.
Reich proposes two somewhat competing explanations. One is “economic hardship. The working class fell for Trump’s economic populism.” The other is “whites’ fear of losing status to blacks and immigrants. They were attracted to Trump’s form of identity politics – bigotry.” As usual in such explanatory cases, the real answer is “both.”
Certainly many white working class men and women were – and still are – receptive to Trump’s bigotry.
But what made them receptive? Racism and xenophobia aren’t exactly new to American life. Fears of blacks and immigrants have been with us since the founding of the Republic.
What changed was the economy. Since the 1980s the wages and economic prospects of the typical American worker have stagnated. Two-thirds now live paycheck to paycheck, and those paychecks have grown less secure.
Good-paying jobs have disappeared from vast stretches of the land. Despite the official low unemployment rate, millions continue to work part-time who want steady jobs or they’re too discouraged to look for work.
If America doesn’t respond to the calamity that’s befallen the working class, we’ll have Trumps as far as the eye can see.
A few Democrats are getting the message – pushing ambitious ideas like government-guaranteed full employment, single-payer health care, industry-wide collective bargaining, and a universal basic income.
But none has yet offered a way to finance these things, such as a progressive tax on wealth.
Nor have they offered a credible way to get big money out of politics. Even if “Citizens United” isn’t overruled, big money’s influence could be limited with generous public financing of elections, full disclosure of the source of all campaign contributions, and a clampdown on the revolving door between business and government.
Trump isn’t the cause of what’s happened to America. He’s the consequence – the product of years of stagnant wages and big money’s corruption of our democracy.
If they really want to stop Trump and prevent future Trumps, Democrats will need to address these causes of Trump’s rise.
But we cannot afford to sit back and count on the “blue wave.” Here’s why, according to John Cassidy at the New Yorker in A Warning Against Democratic Complacency from This Week’s Primaries and Opinion Polls.
On the polling front, a new survey from CNN indicated that the Democrats’ lead in the generic congressional vote is now just three percentage points. A second survey, from Reuters/Ipsos, put the Democrats’ lead at just one point.
To be sure, these findings should be interpreted skeptically. A third survey, from The Economist/YouGov, put the Democrats’ lead at nine points, which represented an increase of six points compared to the previous survey from that pollster. Poll averages, which aggregate the results from all the recent polls, are generally more reliable. The Real Clear Politics poll average puts the Democratic lead at 6.1 percentage points; 538’s version puts it at 6.2 percentage points. Still, these figures represent a significant change from the start of the year, when the Republicans were trailing by double digits in many polls.
We’re ahead, yes, but the polls at least show a lessening of the Resist momentum.
Another thing to note (and watch) is the GOP messaging previewed by Trump in an Indiana rally this past week.
[Cassidy notes] how the Republicans will use Trump to target states and districts that he carried in 2016. In a speech that the Washington Post described as “remarkably on message—for him,” the President warned the crowd that, if [Dem. Senator Joe] Donnelly won, he and the Democrats would “raise your taxes,” “destroy your jobs,” and “knock the hell out of your border.”
All that is gut-level economic messaging.
[Cassidy concludes that] the message of this week is that the G.O.P. intends to put up a fight. For the blue wave to materialize, particularly in the Senate, the anti-Trump mobilization will need to be sustained and well-directed at all levels of the Party. Members of the Resistance, take note.