Saturday, December 19, 2020

My 2015 post on why Trump was a sign of a healthy democracy

I'm on the way to writing about what I think should be Biden's #2 priority (#1 is undoing Trump's executive orders). Three previous in this series include: 

  1. How I think about the Trump voter (and America)
  2. What is middle class and why can't half of American voters get there?
  3. Biden's lost agenda
This fourth post is about something I wrote in 2015. Back then I thought Trump was a bad joke. I thought that American politics was a compromise between corporations, powerful (wealthy) individuals, and the voting masses. Clearly corporations and the wealthy would prefer many GOP candidates over Trump, and the masses alone would not be enough.

Yay masses.

Now, amidst the smoldering wreckage, I'm going to quote from that old misguided post (emphases added): 

Donald Trump is a sign of a healthy democracy. Really.

... I’m a fan because Trump appears to be channeling the most important cohort in the modern world — people who are not going to complete the advanced academic track we call college. Canada has the world’s highest “college” graduation rate at 55.8%, but that number is heavily biased by programs that can resemble the senior year of American High School (in Quebec, CEGEP, like mine). If we adjust for that bias, and recognizing that nobody does better than Canada, it’s plausible, even likely, that no more than half of the population of the industrialized world is going to complete the minimum requirements for the “knowledge work” and “creative work” that dominates the modern economy.

... This [never-college] cohort, about 40% of the human race, has experienced at least 40 years of declining income and shrinking employment opportunities. We no longer employ millions of clerks to file papers, or harvest crops, or dig ditches, or fill gas tanks or even assemble cars. That work has gone, some to other countries but most to automation. Those jobs aren’t coming back.

The future for about half of all Americans, and all humans, looks grim. When Trump talks to his white audience about immigrants taking jobs and betrayal by the elite he is starting a conversation we need to have. 

It doesn’t matter that Trump is a buffoon, or that restricting immigration won’t make any difference. It matters that the conversation is starting. After all, how far do you think anyone would get telling 40% of America that there is no place for them in current order because they’re not “smart” enough?

Yeah, not very far at all.

This is how democracy deals with hard conversations. It begins with yelling and ranting and blowhards. Eventually the conversation mutates. Painful thoughts become less painful. Facts are slowly accepted. Solutions begin to emerge.

Donald Trump is good for democracy, good for America, and good for the world.
"Good for democracy" except, of course, the white non-college masses spoke clearly back in 2016. An actual "President Trump" was unthinkable, but it happened. I do not underestimate him now.

So that part of the post did not hold up so well. But I stand by the part about making the never-college 40-50% of Americans a political focus. More on that when I write the fifth post in this series.

See also

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