Why Is Trump Doing Well? It’s the Economy, Stupid, and That Makes Him Very Dangerous

Why Is Trump Doing Well? It’s the Economy, Stupid, and That Makes Him Very Dangerous

As someone who lives in New York City, and mainly runs in leftist circles, I see question after question on social media asking why it’s even remotely possible that Donald Trump is doing well in the 2016 Presidential election.

It’s not hard to see where this consternation comes from. By his own account, Trump:

  • Says terribly racist things.
  • Has no concrete plans about the policies he wants to implement.
  • Uses bullying tactics against his opponents.
  • Flip-flops minute to minute on his positions.
  • Shouts fascist propaganda on the stump.

He’s a horrifying mess, and no one seems to understand how he could appeal to any normal person.

Well that’s where you need to stop. He’s not making his case to normal people. He’s making it to desperate people, particularly ones that are white. And let me emphasize desperate, and not stupid.

Desperate? Really?

While the economy is certainly on the rebound since the Great Recession, there are a lot of lingering effects from the collapse. The two biggest ones (and the ones you’ve heard most often about) are stagnant wages, and the ever-increasing wealth gap.

Typically when the economy comes up, the left always brings up a variation of this argument: “Income inequality! Well then, people who are struggling should vote for a liberal who wants to level the playing field, and not some whacko billionaire.”

That’s all well and good, but get out of your own shoes for a minute and think about the harsher realities out there. For a white person who has a marginal education, skills that are becoming less and less relevant to the modern economy, and is being crushed by unending inflation, the last eight years under a liberal president have not been good. They’ve been pretty awful. Would that person really have any solid reason to continue supporting the policies of President Obama? No. They would want something different.

“But,” you say, “The policies of neo-cons completely wrecked the country! Why go back to THAT?”

Because face it, even the best of us have very little practical knowledge of public policy. Even those of us who claim to be educated on the issues wouldn’t, for example, be able to tell the difference between a Keynesian economic strategy and a Hayekian one, despite the great importance. Even you, dear lefty, are more concerned with your own day-to-day survival than the policy that effects the world at large. It’s human nature, which is why we even HAVE governments in the first place: to handle all the big societal things we don’t have (or want) the capacity to think about.

But Trump and the other candidates are so icky!

Of course they are. And dangerous, too. The people running for president on the Republican side are willfully against reasonable policy, and are generally just pandering to an electorate that feels frightened and hopeless. It’s a naked power grab, and here’s why it works:

Consider this: You live in a place where recession never really left, are a Christian (even if in name only), and white. You work a fairly inconsequential, low paying job, and getting a higher paying one is incredibly difficult. And a raise at your current job? Next to impossible. Oh, and get this, you have a president who’s NOT white, and is always talking about finding opportunities for minorities, while you get a sense that you’ve been completely forgotten.

What would that make you feel?

Anger. Pure, unadulterated anger.

Sound familiar?

If you’ve heard doomsayers compare our current situation to the one that brought Nazis to power in the 1920s and 30s, they’re onto something. Who do you think Hitler was trying to appeal to? Armchair leftists types, sharing cat pictures and pro-feminist clips on Facebook? No, he was going after the angry people. The ones who were struggling to survive. The people who didn’t understand politics or policy, because politics and polices don’t put food on the table or pay the mortgage.

So when Trump says how much he loves “poorly educated people,” he means it. A riled, uniformed electorate can be a powerful pawn when you want to become the leader of a shaky nation.

I mean, just look at the strategies all of the Republican candidates are using right now:

  • Racism.
  • Protectionism.
  • Fear.
  • Reversing everything Obama has done.
  • Clinging harder to Christianity.
  • Doubling down on gun issues.

Are you seeing a trend? If you’re struggling, and someone says your opponent will take things from you–things you barely have in the first place–how exactly would you react?

You’d vote against your best interest, because it doesn’t feel like that at all. Trump is big. He’s powerful. He’s a bully. He says anything that pops in his head. If you were feeling hopeless and weak, and saw someone like that, wouldn’t you be in awe? Wouldn’t you consider voting for someone who says ‘fuck you’ to the people you think are holding you down?

You bet your ass you would.

So what’s a good liberal supposed to do here?

You want to stop this? Get pissed, and move beyond general liberal talking points. Employ the strategy that Bill Clinton used in 1992, which I not-so-coincidentally included in the title of this essay:

“It’s the economy, stupid.”

Abortion, gun control, racial equality, gay rights, and all those other issues are very important, but let’s face it: they aren’t as important as the issue of day-to-day survival. When your personal security and livelihood are threatened, how do you respond? Anxiety rises and you end up making decisions based on protecting yourself against further danger.

And that’s the operative word here: Anxiety.

A large segment of the United States feels incredibly anxious about their living situation and immediate futures. And that large segment of the Unites States is currently using their vote as a blunt instrument of that anger.

If you’re crazy enough to think that Trump and his ilk don’t know this, or aren’t actively capitalizing on it, you’ll quickly learn it’s not the GOP that’s deluded–

It’s you.

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Why On Earth Do We Still Have Age Limit Laws for Political Candidates?

It’s been talked about to death that young people don’t vote as often as they should. If they did, we wouldn’t have celebrities pretending to be concerned at “Rock the Vote” rallies every election cycle.

It’s no secret that youth voting is somewhat spotty. In this last midterm election, an abysmal 36.4% of ALL registered voters came out. And of that 36.4%, only 13% were ages 18–29.

To put this in easy (if not disconcerting) mathematical perspective, if you had 10,000 citizens able to vote in your theoretical election, only 3,640 would’ve bothered to come out to the polls. And of that small group, a minuscule 473 of them would be young people.

Ack.

So what is it? Why do so few people aged 18–29 do their civic duty? Why do they stay home? Are politics boring? Are they too busy thinking about themselves?

Or how about this–

Maybe they don’t have anything in common with the people they’re supposed to be electing.

Let’s be serious for a minute. If you’re 18-years-old right now, born in 1998 (ack), which presidential candidate do you really have anything in common with? Everyone in the current field is at least two generations older than you, and in the instance of pop-pop Bernie Sanders, over five (although I tend to think his appeal hinges upon acting like a young radical). How can you be expected to truly give a shit about people that don’t understand anything about your life, with whom you have no practical connection?

Which is why I’m willing to float this simple, yet ludicrously difficult to implement idea:

Let’s constitutionally lower age candidacy laws to eighteen.

Even if you only vaguely remember the Constitution, you probably still know that you have to be 25 to serve in the House of Representatives, 30 to go to the Senate, and 35 to be elected President. But the reality is this: The average age of a representative is 57, the average age of a senator is 62, and when first elected, the average age of a U.S. President is 55.

To 18-year-olds, their leaders are always people in completely different walks of life, whose concerns rarely mirror their own. I mean, could YOU get excited if laws on sex and reproduction were being passed by people way beyond the age of being able to even HAVE sex or reproduce? Of course not.

Age does not equal wisdom

Generally, we think by barring young people from becoming leaders in government, we’re somehow protecting ourselves from being led astray by inexperience and foolishness. That would be the case if we were electing Kylie Jenner, but do you honestly think the American people would be stupid enough to elect a young person that didn’t have SOME sort of qualifications?

But therein lies the problem. We’ve tied youth to capriciousness so tightly, that it’s been difficult to break this link. It becomes virtually automatic: Are you young? Of course you can’t be trusted with anything important.

Don’t trust the young and they sure won’t trust you back

Sadly, that’s the message that goes out to young people when it comes to government: “This matters too much for you to be trusted.”

Can you blame young people for not giving a shit? The system places so little value on their opinion or how they really think, and yet young people are somehow expected to vote anyway? What’s their motivation? A vote should go to someone on equal footing, and not be a permission slip for older Americans to run your life because you’re arbitrarily prevented by the Constitution.

Government by and for the (older) people

The way government exists today, young voters get nothing but depressing and demoralizing messages:

Hey young person,

  • You have the immense responsibility to choose who can lead you, yet you’re barred from leading yourself.
  • You’re asked to pay into the government with your taxes, but god forbid you want any control of how that money is spent.
  • You can fight and die for America, yet you can’t make decisions on whether you should go fight and die.
  • You’re free to start companies that fill the economy with billions of dollars (think Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Elon Musk, and other such entrepreneurs), yet you’re not allowed an elected position to govern America’s finances. I mean, it’s not like you’re experienced with money and job creation or anything.
  • You’re able to both have and rear a child, yet you have no say on laws that might affect their lives.

The unfairness is staggering. Last time I checked, it was a fifty-six year old man that sent thousands of Americans to their graves in Iraq with shoddy intelligence. And believe me, that’s only one of countless examples that I could dredge up.

We need a mix of young and old in government, not old and old

Which leads me to my last point. This isn’t an attack on the capabilities of older Americans. Experience isn’t a bad thing when combined with acumen and judgment. But wisdom isn’t just the provence of the old. As David Bowie so accurately sang (and The Breakfast Club quoted), …these children that you spit on / As they try to change their worlds / Are immune to your consultations / They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.

Young people are extremely able and smart, yet they’re given so few opportunities to be trusted with anything that matters. Is it any wonder they completely check out of the political process? “YOU DON’T BELONG” is practically emblazoned on the Capitol steps.

The American government needs young perspective. But let’s combine that perspective with the abilities of public servants from ALL walks of of life. Think how fresh and innovative American leadership could be again with that kind of diversity.

And let’s go even beyond that. Let’s have a government that represents the real make-up of America. Young and old people live and work together NOW in our union. By finally integrating the young in our governing process, that union can only get much stronger, and dare I say, closer to being truly equal.

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