On Saturday I wrote that I think the real root cause behind why so many align themselves with Trump is the lack of good paying jobs that don’t require a college degree. In his recent column for the New York Times, titled The Rotting of the Republican Mind, David Brooks pretty much writes the same thing.
Under Trump, the Republican identity is defined not by a set of policy beliefs but by a paranoid mind-set….You can’t argue people out of paranoia. If you try to point out factual errors, you only entrench false belief. The only solution is to reduce the distrust and anxiety that is the seedbed of this thinking. That can only be done first by contact, reducing the social chasm between the members of the epistemic regime and those who feel so alienated from it. And second, it can be done by policy, by making life more secure for those without a college degree.
In my opinion, while Brooks is putting the focus on Republican’s, I think the same challenge lies with Democrats. The problem is that Trump and the Republican party really haven’t done anything about the problem because they can’t see the root cause, which I think is a combination of corporate greed by way of profit margins and a long history of anti-inflation that has conditioned us to seek out the lowest price for items we buy. (Have you ever enjoyed the thrill of finding a bargain?) I don’t think either party is willing and able to do what is needed to address this issue.
As a thought exercise ask yourself, why is it that so many of the products you use every day are manufactured outside of the United States? (If you can find a label, take a look at it to see whether I am right or wrong.)
Many politicians of both parties will have you believe the problem is unfair trade practices by countries like China, which is the thinking behind Trump’s tariffs that really did not result in more manufacturing jobs in the United States. Trade is a problem, but it’s not the only problem.
Corporations do not manufacture in the United States because it costs more to manufacture items in the United States and what does that mean? Higher costs result in lower profit margins and if corporations want to maintain margins, which shareholders want them to do, then they have to increase the price of their products, but the problem with that is U.S. consumers do not like to pay higher prices. It appears something has to give, either corporations take lower profits or consumers pay higher prices. (And equally important because nearly everyone who can save for retirement does with either IRAs or 401ks is that a good number of the shareholders demanding margins that increase stock price are consumers of the products being manufactured.)
Can corporations and shareholders be convinced to live with lower profit margins for the sake of the country? Can consumers be convinced to pay more for items “made in the U.S.A.”? Can US manufacturing costs, a high portion of which is labor, be decreased?
You see here then the issue, there is no silver bullet, instead there is a need for a comprehensive solution that requires compromise by all parties. Democrats have to be willing to decrease regulations that increase manufacturing costs and Republicans have to be willing to work toward removing corporations’ burden of providing healthcare to its employees, which also increases the costs of labor. Serious discussion needs to occur within corporations and their boards of what is a fair profit margin and not just what they can drive the market toward (the starting point might be, what is a fair wage for CEOs?) and there needs to be a significant and continuous, buy made in the USA, marketing campaign to try to influence consumer purchasing.
The irony in all of this is that there was a time when both Republicans and Democrats campaigned on jobs, and jobs/the economy is still the issue now more than ever. The reason why Trump is popular is that his rhetoric and scapegoating resonates with the fear many Americans, particularly those without college degrees, feel. Scapegoating is an addictive drug, one feels good about “sticking to it to the libretards,” but when/if one looks around for change they will find no change to be found. Consequently, the only option that Republicans seem to have embraced is to keep the rhetoric going so that everyone stays happy enough to keep voting for the people placing the blame, which is themselves.