I read an interesting article in the New York Times recently trying to figure out the alienated voters who put the current guy in the Oval Office. There were some aspects of the article that I had not fully considered.
Angry voters made a few things abundantly clear: that modern democratic capitalism is not working for them; that basic institutions like the family and communities are falling apart..
The alienated long for something that will smash the system or change their situation, but they have no actual plan or any means to deliver it. The alienated are a hodgepodge of disparate groups. They have no positive agenda beyond the sort of fake shiny objects Trump ran on (Build a Wall!). They offer up no governing class competent enough to get things done.
Now I will admit that American Capitalism has morphed into something different in my lifetime. In the 1960s the majority of the GDP was generated by government spending for the common good. The Interstate highway system was one of those things. Then sometime in the 1980s people started thinking that spending for the general welfare of the country was a bad thing and that resulted in the move more to depending on individual consumerism to drive the economy. That along with the corresponding unwillingness to pay taxes inevitably resulting in a sharp disparity between the rich and the poor in our society. Those with large disposable income ignored the old saying “with wealth comes responsibility”. American Capitalism just isn’t the same as it used to be. So now in order for the American economy to continue to prosper each of us must spend more and more as each year passes and of course with the current situation that means we go deeper and deeper into unsustainable debt.
The main eye-opener in the quote above is that in reality the disenchanted that resulted in our current president is by no means a homogeneous group. Instead it is, as the article said a hodgepodge of many different groups. The neo-Nazis and other anarchistic groups who are looking to take everything down were one supporting group. At the other end of the scale are perhaps those who for the most part are uneducated and poorly trained for today’s competitive society. They want America Great again and to them that is to mean high paying jobs for unskilled and unprepared workers.
In between are other diverse groups who feel left behind by all the progress of the last three decades. Many live in once prosperous rural areas where jobs have continued to erode due to automation and the simple fact that producing food for the populace requires significantly less labor.
Some others are senior citizens who just want the world to stop spinning so they can get off. Being such a wide variety of dissenters these disenfranchised have no particular agenda nor any representatives who has any hope of achieving them even if they could be identified.
I hope that these times will become a lesson for future voters to realize that you need to be for things more than you are against. In other words, you need to have a dream of what might be and not just scream about how bad things are. I don’t know if that will be the lesson learned or if we will continue to spiral downward until democracy is no longer sustainable? That is the question for our times.
Epilog: A ranter who tried to comment on this post reminded me of a group that I did not include. That is those people who are so entangled in their current mindset that they will vote for ANYONE who even kidnaps their party’s nomination.