Fellow white men! Listen up, this concerns us. Donald Trump apparently has the most appeal among white men in middle age and beyond. That appeal seems to come from two places.
Some white men appear to be wildly attracted to Trump’s rhetoric about non-whites. People who rally behind the slogan “white power” love Trump, show up at his rallies, call out his name when they take out their rage on innocent non-whites, work in his campaign, and openly urge every upstanding white supremacist to support Trump.
Trump offers just enough tidbits to American racists to keep them happy: calling Mexicans “rapists” as the opening salvo of his campaign, retweeting a message from a racist website, and toying with his response to David Duke’s endorsement for two days.
According to Trump, non-whites here and abroad are the enemy, but they can be beaten back from our borders and held back at home. Nothing new in American political discourse, but harkening back to a past where white men ruled and everything was good.
If you are in that Trump camp, Democrats are certainly your political enemy. They will keep tinkering with American society, trying to reach a promised land of equality and social justice. Despite your objections, they know that we have not gone too far, but rather not far enough. Racial inequalities continue to make America less than it could be. You yourselves are some of the evidence. So vote for the racist of your choice. Even if Trump isn’t on the ballot, many of his Republican colleagues openly or stealthily appeal for your vote by promoting racist ideas.
It’s the white men who like Trump despite his racism who should think again about him. There is no reason to trust him or other Republicans on economic issues.
Listen to what Republicans have said about the economy before and now. In April 2008, presidential candidate Senator John McCain said: “a lot of our problems today, as you know, are psychological — the confidence, trust, the uncertainty about our economic future, ability to keep our own home.” Three months later, his political adviser Phil Gramm said, “You’ve heard of mental depression, this is a mental recession . . . . We may have a recession; we haven’t had one yet. . . . We have sort of become a nation of whiners.” On September 15, the day Lehman Bros. filed for bankruptcy, McCain proclaimed: “I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
By that time, the economy was already in free fall. Employment, the basis of economic well-bring for the majority of Americans, was worse 2008-2009 than it had been since the Depression. The unemployment rate was rising already in March 2008, and kept going up until the end of 2009, when it reached 10%, the worst two years since World War II. The gross domestic product fell in the first quarter of 2008 and after June fell for four consecutive quarters. It did not reach the level of June 2008 until three years later in June 2011.
Republican rhetoric about the economy was deliberately ignorant. They were in charge as the economy tanked, and then lied about it. They offered nothing to American workers and homeowners who were about to fall into economic depression.
Since then Republicans have consistently refused to help average Americans with economic problems. They refused to extend unemployment benefits as the number of long-term unemployed skyrocketed. They cut the food stamp program, which is used mostly by white families. They oppose raising the minimum wage, which has not budged in 7 years. They have tried to obstruct regulations which prevent banks from defrauding home buyers, one of the causes of the 2008 meltdown. And they want to demolish the health care reform which cut the numbers of uninsured Americans to the lowest level in over 20 years, dropping 20% because of the Affordable Care Act.
The economic program Republicans have offered to the American middle class has been remarkably consistent: give more money to the richest Americans by radically cutting their taxes. Here’s the Republican strategy. Appeal to the billionaires who fund their campaigns with the promise of tax cuts. Appeal to the white middle class with coded racism.
Trump, the billionaire who can’t be bought, could be an incorruptible friend of America’s workers. But he’s shown not the slightest sign that he cares about or will do anything for Americans who are struggling. Trump seems to be an opponent of the Republican establishment. But he’s offering the same “you too can be rich” motivational baloney that Republicans have been purveying for decades.
That’s exactly what Trump University proclaimed by using Trump’s face and words in their advertising campaign. It turned out he had nothing to do with those expensive courses taught by people who knew nothing about real estate. Trump University is probably the only institution of “higher learning” ever sued by most of its students.
That same scam is what Trump and the Republicans are offering to Americans who are hurting financially. The last Republican President created economic disaster, and their policies haven’t budged. White men, don’t fall for fake populism. Don’t fall for coded or open racism. Trump got famous for firing people, not hiring them.
Published in the Jacksonville Journal-Courier, April 12, 2016