Monday, March 14, 2016

How Democrats Abandoned the Working Class and Spurred the Rise of Donald Trump

From Kyle Smith, at the New York Post (via Memeorandum and Right Wing News):
Inequality has risen. Jobs are going overseas. The more the stock market rises, the more the working class feels crushed by globalization.

And all of this has occurred exactly as Democrats have engineered it. Stuff happens, they say. The truth hurts.

Take it from Larry Summers, once one of President Obama’s leading economic advisers: “One of the challenges in our society is that the truth is kind of an equalizer,” Summers reportedly said in a candid moment in 2009. “One of the reasons that inequality has probably gone up in our society is that people are being treated closer to the way that they’re supposed to be treated.” (Summers this week denied saying this.)

The elite professional class, in the 1950s one of the Republican party’s most reliable constituencies, became the very heart of the Democrats by the 1990s. The party of labor morphed into the party of lawyers. This didn’t happen by accident.

In his new book “Listen, Liberal, Or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People,” progressive commentator Thomas Frank (author of “What’s the Matter With Kansas?”) says Democrats need to take a good long look in the mirror if they want answers to why blue-collar workers are feeling abandoned and even infuriated by what used to be their party.

Many such voters are now backing Donald Trump, who is sketching out the problem with America in exactly the terms they agree with: Jobs are either going to Mexico, or going to Mexicans. Unchecked illegal immigration on the one hand and free trade on the other hand are driving down the wages of working-class Americans, or costing them their jobs outright.

This isn’t racism: angry Americans told they were losing their jobs at a doomed air-conditioner factory in Indiana wouldn’t have applauded if told production was moving to Canada instead of Mexico. Either way, they’re losing their jobs.

In Frank’s analysis, around 1972 the Democrats started to suspect their lunch-bucket workers were warmongering dinosaurs doomed by their reliance on dying Rust Belt industries. The party placed its future in the hands of groovy technocrats in non-union fields and wrote off the workers, who soon defected to the Republican party even though Republicans didn’t and don’t apologize for being the party of capital.

Blaming Republican Intransigence (TM) for liberalism’s failures, particularly in the Obama era, is a common excuse that Frank isn’t having. He points to areas such as Rhode Island and Chicago where Republicans are virtually extinct and finds that Democrats behave exactly the same way: They make mild clucking noises about inequality while taking donations and policy ideas from financiers (both R.I. and the City of Big Shoulders are run by former Wall Streeters) and outlining an economic future of enhanced “innovation” designed to tilt the economy even further in the direction of elite knowledge-economy workers and away from those without college degrees.

Innovation, Frank says, is often just code for new methods (from Uber to credit default swaps) to evade necessary protective regulations. Many such innovations pump up profits for rich entrepreneurs and shareholders by unloading employees with benefits in favor of part-timers and freelancers with no benefits. Democrats take big donations from such firms, laud them in speeches, and tell everyone else to get out of the way of the “disruption.”

There is some enticing evidence for Frank’s claim that Democrats deliberately shunned American workers...
Keep reading.

Plus, here's Frank's book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?