You’ve read my stuff. You know I’d rather wash cats than wax political: soporific lists of Trump-sins, Pelosi guttersnipes. No, my things are decadent dogs; two flakes that invented Corn Flakes; Barbie dolls; flying cars; Barbie dolls in flying cars — anything but politics.
This singular article breaks precedent — two cents from a confirmed apolitical, plus, ye gods, a swing-voter. It’s about America’s political landscape, as I see it. Many will find it right wing, but know that I voted for Bill twice, Obama twice, and though my heart wasn’t in it, Hillary once.
I’m glad Trump’s gone. All that tweeting was juvenile; and his last-days meltdown was definitely uncool. But economic and cultural divisions — paramount reasons Trump became Pied Piper for disgruntled “little people” — that ain’t gone.
America’s in-your face disparity between haves and have-nots is fertile ground for a pandering populist. In “The Forgotten Americans,” Isabel Sawhill writes about “the ‘holding-on-by-your-fingernails’ class.” Economically, that’s the lower middle class that once was part of the solid or upper middle class.
Sounds about right; The Pew Research Center says, “The share of American adults who live in middle-income households has decreased from 61 percent in 1971 to 51 percent in 2019.”
Sawhill says forgotten Americans are caught in an economic system that makes it easy for the rich to get richer and easier for the “unrich” to get unricher. In 2020, our value system paid the average American CEO $369 per hour. In 25 of America’s largest companies, CEOs netted a whopping $9,000 per hour. The average hourly wage for the average worker: $15.37.
Ironically, billionaire Donald John Trump recognized and capitalized on this upside-down craziness. In his 2016 convention speech, Trump promised, “I am your voice.” Following Trump’s 2020 loss, one unseemly Capitol rioter wore a shirt that epitomized the almost religious-like connection: “Jesus is My Savior, Trump is My President.”
But why? How can you trust a dude that says everything twice, says everything twice? British comic Harry Shearer says, “Trump doesn’t have coherent thought structures, which makes him very frustrating for those who do. He has a salesman’s cast of mind. If you imagine him as an encyclopedia salesman who has 10 minutes in your living room, he makes a lot more sense.”
In a BBC.com interview, one American historian explained the conundrum this way: “When you feel powerless, you vote for someone who’s promising to do everything differently and Trump indeed did that.”
Well, Trump’s gone now. Or is he? Back in Florida, fresh from D.C., the Donald fired off a parting message, “We will be back in some form.” Safely bet on it. Things Trump gave voice to will be with us. Democrats know that, fear that, yet have shown zero plans to deal with it.
They hang their hopes on Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution. “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
If you’ve paid attention, you know Trump no longer occupies an office from which he can be impeached. That fact doesn’t deter Democrats from trying and trying again, though their true interest is seeing that he doesn’t hold any office, period. As Jonathan Freedland wrote for theGuardian.com, their goal is to “keep the demon from stirring back to life.” But then they confuse getting rid of Trump with getting rid of the righteous realities he represents.
Jobs and economic disparity are only part of the divisive American political landscape. Equally troubling is the cultural “values” gulf. Tell me this: With which party do you associate socialism, political correctness, open borders, culture cleansing, reparations, defunding the cops, ad nauseam?
Exactly. And Trumpers see it exactly as this guy explained: “They want to take my guns, regulate my business, dictate who I can hire, and tell me what I can buy, which doctors I see, how I live, when I pray and even what I say.” That’s like a subtle Mao Zedong’s Chinese cultural or “re-education” revolution.
Republicans have done a masterful job of framing Democrats as elitist snobs bent on extirpating traditional values. The thing is, elitism runs smack into America’s raison d’état. This country was founded upon resistance to authority. It’s in our genes. As Ronald Reagan put it in his 1981 inaugural address, “We should not allow ‘government by an elite group’ to ride on our back.”
So, will Trump be back? Probably not. We’ve seen that movie. Rather, the mantle will be taken up by a slicker, more eloquent messenger with the same message. Think “Son of Trump.”
Can Biden make America great again, bridge those wide-open economic and cultural chasms, and unify this nation, as he says he can? I’ve got my doubts. What do you think?
Michael Smith is a Southern Pines resident.