2016 presidential campaign, affirmative action, age-ism, American workers, college costs, college tuition, declining middle class, dignity, Donald Trump, equal opportunity employer, extended households, foreign workers, free trade, futility, globalization, healthcare insurance, Hillary Clinton, indignity, inflation, middle-class anger, misogyny, offshoring, racism, rural counties, rust belt, stagnant income, student loans, substance abuse, Trump voters, underemployment, unemployment, women in the workforce, xenophobia
This place has changed for good
Your economic theory said it would
It’s hard for us to understand
We can’t give up our jobs the way we should
“We Work the Black Seam” – Sting
You didn’t see him. He blindsided you. You didn’t catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of your eye. You couldn’t feel his presence every time you traveled past the shadowlands of the Rust Belt, or through those rural counties you had to tolerate while you drove to some place where the sun still shines. You couldn’t hear his heavy breathing, seething at the realities that were descending upon his disintegrating existence.
You didn’t notice that Trump voter, that 50-year-old former tool-and-die maker with 25 years of experience.
That 50-something tool-and-die maker knows how to cut metal to a thousandth of an inch, knows how to set up a job blindfolded. His job was taken over by some kid who is the victim of a dysfunctional education system, willing to take half the salary; little matter his inexperience cut productivity of the position in half.
Or more likely, that tool-and-die maker saw his job shipped overseas, all in the name of free trade and globalization. The tool-and-die makers in Southeast Asia work for a fifth of what that American tool-and-die maker earned. Why should that American keep his job, unless he’s willing to accept a fifth of what he made last year?
You were hoping that tool-and-die maker would simply drop into a deep crevice somewhere, and he was supposed to accept life in that crevice, because that was the way of “free trade,” of “globalization.”
In fact, “free trade” has little to do with the trade of goods, and more to do with American corporations finding overseas sources of the lowest-cost labor. But the tool-and-die maker hears the phrase “free trade,” and his hatred of this misnomer grows, exponentially.