Monday, January 30, 2017

The Trump solution

As the Trump regime gains speed and fury, sending world politics into a chaotic spiral, I admit to being a bit obsessed. There are so many juicy Trump stories, it's hard to stop at just one. But I was grateful to my cousin-in-law Janice on Monday for pointing me to an article that does a better job than most of explaining the Trump phenomenon. Even better, it suggests solutions, which are in short supply these days.

The Harvard Business Review article (link below) by University of California law professor Joan C. Williams argues that it was class, not gender or race, that fueled Trump's rise to power. She cites her father-in-law as the kind of white working class person who supported Trump. He quit school in Grade 8 and worked incessantly, rising to middle-class comfort through a stable, well-paying factory job, which he hated, but stuck at for 38 years. He was ahead of his time for a blue-collar worker -- he was a Republican, and he hated unions -- but now he is legion.

White working class people like him resent professionals but admire the rich, says Williams; they feel the rich have earned their money but professionals are condescending phonies. They like straight talk, which they see as manly. Their dignity, bound up in their paycheques, was shattered by the recession and the loss of their jobs to cheaper countries. Trump is rich, talks straight and promises them jobs; Hillary Clinton did none of those things.

Both the Democrats and Republicans need to deal with the issues raised by this large, resentful, poorly educated population, says Williams. They need to understand the working class is middle class, not poor, and stop devising policies that help the poor at the expense of the working class.

Both parties need to put economics at the centre, she says, noting that both supported free trade deals because they raised the gross domestic product, but overlooked the resulting job losses. Trade deals "are far more expensive than we've treated them, because sustained job development and training programs need to be counted as part of their costs," she says. What's needed -- from both parties -- are economic programs that ensure good, solid, middle-class jobs, and the education programs that will qualify people for them.

The best thing about this article is that Williams is not blaming people like her hard-working father-in-law for Trump. Instead, she is pointing the way toward avoiding the Trumps of the future.

The article can be reached at

1 comment:

  1. Yes, not pointing the blame but pointing out a way forward. It is what we need to do.