The Cost Of Forgetting Middle America
In a particularly cogent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on October 19, Jason De Sena Trennart, the chairman of Strategas an investment-strategy, economic and policy research firm, reminds us all why Mr. Trump won the 2016 election and why forgetting why may have consequences this time.
His argument is a simple one. Mr. Trump, more than Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush or a host of other GOP pretenders, spoke to the middle class of America that struggles to make ends meet, pay their bills, educate their children, and worship as they wish. While Mrs. Clinton called these people “deplorable,” Mr. Trump said he would make it great for them again. Great for these voters meant free. Free from burdensome taxes, free from unbridled immigration, free from student debt, free from unnecessary regulation, and free to live their lives.
In 2017, many of the east and west coast elite tried to understand what had happened to Mrs. Clinton and began to see “flyover country” as a part of the same country that they inhabited. That wore off fast. I am still amazed at how many people do not understand the Trump Phenomenon and ignore the possibility that it may well win again. Mr. Biden is not getting cocky. He is taking nothing for granted and continues to pound on his message of American renewal after the Trump downturn. But that downturn is of recent origin, coming with the onset of the coronavirus and our response to it. It still remains to be shown that we couldn’t have done better fighting the virus’s spread while maintaining our vibrant economy. Mr. Trump’s failure as a leader is less measured by the 220,000 deaths than by the 1 in 7 small businesses that have been lost. Had he installed a true mitigation strategy while keeping businesses open through masks, social distancing and hand washing, we might be way better off than we are now. Instead we had widespread panic (thanks to the news media hyping up the virus with pictures from mismanaged New York City) and too many cases and too much death anyway. Trump failed on all fronts except, perhaps, getting a vaccine out quickly if that occurs at Warp Speed.
It seems that every four years, we are reminded that we are still one country of great heterogeneity. Just because the news is broadcast from New York and TV is made in Hollywood, does not mean that the coasts represent the dominant thinking in America. For those of us living in Texas, the diversity of opinion is obvious. The Rannert piece reminds us that everyone gets to vote and, in fact, under the Electoral College system, votes in New York and California count the least both because each vote represents fewer electoral votes and because these are monolithic places in their thinking such that they are really not competitive in presidential elections while North Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan are. And a lot of middle America lives in those places. They count and they vote.
Wake up. You do the same. Don’t be forgotten.