Donald Trump, a notorious real estate investor and reality television star, is the president-elect of the United States of America and everyone is losing their minds. His supporters aren’t happy, his opposition is furious, and everyone else is suppressing their outrage under a cloak of apathy. Today, he was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, which has sparked more outcry, but I personally think it was a smart move on Time’s part. Appeal to his ego, gain access– reporters have been doing this for years. But there’s a truth that no one is telling, so I am going to say it. Donald Trump did not win because all white people are racist, all men are sexists, and all of the young people stayed home. Donald Trump won because of the elimination of the middle man during the recession.
Allow me to explain. This won’t take long. When the sky started falling in 2008 and 2009 with the banking crisis, auto industry bailout, rising fuel prices, and crash of the stock market, hundreds of businesses closed and the ones that stayed open cut positions, put employees on furlough, and scaled back on perks and benefits. Then, when the economy bounced back and the recession ended they didn’t replace those jobs or those perks and benefits.
This created a new world order, because fewer people were expected to do more work for an indefinite period of time. It used to be that when the economy tanked and people were laid off, when the economy bounced back they got their jobs back. That no longer happens. Companies got greedy and outsourced their labor to other countries or didn’t bother to replace that labor pool at all– and it happened in EVERY sector of business and government. Now, no one stays in a job long because they are expected to do the jobs of three people and increase revenue, but the only people can get decent jobs are people with college degrees. And the kids are starting to notice– when’s the last time you heard a young person say they want to be a police officer, firefighter, or EMT?
What does this mean? This means that there are entry level positions that pay $35,000/year and executive level positions that pay six figure salaries and there is no one in between. The $50k-$70k job is gone and no one is pressuring anyone to bring it back and I don’t understand why not? This has created a new work environment where college graduates are doing jobs that were once reserved for those without degrees and you have to have a graduate degree to make anything above an entry level salary. This left all of those people who used to be secretaries, administrators, mailmen, custodians, and receptionists, with low paying service industry and retail jobs as their only employment options, and those jobs are not paying the bills.
Even worse, there is no way out of those jobs. The time when a secretary could become the lead copywriter at an ad agency, like Peggy in Mad Men, are gone and they are not coming back. No matter how many tax cuts a politician promises Carrier, Chrysler, Firestone, or anyone else, the ruins that those companies left behind when they first exited, left such a huge mess in America’s rust belt cities that they no longer have the infrastructure to support the jobs. Furthermore, when our president elect says that he is restoring jobs and creating jobs, just like with President Obama, no one is asking the question: WHAT KIND OF JOBS? Because let’s be honest, anyone making less than $25/hour is living in poverty.
Then, to add insult to injury this might be the first election in modern history where education reform was not discussed in-depth by any candidate– read: you’re poor, you’re stupid, and no one cares. And what makes it so bad is that people were so angry and fed up that they didn’t even call the candidates out on the omission. Combine that with America’s always lingering struggles with racism and sexism, and you’ve got a lethal combination of resentment and poverty, which over the past month has led to an uptick in violent crimes.
I’m not sure where we go from here, but I believe that first we have to tell the truth, and the truth is that no one likes to live in poverty while watching other people prosper. I can only hope that we will eventually find some common ground, but right now there are cracks in the sidewalk and we don’t have any public works dollars left to fill them. Keep marching, America. Let’s just try not to step on each other’s feet.