Trump is not the working class hero that many of his supporters and pundits insist he is

01 Sep 2016 07:39 am
Posted by: Donna

The blog was down for several days but thankfully our delightful adminis-tress has gotten it working again in time for me to say a few things about Trump’s allegedly presidential and pivotal day trip to Mexico and his later speech (in which he etch-a-sketched any pretense of a pivot) in Phoenix on Wednesday.

First, on Trump’s puzzling meeting and subsequent press conference with President Enrique Peña Nieto (at which American reporters were not allowed), I’ll direct you to veteran political organizer and journalist Al Giordano, who lives in Mexico and who has covered Latin America extensively. Read this series of tweets:

Really, follow Al for a number of reasons but especially for his insights on how to defeat Trump. But in the case of Trump’s Mexico excursion, Al’s (very plausible) theory is that Trump is playing the useful idiot to an unpopular Mexican President shopping posh retirement locales. This seems not to have occurred to horse race-obsessed news bureaus – including the New York Times – desperate for that all-important Presidential Trump Pivot.

As for Trump’s Phoenix event, which can only be described (as many have done, very capably) as horrifying, I want to key in on something that seems to have disappeared down the chasmic rabbit hole memory of pundits covering the election, which I tweeted:

While everyone does know that Trump is a total hypocrite personally where immigration (based on his own hiring practices) and trade (based on his own manufacturing practices) are concerned, few people seem to be able to synthesize that understanding into a full picture of Trump as a white nationalist demagogue.

Trump is unapologetic about exploiting undocumented workers in his ventures from building to his modeling agency. Hillary Clinton is running ads in multiple states featuring Trump being embarrassed by David Letterman for clothing bearing his name brand being manufactured in low wage countries.

How, then, does anyone, with a straight face, argue that Trump is telling the truth when he claims to care about American jobs? What he made the case for, in the so-called “softened” immigration position he laid out in Phoenix Wednesday evening, sounded to me like essentially SB1070 for the whole country. That Arizona law, when it was in full effect (before the Supreme Court struck much of it down), was used to profile and terrorize Hispanic residents, despite the insistence of proponents that would never happen.

Trump didn’t reiterate his previous statements about rounding up and deporting 11 million people (pivot!); he instead said that undocumented persons in the U.S. would be “subject to deportation”, repeated his usual crowd-pleasing angry rhetoric, and ended his event by inviting several people whose loved ones had been killed (either through murder or drunk driving) by undocumented persons (suggesting that no one in America is ever killed by native-born people).

The 10-point plan Trump laid out was very heavy on fear-mongering about violent crime and promises to secure the fuck out of the border and amp up enforcement in-country. It was relatively light, however, on protecting American workers from the perceived depredation upon their livelihoods by immigration. Trump didn’t even get to that until point number 10, where he promised to enforce the use of E-Verify and that:

Immigration law doesn’t exist just for the purpose of keeping out criminals. It exists to protect all aspects of American life – the worksite, the welfare office, the education system and everything else. That is why immigration limits are established in the first place. If we only enforce the laws against crime, then we have an open border to the entire world.

We will enforce all of our immigration laws.

The same goes for government benefits. The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that 62 percent of households headed by illegal immigrants used some form of cash or non-cash welfare programs, like food stamps or housing assistance. Tremendous costs, by the way, to our country. Tremendous costs. This directly violates the federal public charge law designed to protect the U.S. treasury.

Those who abuse our welfare system will be priorities for immediate removal.

Number 10, we will reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers. The forgotten people, workers. We’re going to take care of our workers. And by the way, we’re going to make great trade deals. We’re going to negotiate trade deals, we’re going to be bring our jobs back home, we’re going to bring our jobs back home. We have the most incompetently worked trade deals ever negotiated probably in the history of the world and that starts with NAFTA. And now they want to go TPP, one of the great disasters. And if countries want to leave Arizona, and if they want to leave other states, there’s going to be a lot of trouble for them, it’s not going to be so easy. There will be consequence, remember that. There will be consequence. They’re not going to be leaving, go to another country, make the product, sell it to the United States and all we end up with is no taxes and total unemployment. It’s not going to happen, there will be consequences.

Leaving aside how Trump put resentment over welfare at the forefront of point 10, the Presidential candidate who has yet to own up to his own hiring and manufacturing trade practices appears to have tacked concern over jobs and trade on as a sop – not so much to the people in attendance at the rally who were really eating up the “scary criminal foreigners” angle a lot more – but to pundits (often) from the left, such as Thomas Frank, who are committed to the idea that many white voters (or as he calls them, “working class” voters) are gravitating to Trump out of economic anxiety and not racism:

Here is the most salient supporting fact: when people talk to white, working-class Trump supporters, instead of simply imagining what they might say, they find that what most concerns these people is the economy and their place in it. I am referring to a study just published by Working America, a political-action auxiliary of the AFL-CIO, which interviewed some 1,600 white working-class voters in the suburbs of Cleveland and Pittsburgh in December and January.

Support for Donald Trump, the group found, ran strong among these people, even among self-identified Democrats, but not because they are all pining for a racist in the White House. Their favorite aspect of Trump was his “attitude”, the blunt and forthright way he talks. As far as issues are concerned, “immigration” placed third among the matters such voters care about, far behind their number one concern: “good jobs / the economy”.

Yet Trump pressed the topic of immigration – not “good jobs/the economy” – and chose Phoenix, rather than Cleveland or Pittsburgh, to deliver this ostensibly presidential and pivotal tour de force speech! The home of SB1070 and Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio is not a place from which, to a bloodthirsty crowd, a Presidential candidate would convincingly launch a non-racist immigration policy. And Donald Trump is not the man anyone should be listening on immigration or trade, given his own self-serving actions in those areas.

It actually seems that white people who do pay heed to Trump tend to do so more from a position of comfort than not:

Which makes sense since people who don’t really care about working class jobs and trade impacts but who do have a big investment in their white supremacy would tend to favor a guy who doesn’t care about the first two but is running hard on the third.

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