Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

You want your party back; so do Trump supporters

Jerry Stratton, April 13, 2016

Establishment morale

The Beltway Party.

Janet Reid, an agent I follow, posted a political rant on Facebook recently:

THIS IS A POLITICAL POST. Fair warning.

Tonight my ride home was provided by a nice man in a yellow cab. His accent had a moderate French inflection and I asked him if he’d come here from another country.

Well, yes indeed, as a young man he came to America 22 years ago to seek his fortune and make his way in the world. He came from Ivory Coast, a country on the west coast of Africa. West of Ghana, east of Guinea and Liberia, south of Mali, and Burkina Faso. A country rich in history and pretty much unknown to most Americans.

17,000 people from Ivory Coast live here now, he told me in the course of our conversation. Not a lot, as New York standards go, but a significant number.

They’re all working hard, raising families, paying their taxes and this man in particular was frankly providing a service tonight that I really wanted (a nice quick ride home—he drove like the wind!)

When politicians tell me they want to ban immigrants of all stripes and kinds, I think of men like this taxi driver and others. All they want is what America has to offer: a stable economy, clean water, food, and an opportunity to make a living and support a family.

I asked him if he had a preference in the upcoming presidential race. It will surprise none of you to learn he is not supporting any of the Republicans although he is himself a businessman and in favor of many of the things the Republicans used to stand for.

I really want my party back.

That is eloquent and true. It also misses the root problem. Longtime blog readers know I agree with what Janet wrote about immigration. But having grown up in Michigan I have some understanding of Trump’s supporters’ views as well. Until we can understand why this rhetoric works with voters we will not be able to change its success.

When politicians talk about “jobs Americans won’t do” and how that means we need to support illegal immigration, I know from experience that Americans will do those jobs. My mom worked in the fields before illegal immigration spread to Michigan. My mom, not my dad, not my brothers (although we did some baling hay, too), my mother and many other housewives in our area.

There are a lot of voters who are frustrated at the lies they hear from establishment politicians on both sides and in the media. They know that the media and the politicians are lying. They know that it’s their jobs that are on the line. But every national voice that calls out the lies is ridiculed and silenced. So when someone comes along with the inclination and resources to ride roughshod over the ridicule, they understandably think, maybe this person deserves our support. Who else will speak for us?

And it’s a lot more than Republicans who are frustrated—that’s why Donald Trump, for example, does so well in states with open primaries. Republicans complain that their party is leaving them behind, but if you’re a working class Democrat your party already left you behind ten years ago or more.

The media is a major reason for Trump’s popularity. The media parrots every lie about extremism on the right. From fantasy/science fiction to politics itself, if the left calls someone extreme, the media falls in line. But a term that can apply to Larry Correia and Sarah Hoyt, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and Mitt Romney doesn’t have any meaning. People are understandably fed up, and looking for someone who can cut through the crap. That’s what Trump promises.

When Democrats make a joke that would get anyone else fired, if not publicly ostracized, and the media goes along with it, people are understandably open to Trump-style political incorrectness. People know that they have to fear any innocuous statement—say, about going into the field—being interpreted as a literal license to kill; if they’re lucky, they’ll merely lose their job. In a world where only some people have freedom of speech, it is understandable that people will support a candidate who threatens the politically-correct establishment’s power.

This year’s primaries are what happens when politicians don’t keep their promises. Each year’s crop has to make more extreme promises to be taken seriously, because no one trusts a politician who merely says what has already been reneged on many times.

Keep repeating this, and you have this year’s primaries, where on one side we have an actual communist and on the other a deranged apolitical marketer who has been mostly a Democrat sweeping up Republican voters. Until voters start seeing progress, many will continue to be susceptible to this kind of extreme rhetoric.

When voters see politicians offering safe zones for people who didn’t just come here illegally, but committed serious crimes while they were here and still weren’t deported or, sometimes, even jailed, they are going to be understandably open to politicians who just say “shut it all down, the good and the bad”. That cab driver Janet talked to probably supports deporting people who come here illegally to commit crimes, and then keeping them out. But the politicians he’s going to vote for likely don’t. And any politicians who do start talking about deporting the violent will be called racists by the media.

When workers see their jobs disappearing for themselves—and especially when they see entry-level jobs for their children disappearing—and see illegal immigrants seemingly “take” these jobs, they’re not going to think about the consequences of the greater regulatory burdens that make hiring legally a pathway to bankruptcy; they’re going to understandably blame illegal immigration. And when establishment politicians and the media try to drum up support for illegal immigration by conflating it with legal immigration, some voters will understandably be open to “shut it all down”.

Every year politicians on both sides, but especially Democrats, add more and more weight to the regulatory burden of hiring American workers. But they don’t talk honestly about the tradeoffs. The media doesn’t run stories about how expensive in resources, money, and time it has become to hire American workers. Instead, the political and media establishment talk about how there are “jobs Americans won’t do.” Whether the media wants it to be or not, that’s code for blaming illegal immigrants, because Americans know that Americans will do those jobs. They may not like them, but they used to do them and they would do them now. But government got in the way, and the media inadvertently (I hope) blamed illegal immigration.

My mother’s field work was part-time, to supplement my dad’s steady income, and it was hard work. She and many other women in our area were willing to do that work. But that was a time when a farm could still hire part-time Americans and compete enough to stay in business. Government got in the way—mostly Democrats, but Republicans don’t blow the whistle, and the media of course is also compliant. The more expensive it is to hire each individual worker, the less competitive it is to hire part-time workers, because you have to hire more of them. Fortunately for the farmers, but not for the Americans willing to work on the farms, over this same period illegal immigrants moved north in greater and greater numbers. And so Americans saw, instead of government regulations taking jobs, illegal immigrants taking jobs. And that’s just one facet that I happened to see as it was happening.

Everything has tradeoffs, and when politicians hide the tradeoffs people look for their own explanations. Not explaining to the public the true costs of new regulations and new taxes is the fault of “reasonable” politicians on both sides, but lately it’s been a real specialty of Democrats. But whether Democrat or Republican, it’s their fault that Trump’s scapegoats seem plausible.

When the establishment tells us that war is the wrong word to use for bombing and shooting, and that Islamic is the wrong word to use for the Islamic State, people are going to be understandably open to more extreme phrases, such as “carpet-bombing” to mean something south of actual carpet-bombing. When “war” doesn’t mean war, candidates need to be more extreme to be merely understood, let alone trusted to mean what they say.

As I was writing this blog post, Jonah Goldberg published When words lose their meanings describing this problem:

Nothing is more infuriating than to be told not to believe your lying eyes—or your empty stomach.

Until the root problem of media complicity with the establishment, especially Democrats, is dealt with, the extreme rhetoric we’re seeing in this year’s primaries will continue to play well to a large number of voters. And it will only become more extreme.

You want your party back; that sounds reasonable. But the Republican Party has been complicit with the Democrats in killing jobs, and there are a whole bunch of Republicans and Democrats who want their jobs back. As long as the Republican Party continues working with Democrats to hoodwink the American worker, we’re going to see more Donald Trumps and Bernie Sanderses, and we’re going to see them do better and better.

In response to Election 2016: Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.

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