I had promised myself not to post any more articles until after this dreadful excuse for a U.S. Presidential election had mercifully come to an end. But I just couldn’t do it.
While I’ve adamantly disparaged the Trump candidacy from the beginning, I’ve never disparaged Trump voters. Some are friends, some are not because I so vehemently oppose both the ethics and effectiveness of their top-heavy economics and their total lack of understanding of what actually fuels economic growth; but they’re all Americans. We should take at least some of their ill-conceived and ill-blamed concerns seriously. But we should also demand that they be serious, knowledgeable about that which they profess to understand, and that they should at least be able to draw distinctions between the two presidential candidates.
Granted, Hillary Clinton is a flawed leader — but not in any meaningful way that differs from many presidents before her, and in many instances, far fewer. We know her flaws: She has a propensity for secrecy, occasionally obfuscates truths merely by trying to cover too many bases in one answer, she is a bit too hawkish for my taste, and has a husband who lacks self-control when it comes to women. But she is not indecent, and that is a huge distinction between her and her despicable opponent.
She has spent many years and a helluva lot of time trying to further the plight of women and children, not just in this country but around the world. It’s verified facts that she has done these things whether people on the far left or right and millennials want to believe it or not. But it also pointedly shows their own lack of ability to draw distinctions between flawed individuals and a dangerous, sociopath over some idealistic bullshit. Though Hillary struggles by the mere fact that she follows probably the best orator in 40 years, but she’s studious, has sought out people of substance on every issue, (although I sincerely hope she jettisons Larry gawd-help-us-if-he’s-chosen-as-an-economic-adviser Summers), and just generally knows her facts. And given Trump’s constant goading, insulting, lying and misogyny, not to mention his affinity for sexual molestation and blatant disrespect and bullying of women, she has shown remarkable composure when face-to-face with Trump’s incendiary rhetoric. I’d have had no such restraint and would’ve opened a big ole can of Mississippi whoop-ass.
But Democrats wouldn’t be in this mess if they would simply become disciplined enough to turn out for midterm elections like they do for Presidential elections. Two short years after Obama had been elected, Democrats had their usual pathetic turnout for 2010, a census year no less when the majority Party gets to be in control of the state gerrymandering for the next ten years, and doomed President Obama to 6 years of obstructionism, disrespect, and hundreds of millions of wasted taxpayer dollars on Benghazi and email committees, and eventually allowed the GOP-led Senate to refuse to even consider his Supreme Court nominee upon the death of Antonin Scalia. That’s not just shooting yourself in the foot, it’s blowing your own got-damn entire leg off.
For his part, Trump is not only a flawed politician, he’s an indecent human piece of crap. He’s boasted of assaulting women — prompting 11 to come forward to testify that he did just that to them; his defense is incredibly, that he could not have assaulted these women because they weren’t pretty enough for his effort to molest them. He’s been indicted and faces a December trial date for raping a then 13-yr old girl, though you never hear mention of it in the broadcast media.
He created a “university’ for the sole purpose of ripping off anyone desperate enough to believe that he was offering meaningful insight into real estate and has been indicted and awaiting trial for defrauding its students. He’s been charged with discriminating against racial minorities in his rental properties. He’s stiffed countless vendors, from piano sellers to major contractors who don’t have the means to take on his cadre of high-paid lawyers to get their contractually obligated payments. He’s refused to disclose his tax returns because they likely reveal that he’s paid no federal taxes for decades, is in bed with dodgy, if not criminal, communist, financiers and keeps money collected that he promised to give to charity.
He’s compared the sacrifice of parents of a soldier killed in Iraq to his “sacrifice” of building tall buildings for gosh sakes. He’s vowed, if elected, to re-write the 1st Amendment so that no one can “say bad things about him and get away with it”.
We have never seen such behavior in a city councilman, much less a U.S. presidential candidate.
Likewise, Trump has shown no ability to talk about any policy issue with any depth. He didn’t know what the Nuclear Triad is. He’s threatened to place tariffs on imported goods which has proven time and again to be hyper-inflationary, destroys more jobs than it creates, and has always preceded a recession. Harlan Coben’s (NYT columnist) debate-night tweet last month even pegged him on the same question that everyone in the news media mocked libertarian candidate Gary Johnson for: “On Aleppo he sounds like a fifth grader giving a book report on a book he never read.”
Look, I get why many Trump supporters have lost faith in Washington and want to just “shake things up.” When you shake things up with a studied plan and a clear idea of what you want to achieve, you can open new pathways to solving old problems. But when you shake things up, guided by one-liners, innuendo, lack of knowledge and no moral compass, you can cause enormous instability and start wars with friends as well as enemies. We might have a helluva military, but do we really want all-out war that might require re-instituting the draft? Do we want to have open anarchy in the streets?
But there is an even more important reason Trump supporters, particularly less-educated white males, should be wary of his bluster: His policies won’t help them. Trump promises to bring their jobs back. But most of their jobs didn’t go to a Mexican, Indonesian, Chinese, Vietnamese, or South Korean. They went to a microchip. People just do not understand, and I have repeatedly proven beyond a shadow of a doubt in numerous articles (http://progresshg.com/2016/10/26/can-capitalism-survive-the-technologyrobot-revolution/ ,( http://progresshg.com/2016/07/18/experts-destroy-trumps-trade-and-tariff-memes/ ) that technology and robotics, not NAFTA killed the “dirty steel”, coal, and numerous other manual labor jobs that once fueled our economy. And NEWSFLASH: They are NOT coming back any more than building stage coaches or horse-drawn carriages are coming back.
The idea that large numbers of manual factory jobs can be returned to America if we put up a wall with Mexico or renegotiate our trade deals is a work of pure pandering and fantasy. Not only that, Trump ignores the fact that manufacturing is still by far the largest sector of the U.S. economy but it’s in newer, greener, technology-driven fields. Indeed, our factories now produce twice what they did in 1984 — but with one-third fewer workers. We have got to recognize this fact and deal with it in a practical, sensible manner, not by promising to step back in time while the rest of the industrialized world marches on.
Trump, nor anyone else, can change that. Machines and software will keep devouring, and spawning, more work of all kinds and one-third to one-half of our workforce is at risk in as few as 15 years.
No one knows for certain how this race with and against machines will manifest for the majority of Americans, but I can assure you it’s not Trump’s way — build walls, restrict trade, slap import tariffs on goods all Americans want, or give huge tax cuts to the rich. The best jobs in the future are going to be jobs that blend STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, math) with human empathy. We don’t even know what many of them will look like yet, but we had better be nimble and ready to deal with it on a bipartisan basis, which seems to be disappearing at the same rate as animal species we’re killing off by letting political expediency convince a large swath of Americans that climate change is a hoax despite overwhelming scientific evidence.
The smartest thing we can do now is to keep our economy open and readjust more quickly than anyone else — and create the opportunity for every American to engage in lifelong learning, because whatever jobs emerge will require more knowledge than what half of all Americans in all age groups now possess. We also have to recognize that learning stresses as much on the humanities and human interactive skills as hard sciences; make sure we have an immigration policy that continues to attract the world’s most imaginative risk-takers; and strengthen our safety nets, because this era will leave more people behind than the favorite catchall blame group of petulant, know-it-all millennials…we baby boomers.
This is the only sustainable path to American competitiveness, much less greatness, in the 21st century. Germany already has 45% of their single-family residences totally powered by solar panels that are so efficient that the vast majority of them sell excess power back to the electric grid each month reducing their cost of home ownership by as much as 15% compared to the United States.
Just to illustrate how dangerous it is to assume that what was once great will remain so; how many of you remember when Lotus 1-2-3 was the spreadsheet program that dominated the accounting business world and occupied a 10-story building in Boston, Massachusetts as its world headquarters? I’d guess not many. Lotus 1-2-3 began its rapid descent in 1990 and is now extinct. How many law firms were connected at the hip to Novell’s WordPerfect, or tape dictation machines, or in-house IBM 36 intra-net processing?
Well, they’ve all gone the way of the horse-and-buggy. And the jobs that will likely go the same way are: the 235 thousand current taxi drivers,160 thousand Uber drivers, 100 thousand Lyft drivers, 3.5 million fast-food workers, 4.8 million food and beverage servers, 272 thousand paralegals/legal assistants, 4.1 million long-haul truck drivers, and even 85% of the 720 thousand nurses in the next 15 years. **
Trump wants to make America great in ways that are just not available anymore. “What do we have to lose” by trying his way? Trump asks. The answer is: everything that actually makes us great. When the world gets to going this fast, small errors in navigation have huge consequences.
While Clinton has failed to inspire, her instincts and ideas will at least keep us hewing to basically the right course. And however great her flaws, she is still in the zone of human decency. Trump is not.
We can never be great as a country with a president with the warped values and self-centeredness of Donald Trump. Someone who judges everyone, friend or foe, by how they speak of him, or one who has the abject stupidity to think he can alienate our allies and insult entire countries with whom we share defense alliances or borders, does not belong on the White House lawn, much less the Oval Office.
In the end, if we are lucky, when Trump loses this seemingly never-ending tragedy of a national election, we can begin the hard work of addressing the future as it will be, not how some wish it will be, and repairing relations with all the decent people Donald Trump and his supporters have insulted and de-humanized.
When the story of the 2016 election is told it will hopefully go like this: Mexican-Americans and women who have been insulted, threatened, mentally and physically molested, and denigrated, built a firewall and made Trump pay for it.
** United States Department of Labor / Bureau of Labor Statistics / http://www.bls.gov/home.htm