Its the Economy Stupid!

I am an old man, who has been retired a long time. When I was a kid, men who graduated from high school, could reasonably expect to get a job that after a few years would make them able to live a middle-class life with a house and a car and 2.5 kids. My generation saw that standard of living, more or less, to be the “American Dream”

There were a lot of manufacturing and vocational school graduates’ jobs that provided that standard of living.

But then, globalization followed the Pax Americana. As a policy really of all parties in the U.S. have been, or were arguing that free market capitalism, with some regulation, was part of democracy and freedom. But the downside of free markets is that if a company or any entity can make a product of comparable or perhaps even better quality, at a lower price, it will displace its higher priced, perhaps lower quality goods. Pax Americana included the idea of free trade, and foreign sources (starting I think with Japan) whose workers did not enjoy the standard of living that U.S. workers did, could produce products less expensively, especially labor-intensive products. And Americans chose and still choose low prices when they can. So foreign goods represented a serious threat to American companies. Their reasonable response was to start producing goods in those foreign environments when they could, so that these American company goods could compete with foreign sourced goods. That meant fewer American employees, and over time, the American laborer was significantly impacted in reality, or in fear of being personally impacted. So, for these people, Democracy – both parties – were failing them, even though those American laborers were being able to buy goods at much lower prices than if those goods were produced in America. Being able to buy cheaper goods, maybe more goods, and maybe different goods because of the lower prices, did not offset the loss of employment, or the fear of loss of employment.

My Economics teachers would often say, that “free market capitalism” claims to distribute scarce resources optimally, it does not claim to be fair or caring. So those economic trends hurt a large segment of the country’s population and as a result, there are a lot of people consisting of people who were displaced or disturbed by these global trends (not just Americans) who quite rightly recognize that our democracy did nothing to make their dislocation any easier. And they don’t view the market as responsible for their situation that they view as much worse than it was when I was growing up. They reasonably hold the government responsible.

I have family and friends who I not only love, but whose thinking and personalities I admire, who are strong supporters of Trump and recognize that Democracy in America will end when he is re-elected, and they think that is a good thing, They are hopeful that his government will be more responsive to their needs than our American Democracy has been. Now, there is a real movement in America to end Democracy and replace it with something that will be more responsive to their needs I think that is the foundation of MAGA. So MAGA has become a movement of hope for those who support it. And that is why the MAGA movement is so powerful, I believe. It gives its followers hope, and as a movement, it offers a camaraderie as well as hope. So Trump’s chances in 2024 are good, even though, or maybe because Democracy is at stake.

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