Even for a cynic such as myself, the level of pessimism being thrown around currently seems absurdly high.
It is, of course, it is normal for the out of power party candidate to say that we need to change things, but Trump’s declarations that America is “crippled;” has been demoted to the Third World; and that minorities have never had it worse, are, I would say, absurd. But these ideas seem to resonate, even among those who would never pull the lever for Trump.
A recent poll among millenials found that 52 percent feel the nation is “falling behind” and 24 percent believe the U.S. is “failing.” A quarter of young people think the country is “failing?” This strikes me as not just living up to youthful aspirations. “Failing” is a whole ‘nother ball of wax.
I am genuinely flummoxed by this phenomenon that seems to not just be affecting our youth, but people of all ages.
Youth might be excused for their assessment in that they might be said to lack a sense of history. But many Trump supporters are my age or older and should be well aware that while these may not be the very best of times, they are far, far from the worst.
I was shocked to read this from Robert M. Price, one of our own yesterday. He is planning to vote for Trump because of Trump’s “sweeping plans to undo as much as possible of the ruination visited on our country by Obama and Clinton with their Political Correctness (which I call “the Sharia of the Left”), their eroding of traditional values, their inhumane advocacy of abortion, their “world citizen” Globalism, their blind eye to Islamism, etc.”
Ruination of our country? Really?
Now, clearly I am on the other side of the political spectrum from Dr. Price, but even during the Bush years I would have never used the word “ruination.” That is even keeping in mind that the Bush years featured the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression and the most prolonged war since Viet Nam. By any rational measures, things have gotten much better since then. But we are in ruins? Really Dr. Price?
To cherry pick some numbers from FactCheck.org: The S&P 500 is up 165% since Obama took office, 10 million jobs have been added, 15 million additional people have health insurance, job openings are up 109%, and exports of goods and services are up 27 percent. To be sure there are some not so good numbers there as well, homeownership is down slightly and incomes have not risen very much, but that hardly counts as “ruination.”
My purpose in using those numbers is not to credit Obama directly with any of those results, but just to show that, in fact, things are certainly improving. By any historical measure we are doing pretty well.
The Black Lives Matter protests do not hold a candle to the riots of the mid 60s. In the same way that our current problems with policing pale in comparison to Bull Connor and his ilk. Our issues with ISIS are not in the same league as our struggles against Fascism and Nazism. Putin in Crimea does not yet compare to the Cold War. Lehman Brothers collapse was not Black Friday. Historically, these will be remembered as rather placid times, I think.
Even the much maligned manufacturing segment of the economy is actually doing pretty well. Let us remember that the term “Rust Belt” became common in the 1980s — almost 40 years ago! Back then, it was the Japanese that were going to destroy our economy, not the Chinese.
The map from the Wikipedia page for “rust belt” shown below, indicates that Wisconsin mostly added manufacturing jobs in the period 1954-2002. Added! Looking at the map, some hardest hit areas for manufacturing loss run from Philadelphia to Boston. Yes, the poor Metroplex must be destitute! Or they replaced manufacturing with financial services and are richer than ever. Manufacturing output is higher than it was in 1990, no matter what Trump might lead you to believe.
Another thing I often hear is that the American Dream is dead, the kids are no longer better off than their parents. I can say for me, this has been true for four generations now, if we just look at professions. My great-grandfather was a white collar worker for a municipal gas company. My grandfather was a white collar salesman of industrial equipment (he did not knock on doors!), my father was a sales manager for national companies. I am a teacher like my mother. Four generations of middle, middle class professions. And no matter what our relative salaries were, I am much better off than my great-grandfather and grandfather.
The housing of the middle class is much better now than it was in the 50s or certainly the 30s. My $6,000 used car is way better than anything they ever drove. A smartphone in every pocket and a computer on every desk is clearly better than three TV networks and late night baseball on the radio. The quality of life of the middle class, even the lower middle class has improved by light years since when my parents grew up.
So, I really don’t know where the pessimism is coming from. Yes, Fox News and the churches want people to think things are worse than ever because fearful people are easier to control. But there is so much more doom and gloom hanging in the air than that.
Where does it come from? I would really like to hear your ideas.