One of the most concerning issues I’ve become aware of lately is the lack of knowledge or interest in actually policy making and implementation in government.
It is undeniable that Trump was only successful because he tapped into the values and struggles of an increasingly mediocre white middle class. The people who make up this population are losing the privilege they have counted on since childhood – that work will always be available to respectable, ready-to-work people like them. However, the white middle class hasn’t been so lucky in recent years. Traditional industries like coal and manufacturing are declining as the economy progresses. But just because some white people are out of work doesn’t mean that this is bad. In fact, America is recovering fantastically from a recession caused mostly by this very “white flight”, in which middle class whites dug themselves and the banks into debt because they felt entitled to nicer homes in nicer neighborhoods that they couldn’t afford.
To move the economy backwards and enforce the revitalization of certain industries is not only undemocratic but economically disastrous. However, Trump’s promises to bring back jobs and tax overseas products were some of the only identifiable policies he stated during his campaign. The others, like cracking down on immigration and “building a wall”, were never planned out and could hardly even be considered legitimate policies.
So why did so many (though a popular minority) vote for Trump? It certainly couldn’t be for his policies, which if implemented will hurt America and possibly cause a new recession. Trump won because of the fantasy he built around rhetoric that sounded political, but had no real basis in policy analysis or planning at all.
The leftist citizenry hasn’t been much better. There has been little backlash about Trump’s cabinet picks, save a few articles on Mother Jones and a popular YouTube video of Al Franken harping on the nuances of “growth” and “proficiency”. Women are marching in multiple cities tomorrow to protest an almost infinite variety of issues they have with the new president; however, it is unlikely that many protestors will have signs explaining the potential economic issues of limiting free trade and the effects it will have on access and competition in already oligarchical American markets, or how much money mass deportation will cost us not only in spending but in the loss of labor that immigrants contribute to so many of our markets.
Is it because this stuff is boring? This is something I can’t figure out. Why didn’t anyone take the time to hash out Bernie Sanders’ ridiculous free college plan and compare it to Hillary’s carefully researched and written policy on student loans and public colleges? Why did we care about an email scandal and now how much the Clintons’ prison policies have affected our culture and economy?
There needs to be a radical return to civic mindedness and political involvement for every citizen. We are numbing ourselves with ridiculous distractions, and this practice has given us our new president. We democrats should be ashamed of being so surprised about Trump’s win. How could we not see that political religiosity has been overshadowing policy for years, even in our own party?
“It has never been natural, it has seldom been possible, in this country for learning to seek a place apart and hold aloof from affairs.” Woodrow Wilson knew the benefits of public administration as well as the necessity for all citizens to be knowledgeable about its functions. If we keep allowing the culture of self-interest and cut-throat business aspirations to define what it means to be American, as we have done with our new president, then we will continues to divorce ourself from the nexuses of political and economic power. This needs to start at a local level, and it needs to start today.