For the last thirty years or so, since the Reagan revolution, we have had some form or another of trickle down economics in play in our country. Here's how it works: tax the rich less so that in theory they will use the money they keep to create more jobs and new wealth. The problem is, it doesn't work. It never has, and it has created the greatest divide between the haves and have nots that this country has ever seen. It has crushed the middle class and robbed people in lower socio economic situations of their ability to better themselves. It has. virtually if not literally , killed the American Dream. The rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer.
So, in response, what do we do about it? Blame the black guy who inherited the mess for not fixing it fast enough, and vote Republican. As a result of the despair so many are feeling, we elected an authoritarian narcissist as President because he claimed "I alone can fix it!" Make sense? Hardly.
For 55 years of my life, I lived in a place where people who live in trailer parks tend to vote Republican. I say that not in a disparaging way, but simply to describe folks who are unfortunately stuck in that lower socioeconomic strata. Time and again, these denizens of the mobile home on cinderblocks world have been their own worst enemies at the ballot box. They vote against their own economic interests. Why the conundrum?
With few exceptions, upstate NY trailer park people don't trust the party of Thomas Jefferson. How can that be? The answer is quite simple, actually. They don't trust their downstate big city brethren to do what's right for them, and with good reason. The Democratic Party in New York, which is controlled by the Manhattan type elite, has never really listened to them, and has paid only lip service to these "upstate rubes". The rubes resent it, just as people in the fly over sections of our country resent the attitude of the east and west coastal communities . And how do I know that? Because I am one of those "Upstate rubes". I was recruited in 1995 to create the illusion that the NY City politicians were actually listening to the rubes, who had just thrown Mario Cuomo out of office. He got only 17% of the vote in Oswego County, and that needed to be changed. So, as a former Upstate Mayor, with an ebullient Irish demeanor , I became the Co- Chair of the state Democratic Party. My job was to bring back the Reagan Democrats. There was a need for the illusion that the party was listening to the rubes. In reality, that was far from the truth. But we did go on to create the Democratic Rural Conference , and that helped galvanize the rube vote for a while. Our motto was "United for voice and victory." We energized the people with the pitchforks. The Democrats started winning again. It didn't last for long. And even Howard Dean picked up the idea and ran with it as DNC Chair with what he called his 50 state strategy. That worked too, and the Democrats for a while, made a comeback.
To digress, in addition , and to buttress my rube bona fides, I lived for three of the last six years in SE Kansas, which counts as middle American fly over country. I used to tell my college aged students that I may be from NY, but not the NY they were thinking about. I was from the Southeast Kansas part of New York. I think they got it.
It is the arrogance of the elite ruling class that brings out the rube vote in droves. This election provides ample evidence of that phenomenon. The rubes prevailed. They voted for change over substance because they are frustrated and forlorn and never really listened to. They believed that a tear down the house ersatz billionaire would deliver them to the promised land. They didn't like it when Hillary Clinton called them a basket of deplorable, and more than they liked Mayor Ed Koch's comment , when he ran for NY Governor in 1982 about pick up trucks with gun racks and gingham dresses.
So this year, Trump won. And now we will wait in great anticipation to see what if anything can be done to advance the cause of american rubery. We will see if If true change is possible, and whether economic justice is more than just an illusory apparition. Turnabout is fair play. The elites are now marching in protest and the rubes are rooting for the Republicans to bring about that deliverance. Ying meet yang. Yes, we shall see what happens. But I wouldn't get my hopes up too high.
Nevertheless, in the interim , we should stay open to the possibility of success, while still planning for the worst. And what's the worst that can happen? A return to despair. Perhaps one day we will all be singing "Happy days are here again! ", or perhaps not. Only time will tell.
But as we take a collective deep breath before retreating to our sparring stations in opposite corners of the ring, let's understand that an early knockout is unlikely. We are in for a multi-round battle. The rubes of this country must re-energize and unite. Once that happens , the fight will be on, an then real change may actually come about. Meanwhile, the words of Mr. Jefferson come back to haunt us. " A people who believe they can be both free and ignorant, believe that which has never been, and never can be. " A democracy presupposes an informed electorate. Without that, it just doesn't work. Believe me!