Donald Trump’s rise as the chosen standard bearer for those of the alt-right who have legitimate grievances with the largely liberal dominated social/cultural/political agendas in the U.S. isn’t a passing phenomenon. It is, rather, just the start of a movement of a people whose concerns have been ignored for too long and marginalized in such a way as to create a perfect storm of backlash that was inevitable and predictable. I’m referring here to White people outside of the economically wealthy 10% – the middle and working classes who have had to bear the largest load in financing a welfare state that is sorely stacked against them.
Hillary Clinton epitomized this marginalization by referring to Trump supporters as a ‘basket of deplorables’ ‘irredeemable’ and ‘not America’ – she ‘grossly general(ized)’ the number to be half of his supporters, but that didn’t matter much as the characterization for the whole by association was not lost on anyone hearing her insulting words. The controversy surrounding these words played itself out and while Clinton attempted damage control by saying that it was wrong to say ‘half’ she never really acknowledged the legitimacy of the outrage which streamed across Twitter and the web.
And this brings us to Trump.
Donald Trump rose to prominence in the Republican debates via his stance on illegal Mexican immigration and radical Islam. By the use of a laundry list of issues – job loss, terrorism, trade, etc. – he’s painted a picture of an America which has lost its dominance and, naturally, the campaign slogan, Make America Great Again, aptly encapsulates a change in direction that Trump proposes to deliver. He presents himself as a political outsider whose experience in building his real estate empire is what distinctly qualifies him for the job of president during this time of decline. And herein lies the problem.
Trump is motivated by money. His concerns are always economic. On every issue his main interest is financial. Even with regard to terrorism and radical Islam he seems more offended by its disruption to things rather than the cost in terms of human suffering and loss. Some might say that such a pragmatic approach is exactly what we need in a captain who will steer the ship of state towards the land of renewed economic prosperity. But here is the place where I have trouble with Trump.
The first problem is this: Trump’s record as a businessman isn’t as great as we are led to believe. Yes, he’s grown a real estate empire through the span of a few decades, but that empire was built more by cunning than by wisdom. While the disastrous record of Trump’s enterprises during the 1980s-1990s may be attributed to the overall downturn in the real estate market – and that could only attest to part of the problem – it wasn’t Trump’s genius that pulled him out of it, but rather the expertise of a group of bankers and lawyers who advised him so as to recover some of the $4 billion owed to them. The tale is put into a nutshell here.
Some might say that this is just how business works in the world of markets, banking, and finance – and this is excusable. Okay, let’s concede this point just for a moment – even though it does give a pause to Trump’s claim of business acumen as his main qualification for the job of president. Let’s look at what his empire’s record is when dealing with the groups who are his primary supporters – the middle and working classes.
This USA Today article which discloses the Trump empire’s consistent and disturbing policy of stiffing small businesses and the working class begins with the story of Edward J. Freil and co.:
During the Atlantic City casino boom in the 1980s, Philadelphia cabinet-builder Edward Friel Jr. landed a $400,000 contract to build the bases for slot machines, registration desks, bars and other cabinets at Harrah’s at Trump Plaza.
The family cabinetry business, founded in the 1940s by Edward’s father, finished its work in 1984 and submitted its final bill to the general contractor for the Trump Organization, the resort’s builder.
Edward’s son, Paul, who was the firm’s accountant, still remembers the amount of that bill more than 30 years later: $83,600. The reason: the money never came. “That began the demise of the Edward J. Friel Company… which has been around since my grandfather,” he said.
The article notes:
At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. Alass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.
Trump’s companies have also been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. That includes 21 citations against the defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the also out-of-business Trump Mortgage LLC in New York. Both cases were resolved by the companies agreeing to pay back wages.
This can’t just be swept under the rug as some kind of anti-Trump hit piece – it is important as it pertains to the trouble with Trump for White middle and working class people. While his rhetoric will trigger a knee-jerk support for him as presidential candidate, I caution his supporters that he does NOT have your primary concerns at heart. When he asserts that he wants to ‘make America great again’ he is not referring to reversing the assault of White dispossession and the societal degradation of our culture. We are merely tools for the enrichment of his type – the wealthy establishment who sold us down the river decades ago.
While Trump may represent the better of two evils, his supporters should not expect that if Trump wins the bid for president that there will be any intrinsic change to the governmental systemic abuse of the White middle and working classes in the U.S. – of White people in general. What should be taken from this presidential campaign in a positive light is the fact that White people are awakened from their slumber – that White people can coalesce into an effective voting block that demands to be heard. It is the start of a reemergence of the White population being roused into declaring a right to pursue their interests in a society which has denied them that right for too long.
This is not a fight that White people have asked for – but it is one that must be fought if we are to reclaim and/or retain any of those things that we have have worked so hard to gain by the sweat of our brows and the values of our heritage as a people. Trump is a stepping stone – but he is not the real story of this campaign. The real story, one that instills fear, anger, and even hate from those whose agendas benefited from our silent ‘tolerance’ for decades, is the story of a sleeping giant who has finally been aroused out of a continued slumber which it now has been forced to halt.
It is a beginning – voting for Trump should be viewed as a means to an end, not the end in itself.