“Donald Trump is a liar, shows no signs of having any kind of morality whatsoever, probably is insane, and I will most likely vote for him again in 2020, and will probably vote for a Republican for Congress too,” my friend Frank told me over the weekend. Frank is not just any voter. He is a former Democrat living in Ohio, who until 2016 had not cast a vote for any Republican.
I met Frank many years ago on social media. I was running a Republican discussion group on Facebook, and Frank showed up to troll my page. Generally, I have a short fuse with trolls who are not there to seek information, or to discuss issues. They exist for the sole purpose of disrupting the discussion.
There was something different about Frank. I could not put my finger on it at first, but it was his sincerity that set him apart. He stayed on the site, and what started as spirited debate turned into a friendship.
Frank is from the working class. He spent a couple of years at Michigan State, fell in love with a girl and got married. They had a baby early in the marriage. School and a growing family did not mix, so he went to work in the auto industry.
Things were going well for Frank. He had a good job, they saved money, and he and his bride were firmly on the road to joining the American Middle Class. His company moved their operations offshore, and Frank was out of a job. He is a smart man and had worked his way up to a supervisory position. He found a job in Ohio, and the family moved to the Columbus area.
His new job is not with a publicly traded company, nor in the auto industry. He works for a small firm and makes less money. The Obama years were not kind to him and his family. He makes less money in his new position, and his path is less sure then it was just a few years ago. Frank feels like he is underemployed; he misses Michigan and the auto business.
In 2016, he became dissatisfied with the Democratic Party. According to Frank,“They are not listening to guys like me. They do not care about jobs. They have more concern for an endangered owl than my family.” He voted for Bill Clinton twice, and felt bad about not voting for Hillary, but voted his pocketbook.
The zeal Frank used to have for the Democrats, now belongs to the GOP, “I want my auto job back. When the Democrats talk about jobs, all I hear is blah, blah, blah, infrastructure, or clean energy. I’m an auto worker, what about me?”
Donald Trump came along and promised he would bring the jobs back. The Democrats did not address the issue in a meaningful way, and we lost many key members of the Democratic coalition: hourly workers. Will we work to get them back?
The Democratic Party still has the union bosses in the coalition, but many of the rank and file are breaking ranks with union and voting for jobs. The jobs issues are why the GOP continues to exist. They talk about expanding companies and thereby employment, while the Democrats talk about fairness, the environment, gender, and race.
Many feel the Democratic Party has an overt hatred of business. They feel like the “liberal arts gang” is hostile to industry. I see many who are opposed to corporations in the Democratic Party. I am not hostile to business. I’m pro-business, pro-economic expansion, pro-free trade, and so are many other Democrats. Many of the wealthiest men and women in the world are Democrats. We are not the party of anti-business as the GOP successfully paints the Democrats as being.
Frank does point out a significant fault with the political class in America, and the failure is bipartisan. Those of us in the political class are good talkers, good debaters, and some of the worst listeners on the planet. We need to stop, listen, and address the issues raised by workers. Increasing the minimum wage is a noble idea, but few workers in factories earn the minimum wage. They want to know that their company is going to continue to flourish. That ensures their jobs.
Donald Trump came along, and he listened. He told one of our constituencies their issues are not paramount to the Democrats, and they agreed. Now they are gone. Will we win them back?
As a party, it appears we still are not listening to what voters are saying. Workers do not want a social program, they want jobs, and they want jobs in their industry segment. When we talk about infrastructure and future technology that is unproven and not here yet, what workers are hearing is “they do not have a clue.”
We need to get a clue and address current jobs in realistic terms. We need to kill the notion we are opposed to business.
We can do it. We can do it with a comprehensive jobs platform that talks about incentives to grow existing business. We can articulate tax reforms that encourage coming back to our shores and promotes business expansion. Tax cuts are not evil; they are a powerful tool that can be used to help grow jobs. It is time for us write an agenda that addresses growing jobs.
If we do, then come election day, that blue wave will wash over the nation.
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