Hardly anyone saw it coming—except maybe the 59 million-plus voters who elected Donald Trump the 45th President of the United States this month. The questions following the election results asking why and how this happened have seemed to revolve around Trump’s appeal to working-class whites. That is representative of something far more complicated and troubling than anyone would like to admit.
White men without college degrees voted in droves, while others did not. The turnout in mostly white working-class counties was extraordinary, giving Trump way more support even in areas that supported Barack Obama in 2012.
I think we, as Americans, must understand that free trade, immigration, and technological change do not help everyone. In fact, these advances leave a lot of people behind—and politicians have done little to help them. That is the truth in the Trump victory, irrespective of the reality that he will do little, if anything, to help the white working-class electorate that voted him in.
The Rise and Decline of Working-Class Families
In the 1950s and 1960s, young people didn’t have to leave for college, move to another state, or join the military in order to find a job that paid enough to raise a family. Businesses didn’t demand tax breaks from their towns and then move away as soon as the tax break expired. Your kids could follow in your footsteps and do better than you, just as you had done better than your own parents.
Since that time, however, working families have experienced downsizing, outsourcing, and the relentless destruction of middle-wage jobs, with their reinvention as lower-wage jobs. They lost homes or home values in the deepest recession since the Great Depression and have since watched a “recovery” that has mainly benefited wealthy urbanites.
A 2014 study prepared for the US Conference of Mayors and the Council on Metro Economies and the New American City found that over the last 40 years, the distribution of income has steadily shifted toward upper-income households, while jobs recovered after the 2008 recession paid an average of 23% less than the positions they replaced. Another study by the National Employment Law Project found that by 2014, there were 958,000 fewer jobs in mid-wage industries and 1.85 million more workers in low-wage industries than at the start of the recession.
Wage stagnation for the vast majority was not created by abstract economic trends. Rather, wages were suppressed by policy choices made on behalf of those with the most income, wealth, and power.
In the past few decades, the American economy generated lots of income and wealth that would have allowed substantial living standards gains for every family. The same is true looking forward: overall income and wealth will continue to grow. The key economic policy question is whether we will adopt policies that enable everyone to participate in shared prosperity, or whether the growth of income and wealth will continue to accrue excessively and disproportionately to those at the top. These are some of the complicated reasons that account for Trump’s election win and the reasons why a certain segment of the population voted for him in droves.
Making America Great Again
The Constitution’s first three words—"We the People"—affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens. For over two centuries, the Constitution has remained in force because its framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, and of the federal and state governments. The framers of the Constitution saw the complete power that the British monarch had over his country and designed the American government to prevent this situation from reoccurring.
In an effort to “Make America Great again,” President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to deport over 11 million undocumented immigrants, to ban Muslims from entering the United States, to surveil American Muslims and their houses of worship, and to torture again. Trump’s proposals taken together would violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
In California, Governor Brown and the legislature said that they would “lead the resistance” to possible changes that plan to be implemented by Donald Trump and Congress. Governor Brown said that “We will protect the precious rights of our people and continue to confront the existential threat of our time—devastating climate change,” he said.
Commentators predict that California will have more conflicting policies with Donald Trump because Medi-Cal benefits have been expanded under the Affordable Care Act, and California has liberal immigration policies that our state’s economy is dependent upon. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that the LAPD would not help deport immigrants under Donald Trump. California will lead our nation to show that no one President can violate people’s constitutional rights and roll back the progress those who came before us have worked so hard to achieve.
A collection of lawyers and others from all professions and walks of life across our country stand ready to fight in courts of law, in our political institutions, and to peacefully protest in the streets of our great nation to protect our Constitutional rights. I think it is a great time to be a lawyer and a citizen in our country because through this election, we will prove to the world, and more importantly, to ourselves, the power we, as people, have through our Constitution. The values and principles of our Constitution are stronger and greater than any one man or woman elected to office.
Quote of the Month
“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the Shore.” ~ Christopher Columbus
From Josh’s Case Book
$50,000 policy limits settlement in an auto v. motorcycle accident. Injuries include a right tibial plateau fracture. This was a proposition 213 case where my client did not have auto insurance.