Even since Donald Trump won the electoral college, partly on the basis of the “white working class” and their economic anxieties, there have been a few types of articles written. The first was the most prevalent: centrist reporters asking why the media has forgotten the white working class, and how no one talks about them. There were approximately 58 million stories about these hidden folks.
Then, since the inauguration, those stories were overtaken by articles about how a lot of Trump voters are recognizing that they might have been sold a bill of goods, and that their health care is being taken away, and that everything they were promised about their lives getting better is a lie.
The third are thinkpieces where we on the left ask whether we should react to this with scorn, anger, pity, sympathy, or some combination.
The Times yesterday had a classic example of the 2nd type, talking about the “GOP Health Care Tightrope in the Midwest”.
DEFIANCE, Ohio — James Waltimire, a police officer on unpaid medical leave, has been going to the hospital in this small city twice a week for physical therapy after leg surgery, all of it paid for by Medicaid.
Mr. Waltimire, 54, was able to sign up for the government health insurance program last year because Ohio expanded it to cover more than 700,000 low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act. He voted for President Trump — in part because of Mr. Trump’s support for law enforcement — but is now worried about the Republican plan to effectively end the Medicaid expansion through legislation to repeal the health care law.
“Originally the president said he wasn’t going to do nothing to Medicaid,” Mr. Waltimire said the other day after a rehab session. “Now they say he wants to take $880 billion out of Medicaid. That’s going to affect a lot of people who can’t afford to get insurance.”
You read this, and your first instinct is to say, well…yeah. What the hell did you think? After all, Donald Trump is a Republican, and Republicans want to gut Medicaid. They want to take away your health insurance. That’s how it always is. How the hell did you not know this?
Then, of course, you are taken again with how breathtaking a liar Donald Trump is. He did say, over and over, that no one was gonna touch Medicaid, ok, and everyone would have health care and no one would pay for it. It was amazing, his sheer and unrelenting dishonesty, and you might feel bad for how a low-information voter might hear that and think it is possible. Because, after all, we’ve never had a politician lie like this before. There was not even an attempt to pay observance to the truth.
But then, on the other hand, you remember that it was Donald Trump. He’s been a public sleazebag for 40 years. If you’re a 54-yr-old and it somehow escaped your attention that he’s a crooked liar, that’s on you.
And then, of course, you see the heart of it: he was sucked into the lie because of “Mr. Trump’s support for law enforcement”, a piece of culture war bullshit that is barely coded racism. Because this wasn’t a race between Donald Trump and, I don’t know, Leonard Peltier or something. It’s not like Hillary didn’t support law enforcement. But she also believed that Black Lives Mattered.
That’s what his “support” came down to. The right wing decided that BLM, or really anyone who wanted to hold police accountable for murder or other violent abuses of power, were the enemy of society. This was very wrapped up in race, and in the idea that cops should be able to do whatever they wanted to the “right” people, you know the ones who deserve it. Trump made it very clear where he stood in this.
His outlandish and wildly unrealistic fairy tale lies were believed because people thought he was on their side. It’s not because he talked about jobs. Hillary talked way more about jobs, in a way more detailed manner. Part of the problem was the press clearly wasn’t interested in policy, just emails, so none of that got through. But another problem is that what Trump as saying got through loud and clear, because he got in the door speaking the right language.
Race and economics are incredibly interlinked in this country. It does a disservice to the truth to pretend they aren’t for fear of liberal condescension. Trump’s dishonest messages, the ones that will hurt the people who voted for him, got through because of the ones he, and the modern GOP, are deadly honest about.