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November 12, 2016

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My aged intuition and some observations from the mixed-race, blue-collar environment in which I work is that it may be a mistake to generalize about what Americans voted for in this past election or even how or for what so-called identity groups voted.

Disaffected Mid-West white Democrat workers or racists, xenophobics, anti-Semitics, Islamophobics, homophobics, nationalists et. al. certainly cast votes; but Clinton's share of the popular vote does not equate to the higher numbers of Democrats to Republicans in the US. Those who normally or have voted Democrat must have voted for Trump. I posit that there are some trends that Democrats should consider to fully understand the results.

First, from what I hear on the street and have read, a great many red and blue votes were against something, not for something -- whether it be status quo or draining the swamp--starting with both candidates for whom a quantity of not insignificant votes came from people "holding their nose" and bemoaning that the other candidate was so unacceptable.

Or, as we have seen, they were for one thing, not a platform or ideology be it a woman's right to choose or the right to bear arms. If we were able to parse out the main reasons behind the votes of the 60+ million who voted both ways, I think it would be a long list which would not support any mandate or condemnation of any cause or group or demographic. And at the risk of blasphemy, many motives for this election's vote would appear to have been emotional and not economic.

Interesting to me and it appears missed by Democrats as a whole, consumed as they are by their repulsion of Trump, has been the Democratic party's leaking of support over the past several election cycles, nationally and in Virginia. And in the mostly blue-collar, mixed-race environment in which I work I would not ascribe that to rhetoric, right-wing or not -- or a shifting attraction to the Republican party.

My perception is that an increasing number of "Democrat" folks with incomes less than $80 to $100K are reluctantly concluding that the Democratic party has left them in its pursuit of other constituencies and causes with whom they have little alignment or see as against their interests.

What follows is a "heard on the street" list of some of the factors which may be causing the worker -- black, white, Latino, Asian, etc, -- to drift from the Democratic party.

Religion is important to a very great number of what is called the working class, both black and white, with blacks maybe a little more diligent in that regard. I don't think they understand the social justice imperatives that result in an organization of nuns being sued by the Federal government to comply with regulations abhorrent to their religious beliefs. Or they may be experiencing increasing unease at seemingly growing public disdain for people with religious views which seems to characterize Democratic policy and the rhetoric of their apologists in media and academia.

The moral logic that a couple should lose their business and life savings and be forced into bankruptcy for refusing to bake a cake is lost on many who feel that such government overreach is unfair and scary and who can't parse the fine legal points in protected classes or even keep up with them (New York city now has 20+?).

While they and their parents may have historically aligned with the Democratic party, most still believe that humans born with a penis should use the men's room and those with a vagina the women's room. I don't think they are persuaded that this Federal mandate significantly improves the experience of its intended beneficiaries, fostering inclusion and acceptance throughout America as their government has proclaimed, let alone their own children.

Perhaps most telling, in Richmond as they have watched whole swaths develop where English isn't even spoken, they don't understand and I am afraid resent that their undocumented, jobless neighbors can sustain lifestyles equal to or superior to what they can achieve with their $13-$22/hr jobs (typical mfgr. wages for central VA.

I suspect a growing number do not understand the finer points of States rights such that cities can declare that they will not enforce immigration law even for those convicted of a crime, as they get hammered for infractions. A visit to traffic court where the majority of plaintiffs, often with multiple infractions, need an interpreter might further reinforce the beliefs of those who do not live the lives of the higher socio-economic strata that something is wrong with American policy -- so far as their pocket books are concerned.

They have not been able to square the circle that the Democratic party has given them a signature benefit of affordable health care when they see that those costs have skyrocketed; and if stricken, with premiums and deductibles their family may have to pay 20%-30% of its annual income before the insurance even kicks in. (Not for here to break out whether the "refunds" ameliorate this much for a family with 2 working members)

They and their bosses in small business have had considerable difficulty seeing the promised improvement on Main Street from drastically increased regulation like Dodd-Frank, resulting in credit and the availability of working capital becoming dramatically harder to procure.

Or on government regulation there is the new overtime rule which hits this group right where they live. Many will now have to punch a card in and out and come under a new set of wide restrictions about what they can and cannot do. Companies are even advised to cancel email accounts which can be accessed on private time and to stop at-home work and other activities which cannot be tracked by supervisors. Emotionally, many will see "going on the clock" as humiliating and a demotion, pay notwithstanding.

A closer to home example, the $7,000 fine a Salesperson (actually his company since it is illegal to hold workers personally responsible for their failure to follow OSHA regulations) was levied by OSHA for delivering a tool to an installer without a hard hat, levied by an "inspector" on the payroll of OSHA who some distance away hid a full day in a truck waiting for an infraction seems just a little too much in their knickers. (The worker knows this is going to show up somewhere in his paycheck)

Unfortunately only a small sample, this list is offered to show how, rightly or wrongly, the Democratic party may be alienating many of its historical members by pursuing social change or economic objectives with which they they are uncomfortable or perceive as not in their or the country's best interests.

Thanks, Steve. Enjoyed your comments.

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