Who The F@#! Is Still On Board With The Trump Administration? Rich People, That’s Who.
Note: This story originally appeared on my blog in August, 2017.
I just got done watching ABC’s Sunday morning news program, This Week with George Stephanopoulos. The roundtable of guests made much of the fact that Donald Trump’s approval ratings are at a record low, 36% according to a poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News.
This begs the question — who the fuck is still okay with this raging dumpster fire of a presidency? After all, 36% of the United States population is a whopping 117 million people, slightly less than the entire population of Mexico.
While it is tempting to blame the “deplorables” who stuck by Candidate Trump despite (perhaps, even, because of) his never-ending stream of racist, Islamophobic, and misogynistic invective, there are quite frankly not enough deplorables to skew poll results to that extent. And given Trump’s inability to make good on promises to “build the wall’, “lock her up”, “drain the swamp”, and “repeal and replace”, many Trump supporters are quietly planning to vote for someone else come 2020.
So who is still okay with Trump? Two words — rich people. Or, more accurately, rich people who have something to gain from creating a permanent underclass in America.
While the narrative of the 2016 election was that members of the woebegotten white working class voted for Trump out of sheer desperation, the truth of the matter is that wealthy people supported Trump in high numbers.
The wealthy have quite a bit to gain from supporting a Trump presidency. After all, Trump threatened to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, a healthcare system that was partially financed by taxes on the 1%. His plans to deregulate Wall Street (by scrapping Dodd-Frank amongst other things) would make it even easier for the denizens of Wall Street to get even richer. Trump prioritized the roll back of several Obama-era environmental regulations in order to revitalize the coal industry, a move that, not creating all that many jobs, will only benefit a handful of coal company owners. And, having always been privileged, Donald Trump is much more inclined to favor members of his own class, despite his assertions to the contrary.
But there are even more nefarious reasons why certain members of the 1% would support Trump’s agenda.
According to Umair Haque of Bad Words, the American Dream was based upon little more than the legalized (and often brutal) economic exploitation of minority groups in America. Haque goes on to argue that when that when Jim Crow and racial discrimination were legally eradicated in America in the early 1970’s, the American economy stagnated.
In his Medium essay, “How America Imploded”, Haque writes:
Right around 1970…something seemed to go badly wrong with the US economy. Very badly wrong. Incomes began to flatline — and never recovered. Union participation shrank. Basic measures of well being like education, literacy, and health flatlined. Like an invisible fist had KO’d a society…
…What really happened to America? 1970 was roughly the year de jure segregation ended. We don’t need to debate the precise date, call it when you will. I date it to 1971, when segregated school buses were struck down by the Supreme Court. And it tells us a very powerful truth about life, economics, and America.
From slavery, through segregation, the US economy’s capital had a ready made supply of cheap labour. That is a crude way to put a barbaric human reality. People were exploited institutionally and systemically for profit is more accurate.
But in 1970 this supply of cheap labour suddenly began to come to an end. Now capital had to to pay higher costs. It couldn’t simply pool workers into two castes, one of whom was disposable, barely human at all. Exploitation was less efficient than it had been…
Capitalism was quite literally eating itself. Without a supply of cheap labour, the US economy was doing the only thing it knew how to do: create another one…
While I agree with Haque’s analysis, I feel that it doesn’t go far enough. American prosperity was also built upon the sexist exploitation of women. Women in the workforce were — still are — paid less for the same work. This allows business owners to cut labor costs while maintaining (or even increasing) productivity. Cultural biases shut many women out of the corner office — guaranteeing that the highest paid and most prestigious jobs are reserved for men. Refusing to assign economic value to the housework and childcare performed by stay-at-home wives and mothers means lower Social Security payouts. The childcare crisis and the lack of paid parental leave not only prevents women from fully participating in the American workforce but requires them to literally pay for their right to work.
Now that Trump has allied himself to the anti-choice Christian Right (via Mike Pence), the economic exploitation of women will take on an even more pernicious edge. Because Pence (and the Christian Right wing of the GOP) have ramped up their war on women’s reproductive rights, a large number of American women will no longer be able to control their fertility.
Women who cannot control their fertility with birth control or abortion will inevitably have children they cannot afford. Having more children than they can afford guarantees that those women will not be able to supply resources like nutritious food, adequate housing, or comprehensive healthcare to their children. It also guarantees that the housing they do provide for their children will be situated in low-income neighborhoods, locales not known for providing the high-quality education that would enable their students to compete in the increasingly tech-driven and automated workforce. And the GOP’s desire to slash entitlements will only make it more difficult for these women and their children to escape from the inevitable cycle of poverty.
Guess what? People who are hungry, sick, and just plain uneducated due to poverty are much more likely to accept — uncomplainingly and even gratefully — the low-paying dead-end work that makes the capitalist business class rich.
That being said, the capitalist class is always going to be okay with Trump’s agenda.