A Letter to the Millennial and Rust Belt Voters of Donald Trump
On November 8, you, as American citizens, will have the democratic agency to elect Donald Trump as the most important and influential leader of the most powerful nation in the world. Donald Trump; a man that is seemingly a cross between Jeffrey Archer and Hitler. A man whom discusses non-natural born citizens as if they’re dehumanized ghouls and women as if they’re objects without sentience.
He’s said to be “charismatic,” a “man of the people,” and a vote for the populist in all of us. What is also frequently remarked about Trump is his “ascension” into the highest realm of the Republican party and the Presidential candidacy. This ascendancy is a falsity. A falsehood that has been propagated by two hypothetical, yet identifiable ideas of who will be voting for him: misguided, misinformed and – frankly – unintelligent Millennials of the 2008/09 crash generation and displaced, broken workers from states in the Rust Belt who have been cast aside and forgotten since the late 1970’s.
Millennials, mainly affected by the shock of the economic crash of 2008/09, are looking for comfort and reassurance for at least the next four years; politically, economically, socially. A candidate like Trump allows them to become irrationally uncomfortable by fabricating anxiety theories that we’ve been hearing for years, e.g. ‘workers stealing American jobs,’ ‘industry relocation to channel cheaper labour and manufacturing.’ Since the end of the 1970’s when governments demonstrated their disinterest in investing into important infrastructure, a false grand narrative has been slowly – insidiously – crafted in the American psyche. Foreign competition is a foe, industry is declining and therefore, the foreign competitor has dismantled a large part of the American economy.
But industry was not taken apart by Mexicans, Japanese or other countries, it was taken apart by Americans themselves. An inside job. The largely white and male politicians in office who have – over the course of the last three decades – made it more difficult to make a business profitable in the U.S and allow workers a chance at a decent standard of living. A lot of Millennials want an easy ride. Trump’s rhetoric and its adherence to the false grand narrative of the late 20th century allows them to think a vote for him will give them that. Most Millennials who intend to vote for Trump do not know the ache of economic catastrophe, the damning psychological effects of unemployment and community displacement or the near-impossible struggle to make a life almost free of worry. Voting for Trump reinforces their comfort that American jobs will “stay American,” and their entitled status that allows them to not worry about the college tuition they will pay. They will continue to idly believe that that they can achieve what they want and find their dreams without really doing any of the work to get there in the first place. An easy ride.
On the other hand, an easy ride is not something that many of the others who will vote for Trump have ever had. They come from small towns that once were beacons of the steel trade or coal mining. From Virginia, to Youngstown, Ohio to Lackawanna, New York – they are, as Dale Maharidge calls them – the New Timers. Workers whose jobs no longer exist that were born and raised in towns that have turned ghostly. They may not ride the rails like the jobless Dust-Bowlers of the Great Depression but they are not far from those people. When Trump announces he will bring back steel or coal, they are offered a glimpse of hope that they have not felt since governments decided to turn away from those industries in the seventies. Since they made it harder to organise a union or a walk-out. Since they amended or removed legislation from the New Deal-era that guaranteed, or at least implied, workers’ rights.
There is no intention in the economic policies of Donald Trump to “bring back” those types of industries. His staff will advise him that it will not be a smart move to invest in coal or steel and he will listen. He will see coal and steel as non-profitable and turn away from the people in the small towns of America. Those people have been fighting to reclaim their individual and collective identity since they lost their jobs, their rights, their families. They have been searching for a place to become new again. Donald Trump has no intention of providing any type of Eden for them. His administration will only make their burdens heavier. You, both groups, are ultimately duped into thinking a vote for Donald Trump will bring you anything other than stagnation at best, increased hardship, poverty, and depression at the worst.
There is nothing remarkable about Donald Trump’s candidacy other than the support for it by the groups such as the ones you find yourself typecast in. He is a mouthpiece for the false grand-narrative rhetoric that provides a thin framework for his political stances and policies. His platform is one that could have been inhabited by any individual with the same personality and borderline-sociopathic tendencies that he has demonstrated.
In 1978, they took your steel mills and your coal mines. They made you leave town, leave your families behind. They turned Main Street ghostly. Your children went to bed hungry as you felt grief and shame standing in line with food stamps. You couldn’t start again. The red, white and blue began to turn grey and pale. You couldn’t even see the stars on the patchwork anymore, it was tattered and frayed.
The voices from those deserted factory walls echoed again in 2008. They played you. They ignored regulation and gambled with more than your money. Once again, you were left with no home. No America. They ruptured the future for your children. College, house prices, gas prices.
Don’t let the legacy win. Donald Trump is not a good, wholesome American. He is a man who is clear-sighted about discrimination more than any of his political passions. A man who has never sweated for a dollar in his life; an individual whose life and career has relied on nepotism more than anything else. A vote for Trump is not the hope you are looking for. As much as you would like to think so, The Rust will never rise under his leadership. Remember who and what caused Black Monday and the Crash of 2008 and know that this man would have been at the helm of those catastrophes if he was elected. Donald Trump is not a path to The Promised Land. No matter what, your voices should demand to be heard. Your questions and yearnings should be answered. But, Donald Trump is not the right candidate to answer them for you.