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Don’t We All Have Something in Common?

Screenshot from “America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump” -- a two-night, four-hour documentary series on how America’s polarized politics came to be that provides new insights and crucial context for the 2020 election year.
Screenshot from “America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump” -- a two-night, four-hour documentary series on how America’s polarized politics came to be that provides new insights and crucial context for the 2020 election year. (Photo: YouTube)

I would really appreciate some serious responses as to why there is such fervent support for President Trump. I am trying to understand what is nearly incomprehensible to me. Especially after the manifesto of misstatements that was the president’s State of the Union performance. I take that back. Trump’s statements about the economy, health care, immigration and sanctuary cities were lies. That said, the state of the union was in trouble well before Trump and his stifled senatorial sycophants came to power.

I acknowledge that in the 2016 election I found myself on the same page as many of those who voted for Donald Trump. My choice would have been Bernie Sanders had not Hillary edged him out of being the Democratic contender with the help of the DNC. I hope history is not repeating itself in 2020.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn nailed it for both right and left leaning voters. in a January 12 NYT article. They wrote “We Americans are locked in political combat and focused on President Trump, but there is a cancer gnawing at the nation that predates Trump and is larger than him. Suicides are at their highest rate since World War II; one child in seven is living with a parent suffering from substance abuse; a baby is born every 15 minutes after prenatal exposure to opioids; America is slipping as a great power.”

Both Sanders and Trump were our only options for busting up what has become a “bought” Washington establishment by corporate lobbyists. I would have voted for Bernie over Trump because he has been consistent over time in his fight for the most of us who are not wealthy. That cannot be said for Trump.

“The meaningfulness of the working-class life seems to have evaporated,” Angus Deaton, the Nobel Prize-winning economist said; “The economy just seems to have stopped delivering for these people.” Deaton and his economist wife Anne Case coined the term “deaths of despair” to describe the surge of mortality from alcohol, drugs and suicide.”

I find it hard to believe that both conservative, liberal and independent voters (like me) don’t share this dismal awareness. Or am I wrong? I’d like to know.

“We have deep structural problems that have been a half century in the making,” Kristof and Wuduun state, “under both political parties, and that are often transmitted from generation to generation. Only in America has life expectancy now fallen three years in a row, for the first time in a century, because of ‘deaths of despair.’” Bipartisan blame for our present day ills.

So I’m not seeing the overall cause of our partisan divide as different as a polarizing issue. Yes, there are the perennial issues of gun control, abortion, government regulation, etc. that divide us. But isn’t our “Yuge” complaint the fact that our federal government is being run by representatives, senators, agency heads and cabinet officials who have absolutely no understanding of, much less interest in, our diminishing middle class not to mention those even less financially endowed?

Do any readers of this piece have any comprehension of what it is to live like a millionaire or billionaire? Do any of the millionaires and billionaires charged with running our government have a clue of what it is like to live on social security, to not afford to send our kids to college or to pay for the ever-increasing costs of aging in America?

Do Trump supporters really believe that the president’s massive 2017 tax cut benefited them? The U.S. economy’s strong 2018 performance that Trump brags about happened without much help from the rollbacks in business and personal tax rates. What they did was to deliver the most benefits to corporations and the rich, while workers received only marginal benefits, with bonuses from companies amounting to just $28 per employee.

Meanwhile, the cumulative net worth of senators and house members jumped by one-fifth in the two years before the start of this Congress, outperforming the typical American’s improved fortunes as well as the solid performance of investment markets during this time.

This disparity becomes clear after examining the most recent financial disclosures of virtually every current lawmaker. The news is not likely to do them any good during a midterm campaign year when disapproval of Capitol Hill remains in record low territory and sentiment remains strong that politicians in Washington are far too disconnected from the lives of their constituents.

Millionaire lawmakers have always been a part of the congressional story – from the days of Jefferson, through the industrialists who wielded outsize influence in the Gilded Age, to the corporate bosses and old money heirs who larded the cloakrooms through the end of the Cold War.

Whether you lean left, right or walk a middle line politically, don’t we all have something in common?

John Bos

John lives in Greenfield MA and is a peer news author for Citizen Truth. He is a columnist for the West County Shelburne Falls Independent, a monthly op ed contributor for the Greenfield Recorder and a contributing writer for Green Energy Times in New England. His op eds have been published in the Springfield Republican, the Montague Reporter, the Worcester Telegram and the Daily Hampshire Gazette. He invites comments and dialogue at [email protected].

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