Another great piece by David Frum of The Atlantic. I am presuming that he is aiming his remarks at what he calls the “wine track” crowd, upper-middle class professionals. (James Carville, Bill Clinton’s staffer, said it much better, referring to them as the “wine-sippin’, Volvo-drivin’, NPR-listenin’ crowd.”) Frum is describing obvious facts to a group for whom it is not obvious at all; the correct word for that group is “oblivious,” not “obvious.”
Of course, I’m biased, because, as some of you may have noticed, a lot of what Frum says is similar to the views I myself have long expressed. In my post about a previous piece of Frum’s, I could hardly contain my glee at seeing someone at the august, highly Establishment Atlantic (of which, admittedly, I am a reader) dare ridicule the economists, who are great number crunchers but have no idea what the numbers mean, and who in many cases are (consciously or not) just trying to confirm their preconceptions.
In short, the “wine track” people are badly in need of education as to why Trump has such fervent supporters (even if many of them probably wince at with at least some of his remarks).
I do have a number of comments, though. Since I am a Democrat and Frum’s piece is aimed largely (though not exclusively) at the Republicans, I may be a poor one to criticize, but I believe that Frum should have gone a little further in some of his points.
For example, why no mention of Grover Norquist? Frum is correct, I believe, that the Tea Party began as a “No one cares about us in the mainstream” movement, but it was hijacked by Norquist and his money into an anti-tax thing.
Frum suggests, correctly, that many in the Tea Party crowd may be just as worried about their Social Security funding as any mainstream Democrat, but he draws the line at Obamacare. I’m much less sure of that, because many Tea Partiers will find that they need it, as they find that it becomes harder for them and their grown children to obtain decent-paying work. If a Republican wins the White House in November, he/she will find it much more difficult than they thought to dismantel the program.
But in a different sense, Obamacare does epitomize the problem. When he took office and started pushing for health care reform, Obama never bothered to explain to the nation why it was needed. In my opinion, it was indeed needed — the present employment-based system is unsustainable in the long run, I think. But most people were pretty happy with their present health care, and Obama should have explained it to them. (He also should have been MUCH more on top of its implementation, which has been disastrous.) Obama basically treated the populace as children, people who didn’t need to know why health care reform was imperative.
Obamacare also ties in to the recurring theme in Frum’s piece of immigration. It was never mentioned that a substantial number of the uninsured were immigrants; that’s why the business lobby is so strongly pro-immigration, desiring cheap and benefit-free labor.
And immigration of course is the other issue that has never been properly sold to the population. I believe most Americans really do want to “Welcome the stranger” (a biblical phrase that is one of the immigration lobby’s favorite talking points), but they do want to feel that they have been part of the policy-making process. Being asked to “Press 1 for English” by a phone recording dramatizes the point that they have not been consulted.
It wouldn’t hard to write policy that, for example, would ensure that most legal immigrants would know at least rudimentary English BEFORE they immigrate. (I’ve made such proposals, actually.) And in setting immigration policy, its effects on other aspects would be carefully considered and discussed openly with the nation. Instead, what we get is a lot of slick pro-immigration PR, and a president who sets his policy on the basis of a single pro-immigration economist.
Another point that Frum neglected to develop is the impact of immigration on blacks and Latinos. Historically, the Democrats have been the champions for poor African-Americans, only to abandon them in favor of the Latinos, particular the Latinos that Jay Leno cleverly termed “undocumented Democrats.” Immigration does hit our most vulnerable people especially hard, the poor and less-educated. Yet there is only one major presidential candidate today who has said so. Is it Clinton?, you ask. Surely you’re joking. Sanders? Sadly, no. It’s…yes, Donald Trump.
It speaks volumes that Bernie doesn’t feel free to say what Trump said, that immigration has been harmful to low-skilled blacks and Latinos. And it speaks volumes that so many Latinos have been led (by Univision, the Hispanic activists and so on) to think that an expansive immigration policy is in their interests. And for that matter, it’s very telling that the Republicans are bashing Obamacare so fiercely when it actually has its genesis in a conservative think tank (the Heritage Foundation) and was first implemented, to great approbation, by a Republican governor in Massachusetts (Mitt Romney). All of these epitomize the bypassing of the American public in how the nation is run.
I have my own problems with El Donaldo. But those who quickly dismiss him have no clue as to what’s going on in the real world.