It was not a good year from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. One of the major themes in the election was tightening up trade policy, with the candidates of both major parties promising action in that regard. This has to rankle on a prominent trade evangelist like Friedman. But even worse, the much more strident of the two candidates on trade issues is the one that prevailed. Ouch! He is now lashing out, warning Trump voters that The Donald will abandon them.
I can’t remember an election in which the losers — by which I mean the pundits such as Friedman, not Hillary, who has been gracious in defeat — were so bitter. Friedman’s tone in the above piece is simulataneously angry and plaintive. I’m told that ABC’s Martha Raddatz, who had unprofessionally badgered Trump in the second debate, was actually holding back tears in her election night broadcast.
At least Friedman now realizes that the polls during the campaign (with the notable exception of the LA Times/USC poll) missed the boat. I’ve been mentioning the Bradley Effect the last couple of months, and I am becoming more and more convinced that that is what was at work in this year’s polls. There was such a shunning of Trump supporters in the media, workplace and so on that many of those contacted by pollsters hid the truth, say by claiming to be undecided, or simply refusing to be polled. An excellent Wall Street Journal article indicated that some the pollsters themselves agree on this:
Mr. Wagner says people who respond to polls may be fundamentally different from those who don’t. In this case, Mr. Wagner’s early analysis indicates that low-educated white people who are willing to answer polls don’t seem to reflect the opinions of the group as a whole.
At least Friedman is now beginning to understand that a significant part of the population (and no, not just white men without a college degree) feel that The System has betrayed them. But there are still many who simply do not get this.
I have a Chinese-immigrant friend in that situation. She is thoroughly assimilated into American life, and has even held local political office. But Wednesday morning, she said that she was “grieving” over Trump’s election, and asked how people could possibly vote for such an evil man. I replied:
You should to try to understand why many of those who voted for Trump have been grieving for a long time. You have a job that you love and are very dedicated to. On top of that, you are a single mother, and need a job. Suppose one day your school informs you that you are being terminated, replaced by a cheaper foreign national on an H-1B work visa. (In fact, there are many H-1B teachers.) Moreover, you discover after losing your job that, in spite of the fact that you have much valuable experience, good recommendations from employers and so on, no one wants to hire you. In fact, very few employers even grant you interviews.
I know many people who have had exactly that experience. They are mad and frustrated, and feel that neither major political party cares about them one whit. Then someone like Trump comes along who has a written platform that promises to tighten up H-1B policy, and who even invites a displaced programmer to speak at one of his rallies, while Hillary has basically said she would make H-1B policy even more liberal, rather than tightening it. The vast majority of people I know like this voted for Trump. And by the way, they are a diverse, educated group, not the white males without college degrees that the media has portrayed them to be.
Not that I am so sanguine about the coming Trump administration. The theme of my posting last night was in essence, Will Trump “dance with the one who brung him”? Will he remember the Little People or side with the Big Banks? Obama failed the Little People who voted for him; instead of Change he brought us Larry Summers. I’m sure many people who voted for him are merely cautiously optimistic. But I’m also sure Trump’s statement to inner city blacks, “What the hell do you have to lose [by voting for me]?” resonated with many voters, from all walks of life.