As Mr. Biden assumes office, the question remains: what produced Trumpism? Why does a huge 34% of all Americans still approve of Donald Trump, even after all his antics, his abject failure to handle COVID, the Capitol raid and two Impeachments? Is it just a passing personality cult or is it something much deeper and more serious? IMHO, it’s the latter.
I believe Trump has touched a nerve with tens of millions of angry middle class Americans who have seen their relative living standards deteriorate sharply over the past 40 years. He is a symptom, not the cause of the deep American divide. Unlike most, I see this schism as almost entirely socio-economic (who has how much) instead of cultural-political (who believes what). Let me put it this way: if your belly is full you don’t storm the Bastille (or the Capitol), not really.
Let’s look at some numbers.
Manufacturing employment in the US topped out in 1980 at nearly 20 million workers, accounting for 27% of all private sector employees. It has since receded to just 12 million, a mere 9.3% of the private sector. That’s a precipitous 66% drop in just one generation!