There is general agreement, even among those appalled by Trump’s style and character, that at least some of the grievances of his followers require the attention of a political class until now unaware of or insensitive to the needs of these forgotten Americans. As it does, it will be benefitting from several recent developments that just might act to cool the anger of Trump’s millions of supporters.
For one thing, the mostly lower-paid Trump supporters are seeing their fortunes improve. The unemployment rate that soared to 10 percent during the Great Recession, has fallen in half, to about its pre-recession level of 5 percent. The number of white persons in poverty, presumed to be an important Trump constituency, declined by almost 3 million in the last reporting year. Increases in statutory minimum wages, their effect on employment aside, have been raising take-home pay of the lower paid. If these trends continue, and early reports on third quarter GDP and projections for holiday sales and hiring suggest they will, the discontented, if not joyous, may be less angry.
A Clinton administration will also provide some balm for those angry at the widening gap between rich and poor. President Clinton should be able to persuade even a Republican-controlled congress to go along with higher taxes on the wealthy. Forget whether that is as efficient or even as effective a way to reduce inequality as more rapid growth: Those who want to hear the sound of tumbrils rolling over the cobblestones of Georgetown and similar upper-income neighborhoods, will have the impression that government, which they feel has been their enemy, has become a bit more responsive to their complaints.
Then there are the debt-burdened students. The fact that for many the IOUs that now trouble them were incurred to pay for educations that will increase their earning power by some multiple of their expenditure does not stop them from moaning about their debts.