WASHINGTON, January 19, 2016 – Donald Trump is mad as hell. His opponents fault him for it. Carlos Santana called him a big, angry ape. Nikki Haley warned Republicans not to “follow the siren call of the angriest voices.”
Trump’s anger is chronicled in the New York Times and the Washington Post.
Angry? You betcha.
In Thursday’s GOP debate, Trump embraced his anger. “Our country is being run by incompetent people,” he said. “And I won’t be angry when we fix it, but until we fix it, I’m very, very angry.”
Trump knows that Republicans are angry. He knows it in ways that John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and the other GOP candidates don’t fully grasp. Republican voters have good reasons to be angry.
It’s the economy, stupid. GDP has been growing for most of the Obama presidency. Unemployment is down. Job creation is chugging along. That should make you happy.
If you’re in the top 1 percent, it does. You’re doing just fine. As for me and my house, GDP growth only helps us when we see it in the pocketbook. We’re delighted that Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet are richer than ever, and giddy with joy when we think about real estate prices in Manhattan. Our joy is tempered by the fact that we own no property in Manhattan and that, like most Americans, our real income has stagnated and declined over the last ten years.
It’s worse for black America. Median white household wealth is up by an oh-so-slight 1 percent, to $142,000. Median non-white household wealth is down a stunning 20 percent since President Obama took office; it now stands at $18,100.
The black poverty rate is up from 25.8 percent in 2009 to 27.2 percent last year. The median income of black households is down 9 percent; for America overall, the decline is 5 percent.
New job creation under Obama’s tenure has been almost exactly offset by immigration; we lost a lot of jobs, but as we’ve recovered them, we’ve ended up with more people out of work. The unemployment rate for new college graduates is about 7.2 percent; their underemployment rate (jobs that don’t require their college degree) is 14.9 percent. These are both up since Obama took office. Those who are working are making 2.5 percent less, adjusted for inflation, than graduates from a decade earlier.
It’s worse for new high school graduates. Their unemployment rate is 19.5 percent, and their underemployment rate is 37 percent. Those who are employed earn 5.5 percent less than graduates a decade ago.
If none of that makes you mad, you have no heart.
Immigration is a mess. Trump knows as well as anyone that rounding up and deporting the millions of illegal immigrants (how many? 11 million? 12 million? 30 million?) would be a legal, logistical, PR and humanitarian nightmare. Everyone knows that, but the responses vary.
For Democrats and a number of Republicans, the response is to say, “we’ll ignore the illegal immigrants in the country, but from now on, we’re going to treat entering the country illegally very, very seriously.”
Some Republicans recognize the moral hazard inherent in that position. “That was wrong, so don’t do it again.” “That was wrong. If you do it again, I’m going to get angry.” “Next time you do that I’m going to be really angry!”
The appropriate response to illegal immigration isn’t to treat like a football game, trying to stop the other side but treating a successful border crossing as a score. For those who think that illegal immigration is actually a problem, the appropriate response is to treat it like a crime.
It’s illegal to rob banks. If a lot of people successfully rob banks, we don’t grant an amnesty and let them keep the money. Even if we decide not to throw them all in jail, shouldn’t we at least want to make them give the money back, even if only with an easy payment plan?
Democratic politicians say “no.” Little wonder that Donald Trump, a lot of Republicans, and even a lot of Democrats are mad about immigration.
Congress. Enough said. But being a college prof, I’m never content to leave it at enough.
Republicans won lopsided victories in the congressional elections of 2010 and 2014. With those victories, Republican leadership decided that it was time to get serious about what the American people wanted them to do, which in their view was, don’t rock the boat.
Republican House Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan learned their lesson: It’s fine to oppose the president, but if he really wants something, you reject it, and he doesn’t budge, the press will heap scorn and loathing on your heads until you put your tails between your legs and retreat. Tail-between-legs being an undignified position for a very important man with an entourage, they chose a stern and dignified withdrawal from the field of battle, expressing their disdain all the way for the savages who actually wanted to fight.
The congressional GOP attitude is that we can’t do good if we’re not in charge, and we won’t stay in charge if we try to do anything too different from what we’re doing. We’ll do nothing so we can keep control of Congress so that someday when a Republican wins the White House, we can do something, as long as it won’t threaten our ability to stay in control of Congress.
Is anyone but Donald Trump actually surprised that Republicans who worked hard in 2010 and 2014 to get Republicans elected are just a little bit angry?
If Trump wins the nomination and the presidency, the odds are good that he’ll stay mad. A lot of people thought that Santana was clever and funny for comparing Trump to a poop-throwing ape, but in fact if there were ever anything that should make you s***-throwing furious, the continuing destruction of black America, the idiocy of immigration policy and Congress are a trifecta of s***-worthy awfulness.
Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump seem to be the only candidates in the field who, for their many manifest faults, understand that this is no time to continue the political game as usual. The board needs to be swept from the table, the s*** needs to be thrown. Then maybe we can clean out the Augean Stables of Washington and start a better game.