by Gaius Publius
This will be short and number-filled, and not even many of those.
Yes, Trump won. But…
…the bottom line is still the same. The American middle class is collapsing and the job of the new president — any new president — is to fix that. If Donald Trump doesn't do that, I predict he will serve one term only and leave office under the blackest cloud imaginable, betrayed by the angry masses he rode in on.
The U.S. Is in a Pre-Revolutionary State
It's true that this problem, the collapsing middle class, has been brewing since the middle Carter years and the end of what now looks like a magical period for the working class in the U.S., the period between the Great Depression and the mid-to-late 1970s, after which the anti-liberals (neo-liberals and “free market” conservatives) took power in both parties.
But it's also true — and beyond apparent I hope — that the U.S. is in a pre-revolutionary state, the primary recent evidence being the simultaneous rebellion by voters in both parties to overthrow Establishment rulers and replace them with anti-Establishment candidates.
The November electorate didn't vote for a Republican to replace a Democrat. They voted for Change to replace the Establishment. Including the Republican Establishment. If Trump turns governance over to that Establishment, betraying his mandate, it's back to the drawing board for the country that elected him. And if Sanders Democrats are smart, they'll separate themselves from the tarnished Establishment brand and let the country know that under Trump, the Establishment is still in charge.
It would be a tragic mistake, though not uncharacteristic, for Donald Trump not to recognize these forces for what they are. It would compound that mistake for him to “triangulate” the solution so that all stakeholders — the predators and the prey, Establishment billionaires and those they want to keep feeding on — were made both somehow happy. (The same would be equally true if Clinton had won.)
Trump now has unique promises on the table, and unique vulnerabilities. If progressive Democrats (Sanders-led, I hope), instead of going all collegial, decide to fight for progressive values and control of their own Party, it can exploit those vulnerabilities. If not, 90% of the country goes back to being represented by neither party.
Again, the U.S. is in a pre-revolutionary state. Trump's election does nothing to change that. If he doesn't deliver on his promises by lessening the pain his voters are feeling daily, he exacerbates the danger he promised to alleviate.
Now the Numbers
I'm extracting just the data from this piece by Paul Buchheit writing at Common Dreams:
How a Disappearing and Deluded Middle Class Awaits the New President
…For every $100 owned by a middle-class household in 2001, that household had just $72 in 2013.
Half of us are barely surviving, and it may be more than half. A J.P. Morgan study concluded that “the bottom 80% of households by income lack sufficient savings to cover the type of volatility observed in income and spending.”…
Nearly two-thirds of American families were considered middle class in 1970. Today it's half or less. The rest of us have gone up or down, mostly down….
3 out of 5 Americans spend more than they earn, not on frivolous extras, but on essential needs. Minorities suffer the most. The typical black household has enough liquid savings to last only five days, compared to 30 days for a white household.
And I'll close this section with this detail from Buchkeit:
The optimistic job reports generally fail to mention that most of our new jobs are in service industries, including retail and personal health care and food service. Over half of American workers make less than $15 per hour….
Over half of all American workers make less than $15 per hour. That means that more than 50% of all jobs pay less than $30,000 per year, a great many of those with few or no benefits, and certainly nothing in the way of a retirement plan.
From Zero Hedge, here's what that looks like (my emphasis):
Since 2014 The US Has Added 547,000 Waiters And Bartenders And Lost 36,000 Manufacturing Workers
As another month passes, the great schism inside the American labor force get wider. We are referring to the unprecedented divergence between the total number of high-paying manufacturing jobs, and minimum-wage food service and drinking places jobs, also known as waiters and bartenders. In October, according to the BLS, while the number of people employed by “food services and drinking places” rose by another 10,000, the US workforce lost another 9,000 manufacturing workers.
Zero Hedge is also the source of the handy graphic at the top.
That's what awaits Mr. Trump, fixing this problem. He can deliver on his word, or watch the Sanders-fueled mob that he rode in on, take him back out again.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis