To expand on the Election Themes theme: Donald Trump spoke about the ignored people in the country. I don’t really give him credit for insightful analysis, but there really is a large group of Americans that have been ignored. And yes, they are predominantly white blue-collar Americans.
Since 2008, the economy and job picture in this country has been steadily improving. The DOW is back over 18000 and unemployment is down to 5%. So who could complain? Well, it all depends on where you live. In what we call the rust belt, many states that would normally vote Democratic, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of towns that, in the past, had one major employer. That employer went out of business. There are many reasons for that: the 2007 – 2008 downturn, free trade deals, etc. When that happened, people who recognized that the major employer was not coming back, and that no one else was going to reopen it, could have abandoned their homes and moved away. In many cases, that might have been a good idea. Despite the loss of the value in their homes, they would at least have avoided sinking whatever savings they had into those homes. Most stayed where they were, hoping for economic salvation, and slowly lost their savings. They couldn’t sell their homes. Only retired people, or those working from home, could buy them. Not enough. They were stuck.
One more anecdote: I heard a BBC interview with a woman in Pennsylvania, a waitress, who had always voted Democratic, but who voted for Trump this time. Her reason was based on her experience with the Affordable Care Act. She had had to decide between paying for health insurance or her son’s tuition. She paid the tuition and was later fined $600 for not buying health insurance. I have no idea how many people voted Republican because of such experiences.
When this election came, it didn’t matter to people in their dying towns, or ACA penalized people, that the DOW rose and the national jobless rate went down. They were truly ignored. So, they wanted change. The Democrats didn’t offer any change. The “Elect the First Woman President” bandwagon, headed by a disliked candidate, Hillary Clinton, had sent the change monger, Bernie Sanders, packing in the primaries. The Democrats represented business as usual. In this particular case, only Donald Trump looked like a hope for change. So they voted for him