So I’m an American. Great grandson of immigrants. Close enough to the boat to know what it is like to be one of the newbies but around long enough to feel a pride in belonging to something exceptional.
I was brought up on the notion that living here was as close to being in heaven as you could get without having to die. And in a lot of ways it lived up to the hype. The streets weren’t paved with gold. But they were paved. No one starved. And that even went for the “poor.” Even the marginally working class had enough to feed a family. Everyone could read and write and if you weren’t a hopeless sociopath chances were you could hold down some kind of job and support yourself. Most folks attended a church and dragged the kids along to help “steer them in the right direction.”
The general notion was that America was a machine that took well-intentioned people who followed the rules and worked hard and from them generated wealth and happiness for everyone.
But sometimes the machine ran off the rails. The two big hiccups that I grew up with were the 1930’s and the late 1970’s. Each of these events damaged the morale of the nation and brought into question the stability of our way of life. No one knows how the world would have turned out if the Second World War hadn’t “saved” us from the Depression but what is important is that by the twentieth century Americans believed that not only could the US government avoid recessions but if it didn’t it would be held responsible. Herbert Hoover was vilified as the epitome of a callous plutocrat. And Jimmy Carter was cast out as a loser who had allowed the American industrial engine to stall out into stagflation.
Coming up to the present, George W. Bush was blamed for the Crash of 2008. In an eight year period that in many ways resembled the ’30s, Obama seemed to mostly get a pass for not reviving the American economy. This is reminiscent of the treatment FDR received. Apparently if you can vilify your predecessor successfully enough you can avoid blame (if you’re a democrat).
So what have we learned? Americans expect results. Especially from republicans. Apparently people don’t expect democrats to make the economy work. They will settle for handouts. But republicans have to deliver. The logic must be, “you people are always talking about free enterprise, well, put up or shut up.”
So here’s the whole thing in a nutshell. If you want to be a republican president coming in under a bad economy and you want to be re-elected, you not only have to revive the economy but you also have to do it in your first two years. Otherwise you’ll lose the Congress and be hamstrung by the democrats.
Unless of course you can buy off the people with free stuff (a la the democrats) and/or distract them with some bigger problem. Trump is betting that immigration is that bigger problem. And he may be right. If he actually accomplishes a good chunk of his deportation idea, he may get some extra time to revive the economy.
All right, this whole convoluted essay is basically trying to confirm something that is becoming harder for even the purest free trade advocate to ignore. The American People are fine with business making lots of money, as long as they are part of that equation. If American companies move all their plants and their jobs offshore then they’re not American companies. And they should not be treated as such. And if a foreign company builds a plant in the US and employs Americans then they should be rewarded any way we can. It’s not all that complicated. Americans with jobs don’t turn into a mob. So get them jobs, now!
Whoever gets into office next better get results and fast. Or else there are gonna be fireworks.