As the shock of the 2016 election results starts to settle, Democrats and many American workers — as well as many around the world — wonder what happened.
Many, particularly those in populous solidly blue states, blame the Electoral College and lobby for its abolition. Others blame it on Democratic turnout — which certainly does deserve some blame. And others pin the results on the country’s constant desire at every election for the ever-illusive “change.”
The bottom line is that for better or worse, the country’s presidents are picked based on the desires of a relatively small group of people. The east coast and the west coast are reliably blue, and will continue to bring Democrats a large number of electoral votes because of their sheer population. The middle of the country and the south are reliably red and will do the same for the Republicans.
Those states are reliably in one camp or another largely because of two factors: (1) their economy; and (2) their rural vs. urban populations. There is, of course, a third factor, which is the continuous racial/cultural struggle with an increasingly diverse population.
What remains is a relatively small swath of “swing” states which act as a pendulum, swinging from one side of the political spectrum to the other. And within that grouping, as much as many experts want to parse out different segments and create terminology and labels for each, the bottom line is jobs. It is blue collar white population, with a high proportion of them being non-college educated.
These hard working Americans make up the Rust Belt spanning from Wisconsin going east through Virginia and everything in between. This group of voters is instrumental in who wins the U.S. presidency. And because of forces not related to policies, constantly vote for candidates who best give them what amounts to false hope of returning jobs.
Consider the coal mining jobs which became such a firebrand in the presidential campaign — both in the primaries and in the general election — for both major parties. The jobs were not lost to unfair competition from foreign countries — such as Mexico and China, which were so demonized by Donald Trump in particular.
They eroded over nearly 40 years as U.S. coal production shifted from underground mining in two major ways: First, to strip mining and mountain top removal, which require far less labor; and second, in recent years, to fracking. Those jobs are not coming back, period. The difference is that Mrs. Clinton made the apparent mistake of being honest with those coalminers and Donald Trump make the correct political choice of lying to them.
And while some of the decline in manufacturing jobs may be attributable to the rising trade deficit, what Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders railed against, that accounts for an almost negligible portion of the lost jobs. They have been primarily lost to other factors, such as innovation.
No one from any part of the political spectrum — not Democrats, not Republicans, nor anyone else — can credibly promise to bring those jobs back.
This means that the American presidency is now, in large part, decided by white, blue collar workers who primarily do not obtain a college education, who vote for the most part based on which candidate they believe can best make a false promise.
While to many frustrated Americans the solution may be to abolish the Electoral College, that would present constitutional issues beyond just getting the necessary votes — it would challenge the manner in which the founding fathers set up the country as a group of states that are united under one umbrella. Nor will that solve the dissatisfaction swaths of the country feel with lost jobs that will never return. And it certainly will not address the difference between those who live in rural areas see as problems or solutions, versus those who live in urban areas. The likely result will be a slightly different population — and not necessarily a smaller one — being disenfranchised.
Ultimately, there is not yet enough incentive for one party to stop lying to voters about returning jobs because those voters are not demanding any more than false promises.
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the contributor and are not necessarily reflect the views of CitizenSlant.