Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Donald Trump: Three articles look at hypocrisy, the economy and gender in the 2016 election

The incoming Trump administration is such a concern on so many fronts that most of our collective airtime could be consumed by the disturbing ideas and people he is placing around him. Better journalists will make better sense of it all, but there is nevertheless still much to be said.

This blog entry looks at analysis by three writers, E.J. Dionne and Jim Tankersley of The Washington Post and Glenn Harland Reynolds of USA Today, that is significant both on the politics of Trump and the Republicans, but also on some underlying dynamics that this election revealed.

Dionne, in a November 27th opinion piece entitled "An ethical double standard for Trump -- and the GOP" asks the obvious question that will undoubtedly dog Republicans on the Hill for quite some time: Donald Trump's myriad of conflicts of interest and his ethically challengeable decisions have prompted no calls for investigation from leading Republicans. Why not? Dionne's piece opens ...

Republicans are deeply concerned about ethics in government and the vast potential for corruption stemming from conflicts of interest. We know this because of the acute worries they expressed over how these issues could have cast a shadow over a Hillary Clinton presidency.

He goes on to quote accusations made by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) against Clinton and her foundation, and notes their silence to date about Trump and his.

While there will never be a satisfactory answer as to why the Republican party turned a blind eye to Trump's self-dealing, eventually the voters will start asking questions. That's actually likely to happen sooner rather than later, given how things are proceeding even before the inauguration, and once that happens, the whole house of cards may come crashing down very quickly. 

Jim Tankersley notes in his November 22nd piece "Donald Trump lost most of the American economy in this election" that although Hillary Clinton was victorious in less than 500 counties nationwide in 2016 (compared to Trump's more-than 2,600 counties), her 500 counties accounted for 64 percent of America's economic activity in 2015. Citing data compiled by the Brookings Institution, Tankersley offers this cautionary observation

This appears to be unprecedented, in the era of modern economic statistics, for a losing presidential candidate. The last candidate to win the popular vote but lose the electoral college, Democrat Al Gore in 2000, won counties that generated about 54 percent of the country's gross domestic product, the Brookings researchers calculated. That's true even though Gore won more than 100 more counties in 2000 than Clinton did in 2016.

And the article continues

“This is a picture of a very polarized and increasingly concentrated economy,” said Mark Muro, the policy director at the Brookings metro program, “with the Democratic base aligning more to that more concentrated modern economy, but a lot of votes and anger to be had in the rest of the country.”

In some ways the most interesting of the articles is this final one by Glenn Harland Reynolds in the November 24 edition of USA Today, "Men to America: Thanks for nothing." In it, Reynolds examines the role that gender played in the election, but comes at it from a different angle. His starting point is an article that appeared in the Fiscal Times that he quotes from

A key indicator of American male decline is the gender ratio at U.S. colleges. According to the Nation Center for Education Statistics, women accounted for 43% of enrollees in degree-granting postsecondary institutions in 1972. The other 57% were men. Forty years later, the ratio has flipped. In 2012, the latest year for which actual data were reported, women made up 57% of the college population, with men representing the remaining 43%. Further, NCES projects that the gap will widen by 2022, when women are expected to reach 61% of the college population. If that projection holds, America will have roughly 14 million female college students and only 10 million male college students.

That trend has been visible for decades, but its meanings are now becoming apparent. The article goes on to cite that men are overrepresented in prisons and underrepresented in the workplace. 

And this is where it gets interesting.

Outside of high-end tech jobs, men have worse employment prospects and are more likely to be laid off. In fact, after the financial crisis, there was talk of a "man-cession" because men were hit so much harder than women," according to a Bloomberg article on the subject.

Why is this significant for the 2016 election? Understandably, Hillary Clinton focused on what this election meant to women, the breaking of the glass ceiling, and the arrival of a female to the highest office in the land. What that missed was that economic pain is being felt unequally between the genders. Women are outperforming men both in school and in work, and the economy is shifting away from jobs that men traditionally have done well at, the dirtier, heavy jobs in manufacturing and construction, towards jobs that women traditionally have done well at, human-related jobs, where person-to-person contact is especially valued. So when Donald Trump promises to spend money on infrastructure, men hear, "and there might be a job in there for me." When Hillary promises to spend money on health, well-being and child care, men hear, "there's probably no job in there for me." Given the sexism and rage that Donald Trump exhibited on the campaign trail, it's no wonder there was solid support among a group who were used to calling the shots, but now only sense that they are falling farther and farther behind. As a general statement, men are falling farther and farther behind, and the con man was able to sell them a hope they will never be able take to the bank.