I set out to be a tech writer, then an Internet writer.
Then the war came to the Internet and here I am.
The Internet is where today’s conflict is centered. Donald Trump was elected through cyber abuse, an attack based in Russia and embraced by his Republican Party. Getting rid of him requires that the Cyber War be won.
I’m no Ernie Pyle . I was once told Ernie did a profile on a distant relative, a cop who was killed in the line of duty, in Washington D.C., in 1940. The column called him “Eddie Comiskey,” but his given name was Korzeniewski. This was my great-grandmother O’Donnell’s maiden name.
No. I’m one of those idiots back of the line, sitting in a tent or a Quonset hut, waiting for the generals to lie to us. But I have some sources. And I have some background. So, I’m going to tell you what I can.
Winning a war like this requires that we understand where the enemy’s sources of domestic support may lie. Donald Trump today has a few core areas of real support (as opposed to Russian bots). For fun, I’m going to call them Freds, Danas and Tillies:
- Freds are small businessmen, like my dad. They’re little guys who know how to work the government angles for disability and small business loans, and for VA care. They like trucks. They may be bakers, repairmen (dad fixed TVs), or truck drivers. The lie they tell themselves is that they’re better than workingmen, although their only advantage over other men may just be the color of their skin. If Trump has a base in the black community today (and he does) it’s mainly among black Freds.
- Tillies are religious conservatives. They hate abortion. They’re generally against sex, because of its complications. They believe in strictly defined sex roles. They believe in the hereafter, and they believe in their church. They see life in black and white terms. They gave to Jerry Falwell, or maybe (the persuadable ones) to the late Robert Schuller. I have a lot of friends who are Tillies, but most were black and didn’t join this group. Sadly, they’re aging out, too.
- Danas are small investors. We’re lucky. We’ve made good money, and we’re in the market. Again, we started life on third base and many believe they hit a triple. The difference between me and these Danas is I know I’m just lucky, and that I should be a working-class failure, at best a Fred, more likely a poor drunk freezing in the street. Everything I am I owe to my skin color and a wife of genius and infinite patience.
Putting voters into categories like this is what a lot of political scientists do. They do it to create a shorthand out of millions of people, and use this shorthand to predict the future. It’s what Richard Florida was doing when he created his “Creative Class” in the 1990s.
These are the people who must either be persuaded or overcome before we can run Trump out of town. Trump is strong today – some put his job approval in the low 40s – because there are a lot of Danas, and they have a lot of wives, even kids, living off the fat of the stock market land. We’ve had a good run this last decade, and the Trump times have extended the run, throwing even more money our way. The bills on that haven’t come due yet.
They will. Most of the money was taken from Freds. The Freds don’t know it yet, but the windows of largesse are about to shut on them. New loans? Forget it. Contracts? You’re too small. The tax cuts? They’re for someone else. If you think you’re just going to put the employees on Medicaid, that isn’t going to work. They’re coming for your pension, for your Social Security and Medicare as well.
A lot of 2018 is going to be wound up in persuading the Freds of the world that they’ve been taken. It’s going to be a hard sell. The media they trust is going to lie to them. They’re going to be suffering as this year goes on. They’re going to be hurt, and their self-image is going to take a hit.
A key reason Fred is a right-winger is because he identifies more closely with those above him on the economic scale than those he shares space with. It’s why the south remains racist. So long as they can look down on someone else they don’t see others looking down on them. So long as business is good, or there’s a safety net of scholarships for their kids, disability and Medicaid for them, they will continue to see themselves this way.
It’s going to be hard to budge Freds from this self-image. A lot won’t come over. Some will find ways to sponge off relatives and maintain the lifestyle. But if even 20% of them can be dislodged, Trump has no chance in a democracy.
Same with the Danas. A lot of us are into Bitcoin these days. (The recent price fall helps our cause.) Others have made a killing on Amazon and think that makes us smart. We don’t see luck. We see smarts. But when you overload any engine with gas, and that’s what the tax cut does to the economic engine, it’s going to sputter out. (I know, a carburetor image dates me.) When prices go parabolic, they return to Earth just as suddenly. Money disappears. Deflation sets in, bigly. Which means jobs disappear, opportunities disappear, stocks fall hard and don’t get up.
I can’t tell you what to do about the Tillies, except to observe their numbers have been slowly declining for some time. Evangelical churches are aging-out, now alongside older “mainstream” denominations.
The opioid epidemic is also taking its toll throughout Trumpistan. There are more people dying here than in our cities, because there is less opportunity in the countryside. There is more need there for just the programs that Trump and the GOP are cutting. People will die needlessly, and the rest will be rendered mute by the lengthening casualty lists.
Oh, now you don’t have to buy David Frum’s book, either Just remember this. He only has half the story.
See you next week.