National Politics - 2016

John Osborne: “Lost Workers” Are Fueling Donald Trump’s Rise

EXPLORING THE ECONOMIC UNDERPINNINGS OF “RACISM,” “XENOPHOBIA” AND “ANTI-SEMITISM” || By JOHN OSBORNE || Recent events from Chicago to Dayton have highlighted a huge issue within the support base of Donald Trump, and the likelihood for continued violence as the campaign heats up heading into the summer.  Recent reports have spotlighted certain members…


osborne|| By JOHN OSBORNE || Recent events from Chicago to Dayton have highlighted a huge issue within the support base of Donald Trump, and the likelihood for continued violence as the campaign heats up heading into the summer.  Recent reports have spotlighted certain members of Trump’s base as racist, xenophobic, or anti-Semitic.  However, racism alone does not fully explain how a large swath of the U.S. population has become so angry at immigrants and minorities.

In order to understand what is happening beneath the surface across America, we must first look at the economic insecurity many Americans now face.  In 2012, The U.S. Census reported that one-third of all U.S. counties were “dying.” According to the census, “dying counties” are those in which there were fewer births than deaths.  While these rural areas are dying, cities are growing as people pursue economic opportunity.

This situation begs the question: What’s happening to the people left behind?

In 2015, the Economic Policy Institute released findings of U.S. Census data which showed that incomes for families have stagnated – or dropped.  Families across America are making less in 2015 than they were in 2000.  In 2013, the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank released a report entitled? The Vanishing Middle which concluded that as the medium/low skill jobs disappeared, high skill jobs increased. Coupled with the loss of over 8 million jobs during the recession, according to USA Today, low skill workers are pushed out of the market as jobs disappear.

This creates a situation in which a growing population is in strong competition for diminishing jobs.  Earlier in American history, generations of American workers could find employment in the textile industry, steel mills, coal mines and other manufacturing industries – but these jobs are now disappearing at a rapid rate.

A study conducted in 2000 by Peter Burns of Loyola University and James Gimpel of the University of Maryland found that as people’s views of the national economy deteriorated, they were more inclined to look negatively upon immigrants – and have negative opinions of blacks.  The paper also found education was a factor in the level of prejudice displayed towards blacks and Hispanics.

Burns and Gimpel also found political affiliation contributed to racial stereotypes – both good and bad.  Additionally, their study noted that the more people perceived immigration as creating job competition; the more hostile they became toward immigrants.

According to Public Citizens Trade Watch, one out of every four manufacturing jobs have been lost due to trade agreements. Nearly five million manufacturing jobs have been lost since NAFTA.

This directly hits home for me.  I come from Yadkinville, North Carolina.  It’s a small town in the western part of the state where most people worked at one of two facilities: Unifi or Sara Lee.  Unfortunately Unifi shrunk, and Sara Lee closed – leaving many workers in the community without a job (and with only a high school education to fall back on).  This situation has played out all across the country leaving a laundry list of foreclosed homes, and lost dreams.

As Bruce Haynes notes in The 25-year Tide That Gave us Trump: “The prevailing view was that when the anvil came down, the elites used their money, power and influence to raid the U.S. Treasury to protect their wealth. Middle-class Americans got nothing. Worse, they lost overnight what they had fought and worked to build for generations. They worked hard, played by the rules, and got screwed.”

The American people are angry, and rightfully so.

In my own family, I’ve seen what economic insecurity can do to a person.  A family member who is a Trump supporter lacks a high school education and lost their job in 2014.  In this awful circumstance, they have not been able to find secure employment.  They’ve gone from making over $40,000 a year to making minimum wage working part time at a grocery store stocking vegetables.  In the beginning, there was anger at everyone, and as time progressed a level of hopelessness I had never experienced started seeping in.  This family member applied for every form of support from the government, but unfortunately only received food stamps making it complicated for him to keep a roof over his head.  As the stress compounded over the years, they started showing signs of what most would deem racism.  Prior to losing their job, they were always religious, but at a point religion wasn’t even enough to keep them going.  They had to find someone to blame, because the pressure was too much.

The situation in my family can be seen from multiple testimonials delivered to reporters.  The sense of hopelessness among many Trump supporters makes their expressions go against many of the societal norms that are in place in politics.  As one family member put it: “Washington doesn’t listen and Mr. Trump is saying what we feel.”  At least in the people around me the approach Trump is taking is refreshing after they have felt abandoned for so long.  One great tragedy of the American political system is we can only focus on one group at a time, leaving many forgotten – waiting on the sidelines until their turn comes up.  If it comes up.

This situation is reflected in the full scale gridlock we’ve witnessed in Washington, D.C.  – and through policy decisions over the last quarter-century that have created the rise of Trump.  Economic insecurity and hopelessness isn’t an excuse for violence, or racism, but to some degree it is an explanation of some of the emotions many Americans may feel.

John Osborne is a University of South Carolina graduate currently working as a researcher.  Follow him on Twitter @JPaulOsborne.

Wanna sound off? Send your letter to the editor or opinion column HERE …


Related posts

National Politics - 2016

Donald Trump Outworked Hillary Clinton

National Politics - 2016


National Politics - 2016

Only 1,400 Sign SC Democratic “Elector Petition”



Bye, bye GOP March 17, 2016 at 4:58 pm

So these undereducated rubes will put their racist feelings ahead of actual fact? Billionaires like Trump have been sticking it to the middle class for decades, but since Trump will ape someone’s ignorance, it’s enough to make them forget that he actually creates jobs in China and Mexico, imports cheap labor from other countries to work his resorts in the USA and is actually a Democrat. The GOP/Tea Party courted and enabled these idiots and now they taken over. Good riddance.

Bubble Headed Beardo March 17, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Somebody tell John’s Mom not to tie his tie so tight next time he has a picture day. Poor boy looks like he’s about to fall out from lack of oxygen.

Land of the Lost Worker March 18, 2016 at 9:27 am

It’s pretty cool that he found a barber that can blend his haircut into the shape of his head so well.

I think he’s got some Sleestak ancestry:

Nat March 17, 2016 at 5:19 pm

I thought there were federal programs for workers who lost their jobs due to these trade treaties. Retraining, job search help, income assistance etc.

Sic Semper Tyrannis March 17, 2016 at 6:25 pm

That part is left out. Why, unknown. Anger can help you if channeled right. Get that job Tiger!

Nat March 17, 2016 at 5:36 pm

I don’t see how someone without a HS diploma can be angry about not finding a good paying job. If these are the Trump voters, they are going to be very disappointed, cause their situation isn’t going to change without pursuing more education or training. Just having completed HS is no guarantee of making enough to get by these days. You really need some sort of trade school or college degree to be some what successful.

So what? March 17, 2016 at 6:28 pm

I went through a period of scary economic uncertainty around 2008. Did I blame immigrants or minorities? No, I blamed the people responsible…the GWB administration and the banks. There is no excuse for racism, especially basic ignorance of your own circumstances.

erneba March 17, 2016 at 6:36 pm

First of all, don’t send left-wing extremists to Trump rally to raise hell and harass the attendees and then blame the disruption caused by the leftist on the Trump supporters.
The left is trying ,really hard, to paint the Trump supporters as violent, when in fact, the left is are the ones responsible for the aberrant behavior. The MSM and the Democrat party has gone all in trying to instill this into the average American’s head.
Your recent “study” is one Trump attendee hit a left-wing protester of Trump’s rally. Your “study” shows no more than people in conflict saying and doing things they probably very rarely do.
The people fueling Trump’s popularity are people who are tired of the establishment. Men, Women, the young, the old, etc who are tired of political business as usual and the movement is growing. You can pin this down to a particular political ideology, it is broad based and growing larger every day.

Reality March 17, 2016 at 9:02 pm

I had a Trump supporter come into my work and loudly claim he hated blacks and mexicans…then proceeded to talk about how he gets happy every time he saw on the news that US troops had been killed overseas. That’s what Trump brings out in people….no media tricks there. Great comany you keep. Old people who never leave their homes or neighborhood are the ones scared and confused….by people like Trump.

erneba March 17, 2016 at 9:15 pm

I don’t believe you.

Bible Thumper March 17, 2016 at 6:37 pm

one-third of all U.S. counties were “dying.”
South Carolina is one of the Ten fastest growing states in the country, yet 22 of 46 counties are losing population. That is one county short of half.

Deporting 11 million immigrants is going to create a glut of un occupied homes and apartments. Service industries that catered to immigrants will close and layoff workers. There will only be more and more counties with negative population growth.

It is not trade deals that took most of the jobs, it is automation that both replaces jobs and requires higher skills and education for the jobs that remain. Osborne accurately describes the problem, unfortunately the solutions Trump offers either will fail immediately or in the long run.

Much of what Mexico and China manufactures is made with American parts or materials. Their products are not just imported back into the United states, but to other countries around the world. If Trump forced companies to move manufacturing back to the US, they would be more expensive for us and less competitive worldwide. That means less production and less work for the parts manufacturer and their workers.
AS much as we would like to promote buying American made products, that is not what makes an American company successful. For an American company to be successful, it must be able to sell products worldwide. Trump thinks that America makes stupid deals with other countries. That is a simple minded idea. Why would we make bad deals. Is everybody except Trump, stupid? Trump thinks that trade deficits are the problem. That’s not the problem, We only import those things that would be more expensive to produce ourselves.

What we need is a trade policy that makes foreign makets more accessible for American manufacturers and service providers, not one that restricts other countries to our market. For American companies to be successful internationally, they have to be able to manufacture on multiple continents, just like BMW and Volvo. They need to be able to work competitively with suppliers worldwide, just like Boeing. They need to know their products will not be punished with tariffs. They need to know that their foreign owned property is protected, that they can get visas to visit foreign operations, that their patents, copyrights and trademarks are protected. To get those rights, we have to reciprocate.
If Trump raises trade barriers, their may be some short term gain, but eventually our companies will fall behind the rest of the world and will be at a disadvantage trying to catch up.


Bible Thumper March 17, 2016 at 6:50 pm

Osborne and Manning seem to know what the voters are thinking and what they want, but they never write about policies that might solve the problem. It is almost as if they think a politician’s job is to just pander to the voters wishes regardless of whether or not that solves any problems.

Flip March 18, 2016 at 8:48 am

Just saw a video yesterday of a Trump supporter attacking some Muslims and yelling “Trump, Trump, Trump” as well as seeing reports that some Hispanic Americans are also being targeted by Trump supporters. Really sickening the kinds of freaks that Trump has drawn out into the light. Just goes to show that racism isn’t dead, it is alive and well, and David Duke supporting Donald Trump tells you where it all lies.

Calhoun March 18, 2016 at 10:30 am

Your racist family member lacks a High School education and this is my fault? Tell him to obtain new skills, and move. Same thing applies to people living in urban centers of decay, GTFO. Man has moved from one place to another, since the beginning of time, for various reasons, i.e., the streams stopped producing enough fish, they’d hunted the forests empty of meat, to secure better shelter as result of flood, tornado, hurricane, famine, disease, or they’d farmed the land barren, whatever the issue, the got the fuck out, and moved somewhere else. Your relative is no different now that the gubment teet sucker straw man he railed against for decades and decades, wanting daddy gubment, run by a con-man, to give you your life back, such as it was. Help yourself mofo!

Rocky Verdad March 18, 2016 at 12:12 pm

leaving many workers in the community without a job (and with only a high school education to fall back on)

And whose fault is that???????


Leave a Comment