Two days ago, as Donald Trump signed an executive order to roll back Barack Obama's environmental legacy, he was surrounded by coal miners. “Come on, fellas,” Trump said. “You know what this is? You know what it says, right? You’re going back to work.” It was all part of the con. E. J. Dionne writes:
Trump already signaled his indifference to the lives of his working-class supporters by backing the failed House Republican health care bill. It would have deprived 24 million Americans of health insurance. And the administration’s next big priority is corporate tax cuts, not an issue high on voters’ wish lists in Erie, Pennsylvania, or Bay County, Michigan.
Then again, not many proletarians hang around at the Trump resorts and golf courses where our commander in chief has already spent nearly a third of his time in office.
It is a con being played on the country's most vulnerable citizens:
In a paper released last week by the Brookings Institution (with which I am associated), they show that the rising death rates among less well-off whites aged 45-54 contrast sharply with the falling death rates among comparably placed citizens in Europe.
“Mortality declines from the two biggest killers in middle age—cancer and heart disease—were offset by marked increases in drug overdoses, suicides and alcohol-related liver mortality,” they write.
We are living in a society where the long-standing injustices of racial discrimination against African-Americans and Latinos are compounded by the injuries of class. These afflict all lower income groups, but they are currently hitting white Americans particularly hard.
The painful truth is that the coal mining jobs Trump promised are not coming back. They have been replaced by automation, natural gas and renewable energy sources. Those who surrounded Trump were being conned -- arrogantly -- and in public.
Trump came to office by stoking their legitimate economic anxiety. But he sold them a lie. And, as they discover that lie, their anger will be frightening to behold.
Image: IndustriALL Global Union