This deeply di­vided na­tion

Trump’s poli­cies re­spond to a cry far from Wall Street, Hol­ly­wood and Cu­per­tino

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - By Peter Morici Peter Morici is an econ­o­mist and busi­ness pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Mary­land, and a na­tional colum­nist.

Pres­i­dent Trump in­her­ited a deeply di­vided and trou­bled na­tion. We have al­ways had re­gions that lead and oth­ers that lag, and sec­tion­al­ism. How­ever, not since Re­con­struc­tion and the Great De­pres­sion have eco­nomic and cul­tural di­vi­sions been so stark.

Hud­dled on the two coasts and in iso­lated metropoles in be­tween are the grad­u­ates of elite uni­ver­si­ties — and worker bees in ed­u­ca­tion, govern­ment agen­cies and sup­port­ing ser­vices

— who ex­ploit the op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by glob­al­iza­tion and hew to a post-ex­cep­tion­al­ist vi­sion of Amer­ica.

To them, a benev­o­lent state that cham­pi­ons free trade, pours com­pen­sa­tion — food stamps, sub­si­dized health care and the like — on its vic­tims and sub­or­di­nates Amer­i­can cul­ture and in­ter­ests to global com­mu­nity are not merely a lib­eral pre­scrip­tion for progress but a sec­u­lar re­li­gion. Those who dis­agree are im­moral and to be chas­tened.

Don­ald Trump’s Amer­ica First agenda — his pen­chant for fairer trade deals, prun­ing en­ti­tle­ments to what fed­eral fi­nances and the im­per­a­tives of growth can af­ford and re­quir­ing friends in Europe and the Mid­dle East to be more re­al­is­tic about the re­quire­ments of se­cu­rity and last­ing peace — is not merely wrong but heresy.

His elec­tion does not rep­re­sent the cycli­cal al­ter­na­tion from more lib­eral Demo­cratic to more con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can pres­i­dents. Rather, lib­er­als deny his le­git­i­macy and en­gage in dem­a­goguery and ex­tra-con­sti­tu­tional ob­struc­tion­ism — for those tac­tics, they should be dis­graced.

The other Amer­ica, as the 2016 elec­toral map of blue and red coun­ties shows, is in­te­rior, more ru­ral and small city and deeply trou­bled. Save the shale oil coun­ties, those are be­dev­iled by losses of fac­to­ries, mines and dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ters. They are be­set by high un­em­ploy­ment, low wages, drug ad­dic­tion, ris­ing sui­cides, poorer health and shorter life ex­pectan­cies.

Those places ben­e­fit most from Wash­ing­ton’s wel­fare ma­chine, and the wealthy on the two coasts gladly pay the taxes to buy so­cial peace and but­tress their sense of en­ti­tle­ment and moral su­pe­ri­or­ity.

By fi­nanc­ing the so­cial ham­mock, lib­er­als hope to keep their glob­al­ist agenda go­ing — and ex­pand op­por­tu­ni­ties for their shin­ing cities to sell even more fi­nan­cial ser­vices, me­dia and tech­nol­ogy prod­ucts to the world — while jobs for the in­te­rior dis­ap­pear.

Now the coastal elites are shocked by the out­come of the re­cent pres­i­den­tial elec­tion — and many other lo­cal bal­lots that put Congress, 33 gov­er­nor­ships and most state­houses in the hands of Repub­li­cans.

The rea­son for the bal­lot-box re­volt is sim­ple. The great masses of Mid­dle Amer­ica who went to state col­leges — or for whom a col­lege de­gree worth some­thing is dis­tant and unattain­able — want more than gen­er­ous govern­ment ben­e­fits.

They want the el­e­ments of sat­is­fy­ing lives that the lib­eral agenda sim­ply doesn’t de­liver for them — de­cent jobs, the preser­va­tion of Amer­i­can cul­ture and per­sonal se­cu­rity.

They sense Bill Clin­ton’s free trade with Mex­ico and China, Barack Obama’s kum­baya for­eign and im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies and the ever per­va­sive en­force­ment of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness through the om­nipresent ad­min­is­tra­tive state are sig­nif­i­cantly re­spon­si­ble for their prob­lems.

In the last sev­eral weeks, we have fi­nally seen the Trump pres­i­dency put their agenda into ac­tion. No­ti­fi­ca­tion to Congress to rene­go­ti­ate NAFTA, with­drawal from the Paris cli­mate ac­cord, a 2018 bud­get that would slash the bu­reau­cracy and limit en­ti­tle­ments to mod­ern­ize the mil­i­tary, fi­nance pro-growth tax cuts and end ex­ces­sive reg­u­la­tion, and a more re­al­is­tic for­eign pol­icy, as ex­pressed dur­ing Mr. Trump’s re­cent trip abroad.

In the Mid­dle East, he did not lec­ture about hu­man rights but ac­knowl­edged Mus­lim cul­tural iden­ti­ties and in­ter­ests and by deriva­tion as­serted ours. He en­cour­aged the Gulf States to gen­uinely en­gage Is­rael and for Is­rael to re­spond.

To Europe, he brought a sen­si­ble mes­sage. The con­ti­nent can no longer ex­pect Amer­ica to ex­pend its trea­sure and risk the lives of its youth to de­fend its lib­erty if our al­lies will not con­trib­ute in equal mea­sure.

To the Ger­mans in par­tic­u­lar he re­peated the ba­sic wis­dom of mod­ern eco­nomic text­books: for free trade to be a tide that raises all boats — not one that cre­ates lux­ury liner ac­com­mo­da­tions in Frank­fort and New York and throws Athens and mid­dle Amer­ica over­board — it must be more nearly bal­anced.

Mr. Trump’s poli­cies am­pli­fied a cry far from Wall Street, Hol­ly­wood and Cu­per­tino — in places like Read­ing, Penn­syl­va­nia, Im­pe­rial County, Cal­i­for­nia and Kla­math Falls, Ore­gon. Good jobs not hand­outs clench the soul, glob­al­ism is not the na­tional re­li­gion and se­cu­rity can’t be bought with diplo­macy un­ac­com­pa­nied by mus­cle.


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