“Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
Really, nothing better exemplifies the false promise of Trumpenomics than this cute little catchphrase likely coined by a newly Born-Again Bannon. It only makes sense that the man who thought Sarah Palin would be president is the same man who concocted this callow juxtaposition.
Pittsburgh is the Steel City, right? And “Paris”? Well, we all know what a globalized, anti-American den of iniquity that place is. The Eiffel Tower is practically the modern equivalent of a pillar of salt, for chrissake. And dammit, what better way to prove your American bona fides than by dipping your Freedom Fries in some of Pittsburgh’s own Heinz ketchup?
Sadly, this ham-fisted message is directed at those who’ve been left behind by the very type of economy Pittsburgh now epitomizes … a post-Rust paradigm driven by innovation, education, tech, bio-science and a wholehearted neo-urbanism that’s planted firmly in this century. They’ve left behind their Steel City past.
And “left behind” is the operative term … because many of Trump’s most hopeful supporters find themselves stuck in the past … and many of them are, perhaps not coincidentally, taking solace in the certainty that they won’t be “left behind” when the Rapture finally comes.
But this is not meant to be dismissive or an accusation against them or in any way indicative of something they “deserve.” They don’t. Rather, this divide illustrates the consequences of specific policies dating back to the end of the Carter years … policies that increasingly elevated the financialized, debt-driven economy over a much-needed embrace of a rapidly approaching future.
Forty years of Wall Street’s bubbly boom-and-bust economy has been wildly profitable for the financial world. But for those who made actual things instead of creating “financial instruments” out of whole cloth … those “average” Americans who didn’t profit from gaming the tax code or by controlling the legislative process or by simply turning the US Treasury into an ATM with one bailout after another … for them there was little upside to the transition to the 21st Century … other than a snazzy new phone bought on a high-interest credit card.
Yes, accelerating innovation meant the hollowing-out of the Rust Belt was inevitable, but the failure to plan for it or to educate in advance of it or to incentivize new industries in areas impacted by it … was not inevitable. Nor was the indifference to the declining infrastructure that made these areas undesirable for investment. These were choices made to prioritize wringing every last cent out of the financialized economy over long-term investments that put wages in people’s pockets.
And those choices led to the logical conclusion of Trump’s presidency … one brimming with swamp things who made their money (and are still making their money) gaming the very system he supposedly attacks … all while selling an economic agenda that will only work if he’s got a time machine big enough for 320 million people.Tweet
June 2, 2017 @ 4:53 pm Tom O'Neill
As I read this, I keep thinking bad thoughts about Democrats. The commodification of humans, the financialization of everything, making provision for street-type muggery in all nooks and crannies of American life, may be the highly successful core program of the Republican Party, but it could never have happened were there not a very widespread belief among professional stewards of the Democratic Party that–so long as they had colorful rhetoric with which to denounce it all–they could quietly go along with it, reaping great personal benefits and suffering no significant hardship. The mention of Carter in the essay is significant. Clinton and Obama could also have been mentioned. Finally, of course, we the people bear the blame; we were far too immersed in personal agendas to pay attention to what was happening. The Triumph of Trump is a karma of which we all own a piece.