In a recent post, I was asked ” 63 million is a significant number of people. Do their needs and wants no longer matter?” and why I seem to lack sympathy for their predicaments. We’re in yet another government shutdown, and the news is full of stories about the impacts. Large number of government employees are either furloughed or working without pay. Trash buildup in national parks, fishing fleets waiting to put to sea, infrastructure improvements held up, and the list goes on and on. Add in the impacts of the trade war on farmers and technology, and it’s bad, alright. So why do I often seem lacking in sympathy?
Mostly, it’s because I’ve lost my willingness to be sympathetic over the past decade. It’s not because I don’t understand the changes and issues they face. I live in an extremely rural, predominantly Republican area. I’ve seen all the changes that have happened over the past decades. I know better than most what issues and worries they have, and there are areas where I have the same concerns. There was a time when I’d have been very sympathetic about what’s been happening to them over the past couple of years and now. So why am I not being sympathetic towards them now?
I’d be sympathetic if none of this was predictable, if it was happening for the very first time. But it was most definitely predictable, and it’s not the first time. Trump made a big deal during the campaign out of pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Pact, and he did. He made a promises to go after China and Mexico on trade. Well, he did that and started a trade war. But ranchers and farmers were depending on those export markets either opening up with the TPP or continuing to be open under existing agreements. When your biggest customer is Mexico (corn) or China (soybeans, wheat, etc.), losing those markets will predictably result in major problems. Which they were warned about. But, they went ahead and voted for Trump, and according to most of the interviews, still support him.
Remember all the complaints about “big government spending?” Republicans pushed through “the sequester” to cut spending, and 6 years ago, they screamed about the impact of those cuts. It turned out that they were a lot more dependent on government spending than they believed. To top it all off, at the end of 2013, there was a shutdown, which again, disproportionately impacted them, just like it had when Republican’s shut down the government in the ’90’s. So any threat of a shutdown should have sent up big warning flags when President Trump did it, and his telling everyone it was a good thing should have been met with strong rebuttals. But apparently, a lot of them still support him.
Who was doing all these things to them? Republicans. Who actually cared about their issues, and had plans to address them? Democrats. But every time, they’ve voted for the Republicans. They keep walking into the voting booth, and putting the people who have caused their pain into office. Apparently, they don’t want to learn from the past, so if they keep doing it to themselves, I’m not going to be terribly sympathetic to their complaints. You know who I do have sympathy for? The 66 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton. All the people who have walked into the voting booth and voted for the Democratic candidate for all the other offices at the state and national level, who hoped that the mess Republicans were creating would be fixed. For them, I have a lot of sympathy. For the ones who didn’t do that? They got what they asked for, so they shouldn’t be complaining.