We are all, quite rightly, appalled by the way Donald Trump has behaved. His xenophobic, sexist, misogynist, racist, daily diatribes are in embarrassment to the Party of Lincoln. But while we are all feeling morally superior and content in our enlightenment, I am troubled by how we progressives helped to create the environment for this kind of viral hatred to grow.
We progressives are great a supporting causes like #YesAllWomen, #BringBackOurGirls, #IceBucketChallenge, #IndyRef, #BlackLivesMatter, #LoveWins . All of these are critical issues in our world and all of them very worthy of our attention but there is a problem. Who are we progressives ignoring?
There is the bias we show in the causes we champion and the people we don’t. In the case of the dog whistle politics of a Kellie Leitch or Donald Trump, the cause we did not pay attention to was the plight of the blue-collar worker and those who were ejected in to an uncertain future from the economic disaster of 2008. So many lost their jobs ,or were made redundant by changes in technology on the factory floor, that there became a huge group of people who were left behind. And while clever pundits and economists speak of creative destruction, in the real world millions lost the dignity of work in the middleclass.
The result? Men and women, many of whom had achievied a middle-class lifewere thrown into a long humiliating nightmare of uncertainty. Manufacturing jobs were devastated and never came back because those industries either moved to cheaper labour markets, Caterpillar did this here in London, or innovated through technology and so need radically fewer workers in plants. Also retraining programs were inadequate at best and callous at worst. A worker would rarely, especially in the US, get the training they needed to work in advanced manufacturing and would often be forced into programs that were irrelevant to the current job market. Also it was brutally tough for a 50 year old man or woman to retrain in the computer focused workd of advanced manufacturing.
So the dignity and stability of work, which is so critical to having a stable life, became a memory for millions across north America who instead found themselves in precarious work and precarious lives. They were, and are, a growing group who are rightfully angry and rightfully feeling ignored. Into this vacuum come Kellie Leitch and Donald trump who provide easy targets for the anger and frustration. So it is any wonder that we have the environment that spawns a Donald Trump or Kellie Leitch? No progressive movement I’ve seen is advocating for this group and so they support those who, through lies and misdirection, provide them with a target for their anger. Immigrants, political correctness, elites, women, international bankers and the list goes on and on. It is so easy for Trump or Leitch to pretend to be one of them while givig them targets for their anger that further thier callous ends. Meanwhile we in the progressive ranks shake our heads and tut in superiority. Racism, sexism, and prejudice are always unacceptable. But it should be equally unacceptable for so many millions to be left behind and become the targets for politicallu opportune predators like Trump and Leitch to pretend to use our friends and neighbours so callously.
Perhaps we need a new hashtag that lasts for more than a weekend. Perhaps we need a hashtag that says we will stand with those being ignored. Perhaps we should do more than a hashtag and actually send messages through the corridors of power and say we will not ignore our friends and neighbours any longer. We won’t stand for the denigration of the dignity of work and the humiliation of families that are left behind. That would be a proud achievement for the progressive movement. I doubt it will happen but it would be a proud moment. #nooneleftbehind