Here’s Richard Reeves from Brookings, going to the heart of the recent election. He’s talking about the fact that white men in Middle America who want to earn a living like their fathers did and be respected as head of household are in fact going through a painful transition to a world they don’t much like:
“Policies to soften the transition are of course available: wage insurance, higher minimum wages, family leave, and so on. But note that none of these are high on Trump’s agenda. In the long run, the only cure is for whites, and especially white men, to change their expectation that high status, along with a decent-paying job, will be delivered to them merely by virtue of their race and gender.
Loss of relative status is painful, no doubt. But it is the inescapable price of equality. Trump has no cure. Nobody does. In the meantime, he has provided some temporary psychological relief. But it won’t last. Trump is a temporary painkiller; the political equivalent of the opiates sweeping small town America. As J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, warned back in July, the Trump hit will wear off. “So long as people rely on that quick high, so long as wolves point their fingers at everyone but themselves, the nation delays a necessary reckoning,” he wrote in The Atlantic. “There is no self-reflection in the midst of a false euphoria. Trump is cultural heroin. He makes some feel better for a bit. But he cannot fix what ails them, and one day they’ll realize it.”
When that day comes, what will happen? Perhaps those who voted for the past will realize that it cannot be conjured back up again, and embrace, or at least accept, the world as it is today. Perhaps some of those who voted for him will turn to a more progressive populism. Perhaps, and most worrying of all, when the pain returns they will turn to an even stronger drug than the one he offered.”
Brookings is a pointy-headed liberal rag, so from one pointy-headed liberal to another: I think Reeves is right on.