Who Deserves to Be Part of America’s Future?
Who deserves to be America’s future? After watching an exchange between Bill Whitaker and California Governor Jerry Brown on “60 Minutes” on Oct. 11, this question came to my mind. Here is the exchange.
“Bill Whitaker: It seems that California is way out of step with the rest of the country.
Governor Jerry Brown: I’d say we’re more in tune with the future than many parts of the rest of the country.
Bill Whitaker: You think the country is going to look more like California in the future?
Governor Jerry Brown: I think it will. I was asking myself, ‘Why did Democrats in Ohio and Wisconsin and Michigan, Pennsylvania, why’d they vote for Trump?’ Not a lot of ’em did, but enough to give him those states’ electoral votes.
Bill Whitaker: And your answer?
Governor Jerry Brown: There’s more confidence here; there’s less fear. People are looking to the future. They’re not scared, they’re not going inward, they’re not scapegoating, they’re not blaming Mexican immigrants. They’re not blaming the stranger. Just the opposite. It’s a place that’s alive. It’s dynamic. It’s a culture that’s on the move, not pulling up the drawbridge out of fear and economic insecurity.”
I do not believe Governor Brown thinks the people who voted for Trump belong to the future of America.
Another person has described the same group of people to me in an interview analyzing Trump’s victory in 2016. Shaw Steel, Republican national committeeman who also campaigned for Trump in California replied:
“Trump understood America that few politicians, including a lot of Republicans, did not grasp. He understood the forgotten, the people we call in the ‘flyover country.’ People in Hollywood fly to New York, New York bankers fly to Los Angeles. And everything in between Los Angeles and New York are creatures, little people, they wear funny hats. They don’t have good taste in music, they don’t have restaurants. They don’t even have good universities. So you fly over that country. Well that’s America that you are flying over. But the elites in New York and Los Angeles don’t go to the middle of America. They don’t go to Mississippi or Tennessee or Wyoming. They have nothing to do with those people, they only talk to each other. They are a minority and Trump knew that.”
I believe the “flyover states” that Shawn Steel refers to overlap with “the people who pull up the drawbridge” that Governor Brown talked about. I hope Governor Brown did not intend to enter a bright American future without them, because that won’t work.
In the past few decades, the elite-led policy of involving China in the world economy has had a few prominent effects. First, it led to a strong Chinese economy while freedom and democracy is still far out of sight there; secondly, during this process, Silicon Valley and Wall Street soared while the industrial Midwest was gutted. Several studies by MIT and Harvard University show that the migration of factories and jobs to China is directly linked to the opioid crisis in America.
On the other hand, as J.D. Vance, the author of the New York Times bestseller “Hillbilly Elegy” portrayed, we can’t blame economic insecurity as the sole cause of the collapse of these communities. According to Vance, those Scottish-Irish descendants from the Appalachian Mountains are more prone to social riot and self-destruction than other groups when misfortune falls upon them. When they have stable jobs everything is fine, but when that changes, everything else starts to fall apart.
I can’t grasp that point entirely yet, honestly. After all, how much can individuals do to overcome the outcome of a massive job migration?
Nevertheless, Governor Brown does not believe these people represent America’s future.
He still hasn’t got it, and this is not OK.
First, how can you exclude them from America’s future when they participate in deciding who will lead America in the future, as the 2016 election clearly showed.
Secondly, it is a moral question in the end. If you deprive someone to the point that they are not able to sustain a normal life, you can’t then blame them for not being good enough to deserve a prosperous future.
By the way, these people, as Mr. Vance described, are among the most patriotic Americans you can find. It is largely their children’s blood that was spilled in the Middle East and Afghanistan. At the center of their hearts are Jesus Christ and the United States of America.
This question has to do with the respect we show our fellow Americans.