by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Donald Trump seems to have offended almost every possible identity group. But the New York billionaire still also seems to appeal to the working classes (in part no doubt precisely because he has offended so many special-interest factions; in part because he was seen in the primaries as an outsider using his own money; in part because he seems a crude man of action who dislikes most of those of whom Middle America is tired). At this point, his best hope in November, to the extent such a hope exists, rests on turning 2016 into a referendum on class and a collective national interest that transcends race and gender — and on emphasizing the sad fact that America works now mostly for an elite, best epitomized by Clinton, Inc.
We should not underestimate the opportunities for approaching traditional issues from radically different perspectives. The National Rifle Association is running the most effective ads in its history, hitting elites who wish to curtail gun ownership on the part of those who are not afforded the security blankets of the wealthy. Why should not an inner-city resident wish to buy a legal weapon, when armed security guards patrol America’s far safer gated communities? For most of the Clintons’ adult lives, they have been accompanied by men and women with concealed weapons to ensure their safety — on the premise that firearms, not mace, not Tasers, not knives or clubs, alone would ultimately keep the two safe.
Fracking provides jobs and cheaper fuel; the elites of the Democratic party care about neither. Indeed, Barack Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu proclaimed their desire for spiraling gas and electricity prices. Boutique environmentalism is a losing issue for the Democrats. The very wealthy can afford to be more concerned for a three-inch smelt than for irrigation water that will ensure that there are jobs for tractor drivers and affordable food for the less-well-off. When Hillary Clinton talks about putting miners out of work, she’s talking about people she has no desire to see unless she needs their votes.
Illegal immigration is another issue that offers class leverage. Middle-class Mexican-Americans cannot afford to put their kids in private schools when local districts are overwhelmed with non-English-speaking students. Trying to provide parity for 11 million or more illegal aliens naturally comes at the expense of fewer safety-net protections for minority citizens, just as driving down wages is good for the employer but hardly for the citizen who competes with illegal aliens for entry-level jobs. And what about lower-middle-class communities that are overwhelmed with foreign nationals whose backgrounds were never checked.