A little girl who wants an impossible Christmas present perfectly sums up the wants of a large segment of the voting public who came out for Donald Trump. Kudos to the USPS for the ad of the season, and the statement of our times. I want a hippopotamus for Christmas.
Short of promising everyone that they would be young again, Donald Trump promised just about everything else. All the good-paying jobs would return. Immigrants who are stealing our jobs would be sent away. We would be great again. And in the minds of the American people who have been convinced by politicians that this country is going down the tubes, that message means a lot of things that are mostly pipe-dreams today.
When we were great
America was great in fifties and sixties. It was an era of prosperity and promise, of high paying jobs with companies that also provided health insurance and retirement. The country was growing at a brisk pace, we were the most powerful nation on earth, and no one challenged us.
That is the America that flyover voters think about when they hear the words ‘great again.’ The reality of this day and age are far different. The global community that we have created is diverse and interconnected. We are not the only game on the planet. We are one of many, and that means that we cannot force our will on the rest of the planet.
We must learn to compete
Yes, we still have economic power, but so do others, and they make things, make them well, and make them cheaper. And until those countries develop into first world countries, they will continue to compete well against developed countries with higher paid workers. Eventually their wages will also rise like ours did, but that will take decades. We have never had to compete before this. It is time to learn.
We must embrace a new defense posture
We are still a great nation in terms of defense, but we cannot use that power in the same way we did a half century ago. Knocking over a tin-pot dictator is part of the old ways. They don’t work when those dictators are not the enemy, when an underground movement operates within the very countries you are aligned with. The attacks in Paris cannot be solved by American troops on the ground.
Hope is not a plan
Donald Trump did not tell you how he would make you great again, because he does not know how to make us great. The people who have his ear have convinced him that deregulation and a better business climate is going to turn this country around. It will certainly make companies more profitable, but the good jobs that pay well and offer benefits will not return. Businesses make a greater profit without them. They have been doing well for years, with fewer employees. That will not change. I want a hippopotamus for Christmas. Only a hippopotamus will do. It is very unlikely that you will get one.