Many of the same people denigrating Mr. Trump’s detractors also stand to lose the most if the president and his handlers have their way with the federal budget. Meanwhile, Trump’s budget request, no more than a wish list of social programs to cut, is likely dead on arrival at the hands of his own party.
Playing what-if for the moment, though, imagine the Congressional GOP caucus goes along with the president’s request. Some of the programs in danger are those with positive social benefit for those who voted for Mr. Trump. In particular, those living among the epidemic of opioid overdose stand to lose the very programs providing addiction and recovery assistance.
Mr. Trump’s priorities are military spending, Homeland Security, and his beloved Great Wall of Trump.
Opioid deaths eclipsed gun-related deaths nationwide in 2015. In Virginia alone, opioid deaths exceeded automobile-related deaths in 2014.
Here-in lies the hypocrisy of Trump’s apologists. We’re told Trump was elected on the populist notion that modernity had left behind so many communities, places where a decent living could be had years ago with just a high school diploma and hard work, and that the coastal and city-dwelling “elites” had long ignored the problem, even caused it with trade agreements and globalization. These rural areas are where the opioid abuse epidemic has hit hardest. Trump promised he’d “bring back those good jobs,” among them coal mining and manual manufacturing.
But as we’ve learned, manufacturing jobs departing for countries with cheaper labor in the 1980s and 1990s evolved into jobs taken over or rendered obsolete by advancing technologies in the last two decades. Those jobs no longer exist here.
Worse, Mr. Trump’s budget request adds to coal country’s pain: it rolls back mining safety regulation put in place after many mine workers died from health and safety problems.
We’re treated to a daily sneer from Americans who not only voted against their own best interest, but the best interest of their neighbors, their region, and their country. They tell us “get your diaper and pin” and “I laugh at your liberal tantrums.” Their schadenfreude comes on the backs of their neighbors, friends, and even themselves.
Elections are definitive. They directly point to who the electorate aspires to be. In large number our electorate saw this poor man’s idea of a rich man, this ignoramus’s idea of a wise man and bought his specious arguments. In Donald Trump, a significant minority of the electorate saw who they aspire to be. And now, slowly, Trump country is beginning to realize the mistake they made.
There’s one silver lining to Mr. Trump’s ascension. It revealed the ugliness, the hatred, the fear rampant among large swaths of America. Racial, religious, and cultural intolerance is finally fully in the open. It’s hard to combat what you cannot see, but now, at least, we have a well self-defined target.
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