It does not matter who wins the US election, neither candidate will put the United back into the United States of America. In my previous blogs on the cultural landscape in the US, I have discussed how jewellery shops are closing as fewer people are getting married and how 7 million men are out of the workforce – neither in work, nor seeking work.
The final observation is the most depressing all – the manufacturers of body bags have enjoyed a boom. The Nobel prize-winner Angus Deaton and his co-author, Anne Case, have documented an astonishing rise in death rates among lower-class white men. This large increase in deaths was from drug and alcohol poisonings, chronic liver diseases, cirrhosis, and suicide.
The three books that come up again and again when looking at reasons for the grim choice facing Americans in this election are: Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 by Charles Murray, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance and, to a lesser extent,Our Kids by Robert D. Pullman.
Pullman and Murray are at opposite ends of the political spectrum – Pullman is on the left and Murray on the right, but the data they use are the same, and the conclusions are the same: our kids in white America are coming apart. In the US, the rich and poor have never been so far apart either geographically, culturally or economically.
JD Vance’s ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ is a ‘remarkable portrait of a way of life in crisis.’
It is a personal story behind the grim statistics uncovered by Deaton and Case. It is a story of chaotic, never married families; rising unemployment and a generation of young men who if not playing computer games are killing themselves either slowly with poison, or quickly by taking their own lives. The Americans saw off the ‘Reds’, but they could not stem the tide of self-destruction.
If another group suffered from this kind of social cleansing on this scale, there would be an American ‘Code Red’. Because it was white men suffering they were ignored until the rise of Trump caused a political earthquake.
Francis Fukuyama explains how both parties have betrayed the white working class male.
These once blue-collar workers feel they have been sold out by the intellectual elite of the Democrats, who Obama once dismissed as people who ‘cling to guns and their Bibles.’ Although globalisation has lowered the price of everyday goods for this group, it has arguably destroyed their jobs. Immigration has done the same.
But the socially liberal Democrats did not just go along with globalisation, the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs and uncontrolled immigration, they also unleashed the sexual revolution that destroyed the working class family. It is true that a changing economy has worsened conditions for this group, but the revolutionary social change that ushered in an era of fatherlessness made sure that these families – these boys who are now men – were unable to weather this economic storm. These kids were starting from the very weak position of a disintegrating family life due to divorce or single motherhood. They did not stand a chance when the technological revolution hit.
The Republicans were also giddy about globalisation, and more than happy to accommodate legal and illegal immigration (ditto Obama, who runs a ‘catch and release policy’ for illegal immigrants). This gave cheap labour to the corporate party donors, but suppressed wages for the already struggling working man.
So now the choice is Clinton and Trump. Trump’s hostility to international trade is likely to make matters worse for the lowest economic group as it will push up prices and it is far from certain to bring back jobs. It is no accident that many of his male supporters refer to him as ‘Daddy’. For the fatherless, he is Daddy come home.
Clinton, of course, will be even worse. She will busily proceed to set American against American and shovel out money to whichever interest group shouts ‘victim’ the loudest. She will greatly expand the administrative State necessary to bribe these interest groups. White working class males who have experienced ‘nearly half a million excess deaths’ between 1999-2013 are dismissed as ‘privileged’ when compared to women, blacks, Hispanics and the ever growing alphabet soup of LGBT.
American exceptionalism will survive for at least a few more decades as the elite is so strong. But the old America of diverse people united in the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is dead.
(Image: Gage Skidmore)