My latest column is online in the July issue of Governing magazine. It’s called “The Rage of Those Left Behind.” In it I make the point that we need to go beyond defending (rightly or wrongly) the status quo policy prescriptions to speak to the reality of the conditions in much of America. Because regardless of what we might think:
What the political leadership of America has forgotten is that in a democracy, politics is also a marketplace. Creative disruption and the discipline of the marketplace apply to the political arena as well as the economic one.
When political leaders refused to serve the large market of voters who want less immigration or to break up the banks, among other things, it never occurred to them that political entrepreneurs and new market entrants would come in to serve it. While these leaders were celebrating how Uber used new technology to disrupt the taxi business, for example, it never occurred to them that technology, in the form of social media, also would disrupt the politics business.
Now that they are on the receiving end of disruption and creative destruction, they don’t like it very much. But now they know how so many Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders voters feel.
Click through to read the whole thing.
Part of this means being willing to level with people about the realities of the new economy and the poor prospect of many of these places coming back soon. False promises are dangerous. But it also means a willingness to change course in a number of areas, such as what I highlighted earlier from Ed Glaeser about America’s jobs crisis. Ed’s ideas aren’t a cure-all, but they are at least rooted in a recognition that there’s a genuine problem and something needs to change.
As Saul Alinsky put it in Rules For Radicals (1971):
To bring out this reformation requires that the organizer work inside the system, among not only the middle class but the 40 percent of American families — more than seventy million people — whose incomes range from $5,000-$10,000 per year. They cannot be dismissed by labeling them blue collar or hard hat.
Many of the lower middle classes are members of labor unions, churches, fraternal, service and nationality organizations. They are organizations and people that must be worked with as one with work with any other part of our population — with respect, understanding, and sympathy. To reject them is to lose them by default. They will not shrivel and disappear. You can’t switch channels and get rid of them. This is what you have been doing in your radicalized dream but they are here and will be.