by Ken Burnside
If you want to ensure that something like Trump doesn’t happen again, the solution is simple. It’s also something that most Democrats are unwilling to do.
If you voted Democrat in New York, Massachusetts or California, especially in a “safe” district, you had appreciably no impact on this election with your vote. You can donate money to causes you believe in (I can recommend the Human Rights Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation). You can spend time volunteering for campaigns, though the nature of our primary system means that the time to do that is during the primary season.
But if you really want to change the debate? Find a purplish county in a red state, and relocate there. Even better, relocate there and start a small business, and employ people. The uncharted surprise of the Trump campaign was that the Obama Recovery left most red states behind, and that the Affordable Care Act meant people who used to get insurance through their employers found their hours cut and their insurance gone. The popular narrative is that this was a backlash against smug liberalism, or that this was a referendum on racism…but the majority of the exit polling data shows that people voted out of uncertainty over their financial future.
The driving force for financial security in this country is private sector employment. Most of the jobs that Trump promised to his voting base aren’t coming back. Some were shipped to lower-wage countries (the bribery to Carrier to save 700 jobs for 7 billion dollars is a blip), and more were lost to automation.
In a rural state, your vote will count for more, not just in the Presidential elections of 2020, but in taking back the state legislatures. Even if you move to a red part of a blue state, you can shape the state legislatures by this, and the state legislatures are critically important. The Democratic National Committee has become a top-down organization, and has largely given up on state house races as they focus only on the urban areas that are “safe” and with growing population bases. This strategic oversight is what opened the pinhole that Trump was able to thread…and understand, Clinton damned near won the electoral vote. Only in retrospect is it obvious that she should’ve campaigned more after the DNC in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Demographically, the Democrats are winning. Every four years, about 1 million Republicans die, and 1.5 million more urban Democrats get old enough to vote. More than 60% of the US population lives in an urban area…and the people who live in the rest of the country are seeing their way of life erode. The reality is that thanks to Alexander Hamilton and the Electoral College, the disparity in power between rural voters and urban voters has never been greater.
If you’re appalled by a Trump administration, the solution is obvious: Become a rural voter, and become a jobs creator. Move to a purplish State Legislative District, bring jobs there, and make it a better place to live.
Remember that Trump’s message was a hearkening back to the “glory days” of American manufacturing; the candidate who says they’ll fix the job loss issue is the candidate who’ll usually win.
To defeat that candidate, make sure that there isn’t a job loss issue.
Complicating matters is that the Obama Recovery was one of the most profoundly jobless recoveries ever recorded. Jobless recoveries may be the “new normal” as automation and big data kick in and obsolete more categories of jobs, but that’s a post for a different day.
It won’t work everywhere. It won’t work for every type of business.
If your business is dedicated to providing specific parts to regional suppliers, it’s not going to move. If your business relies on high density walk-through traffic, it probably can’t move. If your business is something you can run out of your home or inexpensive office space, that may make it a good candidate for relocation.
Be careful about relocating to states that slash education budgets, especially at the high school and college levels. If your business relies on certain types of infrastructure, like good roads for shipping or ultra-high speed Internet access, you’re going to be limited in how rural you can go. If your business relies on a ready pool of people with a specific set of skills, make sure that there’s university or community college nearby that trains that sort of skill set.
You’ll want to talk to the economic development boards for the county, city and state levels, in roughly that order, and see what incentives they’ll offer to bring jobs into their communities…and you may decide it doesn’t make any fiscal sense for your business. You should also talk to trade schools and universities in the targeted area, and see if they host job fairs for recent graduates.