Why Michigan Needs Trump

November 1st, 2016 | T. Carter
michigan needs trump

It is a shame that this election has come down to identity politics. With so much at stake for states like Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, we should be more concerned with the realities we face as Americans. Since the economic meltdown and bailouts of 2009, Michigan has suffered most in job growth and unemployment. Michigan lost the life-blood of its economy and manufacturing jobs are continuing to leave the state, but we seem to be more interested in baseless allegations and racial divisions. This kind of shallow politics has drowned out Donald Trump's most important message. Americans need their jobs back and states like Michigan shouldn't be falling for the same old Democratic strategies that pit blacks against whites and men against women. Blacks and whites in states like Michigan want the same things: secure, good paying jobs. We shouldn't be letting Hillary Clinton's shallow identity politics divert our eyes from the things that matter most to all of us.

Since 2000, Michigan's average wage has been lower than the national average. Black and white workers in Michigan are earning less than the average American. Since NAFTA was signed in 1994, Michigan has lost 26% of its manufacturing jobs. It is no coincidence that Michigan's decline started around this exact same time. Nothing has been the same in Michigan ever since 1994 and the creation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

CNN recently asserted that most manufacturing jobs are lower middle-class jobs, pointing out that they aren't good jobs and we shouldn't worry so much about them. It's business as usual for CNN to condescend America's lower middle-class when trying to discredit Hillary Clinton's opponents, but Americans like myself take issue with it. In an article for CNN Money, Heather Long asked:

The deeper question is whether the 5 million manufacturing positions that have been lost were truly that great. To put it another way, were the jobs lost really better than the jobs that have replaced them?” – CNN Money

Reporters at CNN might be privileged enough to have never worked one of these horrible jobs, but most Americans are not. People like myself have worked hard, blue-collar jobs all our lives, and when they start to vanish, those better jobs CNN writes about require qualifications and certifications that a lot of Americans don't have. The better jobs we hear journalists tell us about do pay more, but most Americans who have spent their whole lives developing a certain skill-set won't ever get hired to do them.

The real question is: what do laid-off Americans do when they can't afford to pay for the certification and schooling required for these “better” jobs? Statistics give us a clear answer to that question.

In every major city and community in Michigan, homelessness and poverty have been steadily rising. So what do laid-off Americans who can't afford to go to school do? It's simple. They live in poverty or lose their homes. Michigan cities and townships have had some of the highest unemployment rates in America and Detroit has some of the highest levels of poverty and homelessness in the country.

WKAR reports that in Lansing, poverty has risen 5% since 2010:

A survey by the U.S. Census Bureau finds poverty in the city of Lansing is up five percent since 2010. Much of that figure has to do with median household income, which has fallen anywhere from 8 to 20 percent in several of Michigan’s largest cities.”WKAR.org

Fox 17 reports that homelessness is up in Grand Rapids:

The number of homeless people in Kent County is at its highest in several years, according to the Grand Rapids Area Coalition to End Homelessness. The organization's annual homeless count from January found a 15 percent increase in the number of homeless people compared to a year ago, according to the report released Tuesday.”Fox 17

Last year, WoodTV reported:

In 2014 there were 97,642 homeless people in Michigan, up 6 percent over numbers from 2013 which came in at 92,341. In a 13-county area in West Michigan in 2014 there were 11,738 homeless people; in 2013 that number was 11,322, a 4 percent increase from 2013 to 2014. The area included the following counties: Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola and Ottawa.”WoodTV (NBC)

There may be higher numbers of blacks in Michigan's inner cities, but unemployment and poverty effect whites too. Black workers in Michigan who are trying to make ends meet are not alone in their struggles. Americans who have lost their careers in manufacturing after 20 years, who have learned their trades and prospered only to now be stuck working at a local gas station, make up all colors and ethnic backgrounds. Thousands of struggling Michigan laborers – who can barely pay next month's rent – are in this together.

It's no secret that Donald Trump isn't perfect, but it's also no secret that manufacturing jobs collapsed in Michigan after NAFTA. It has been made clear that we can't trust CNN and mainstream media to report the numbers fairly, so Americans will need to look at the numbers themselves. Not all Americans can do these “better jobs” that reporters tell us about. NAFTA and the loss of manufacturing has hit Michigan the hardest, putting thousands of blacks and whites into poverty. The media will tell us that these better jobs are easy to find, but they won't admit that creating these better jobs didn't have to require exporting most of America's manufacturing jobs. The truth is, America could have created these new and better jobs alongside the five million manufacturing jobs that have been exported.

America and Michigan are not better off than they were before 1994. Americans don't have to accept the Democratic Party's explanations about sacrificing manufacturing jobs for “better jobs”, just as they don't have to accept Hillary Clinton's plan to put coal miners out of business. Cleaner energy and better jobs can all be achieved while keeping lesser skilled, lower income Americans securely employed at jobs Democrats think are inferior. Bringing manufacturing back to Michigan won't mean losing these better jobs, it would mean giving thousands of Americans their jobs back.

Donald Trump has proposed plans that would bring jobs back to Michigan and keep them there. Imposing tariffs on companies, like Ford, that will export their manufacturing to Mexico and then sell their products back to Americans, is an incentive that would make manufacturing goods in America a better financial decision for corporations. He has proposed lowering the business and corporate tax to 10%, down from 35%. This would make America one of the most competitive countries in the world for attracting businesses and corporate investments. More famously, he has also proposed renegotiating NAFTA and scrapping TPP, two things that threaten to bleed more of the low level jobs that Democrats despise out of America.

If Americans give Democrats their way, lower middle-class Americans won't have a single job left to do. According to Democrats, everyone should shut up and go to school to get certified for all of their “better, higher quality” jobs. The ones who can't afford school might get it for free under Hillary Clinton, but most economists have agreed that her plan would not be a good idea.

In March, Business Insider reported:

The economists liked Hillary Clinton's plan a little better, because it targeted low-income students more directly than Sanders plan — but it was far from the consensus choice. Only five of the 22 economists were in favor of Clinton's plan.”

The same economists noted that free college would be too expensive and burdensome for taxpayers, or that it would divert resources from social security and other programs. As well, some have said it could damage the economy over a long term and increase the suffering of millions of Americans.

Donald Trump's plans don't include increasing our tax burden and taking more money off our paychecks. His plans don't include free college, but they include putting more parents to work so they can save for their childrens' futures and their own retirement – two things a lot of Americans in Michigan are not able to do right now. Put beside his plan for fair trade, reduced immigration and deep tax cuts, Americans have a lot less to lose with Donald Trump than with Hillary Clinton. If we are able to put aside our petty differences, we could set America on a course that values all kinds of work – including the kind of work that Democrats and Hillary Clinton look down on. Michigan would be a crucial and valuable state for Donald Trump to win, but he won't be able to win if we forget that we are all in this together.