There are Americans who have made it through the economic tumult of recent decades relatively unscathed. They did not lose their jobs or their houses or their pensions. Perhaps they had a government job or an office job, maybe they worked for the post office or a utility. Perhaps they were far enough up in the corporate hierarchy that they got to keep their jobs, even if they did have to be willing to keep moving as the Great Factory Migration unfolded.
However it happened, for these hardworking Americans, the American Dream teetered but it did not die. They got raises, they won awards; they bought nicer homes – perhaps even a second vacation home. Their cars got more pricy and RV’s and boats were acquired. Children went to college, and although they may have had to move away, they got good jobs and eventually houses and vehicles and children of their own.
Many of these folks see changes in America but are not really touched by these changes. Their lives run smoothly unless disturbed by health matters and they don’t want to analyze the world or our nation, although complaining is acceptable. They choose not to discuss how change is impacting the lives of so many Americas who have not been fortunate enough to live out the relatively carefree trajectory of these lucky people. These “lucky” people do not think they are lucky; they think they succeeded because they lived life correctly. They did not rock any political boats. All they asked for and all they still ask for is the everyday peace and prosperity to raise a family and enjoy a rewarding social life with family and friends.
What they don’t recognize is that other people who lived correctly but put their future in the hands of corporations or factories did not necessarily fare as well. Their steady working lives, their possessions, their future pension supports were taken away almost without warning. They did not manage to squeak through under the old formula that guaranteed that hard work would pay off. Their progress was interrupted midstream, perhaps never to be regained. From the point where the factory or business that offered them prosperity in exchange for labor left them high and dry their lives atrophied and morphed into something that felt very much like failure.
The group of Americans that succeeded felt pride in their success and began to feel slightly superior to their one-time neighbors who had lost their jobs, although this was often through events they had no control over. As a result they were unwilling to offer aid or sympathy to those who they came to see a losers. The instinct of those who squeaked through the economic changes successfully was to put some distance between themselves and the “losers”, not wanting to get caught in the down suck.
Almost all of these middle class Americans, both the successful and the unsuccessful, tend to see themselves as Republicans and to feel that Conservative principles are the truest American guidelines. They feel that the best way to shore up the American economy is to cut back on programs and expenses. They do not want to pay for the unlucky or the lazy (who they do not necessarily see as two different groups). They don’t want amnesty for undocumented immigrants who stole American jobs (even if this perception is not totally accurate). They identify Republican.
We have seen that the unlucky and angry went with Donald Trump, but this second group of luckier middle class Americans have no stomach for Donald Trump and they have difficulty tolerating Ted Cruz. But they are good voters, good citizens. They have to vote for someone in the primaries and it couldn’t, absolutely couldn’t, be a Democrat. What people are telling me is that they are writing in Ronald Reagan and voting for him. I don’t know if this is a trend or just the choice of a few isolated contented/discontented suburbanites. It is so obviously a throwaway vote, but nevertheless it makes me smile, a little smile of wry amusement. After all the saintly talk on FOX news and in the right wing media raising Ronald Reagan to ranks of perfection never before attained by an American President, this write in vote makes so much sense. It is a vote for the past, a nostalgia vote, a vote by people who like to live simply and be left alone to enjoy the bounty of their nation. It is a vote by people who really need to stop watching FOX News.
By Nancy Brisson