Graves: An oily con in the Rust Belt


Ah, that word "change." It's like the aroma from an apple pie cooling on a windowsill to someone who is hungry. It beckons. It promises. An awful lot of people in America today are so hungry for change that they don't care where the smell is coming from.

Donald Trump has obviously placed his presidential aspirations on the shoulders of white working class people hailing from areas that have been most impacted by the very word that they are now pinning their hopes upon: change.

Mining towns have been economically decimated due to the near-unanimous consensus that climate change is the most serious threat facing the planet today.

America has got to wean itself from utilizing coal and other fossil fuels and turn to other less toxic sources for energy. Nothing that even the most Koch-devoted statistician (read spinmeister) can offer is going to alter the fact — agreed to by over 95% of climate scientists — that the Earth will face devastating consequences unless we develop and encourage new energy sources.

The world has moved on from pollutant fuels like coal because the survival of the planet depends upon it. A coal miner facing a bleak future is no less a victim of change than the man who made stagecoaches at the time Henry Ford was tinkering with the notion of assembly line automobiles.

I don't mean to suggest that there should be no empathy with a person who has worked in a coalmine to support his family for decades and suddenly finds himself in an unemployment line.

I am suggesting, however, that the promise by any politician that the halcyon days of coal mining will be resurrected if Washington undergoes a significant change is a blatant lie.

If progress has its casualties, it also produces vulnerability. Enter an oily con man into the so-called Rust Belt dispensing hope like a potion guaranteed to restore a full head of hair. Amongst these hurting people, Trump is the consummate alien, a man who has never had to want for anything in his gilded, greedy life, feigning brotherhood with people who don't know whether they will have a roof over their heads next year. The cruel promise extended to desperate people isn't surprising from a man whose entire campaign has been a virtual compendium of lies and distortions. What is surprising is that so many people are willing to detach themselves from reality and believe it.

Trump also represents — whether they like it or not — a political party that has never given a tinker's damn about working class people except when it is fawning for a vote. The GOP has consistently opposed every effort that would significantly improve the lives of blue-collar workers in America, from recognizing the bargaining power of unions to increasing the minimum wage.

Last year, Mr. Trump's organization spent $500,000 to discourage employees in one of his glitzy Las Vegas hotels from joining the Culinary Workers Union. (The union ultimately won.) Mr. Trump, speaking from that comfortably insulated alternate universe in which he resides claims, against all available evidence, that he "believes union members will be voting for me in much larger numbers than for Hillary Clinton."

The more that Donald Trump's sleazy past catches up with him, the more one has to wonder why anyone would put himself in a position where all these moldering skeletons would be unearthed.

That is one of the reasons why Bill Clinton's ill-advised meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the eve of Mrs. Clinton's FBI deposition was so reckless. All the Clinton campaign really has to do is sit back, address the issues that are of genuine concern to the nation, and let the revelations that will inevitably follow Trump University, Trump Institute, and a $12,000 football helmet paid for from funds earmarked for "charity" do the undoing. A man who has never really been anything more than a political poseur with Kim Kardashian's knack for drawing attention to himself will self-destruct without any help from Mrs. Clinton's camp. Just give him time.

Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist.


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