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The Economic History of the Rise of Trumpism

Poster of John Komlos
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Wednesday, January 23, 2019
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12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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John Komlos, Ph.D.
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Wednesdays at the Center

One of the main reasons Donald Trump won the election in 2016 is because voters in three states, all in the Rustbelt, who had voted for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012, switched their vote from Democratic to Republican. Economic dislocations played a crucial role in these democratic strongholds to persuade enough voters to take the dramatic step to vote for an anti-establishment candidate even if that meant a leap of faith into the unknown. The sources of the dislocation were the development of a dual economy characterized at one end by low and stagnating wages, increasing indebtedness, downward social mobility, declining relative incomes, and the hopelessness accompanying them while at the other end of the income distribution the economy was simply booming. This was a three-decade process that started with Reaganomics and its tax cuts that privileged the rich and conferred immense wealth, and its concomitant, political power, on them. Reaganomics also accelerated the decline in the power of unions which had supported the middle class. The process continued under Bill Clinton's administration during which both financial deregulation and hyper-globalization continued. George Bush Jr. continued to pamper the superrich with his tax policies. The process culminated with Barack Obama's bailing out the super rich and his disregard of Mainstreet.