For the first time in our nation's history last month, African-Americans, Latinos, unmarried women and millennials who make up the "Rising American Electorate" became the majority of all Americans who cast votes in a presidential election. They represent the future of America, in all its diverse greatness.
But as the year comes to a close, it's becoming clear that Donald Trump doesn't understand, let alone appreciate, the changing demographics--and the changing face--of America.
At a rally just last week in Pennsylvania, the President-elect spoke disparagingly, again, about people of color. "Whether you are African American, Hispanic American, Asian American or whatever the hell you are, remember we are all Americans," he said. And then Trump asked his mostly-white crowd to cheer for the African-Americans who were "smart" and "didn't come out to vote" for his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Several of Trump's Cabinet picks are equally insulting to working mothers and working families, and will make life more difficult for members of the Rising American Electorate (RAE), many of whom already are living financially on the edge. The nominations reflect an "of the rich, by the rich, for the rich" worldview that rewards the uber-wealthy in America at the expense of the rest of us.
Trump's nominee for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, is a case in point. He opposes the minimum wage increase and basic worker protections that unmarried women and other members of the RAE rely upon to make ends meet. Puzder has criticized paid sick leave policies and praised automation because machines are "never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall or an age, sex or race discrimination case." And he prides himself on the demeaning ads he runs for his restaurant, Carl's Jr., featuring scantily clad women. "I like our ads," our presumptive Labor Secretary boasted to reporters. "I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it's very American."
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich is concerned about Puzder. "I'm not saying he's anti-worker because he's conservative. I'm saying he's anti-worker because he's anti-worker," Reich said. "The Department of Labor came into his restaurants and found that half his restaurants had wage and labor violations ... You think it's pro-worker that his weekly paycheck equals the average yearly paycheck of his workers and he's against a minimum wage increase?"
Meanwhile, Trump's pick for Health and Human Services seems poised to make life more difficult for middle and lower-class Americans, too. Congressman Tom Price of Georgia recently released an agenda that would enable across-the-board cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other crucial social programs. The cuts would slash Social Security by $1.7 trillion and Medicare by $1.1 trillion over 10 years and are in line with Trump's proposed tax plan--which mostly benefits the wealthiest Americans.
More than three-quarters (77.7%) of the Trump individual tax cuts would go to the top 20% of earners, and just 1% of the individual tax cuts would go to those making less than $25,000, according to our own analysis. With 63% of unmarried women currently making less than $25,000 a year, Trump's tax plan would have devastating consequences on single women and particularly on single mothers. The Tax Policy Center recently calculated that 6% of all households--including 51% of single parent households--would actually pay higher federal income taxes under the draconian Trump plan.
Given Trump's actions in selecting an Attorney General found to be too racist to be a federal judge and a National Security Director who tweeted that "Fear of Muslims is RATIONAL," the President-elect's speech last week in Pennsylvania rang hollow. He can say that "we are all Americans and we are all united by one shared destiny," but his words are undercut by the extremist views of the top officials who will be advising him. Trump needs to understand that the diverse faces of the Rising American Electorate represent America's strength. Helping them thrive and working together, with all of us, is his only path to continued American greatness.
Page Gardner is founder and president of the Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund.