Hot stuff, this stuff anger.
Like All things hot, it must be handled with care.
Anger, like all heat, provides and mobilizes energy.
Critically, it can be an impetus to confront, address, and deal with a whole range of life and work impacts that otherwise are ignored, put up with, or "suffered through."
And, it can also deliver what a number of people refer to as "damage," i.e., it can disrupt relationships, and unsettle viewpoints, established institutions, and various status quo(s), and sometimes without "cleaning up" the after-math, the impact of the disruption.
In other words, anger impacts our world, every day, in real and substantive ways. It is definitely in the air in this election season, isn't it? Like any engine of high energy it requires a steering wheel, governance, tempering it to be effective, not merely hot.
- Anger is an emotion worth getting hold of; studying it; taking hold of it; learning about it, and getting effective with it, as opposed to merely ignoring it, or suppressing it. People can and do ignore their anger; or suppress it; or act it out; or give it voice----sometimes constructively, sometimes destructively.
- So, who's angry now?
- In this election season, it can be any number of people; people who are insulted (like women) or assaulted (like African Americans) or perhaps the most tellingly, people who are simply ignored and taken for granted.
Any number of White Men, the so-called "working class white men," (blue collar and this can include white collar, clerical/administration, and front line service workers) 50 and over could largely fit that description. This can also apply to older white women, not educated beyond high school (or middle school).
As for the men: They have provided the houses, infrastructure, manufacturing, the deliveries, the logistics of goods and services to our local communities and to their families and our families, for years and years.
Men who roll up their sleeves, get to work, get things done and think and believe that their hard work will necessarily be rewarded and recognized.
Men, and the women with whom they raised their families, could be said to reside in a future that can seem to be (in fact) disappearing.
A future that, as with most all of us creatures who operate daily on some sort of automatic, is largely based on the past, i.e., "whatever was, must be."
A past of White people; of white men (in particular): of unions; of blue collar pride; of national and military service pride; of men who were/are self-reliant, proud, straight forward and straight up. A hard week of work could be expected to be topped off by sports, kids, church, hunting, fishing, good sex, beer, and some raucous fun. Bills were to be paid on time; too much debt was to be guarded again.
The 1960's and 70's, with the emergence of "rights"....civil rights, student rights, women's rights, gay rights, the rights of the disabled...there began a seemingly irreversible upheaval in the order of things, in these traditional lifestyles and values. Erosion of this working white man's world seems to be an everyday fact.
In a word, good faith (and expectation) seems to have been broken for any number of this "working class," a group that is or seems to be untrained and unequipped for this century and feels a "nasty pinch."
All these years are not playing out (and paying out) as they had assumed or expected from what they saw with the so-called "Greatest Generation."
Beyond mystified, or worried, or frustrated, many of the Boomer blue collar community are disgusted and angry. Thwarted.
They trusted the Democrats in the '60's and '70's, and then the Republicans in the '80's, '90's and 2000's. However, both "elites" have unquestionably taken their eye off the ball of the blue collar Boomers----for decades.
The hint of the present and coming crisis was planted 30 years ago. The elites, particularly the Republican elites, could be said to have offered the blue collar men and women an opportunity to tolerate, to take on, the following "contract with America:" the upper echelons are free to make lots of money, to exploit opportunity almost at will, and the blue collar will benefit by virtue of a "trickle down."
Fellas, and ladies: trickle down means today, and meant then, something very small, as in a "small stream," like the drip-drip-drip of 'leftovers.'
Blue collar boomers: you bought it. I offer to you that may have been a mistake. Not that the Democrat elites were really standing for you either, but I offer that "trickle down" understanding/"contract" was a serious misdirection. In exchange for the 'elites' reinforcing and exploiting your cultural preferences and prejudices, your lifestyle, you swallowed the hook in the bait: to be culturally validated, recognized and celebrated (example; NASCAR; manly hunting; violent sports; hearty drinkin') but to be truly forgotten and excluded economically.
So this leaves you, blue collar boomers, without any real upside stake in the present social/and economic reality, or the political log jam, or the "culture wars."
Well, then; what is one to do?
Answer: Vent one's spleen.
Rant. Admire and yell for the guy shooting up the saloon.
Take on all comers----above all, defy history as it drifts away from you.
And who best to demonstrate defiance? Donald Trump.
Defiance is best paraded through town as a circus.
And its ring master is that kind of "master:" Donald Trump.
No matter that he had nothing thought through, nothing committed to long term as in a strategic plan (let alone being consistent over a 5 minute time span); no background or experience except self-serving business practices; no civility; no restraint, such as historically given by authentic leadership/wisdom.
Result of such defiance: No authentic leadership.
This "reaction," defiance, is merely another opportunity for this missing cohort.... the blue collar, white working family....to compete further on a losing basis in a very narrow reward stream. And upon losing (again), to then blame others rather than formulate and advocate blue collar concerns in such a way as to take effective, long term action....in both the private and public sectors.
What would equip this working class to be effective rather than merely dramatize their anger, or disgust, or resignation, or resentment?
It is in the interest of all us Americans to empower the white working class. How?
Re-equip them to thrive----now.
Over the next 5 years.
This country and its communities have proven capable of using and working with this thing we call "the government," intelligently, not wastefully, but intelligently.
The Marshal Plan.
The Apollo Program.
The GI Bill.
The Federal Highway Program.
The development of energy (TVA).
The Land Grant colleges.
The coordination of medical science/research (CDC).
Too many to list.
The federal government, used intelligently, has enormous power to impact and elevate the quality and quantity of American life.
Proposal: Retrain our "20th century workers" in the U.S. workforce, younger and older, to be fully equipped for this century, the 21st!
Meaning: provide access, through loans, to community colleges (for one); in conjunction with on-line courses and colleges to learn, to train in, and to develop:
- A relevant expertise (such as the baseline and operating aspects of technology; construction; healthcare; rebuilding infrastructure; retail----yes, retail; transportation; education; small business, et. al. See The Occupational Outlook Handbook).
- Train our labor force on how to sell and market themselves, naturally and effectively. This profound blind spot is true across the workforce including Ivy League graduates. The lack of training and development in marketing and selling one's interests and one's talents is arguably the aspect of our educational system that most blindsides us. The impact is that our people are terrible at communicating their own value naturally, powerfully, effectively. Impact: I suggest 30-50 percent reduction in lifetime earnings is the consequence of having little to no ability to fully sell and market oneself.
- How to adapt to and adopt "change" itself? What are the mind sets, skill sets, and toolsets people need (and can rapidly acquire) to succeed with this stuff, unceasing "change?" And how can they address and engage effectively with "change" as an ongoing constant? Can one live such a life powerfully and well, life that expects and navigates the unexpected as a way of life? Is it possible and sensible to take on, as many of us have, that training and development is a critical pathway, a lifetime practice? And that it can be energizing, sustaining, challenging and incredibly beneficial to do so?
This re-development of the people/workforce infrastructure can be financed through loans through federal, state, and local governments. Or certain private enterprises big enough, awake enough, and foreseeing enough to contribute. (Google?).
When people are faced with current or imminent unemployment, train and develop them....
Do not merely send them a check: we can readily train, develop, equip them for this century, not the last century.
Time (per participant): 1 year.
Cost: $5K-10K per person, re-payable over 5-10 years.
Target population: 30,000,000 workers in the U.S. (ages 25-60).
Beta test: 500,000, workers.
Yearly Input/Output: 1,000,000 people per year.
Total cost (1,000,000.00 workers/year @ $10,000.00 each): $10 billion a year----90 percent in repayable loans, low or no interest. 10 year payback.
So, to come back around: anger is an energy that can mobilize people and resources but anger needs intelligence, a plan, to be productive.
It needs to go to work.
Direct that energy into equipping the people who can most benefit and contribute to their communities when practically equipped to do so.
Past the shouting, lie practical, productive, necessary solutions. Re-include and re-equip these people, who matter. And use the government intelligently, rather than dismiss it or demonize it, or discount it, or ignore it. The government....federal, state and local....when intelligently related to, can, have, will contribute to and develop, its people. All of them.
It's time to move, USA.
Time to move.