National Review’s jihad against Donald Trump turned against Americans themselves with Kevin Williamson’s screed, “Chaos in the Family, Chaos in the State: The White Working Class’s Dysfunction.” He writes about such working-class cities as Wayne, Mich., where I grew up after I was born in 1955. To this day, one-sixth of the city is the Michigan Assembly Plant. It’s a shot-and-beer town. Up until the 1974 Depression, the only way you could avoid providing for your family—your wife staying home with the kids and a cottage up North on a lake—was if you were too lazy to work an assembly-line job that, admittedly, sometimes could be tough. Almost every guy was happy to do it.
Michigan Assembly has had its ups and downs, as I wrote in Chronicles last July. The stupid trade laws Trump attacks have played a part. So has Federal Reserve Board policy. When the Fed inflates the dollar, as in the 1970s and 2000s, gas prices rise fast and people switch from SUVs to the small cars made at Michigan Assembly. But when there’s deflation, as in the past five years, gas prices plunge and American drivers park their small cars for giant SUVs. That’s the major immediate reason why a year ago Michigan Assembly laid off 700 workers—my people—and moved production of the small Focus and C-Max to Mexico. No wonder Wayne’s population has dropped 20 percent the past 30 years. The long-term reasons for the industrial economy’s problems are all the other government stupidities and sellouts Trump has attacked. No wonder my Michigan relatives told me in the recent GOP primary they voted to Make America Great Again.
The Wall Street manipulators and K-Street lobbyists are getting rich poaching the rest of the economy. That’s why the richest counties in the country used to be those of Michigan’s industrial heartland, the former Arsenal of Democracy, but now are the counties of the suburbs around Washington, D.C. where live the lobbyists, politicians, jobholders and other parasites sucking the life’s blood out of the American producers. Falls Church, Va. had a median income of $121,250 in 2013, compared to $41,421 for Wayne County, Mich.—one third as much. Do we need any more explanations of where the working class’s money is sucked into, Count Dracula?
Then there are the wars. NR has been unceasing in demanding all the recent, unneeded, unconstitutional, immoral, stupid and lost wars. But who pays for the wars, the bill for the Iraq War being $5 trillion? Who fights in the wars? Who limps home wounded, physically or mentally? Who comes home in the bodybags? It’s the guys Williamson attacked.
Does he know any of them? I do. They’re my neighbors from Michigan—and out here in Orange County. In one family right next to my apartment in Huntington Beach, identical twin brothers joined after 9/11 and asked for combat. One was killed in in Iraq in 2006 by an IED. I attended his funeral at a church in Costa Mesa. But the military wouldn’t let his twin come home from Iraq. The second casualty was my neighbor until a year ago. He was severely wounded in combat in Iraq and on 100 percent disability because he couldn’t work. Salt of the earth. To Williamson, “dysfunction.”
On March 13, I wrote a column in the Orange County Register about the increasing homeless problem out here in California. Much of it is caused by idiotic state policies that have raised coastal housing prices at least three times the national average. In Orange County, still a strongly Republican area, the median price for a home is more than $700,000. The median price for a small apartment is more than $1,800 a month. But as I noted, here as elsewhere in America, many of the homeless are veterans suffering from physical wounds or what’s now called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although the wounded vets come from all the many ethnicities that now comprise the U.S. military, more than half probably are the “white working class” Williamson machine-gunned.
And who wants to help our veterans? Donald Trump. Why haven’t NR’s favorite senators, endorsee Ted Cruz as well as Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, banded together to pass legislation to help vets? It should be easy to get Democrats to go along. Recent reports have scandalized all America over the Veterans Administration’s vast incompetence, bureaucratic inefficiency and inadequacy.
When a veteran asked Cruz about the VA’s problems at a town hall a year ago, he actually replied, “Something like that [Girl Scouts], selling cookies, would generate billions of dollars for veterans while also connecting them with their friends and neighbors in a new and innovative way.” Well, given that the Pentagon brass now is talking about drafting girls into combat in all the new wars Cruz and NR seek, there soon could be a lot of veterans with experience putting up cookie stands outside supermarkets.
Back in the real America, it is Trump who, in every speech, brings up helping our veterans. In his detailed plan, he wrote, “The current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is absolutely unacceptable. Over 300,000 veterans died waiting for care. Corruption and incompetence were excused. Politicians in Washington have done too little too slowly to fix it. This situation can never happen again, and when Donald J. Trump is president, it will be fixed—fast.”
And Trump, of course, opposed the idiotic and unjust wars NR supported, safely from its air-conditioned offices in New York City and Washington, D.C.—wars that have filled the hospitals with the bleeding, the amputated and the shell-shocked.
In a column earlier in March, Williamson branded Trump as “just crude.” But it’s the NR publicist who stooped to crudities in his “Dysfunction” column. Chronicles is a family magazine, so I’ll cut out the worst of them from this key quote:
“The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen [expletive deleted]. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals [his word, not used today by those he’s attacking] stealing our jobs. Forget your [expletive deleted] gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.”
No, they need an overhaul of the politics in a country for decades dominated by the oligarchs and publicists who have profited from a rigged crony capitalist system and so mistreated the people, in the very heart of the heartland of America, Williamson despises.