The night Donald Trump was elected, he made a promise: “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.” White working-class voters were critical to the president’s victory, and it seemed he would serve this constituency. He would not have won without the massive defection of this group from Democrats to Republicans. For many supporters, the whole point of the campaign was to rebuild the Republican Party as a “workers’ party” that would combat mass immigration, globalist trade agreements, and a finance-driven economy that was leaving rural America behind.
If last week’s State of the Union speech is any indication, President Trump has forgotten the “forgotten men.” He specifically praised blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and female workers—everyone but the white men who are the base of his coalition. Jeb Bush could have delivered the speech.
The worst part was an ab-lib: “I want people to come into our country, in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” “In the largest numbers ever” was not in the original text, so the next day, reporters asked the president if he really meant it.
“Yes, because we need people in our country because our unemployment numbers are so low and we have massive numbers of companies coming back into our country,” he said, before rambling about car companies returning to the United States. “We need people,” he concluded.
Who is “we”? The economy is performing well, but not for everyone. According the Brookings Institution, unemployment is falling and there has been a significant uptick in average household income. However, the increase in wages has been smaller than the increase in the labor-force participation rate, which means that a good part of the increase in income is due to longer working hours, not higher wages. CBS Moneywatch, seemingly contradicting Brookings, reported that wages did not keep pace with inflation in 2018. The people suffering most are precisely those who supported the president, notably workers in transportation and manufacturing, and in the Midwest and South. Rich voters have gotten more from Trump’s policies than workers.
Corporate America wants an even better deal. “Business’s number one problem is finding qualified workers,” warns Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics, in a CNBC piece entitled “The U.S. labor shortage is reaching a critical point.” “As the economy roars ahead, blue-collar and lower-paid industries are having a tough time finding workers,” writes Irina Ivanova in CBS’s Moneywatch, in a piece called “These are the industries with the biggest labor shortages.” Economic analyst Jon Manzella, in a column called “Worsening labor shortage demands more immigrants,” wrote that the “exceptionally low unemployment rate is good news for American workers” but is bad for “corporate and U.S. economic growth.” He wants “policies that open the door to more immigrants at all skill levels.”
More immigrant workers bring down American wages. Favoring mass immigration is a deliberate choice to privilege employers over workers. This policy splits President Trump’s electoral coalition and there’s little evidence employers will back President Trump anyway. The libertarian Koch brothers have reportedly told their political network they will not support President Trump for re-election even though he has delivered on many of their policy priorities, including tax cuts and deregulation. The 2018 midterms also showed Democrats are increasingly winning over the rich, even though they are the people who benefited the most from President Trump’s policies.
Not once did President Trump talk about whites, though he gushed over every other group—often more than once. Boasting about low “Asian-American unemployment” is especially galling because Asians have long had lower unemployment rates than whites and higher average incomes. President Trump was not highlighting “marginalized groups;” he was praising everyone but whites.
By opening the doors yet wider to immigration, Mr. Trump is phasing out not only whites but his own party. “After the 2018 result, Democrats now control . . . nearly 90 percent of the seats with more immigrants than average,” wrote Ronald Brownstein in The Atlantic. While Mr. Brownstein trots out the stale line that the GOP needs to break with President Trump and attract more minority voters, the 2018 election shows that few non-whites vote Republican no matter how strong the economy. Demographics—not economics—is destiny.
President Trump’s 2016 campaign seemed to suggest that working-class white voters were finally becoming a real voting bloc. Instead, his administration has further marginalized white identity. Antifa groups and overt anti-white hatred gain in prominence, even while the administration uses selective prosecutions to crack down on its own supporters. The anti-white racial spoils system remains unchallenged, and the State of the Union shows that white voters remain politically invisible, unworthy of even a rhetorical nod.
Whites around the country risked media hatred, doxings, and even physical assault to support him, but President Trump has done nothing to protect them. Instead, he goes out of his way to pay tribute to people who despise him. In a recent speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Trump repeated his vow: “I will never let you down.” He already has.