Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Are Trumpists simply the people who are getting screwed by the Information Age?

I suspect so.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 10.43.40 AM
Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 10.43.40 AM

I suspect so.

Lemme splain. Reading a lot recently about Britain’s transition to the Industrial Age, I was struck at how many yeoman and craftsman types found themselves losing their stable, honored places in society. I wonder if the people we see supporting Trump nowadays find themselves in a similar position, simply not seeing a place for themselves in the Information Age America they sense emerging.

Will Trump do anything to help them? No. He can’t. The best thing to help those left behind by the Information Age would be a huge education program. But that’s a multi-generational effort that is hard and difficult. Instead, he offers a short-term venting of anger that feels good. And Americans like to feel good (that’s not a criticism in and of itself).

I suspect so.

Lemme splain. Reading a lot recently about Britain’s transition to the Industrial Age, I was struck at how many yeoman and craftsman types found themselves losing their stable, honored places in society. I wonder if the people we see supporting Trump nowadays find themselves in a similar position, simply not seeing a place for themselves in the Information Age America they sense emerging.

Will Trump do anything to help them? No. He can’t. The best thing to help those left behind by the Information Age would be a huge education program. But that’s a multi-generational effort that is hard and difficult. Instead, he offers a short-term venting of anger that feels good. And Americans like to feel good (that’s not a criticism in and of itself).

All this makes me wonder how much the tectonic shifts of the Industrial Revolution helped create the atmosphere that led Americans to believe in 1861 they could only settle  their differences with bloodshed. Is another civil war possible?

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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