President-elect Trump campaigned on the premise that the working class was getting screwed and he will be the one to step in and save them.
The Carrier deal, which is good for 800 workers but bad economic policy, illustrates the problem we are going to have with Trump, and the danger.
On the surface Donald Trump is a populist. He is supporting the majority opinion, or at least the loudest opinion. This leads to short term happiness but it’s long term benefits are dubious at best.
For Carrier, he lambasted the company this summer for not supporting the American workers and looking our for profits only. After being elected, he worked to have them reverse their decision, and was a bit over 50% successful. 800 jobs out of the 1,400 are staying in Indiana. This was great for Trump, or so he thought.
Chuck Jones, President of United Steelworkers Union Local 1999 was not totally thrilled with the deal. They still lost 600 jobs for the union members. Chuck respectfully tried to address this, stating that they were told that 1,100 jobs were saved, when that was not the case. They had high hopes that all 1,400 would be saved, but they weren’t.
As President of the local union, part of Chuck’s job is to bring this up and push for better. If he criticises Carrier, Trump is on board with that. He took it up as part of the populist agenda. But now that he is not able to save all 1,400 jobs (and was called out for overstated the number actually saved) he is attacking those who point out this shortcoming.
Chuck Jones, who is President of United Steelworkers 1999, has done a terrible job representing workers. No wonder companies flee country!
And here is where we are going to see problems.
Most politicians were either born with thick skin or developed it over their career. Donald Trump was born well off. He has been surrounded by people who either agree with him or are afraid to contradict him. Aside from one-off comments in the news, he has not dealt with direct criticism.
As Trump’s bravado collides with reality and people begin to see that he is only human they will call him out on it. We have seen how sensitive he is with his reaction to relatively minor slights and comedy sketches. Now, on more substantive issues that affect people’s lives, if he falls even a little short he will be roundly criticized for it even by those who supported him. How will he react?