Economy & Work

What We Didn’t Hear At the Debate

As Trump disses democracy, it would be nice to address the anxieties of those who are beginning to doubt it can help them.

What We Didn't Hear At the Debate

The question no one is answering in this year's debate: What kinds of jobs do you intend to create and will they pay enough to lift workers out of poverty? (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In a debate that will be most remembered for Donald Trump’s diss of democracy, there was little said about the anxieties that appear to be undermining it.

Big questions about the old economy and new economy were not addressed. Here are a few that the candidates might want to address in the final few weeks of the campaign:

  • For some workers, the new economy has resulted increased job demands, increased work hours in substandard wages, increased job insecurity, uncertain job control, uncertain job rewards and uncertain social support. How do we deal with increase in precarity?
  • How do we address the needs of people who have felt the impact of cost shifting — as when higher profits for drugs, medical care and education are underwritten by unwitting consumers — lost pensions, losses in home value?
  • Claiming you are all about “jobs, jobs, jobs,” as Hillary Clinton does, sounds nice, but how to you really reduce economic insecurity in an age of globalization and capital mobility?
  • Does raising employment lead to reductions in poverty, or just create more working poor?
  • How do you intend to address market forces and competition that can also lead to inequalities and injustice?
  • How is either party going to deal with gridlock following the election? Only stockholders have benefited from the past gridlock.

Speaking of jobs, it is increasingly looking, in the later stages of this campaign, that Trump is all about creating some for himself and his cronies — establishing or trying to establish a viewership for Trump TV, aided by Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon. He wants to attract a demographic, the white working class and white middle class, that would be attractive to advertisers. He is a ‘business man’ after all. This won’t be easy, as many in the in the white working class are radio listeners but he will be trying. Prediction: Sean Hannity will be the first person to leave Fox to join the new network.

John Russo

John Russo is the former co-director of the Center for Working-Class Studies and coordinator of the Labor Studies Program at Youngstown State University. Currently, he is a visiting scholar at the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and Working Poor at Georgetown University. Russo has published widely on labor and social issues, in academic journals as well as magazines and newspapers. He is also managing editor of the blog Working-Class Perspectives.