Donald Trump has energized a large faction of alienated working-class Americans who feel authorized to vent their resentments against the establishment and the rest of us, starting with vulnerable immigrants. The three men who were caught planning to blow up a building housing 125 Somali immigrants in Garden City, Kansas, are only the tip of the iceberg. It is bound to get worse.
Hillary Clinton personifies the status quo and the establishment that Trump supporters loathe, and unfortunately they are right in sensing that her policies will offer no solution to many of the country’s most serious problems. Never mind scandals about Clinton’s email server or Trump’s sexual behavior; the real problem is that neither candidate seems interested in doing the hard work it would take to reverse decades of job losses for millions of working Americans.
Bringing manufacturing jobs back to America is a tough call, but it could be done. I don’t live in the Middle American industrial towns that are dying, but my company suffered the same problem in Torrance, California. Taking the right steps, I stopped the bleeding and am now slowly working to bring back jobs from overseas.
There are ways to bring back sufficient numbers of the jobs that have gone offshore. But this would require actions mandated by the federal government in Washington, DC. Does anyone running for office this year have either the capacity or the vision and will to push for these?
Trump’s personal character may be loathsome, but he hits many of the right chords in appealing to working – or, more accurately, formerly working – Americans. Unfortunately, he very likely would not be able to do much for them if he were to win the election.
Clinton, for her part, would also do nothing to alleviate or reduce the pain and hopelessness that afflict the millions who support Trump or who supported her primary opponent, Bernie Sanders. Aside from her egregious tactlessness in labeling half of Trump supporters as “deplorables,” Clinton’s industrial policies would make the cost of doing business in America much higher than it already is and would chase away even more American jobs from the dead and dying industrial and manufacturing sectors.
What our federal government should do is what China already does: start subsidizing critical industries or become short-term partners with them, just as it did in 2009-10 to revive the automobile industry. In addition, the government should mandate that any products coming in from offshore must have no more than 75 percent labor foreign content, setting aside the remaining 25 percent for American labor. Unfortunately it is too late to force all material and components to be made in America, but if we don’t do something urgently to foster more American manufacturing jobs, we are in for a worsening of the already bad situation that is tearing our society apart.
Pervaiz Lodhie is founder and CEO of LEDTronics, a pioneering LED lighting company based in Torrance, California. He is currently writing an autobiography, Lighting the Way: An Innovator’s Journey in Pakistan and America.