Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Both Political Parties Ignore The Needs Of The American Precariat

newsclick |  In sharp contrast, Trump may have appeared indifferent to the gravity of the coronavirus, but his persistent calls to reopen the economy addressed the precarity issue, as they appealed to many workers whose livelihoods were being destroyed by the pandemically induced government restrictions placed on economic activity.

Public health care authorities understandably directed their policy responses toward pandemic mitigation, and the Democrats largely embraced their recommendations. But they remained insensitive to the anxieties of tens of millions of Americans, whose jobs were being destroyed for good, whose household debts—rent, mortgage, and utility arrears, as well as interest on education and car loans—were rising inexorably, even allowing for the temporary expedient of stimulus checks from the government until this past August.

Yet the inability of Congress to secure extensions on relief packages did not appear to unduly penalise Republicans, if one is to judge from the congressional results. Equally significantly, it didn’t help the Democrats either. This suggests that lingering fears about COVID-19 are being matched by economic anxiety from the many millions of American workers who are coming to realise that their jobs are simply not essential.

The struggle for the precariat vote will define the transformation of both parties in the next four years, and that’s an excellent thing, as it will force both parties to offer competing policies that begin to address their concerns. Until this group’s longstanding economic grievances—jobs, health, safety, pollution, the public purpose, and above all, relative stability and employment security over long periods of time—are addressed, the United States will remain a profoundly divided and divisive country at war with itself.