They never saw it coming.

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Then Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del) mingles with passengers aboard the Amtrak Acela train. (AP file photo/Gerald Herbert)

Then Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del) mingles with passengers aboard the Amtrak Acela train. (AP file photo 2008/Gerald Herbert)

Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 11/11/16

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The denizens of the Acela Corridor are in shock. If you’re unfamiliar, the Acela Corridor is that stretch of railroad track from Washington D.C. to Boston passing through New York over which runs the Acela Express, Amtrak’s only profitable train.

Many of those who make their livings in the power circles of New York and Washington ride the Acela frequently. For many in the political class, the view out the Acela train window is the only non-urbanized part of America they ever see.

When Barack Obama talks about the “one percent,” he wants you to picture a stingy Republican who has no regard for the trials and troubles of the other 99 percent. That’s the mythology.

But the truth is that the actual “one percent” is comprised disproportionately of Hollywood celebrities on the west coast and well-connected Acela-train-riding mostly liberal political insiders on the east coast.

The political-class Ivy Leaguers who train back and forth between New York and Washington live in an alternate universe that most ordinary Americans don’t even know exists. Typically, they have on their résumés a suitable period of time spent working in government, such as on Capitol Hill or in a federal agency. Thus credentialed, they move on to lobbying and consulting firms selling to big banks, big companies and big campaigns the access and insider knowledge that the contacts developed during government employment afford.

The other career path for this cohort is to be sufficiently attractive and articulate so as to work one’s way to a job in the New York or Washington media.

Their lives contained entirely in this alternate universe, they have exactly no idea (or no recollection) of what life is like for people in Wichita, Kansas, Knoxville, Tennessee or Tyler, Texas.

To the minds of the 21st century political class, people live in such unsophisticated backwaters because, given their deficits in education, connection and sophistication, it’s the best they can do.

It arose from such condescension that the political class simply could not imagine losing an election to an uncouth outsider like Donald Trump. Their disdain for Trump was palpable. Trump’s genius lay in not giving a damn.

While the elites were lecturing the country about climate change, gender-neutral restrooms and gay marriage – as if those things matter to ordinary Americans trying to pay the bills and raise the kids — Trump was spending every day for 18 months talking about jobs, the economy, illegal immigration and Islamic terrorism.

Billionaire though he is, Trump understands the angst of a 50-year old married couple trying to maintain a middle class standard of living and educate the kids on an income that never grows. Trump connected with that couple and the connection was reciprocated.

Hillary, for her part, called them deplorable.

Those deplorables – what you and I call the middle class – had finally had enough. And thus the middle class all at once hoisted the middle finger.

Looking out the window of the Acela train, the political class never saw it coming.

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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21 Responses

  1. Linda E Montrose says:

    It was no surprise to me. I knew Trump was going to win…how could he not??? The political class as you said, have forgotten their roots and the people that put them there. Trump seems humbled by the working class, not snub them as the person in the whitehouse has for 8 years! Trump is not afraid to rub elbows with working people and I believe this is what put him over the top. clinton talked down to people of the working class, she was civil only to those who could do something for her. It was wonderful to hear Trump acknowledge the secret service people as he did…they deserved it. Not cussed and ranted at as clinton has done over the years. People need HOPE and FAITH that things are going to improve and Trump has given them that after the dismal lack luster attempts obama made.

  2. Richard Anderson says:

    Excellent election analysis Mr. Gleiser. You are right on the mark. Kudos sir!

  3. First, lets fact-check: ” the Acela Express, Amtrak’s only profitable train:”
    Incorrect.

    Amtrak has two profitable routes, neither of which is Acela.
    One is the Autotrain, from Lorton VA to Sanford FL.

    The other is the Boston to Washington Northeast Corridor. Acela share those tracks, but as you’ll see at Amtrak.com, most traffic there is Northeast Regional trains that are a lifeline to lots of workin’ stiffs. Ride ’em and you’ll wish we spent one-WHOLE-helluva-lot-less on these tragic regime-change war fiascos, and more on our own infrastructure.

    That said…

    Your derision of “The political-class Ivy Leaguers” who “have exactly no idea or no recollection of what life is like for people in…Tyler, Texas” comes as we’re reading that (NOT making this up) SARAH PALIN is being vetted for a CABINET job. In 2008, she wanted us to send her to Washington because she’s a hockey mawm…thus better-equipped than the better-educated to digest the long paragraphs that comprise public policy decisions…a learning curve The Donald will now confront. His blooper reel speaks for itself.

    As — for the fifth time — the Popular Vote winner WON’T be inaugurated, it’s moot that The Donald takes office with zero military or public service experience, and Mrs. Clinton is unarguably the most experienced presidency-seeker in USA history. What’s done is done…and here’s how.

    NOT sexy, but TECHNOLOGY factored, two ways:

    1. Antiquated polling methodology. It’s illegal to auto-dial wireless phones, so the sample universe was home-based landlines. Hello?

    2. Reverse snobbery: Egged-on by the three high school graduates who dispense public policy critique each day on your and hundreds of other stations, voters in “fly-over” states have had-it-up-to-here hearing that they’re in “fly-over states.”

    Yes, blame the media. Disgraced Brian Williams hosts a cable show called “The Eleventh Hour,” fed at 11PM ET. That’s 10 in Texas, and 9 in Montana, both red states, being talked-down-to by a cufflinked New Yorker.

    In 2004, before he screeched, Howard Dean was front-runner, because he was the first to mash Big Data as well as he did. Team Obama took it to a high art 4 and 8 years later. While McCain’s and Romney’s gang went door-knocking door-to-door, with ballpoint pens and clipboards, Obama’s iPad-toting street team knew WHICH doors to knock on.
    Then polling tech became the echo chamber Talk Radio is.

    Meanwhile, Trump rallies attracted Taylor Swift-size crowds and his lawn signs outnumbered Hillary’s exponentially. And many were HOMEMADE lawn signs.
    Both tactics are LOW-tech/HIGH-touch.

    And while Hillary — a workaholic policy wonk — spoke in reasoned paragraphs, Trump spoke in easily-digestible bumpersticker-length catch-phrases. “Make America Great Again!” “Drain the swamp!” “Jeb Bush is weak!” “Little Marco.”

    So here we are.
    And as President Obama did today, we should all wish the success for the incoming president, unlike Rush Limbaugh’s wishes for President-Elect Obama.

    AND TRY THIS, based on Ronald Reagan’s “Are you better-off now?”

    On your smartphone calendar app, pin this for four years from now:
    HAVE we built a big, beautiful wall? And DID Mexico pay for it?
    HAS Obamacare been repealed-and-replaced?

    • Paul Gleiser says:

      I’ll take your word on Acela. Perhaps I should have characterized it as, “Amtrak’s quasi-high-speed flagship train that at least has a plausible claim to economic necessity and viability.”

      My use of the Acela Corridor in this piece is nevertheless apt. Take a look at the county-level electoral data. A river of blue forms an almost perfect overlay on the Acela route. Contrast that RIVER to the OCEAN of red to its west.

      As to infrastructure being deficient due to “tragic regime-change war fiascos,” what happened to the just under $1 TRILLION that was appropriated in 2009 under the grand fiasco that was called ‘the stimulus.?’ So far as anyone can readily observe, it vanished without a trace.

      As to Hillary Clinton being a “workaholic policy wonk” and “unarguably the most experienced presidency-seeker in USA history,” you are making the very point. For three decades the U.S. government has been increasingly filled with highly educated, wonked-up-to-here policy “experts.” But to what avail? The results have been atrocious.

      Dismiss them as mere ‘high school graduates’ if you wish, on the key issues of the day the talk show hosts on hundreds of radio stations — including mine — have been right while the Ivy Leaguers running the country have been wrong.

      Rush and Sean are spot-on correct when they say that under this administration the proportion of the population on the welfare rolls expanded while the proportion of the population on a payroll contracted. They are correct when they say that health care premiums for the average family now cost more and deliver less. They are correct when they say that average household income today is eight percent LOWER than it was a decade ago. They are correct when they say that the United States is less-equipped militarily to deal with a defense crisis than it was at its lowest ebb prior to World War II. The list goes on.

      Whether I pin something in my smartphone calendar or not, eight years from now I, and millions like me, will take stock.

      Taking stock today, eight years after the “Hope & Change” presidency of Barack Obama dawned, I can say that by every empirical and subjective measure, I am definitely NOT better off.

      Yet, the smug condescension of the northeast elite who still believe in the Obama agenda is likely to continue unabated — hell bent on destroying the Trump presidency.

      Would that they examine the clear message from this election and be just the teensiest bit chastened.

      If only.

      • Walter Hines says:

        Not so sure about every empirical measure. My 401K has fared wonderfully. The DJI closed at 8,281.22 on Jan 16, 2009, and on Nov 7, 2016 it closed at 18,259.60.

        • Paul Gleiser says:

          OK, Mr. Hines, I’ll give you that. And if your measure of being better off is confined solely to an assessment of the Dow, you are no doubt happy.

          I will concede that my securities positions have appreciated handsomely as well. So, point taken.

          But taken cautiously. The question worth exploring is this: Is the Dow hitting record highs because of strong fundamentals or because of the fact that there is little else today to do with money other than buy stocks?

          With interest rates at zero, one might argue the latter. That brings the next question: What happens to the Dow when interest rates rise? Which leads then to the question after that: What happens to the federal budget when the Treasury is forced to pay historically nominal rates on the public debt as compared to the near zero rates of today?

          Yes, the Dow looks great. But I maintain that it got to looking that way for the wrong reasons.

          Thanks for taking the time to read and reply.

        • Compare also: Unemployment numbers.

      • RE “what happened to the just under $1 TRILLION that was appropriated in 2009 under the grand fiasco that was called ‘the stimulus.?’ So far as anyone can readily observe, it vanished without a trace.”

        You’re kidding, right?
        Highway crews have been working ever-since, all across the USA.

        But too many bridges remain unsafe.
        What DID go wrong with the Stimulus was that it wasn’t big-enough.

        FDR put America to work, building the infrastructure that got us back on our feet. When debt funded The Gipper’s Public Works projects, it was as-acceptable-as what The Donald has pledged to accomplish. But when Obama does it…

        • Paul Gleiser says:

          YOU’RE kidding, right?

          The vast majority of the “stimulus” money never found a “shovel-ready” project — by President Obama’s own admission (“…shovel-ready was not as, uh, shovel-ready as we expected.” Barack Obama speech to Council on Jobs & Competitiveness, June 13, 2011).

          Instead, truckloads, nay, cargo shiploads of the money disappeared into the budgets of cities and counties to be used to avoid laying off government employees.

          Another big wad of it vanished in the pursuit of “saving” jobs. I personally watched $46,000 of it disappear that way. The non-profit board upon which I was sitting at the time voted to sign a statement certifying that by virtue of accepting money from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, “x” number of jobs would be “saved.” That no layoffs were being considered at the time didn’t keep the organization from taking the money. I am sad to say that I was the lone nay vote on that motion.

          Here in Tyler, the city took stimulus money and fixed a problem with the street near the old Cotton Belt Depot building (in a part of town to which almost literally no one ever goes). The sign announcing that the project was being done with American Recovery & Reinvestment Act money was duly put up. According to my conversation with the then city manager, the city was going to fix the problem on its own eventually but was glad to take the federal money since it was being offered. Thus the good people of Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Ohio paid to fix a low-priority problem in Texas.

          There are literally thousands of such examples.

          Comparing the “stimulus” to the projects of the FDR New Deal is pure sophistry. The $4.9 billion appropriated by Congress for the Work Projects Administration translates to $86.5 billion in today’s dollars. That’s one tenth of what was appropriated for the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. Much has been written pro and con about the WPA but give it this much, there are hundreds of buildings, bridges, tunnels, dams, roads and public facilities built by the WPA in the 1930s that are still being used today. (The structures at Dallas’s now infamous Dealey Plaza were built using WPA money.)

          If there is any analog to the lasting impact of those WPA projects that arose from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, I will be more than glad to be enlightened of it. But some highway crews out working somewhere won’t meet that test.

  4. Cyndi says:

    Astute observation and eloquently spoken by you this morning on my commute in Tyler, TX. Perfect grammar is much appreciated by this East Texan!

  5. R. Eagleman says:

    The minutia of profitability of Amtrak is a diversion of how to avoid coming to grips with the real theme of Paul’s opinion piece. These “self-appointed” experts fail to understand that the real Americans who are responsible for developing this country have been forgotten by the very ones who work for them. The additional 2-3% of Blacks who escaped from the progressive plantation this election may be very difficult to bring back into the reliable voting base of the Democrat Party. If minorities actually feel that they have a better future with Republican policies, we may be witnessing a complete realignment of our country. It is about time that we return to one nation under God, indivisible, and justice for all. Paul, kudos for a timely essay, and thanks to all those who voted in this historic election.

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