[Content Note: Antisemitism; racism; classism.]
To tepid applause and constant interruptions from protesters, Donald Trump just delivered his Very Important Economic Address. The policies were predictably terrible, the dog whistles were present and accounted for, and he reminded us once more that he has no idea how government actually works.
It was the hundredth or so time that Trump gave what was billed as a serious policy address meant to "reboot" his campaign and convince nervous Republican elites and voters that he's a viable candidate.
And, in the sense that he was able to stand at the podium without falling over and read all the words from the teleprompter, he did a bang-up job.
But the specifics of the address were not those of a serious candidate. His economic proposals are utterly unworkable and will patently not accomplish the things he is promising to US workers.
They are, at best, retreads of failed Republican economic policy, and, at worst, ludicrous proposals with zero chance of bettering the lives of the average working American—despite Trump's claims that it's "easy" to achieve his gossamer promises of economic prosperity and security for all.
Would that the totally expected faulty policy specifics were the worst part of this address. But he opened with a central slogan of "America First," which he continues to use despite its ugly anti-Semitic history. Or, perhaps, because of it.
And then there is this: Speaking from Detroit, whose economic struggles Trump used to pitch a grim economic tale of terror that mirrored the foreign policy fearmongering which defined his Republican convention speech, he attributed Detroit's economic collapse and continued turmoil exclusively to Democratic governance.
Detroit, he said, was a city ruled by Democratic governance at every level.
But that is not true. At least as long as Detroit is still part of Michigan—which it was, last I checked.
Michigan has a Republican governor (Rick Snyder); a Republican majority in the state senate; and a Republican majority in the state house of representatives.
Either Trump doesn't know that Detroit is in a state overseen by Republican governance, or he is trying to conceal the effects of that Republican governance on Detroit, or his comprehension of government and politics is so limited, he doesn't understand that Detroit is affected by Republican governance.
A little from column A, a little from column B, and a lot from column C, perhaps.
Trump laid the blame for Detroit's economic collapse squarely, and exclusively, at Hillary Clinton's—and her husband's—feet, but the truth is that Detroit's problems started long before the Clintons were national political players.
And such a comprehensive collapse does not have a singular genesis: Designed segregation, white flight, auto-focused urban planning, automation, oil prices, Reaganomics, union-busting, and a host of other factors combined to put enormous pressure on the Motor City.
Many of these problems are still present today—and none of the proposals pitched by Trump would meaningfully solve any of them.
A number of them would, however, exacerbate them.
And that's because, among other reasons, Trump believes that as long as he makes "the best deals" and does all the "easy" things that our current President inexplicably refuses to do, he will restore the US to its former glory—reversing the trend of automation, apparently, and without concern for the ways in which that alleged glory was dependent on excluding many marginalized people from the workforce.
Trump simply doesn't get how the world works. Among his many other disqualifying features, this is at the top of the list. A president can't devise effective policy solutions for a nation he doesn't even begin to understand.