In Election’s Wake: Time to Judge Elected Officials on Whether They Deliver an Economy Less Rigged to Benefit Political Insiders

Stephen Herzenberg |

What should Pennsylvanians and Americans take away from the Presidential election? While fully digesting Trump’s razor-thin victory will take time, national exit polls show that the President-elect won several groups by large margins: white non-college and rural voters, those who view the economy as fair or poor, and those whose family financial situation has worsened.

Our annual State of Working Pennsylvania suggested that these and other middle-class groups have a right to feel aggrieved by an economic and political system rigged to benefit the rich and powerful.

The new President and other elected officials should be judged going forward by a simple standard: will the policies they propose further rig the economy to benefit the rich and powerful? Or will they fight to give regular Pennsylvanians and Americans a fair shake again?

Will, for example, President-elect Trump deliver on a trade policy to benefit the middle class? Will Pennsylvania’s legislative leaders finally allow a vote on a substantial increase in the minimum wage—a simple, overwhelmingly popular way to make the economy fairer for regular people? (Voters in four states approved minimum wage increases to at least $12 per hour yesterday.) Will Pennsylvania lawmakers enact “An Agenda to Raise Pennsylvania’s Pay? That’s what it will take to improve the economic circumstances of white non-college and rural voters—and other middle-class groups—and make the economy “good” or “excellent” for those who currently view it as “poor” or “fair.”

In the aftermath of the election, it’s time to respond to populist anger and frustration with more full-throated populist solutions. And it’s time to call out politicians at the national and state level more bluntly when they rig the economy further to benefit the 1 percent.