When Trump was touring Upstate New York, he began to recite some of the awful statistics about how all the good-paying jobs have left the metro area that he was addressing -- median incomes down thousands of dollars since 2001, double-digit decline of manufacturing jobs, and so on and so forth.
But he was always quick to reassure the audience not to worry, once he gets elected and starts bringing back those good jobs from their off-shored locations, the people of Rochester or Syracuse or wherever will be able to live a good life in their home town once again.
He knows that many people leave their home town if there aren't any good jobs. Of course, many leave even if there are good jobs, because they want the best jobs, even if it means uprooting themselves -- part of the status-striving trend of the past 40 years. By now, though, most people who are tempted to leave Upstate New York are not careerists causing a brain drain, but those in search of a decent middle class job.
He also made it clear that he understood why, despite all the awful statistics he just got done reciting, the audience had stayed around -- they love their community and their family. For social people, that's a powerful force keeping them in a dwindling regional economy. Only asocial nerds or amoral sociopaths wouldn't feel at least a little guilty leaving their home town relationships just so they can make more money.
It's refreshing to hear such a public figure, and possibly our next leader, restoring the job / life balance in front of a national audience. In contrast to the reigning view that you should change your life however necessary in order to serve the larger goal of continued career success, Trump was saying that the job was just a means to an end -- the goal being staying rooted in your physical community and your family and neighborly relationships.
When decent-paying jobs return to the hollowed-out regions of America, there will be no more trade-offs between seeking a middle-class income and staying where your roots are, just like during the Great Compression of roughly 1920 to 1980.
But in the meantime when there is such a trade-off, notice who Trump is siding with -- those who are remaining loyal to their home town and to their kinfolk, at the cost of lower incomes and less stable job prospects. They could've cut their family and community loose in order to make more money at a New Economy bubble magnet like North Carolina, Utah, Texas, or wherever else.
Trump is saying they're doing the right thing and yet are being financially punished for it -- therefore, we have to bring good jobs back, so they can be rewarded for doing the right thing vis-a-vis the people they're attached to, and who are attached to them.
Make no mistake: he's not just saying that you should work to live instead of live to work. Most people who promote that idea these days are lifestyle strivers who are saying something different -- that you should definitely transplant yourself away from your boring home town, but choose your destination based on how fun the lifestyle will be, and get whatever job you can find locally that will allow you to lead that lifestyle. Are you outdoorsy? Find whatever crappy job you can in Colorado, and go from there. Are you more cosmopolitan? Find whatever crappy job you can in New York, and go from there.
Although this view does put lifestyle above career, it doesn't include community or family in lifestyle. When some transplant moves to Manhattan, they don't belong to a community there, and likely never will. They're just treating the place like their own great big playground, although they come to realize that they have to share it somewhat with others. But a bunch of kids descending on a water park does not make the place into a community. And of course they won't have any family there either, so there goes the other source of organic social roots.
Trump's view of a job not as a means of personal advancement, but as a way of not having to leave your roots, ought to help turn the tide on the transplant phenomenon. While we're killing off the Bush and Clinton dynasties, we're also voting against the broader yuppie movement they stand for. From now on, the populist and nationalist program will seek social stability rather than social mobility. "Bringing back jobs" is a means toward that community-oriented goal, and not so much a form of wealth gospel.