The most recent “deal” reached by Donald Trump to preserve 1,000 jobs in a Carrier Manufacturing plant in Indiana will likely be indicative of Trump’s political strategy going forward. Carrier is owned by a company that has much of its business wrapped up in federal contracts so the company was likely intimidated into making a deal by the President-Elect. While undeniably good news for the specific workers in question, it will do nothing to forestall the inevitable diminishment of labor driven primarily by automation and to a lesser extent global economic supply chains. That being said, I believe that political stunts like these will be pulled off by Trump from time to time and be wildly popular with his white working class base, particularly in the rust belt. While these people will continue to suffer and lose meaningful work overall, Trump will continue to be able to exploit ignorance, fear and the desire for scapegoats. He will use dramatic episodes of “deal making” with specific companies to great effect.
Of course, it would be in the long term interest of the American people to get real about the coming dislocations that will be caused by the inevitable, fundamental technological transformation of our economy which will lead to fewer jobs overall. This will not only require a change in the socio-economic framework of our country, but also a change in values and how people find meaning and self-worth. However, that would be complicated and unpleasant, so it isn’t likely to happen.