INDIANAPOLIS — Give the man his due.
President-elect Donald Trump did what he said he was going to do — save jobs.
The news Tuesday that Trump had brokered a deal with Carrier Corp. to keep the company from moving 1,000 Hoosier jobs to Mexico is a good thing. It means, at the very least, that for a lot of Hoosier families the holidays just became a lot brighter.
Because Trump is such a divisive figure, even news that he’s found a way to keep jobs in Indiana has provoked controversy. Critics say he bribed Carrier to stay by offering the company tax breaks and other incentives — thus shifting some of the costs of maintaining those jobs from the company to taxpayers.
It’s a valid concern, but raising it illustrates one reason Trump — and not Hillary Clinton — is picking out furniture for the Oval Office right now.
Trump’s critics in the Democratic and, yes, even the Republican Party see him as little more than a snake-oil salesman and a boor. They say he tells the truth only by accident. They argue that many of his statements about and actions toward women are despicable. And they contend that if he isn’t a racist or xenophobe himself, he certainly seems entirely comfortable keeping company with people who are.
How, then, did he win enough votes in enough of the right places to capture the presidency?
Well, there really are only two possible answers to that question.
The first is that Trump did, in fact, con many Americans — that they weren’t paying attention and didn’t know the sort of man they were electing. Such an answer means that more than 50 million Americans of voting age are little more than idiots.
The other possible answer is that they knew Trump has trouble telling the truth, is a misogynist and might even be a racist — and they were so desperate they voted for him anyway.
The truth is that the desperation that led to Trump’s elevation to the White House has been building for a long time. White working-class and rural Americans have been crying for help for years as their livelihoods have disappeared and their ways of life have been under assault.
Democrats have met these cries for help with pledges to invest in retraining and other forms of education to help displaced workers transition to new occupations. And Republicans have pushed forth ideas to foster entrepreneurial enterprises aimed at creating small business growth that will produce new jobs.
Both of these approaches are valid ones over the long haul — and probably should be tried in tandem rather than in the either/or fashion in which they’re typically advanced.
But neither plan does much to help the unemployed husband who can’t pay the family mortgage, the wife who can’t find the cash to meet medical expenses, the father who can’t afford to send his daughter to college or the mother who can’t feed her children good food.
Those folks don’t need help some day.
They need jobs now.
Give Donald Trump credit. He heard their cries when others didn’t.
And he brought jobs back to this state and this country.
Trump’s critics can keep pointing out that he is a scalawag whose conduct veers from uncouth to reprehensible. They’ll be right on the facts, but so long as they keep making Trump’s unsuitability and not Americans’ needs their focus, they’ll keep losing the argument.
The only way to beat Donald Trump is to come up with better solutions to problems than he does.
That will mean putting together programs that create jobs and help people in need not in the next decade or in the next year or even in the next month — but … now.
Trump understood that. He realized that people who are frightened and desperate don’t need 15-point plans or lectures or even long-term solutions.
They need help.
They need hope.
They need jobs.
And that’s what he gave them.
Give the man his due.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.