Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Must read on the Trump phenomenon

Via Isegoria (you do read him every day, right?) comes this:
... humans appear to have some need to look down on someone; there’s just a basic tribalistic impulse in all of us.  And if you’re an elite white professional, working class whites are an easy target: you don’t have to feel guilty for being a racist or a xenophobe.  By looking down on the hillbilly, you can get that high of self-righteousness and superiority without violating any of the moral norms of your own tribe.  So your own prejudice is never revealed for what it is.
What does it mean for our politics?  To me, this condescension is a big part of Trump’s appeal.  He’s the one politician who actively fights elite sensibilities, whether they’re good or bad.  I remember when Hillary Clinton casually talked about putting coal miners out of work, or when Obama years ago discussed working class whites clinging to their guns and religion.  Each time someone talks like this, I’m reminded of Mamaw’s feeling that hillbillies are the one group you don’t have to be ashamed to look down upon.  The people back home carry that condescension like a badge of honor, but it also hurts, and they’ve been looking for someone for a while who will declare war on the condescenders.  If nothing else, Trump does that. 
I grew up comfortably in this "Intellectual Class" but Dad remembered the hard days of the Depression and his Grandfather's hardscrabble farm.  The angriest I remember him getting at me was when I casually tossed out some sneering reference to the problems of the Working Man.  He had no patience for that sort of thing, and so I had a correction to the Class Condescension problem at quite an early age.  Fortunately, it stuck.

And so while I am a card-carrying member of the Intellectual Class (multiple papers published in the technical literature and all that), I feel this same rage at the sneers from people who should know - and behave - better.  There's no mystery to me about what Trump's appeal is, and in fact there is a sense of kindred spirit: he, too, came from this same class.  He, too, rejected the easy prejudices of that class.  He, too, is impatient with those who should know better.

It's quite an interesting interview, and I highly recommend it.


Punzdeleon said...

Interesting. Neither of my browsers(aol, Explorer)would let me go to http://www.theamericanconservative.com. I have been there before.

Jeffrey Smith said...

Trump's only claim to working class status is that his immigrant mother worked as a maid before marrying his father. Grandpa Trump struck it rich in the Klondike gold field, not by being a miner, but by opening eateries and hotels for them. Pa Trump went into real estate, and sent the Donald to prep school and then military school. "Working class" is just part of the Trump con.

At least Bill Clinton can honestly claim to have started out life as real white trash....