“Millions of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump. Here’s Why” Thomas Frank, The Guardian, 8 March 2016

“Trump’s words articulate the populist backlash against liberalism building slowly for decades. We cannot admit that we liberals bear some of the blame for the frustration of the working-class millions, for their blighted cities and their downward spiraling lives. So much easier to scold them for their twisted racist souls, to close our eyes to the obvious reality of which Trumpism is just a crude and ugly expression: that neoliberalism has well and truly failed”.

Let us address the greatest American mystery: what motivates supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump? When academics explain the Trump movement, they zero in on bigotry. Only racism is capable of powering a movement like Trump’s. Trump himself is an insult clown who has systematically gone down the list of American ethnic groups and offended them each in turn. All this stuff is so wildly outrageous, that the commentariat has deemed it to be the entirety of the Trump campaign. New York Times columnist Timothy Egan: “Donald Trump’s supporters know exactly what he stands for: hatred of immigrants, racial superiority, a sneering disregard of the basic civility that binds a society.” Everyone knows it: Trump’s followers’ passions are the ignorant blurtings of the white American id, driven to madness by a black man in the White House. But then, Trump has been talking mainly about trade, not white dominance. There’s a video on the Internet that shows workers at a Carrier air conditioning plant in Indiana being told that the factory is being moved to Monterrey, Mexico, and they’re all going to lose their jobs. All the arguments over trade, all the sweet words from economists about the benevolence of free trade come crashing at the evidence. A map of Trump support coordinates with deindustrialization and despair, zones of economic misery after 30 years of Washington’s free-market consensus. For his supporters the favorite aspect of Trump is his “attitude”, the blunt and forthright way he talks. “Immigration” placed third among matters his voters care about. Number one concern: “good jobs / the economy”. “People are much more frightened than they are bigoted”, says Karen Nussbaum (Working America). Left parties were founded to defend working people. But our left party chose long ago to turn its back on these people’s concerns, making itself a tribune of the enlightened professional class, a “creative class” that makes innovative things, like derivative securities and smartphone apps.

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“Millions of Ordinary Americans Support Donald Trump. Here’s Why” Thomas Frank, The Guardian, 8 March 2016


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