In her column today, Kathleen Parker and those commenting on her column describe Donald Trump and his followers – which I'll pass on here for the record.
Parker considers the division between older people who are nativist and younger people who tend to be more cosmopolitan. And older folks who tend to like things the way they were “in the good ol’ days” compared to the cosmopolitan/young who generally tend to be more adventurous and open to a larger world. She writes:
This may be more true, however, among urbanites and the educated class who have had greater exposure to diversity, have traveled to exotic locales, are fluent in ethnic food, and may be more amenable to a globalist perspective.
She is talking about Trump supporters among the older and less educated – "not that educated people are necessarily smart or wise." she adds. She writes of Ross Douthat's claim that
... cosmopolitans don’t understand people beyond their circuit of fellow professionals and, crucially, talk only to each other in essentially non-diverse ways.
This she says "is true." She goes on the describe Trump supporters as liking to stick it to guys "who like to ride their horses high, sneering down their moisturized noses, notebooks aloft and pens poised in the belief that you need a thesaurus and a graphing app to understand human nature." In constrast to these guys, Trump treets people like his supporters with respect. "He may be a pompous, arrogant, bombastic ass, but he’s their ass and, most important, they share a common enemy — the rest of us.
The white male middle-aged evangelical South Carolinian voting with his extended middle finger at the black Kenyan Muslim socialist usurper makes the analysis much simpler, and much more sordid. Donald Trump is tapping into the same segregationist vein that George Wallace appealed to a half century ago. It's not populism, it's simply racism.
It is NOT racism. It is tribalism. I live in NH. Many people here "think" everyone from Massachusetts is a jerk. Many people from Massachusetts think everyone in NH is a hick. Tribalism.
Another assessment by-passes Parker's brand of sociology:
Trump realizes that many people have something that really burns them up. All he needs to do is figure out what that is with enough voters and he wins.
Someone touches on the rumor mongers, tabloid readers and Fox enthusiasts:
I have just discovered something: those who hate Hillary are unable to explain their hatred. They call her "a criminal" and "a liar," but when I have asked -- in all sincerity -- "what did she lie about or what crime did she commit?" they are unable to offer anything remotely specific. I find it stunning that our nation's future will turn on the repetition of vague talking points.
A more complex responds:
It's a mistake to underestimate Trump. He's found a flaw in the basic narrative of conservatism. It's not a big menu that motivates most people--it's only the issues that really matter to them--whether that's immigration, or guns, or globalization/jobs. And attacking those issues with force. The rest of the twenty or so articles of faith that the other Republican candidates recited as proof of their bona fides many people just didn't care enough about. There are a lot of Republicans who just want order and the good old days restored. They aren't too squeamish about the method, and aren't too picky about who does it. Trump is their guy--and the elites haven't been.
Finally (among the over 500 responses to Parker's article:
The people I know who support Drumpf are all deeply resentful about something -- and the one I know best is resentful about not being "an elite." Ironically, you can use the same language to describe Bernie Sanders and his supporters. They are equally resentful of elites and want to stick it to them.
Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.