Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Another Explanation of Why Trump Won

I've mentioned Arlie Hochschild's book, Strangers in Their Own Land, a few times, though I haven't read it. Many of the articles I've seen find it to be an astute depiction of Donald's America, especially Hochschild's point that the people she talked to feel as though they're standing in line to reach the American Dream, while others cut in ahead of them.

Today's MinnPost contains an interview with family therapist Bill Doherty, who has been thinking and working on our great divide as it manifests within families. He's read Hochschild's book and, after recounting the line-cutter metaphor, added this, which I had not heard before:

She asked people “What percentage of the American workforce do you think work for the federal government?” She looked up the numbers. It’s one and a half percent, two and a half percent if you add the military. The average answer was 40 percent. People thought that 40 percent of the American workforce work for the government. So you have all of this misinformation about the government, and you have this tremendous sense of unfairness, particularly from the white working class, about these people cutting in line who are being sponsored in line by the federal government. And then Trump comes along and says, “I’m with you. You’ve been getting screwed. Those guys are doing it.”

She went to a Trump rally and she wrote it almost like a novel. It was this feeling of, “Well all these other people have a movement. The black civil rights movement, the American Indians, and the federal government is all behind them and they’re stopping us and making life harder for us.” And along comes somebody who is a success story in America who is saying, “Follow me and I’ll restore your dignity.” (emphasis added)
This combination of misinformation and Trump's use of his celebrity businessman cachet to create a sense of unity is right on, I think. These are the same folks who think foreign aid makes up a significant part of the federal budget, when it's actually .6%.

Both parts are necessary, though, to give us the result we're living with: not just the misinformation, but the celebrity appeal, bent to a purpose with all the vigor a narcissist can bring to making himself feel good.

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