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“Mr. Trump’s All-White Nostalgia Movement”: It’s Demographic Panic, Not Economic Panic, That’s Driving His Rise

Donald Trump, sounding something like Bernie Sanders, says he’s building a “movement.”

And in a sense, Trump is right. He is building a movement, of sorts, but not the kind that will help grow the Republican Party.

While Trump has won a record number of primary votes, he hasn’t done that by creating new Republican voters. Instead, he’s pulled GOP general election voters into the primaries by exciting white male voters like few candidates since Ronald Reagan.

That’s why, despite his historically bad numbers with non-white voters—more than three in four Hispanics and nearly nine in ten African-Americans don’t like him—Trump has been closing in on Hillary Clinton in national polls and in statewide surveys too, particularly when the white vote share is bumped up as it was in Quinnipiac’s Ohio and Pennsylvania polls presuming a whiter electorate in those states in 2016 than in 2012.

Trump leads Clinton 52 percent to 36 percent among whites overall in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll; a figure driven by his 11-point lead with seniors, his nine-point advantage with men, and his five-point advantage with independents. And while the latter three figures are not broken down by race, Trump’s terrible ratings with nonwhite voters make it clear what lies beneath the top lines.

With Trump’s campaign, America has arrived at a moment that would be familiar in Europe, where ethno-nationalistic parties have surged in countries like France, Belgium and Austria, particularly as the crisis in Syria has driven Arab refugees onto the continent. In the U.S., the drivers of ethno-nationalism are different, but they are similarly related to the jarring impact of demographic change.

The exit polls from nearly two-dozen Republican primaries have yielded lots of data about who the Trump voters are, and the findings belie the myth that their anger is grounded in economic want. In fact, while they have lower incomes than Republicans who supported candidates like Marco Rubio or John Kasich, Trump voters are far from broke—their $72,000 average household income is will above the American average of is $56,000.

They are, instead, more like the profile of Tea Party voters; mostly 45 years of age and older, middle class, and a mix of non-college and some-college educated men and a smaller number of women who believe the country is dangerously off track.

Robert P. Jones of the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute has done extensive research into the “why” of the Trump rebellion, and it turns out to have more to do with demographic panic than economic panic.

Sixty-eight percent of Trump supporters believe American culture has become too “soft and feminine”; two-thirds say it bugs them when they engage with an immigrant who doesn’t speak English (just 46 percent of Cruz voters said the same), and nearly half worry about themselves or their families becoming victims of a terrorist attack. Nearly six in ten Trump voters believe the federal government has paid too much attention to the plight of black and other nonwhite groups (vs. nearly four in ten Cruz supporters). And Trump voters overwhelmingly support banning Muslims from the U.S., while a plurality believe Islam is incompatible with American values.

According to PRRI, a majority of Trump supporters agree with the statements that America was better off 50 years ago—when white, Christian men were culturally ascendant, before “women’s lib” and the big victories of the Civil Rights Movement, before busing and affirmative action and the liberalizing immigration actions of the federal government in 1965 and 1986.

Jones calls these voters, who are overwhelmingly white Protestant Christians, “nostalgia voters.” They are nostalgic for the America they believe existed before the tumult of the 1960s; when a white working class man could hold down a blue-collar job and take care of his family, with a secure job for life and a wife who stayed at home, kids who could go to an affordable college, and a retirement padded with a decent pension. Because that is not the America non-white Americans knew, they by and large feel more hopeful about the future, grounded in the knowledge that the country has come far enough to elect a black president.

But for nostalgic Trumpians, who a RAND Corporation March survey found express a sense of “personal powerlessness,” more than any other single trait, the future looks bleak indeed.

That’s why it doesn’t matter what outrageous things Trump says or does. His most fervent supporters want someone who looks and sounds like them but who has the charisma and personal economic clout to shake things up on their behalf. They want someone who makes both a series of connected promises (a wall across the southern border that Mexico is somehow forced to pay for, a ban on Muslim migrants, and no more nation building in the Middle East), and a central one: to put people like them back on top, both here and around the world. With “Mr. Trump” in charge, they figure, the world will look at the U.S. with awe and fear again, and in a way; that means the world will look at them that way, too.

The trouble for the GOP is that for all the passion and fervor of the Trump moment, there simply aren’t enough of these voters left in the population for them to easily have their way. Unlike in midterm elections, when voters of color typically opt out, if turnout rates remain as they have over the last 20 years of presidential election cycles, it will be tough for him to grow his “Trump bump” of around 46 percent today, to above the 50 percent threshold.

Especially since white voters are themselves split, with a plurality continuing to side with Democrats on economic and cultural matters, from union support to the minimum wage to a more liberal view of economics, immigration and culture. Trump may well match or even exceed Mitt Romney’s 59 percent white vote share in 2012, but he’ll likely need something more like Ronald Reagan’s never-since-equaled 66 percent in 1984 to overcome what could be an historic deficit with voters of color, who Pew Research estimates will comprise 30 percent of the electorate this year.

If Trump can do that, it will be a revolution indeed.

 

By: Joy-Ann Reid, The Daily Beast, May 24, 2016

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Demographics, Donald Trump, White Male Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“If Trump Wins, Will There Be Blood?”: Maybe It’s Time To Take Crazy At Face Value

That question has gone conspicuously unasked as we enumerate the possible outcomes of November’s election. The potential impact on the nation’s economy, its foreign policy and its standing in the world have all been duly analyzed. But there has been little, if any, discussion of the potential for violence.

It is, of course, Donald Trump’s name on the ballot that necessitates the discussion. His rallies have erupted into brawls with depressing frequency; his followers assaulting demonstrators while he eggs them on.

And then, there’s this: Last year, two South Boston brothers — Scott and Steve Leader — were arrested after allegedly peeing in the face of a homeless, 58-year-old Mexican immigrant sleeping on a bench. They beat him with a metal pole, breaking his nose. Authorities say Scott Leader explained himself thusly: “Donald Trump was right. All these illegals need to be deported.”

Trump’s initial response was simply to note that his followers “love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.” If that is the sort of “passion” a few rallies and speeches incite, how much worse would it be in the event — God help us all — of an actual Trump victory? How emboldened in their bullyboy behavior would people like the Leader brothers become with one of their own in the White House?

And that’s not even the worst-case scenario. What if the far more likely thing happens? What if Trump loses? His followers are already filled with fury and an exaggerated sense of their own victimhood and entitlement. What happens if an embarrassingly emphatic repudiation is added to that mix?

Hate crimes might be the least of our problems. The greater worry might be terrorism.

In a nation conditioned to think of terrorism as the exclusive province of Muslim fanatics with difficult names, the idea will strike some as ridiculous. But to be sanguine about the danger of radical right violence is to pretend Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff in Nevada and the armed takeover of federal property in Oregon never happened. And it is to ignore a litany of radical right terror plots enacted or interdicted in recent years.

From the Oklahoma City bombing to the Atlanta Olympics bombing to a New York state plot to murder Muslims by radiation poisoning, to a massacre at an African-American church in Charleston, to the attempted bombing of a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, to the crashing of an airplane into an IRS office in Austin to a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs to, literally, dozens more, the radical right has hardly been shy about using violence to frighten people as a means of achieving their political goals — the dictionary definition of terrorism.

Small wonder Mark Potok, editor of Intelligence Report, the magazine of the Southern Poverty Law Center, does not laugh off the possibility of violence from aggrieved supporters of Donald Trump. Radical right terror, he says, “is a worry anyway, as we go through this huge demographic transition in the United States. But the thing about Trump’s voters is that they are angry, they are riled up, and they are expecting to win.” If and when they don’t, he says, terrorism might well be their response.

It’s not as unthinkable as some of us will want to believe. Too often, as the right has descended into tribalistic incoherence, the rest of us have underestimated the crazy, baselessly reassuring ourselves that they’ll go this far, but surely no further. And too often, we’ve been wrong. Maybe it’s time to abandon baseless reassurance. Maybe it’s time to take crazy at face value.

Will there be blood? Here’s a better question:

Will you honestly be surprised if there is?

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, May 11, 2016

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Trump Supporters, Violence | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What Has Happened To Our Election?”: No Candidate Has Ever Lied As Frequently, Blatantly, And Blithely As Trump

When a man’s fancy gets astride on his reason,

        imagination is at cuffs with the senses,

        and common understanding as well as common

        sense is kicked out of doors, the first proselyte he

                makes is himself.”

                                –Jonathan Swift, “A Tale of a Tub,” 1704

For a man with a satirical turn of mind, presidential election years can be trying. Apparently your humble, obedient servant here isn’t angry enough to participate fully in the festivities. This is interesting, because I’ve rarely been mistaken for Mr. Sunshine. I’d be a total failure as a game show host.

Everywhere you turn, people are shaking their fists in each other’s faces. On television and online, that is. Most days, it’d be a good idea to don a crash helmet before opening Facebook. And the summer bickering season has hardly begun. These are mostly Republicans and Democrats fighting among themselves. The main event has yet to come.

Elsewhere, people go about their normal daily activities with seeming equanimity — although there’s been a marked increase in convenience store parking space shootings, actually. Maybe an armed society’s not such a polite society after all. How surprising would it be to see gunfire erupt at a presidential campaign event?

But I digress, and ominously.

Chez Pazienza recently described a mob of Bernie Sanders backers who disrupted a recent Clinton campaign event in Los Angeles. According to one witness, “[t]hey were cussing at people, calling women whores, and telling people to kill themselves. They were shouting in children’s faces, blowing sirens in their ears, and making them cry.”

Such antics would be hard to believe, had Pazienza not posted video clips. Asked by Rachel Maddow to disavow such behavior, Sanders basically ducked the question. And this is the Hippie Party. On college campuses, Clinton supporters complain they’re called “evil,” poor things.

Do you suppose they require “trigger warnings”?

At such times I’m reminded of Jonathan Swift’s timeless satire of the root causes of political fanaticism. Writing roughly 300 years ago in the wake of the English Civil War, Swift concocted an imaginary religious sect called “Aeolists.” (Aeolus was the Roman god of wind.) His target was anybody who claimed to be “inspired,” or as he saw it, filled with hot air.

“Words are but wind,” Aeolists believed, “and learning is nothing but words; ergo, learning is nothing but wind.” Swift depicted true believers “linked together in a circular chain, with every man a pair of bellows applied to his neighbour, by which they blew up each other to the shape and size of a [barrel]…. When, by these and the like performances, they were grown sufficiently replete, they would immediately depart, and disembogue for the public good a plentiful share of their acquirements into their disciples’ chaps.”

Has a more apt description of candidate Trump’s cult of personality ever appeared? Is there nothing the man could say that would give his enraptured supporters pause? As Paul Waldman notes in the American Prospect, he’s a one man tidal wave of disinformation.

“First, there’s the sheer breadth and character of his falsehoods. Absurd exaggerations, mischaracterizations of his own past, distortions about his opponents, descriptions of events that never occurred, inventions personal and political, foreign and domestic, Trump does it all…There has simply never been a candidate who has lied as frequently, as blatantly, and as blithely as Trump.”

Trump outdid even himself on Meet the Press last Sunday, disemboguing a couple of thunderous falsehoods in our collective faces. First he allowed as how he means to stop undocumented immigrants from voting in U.S. elections.

Informed by Chuck Todd that they’re already prevented by law from doing so, Trump allowed as how “You have places where people just walk in and vote.”

If he could document even one such polling place, that would be newsworthy. But of course Trump cannot, so instead he doubled down.

“We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world,” he claimed. That one the interviewer unaccountably let go.

Actually, U.S. tax revenue ranks near the bottom of the developed world as a percentage of GDP — just above Korea, Chile and Mexico. Corporate tax rates are theoretically high, but as most people know, loopholes are so plentiful that few companies pay them.

U.S. tax revenue per capita ranks nearer the middle of industrialized nations. As conservatives never tire of pointing out in other contexts, most countries in the European Union pay twice as much as Americans.

But then why bother? One could devote whole columns as Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler recently did, to debunking Trump’s epic falsehoods. Some of them are downright funny.

No, Vladimir Putin never called Trump a “genius.” He called him “flamboyant.” Only Trump, of course, would seek the Russian strongman’s approval.

But do such considerations matter to the man’s encircled supporters, each with a bellows discreetly inserted?

I don’t believe that they do.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, May 11, 2016

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Why Do Some People Respond To Trump? It’s Biology 101”: Conservatives Respond To Fear-Inducing Stimuli

As humans, we are first and foremost programmed to survive. Millions of years of evolution through natural selection have sculpted instincts and intellect aimed at staying alive. Fast, sudden movements instantly capture our attention, and unexpected noises cause us to jump back reflexively. It only takes common sense to see that survival requires a certain degree of sensitivity to threat. A desire to feel safe is part of our hardwiring, and as such, we tend to want people and rules in our lives that are going to help protect us from harm.

For some people, Donald Trump and his policies are seen as that protection. Afraid of the radical Islamic terrorists who are out there plotting attacks? Don’t worry—Donald Trump is going to ban every single Muslim from entering the country. Do you fear the Mexican immigrants coming across the border that you heard were “drug dealers, murderers, and rapists”? Fear not, President Trump is going to build a wall to keep out all the bad guys.

It is clear that those politicians who are best able to exploit our most basic biological traits, like our instinct to survive, are going to occupy a timeless niche in the political environment. The effectiveness of fear mongering in politics is no real secret to anyone anymore. But there were many GOP candidates who were great fear mongers, like Ben Carson and Ted Cruz, whose success flailed in comparison to Trump’s. That is because fear mongering alone isn’t enough.

After you succeed in making them afraid, you must also convince them that everything will be A-OK if they have you on their side. First you create the need for a hero, and then you pretend you are that hero. Donald Trump is the candidate who is offering the most extreme measures for protection. He’s strong and the other candidates are weak or “low energy.” It is only he who can save the day.

So an obvious question is, why does Trump’s tactic work on some people but not others? Don’t we all want to feel safe? Why is it that liberals and progressives feel like Trump is the actual danger and not the protector? Neuroscience and psychology research supports one clear explanation: Conservatives are hypersensitive to threat compared to liberals, and thus respond more fearfully.

For example, a 2008 study published in the journal Science found that conservatives have a heightened physiological response to threatening stimuli. Researchers tested this by showing participants threatening images—like spiders on faces or car crashes—while they measured skin electrical conductance, and presented loud bursts of white noise while they measured the strength of their eye blinks. The data showed that those who held conservative values startled more easily and had increased electrical skin conductance, which indicates a heightened state of arousal. Those with liberal views did not seem to be affected by the stimuli.

Additionally, an MRI study published in Current Biology in 2011 found that self-described conservatives had larger amygdalas than those who identified as liberals. The amygdala is the region of the brain that is involved in threat processing. Generally speaking, as the strength of the electrical response of the amygdala increases, so does the sense of fear we feel in response to a stimulus. As a result, stimuli that might seem neutral to most people, like Muslims or Mexicans, might appear threatening to conservatives.

Trump is popular amongst the right because he can tap into irrational fears and amplify them. Then, when threat seems imminent, he offers the most drastic solutions. And when danger is on the doorstep, there’s not much time for rational thinking.

One might be inclined to point out that not all Trump supporters appear to be fearful. In fact, at Trump rallies many of the attendees are angry and aggressive toward anti-Trump protesters. But hostility is a natural response when one feels threatened, and the anger that fuels their behavior stems from deep-rooted anxieties.

It is also important to remember that we aren’t just programmed to survive. We are also hardwired to flourish. It is in our nature to vigorously compete for success. In essence, we are constantly trying to win. It’s part of the mentality that drove so many civilizations to conquer others.

As such, we shouldn’t expect all Trump supporters to be fearful or irrational people. Some are just Americans who acknowledge that all of the countries in the world are contenders in one big game of power, and that most of them are not going to play by the book. Are nations like North Korea, Iran, and Russia always going to follow the rules and act according to what is fair? Absolutely not, and to some it would seem unwise and even flat out foolish for us to do so when everything is at stake.

Trump told a journalist what he’s constantly telling the world: “I always win. Knock on wood. I win. It’s what I do. I beat people. I win.” For many, Trump is a president who is going to do everything in his power to ensure that we get ahead as a nation. He will be tough. He will wheel and deal. And he will definitely play dirty when the situation calls for it. Whatever shady dealings Trump does, he is doing it for us, and we should be thankful to be on the winning team.

The rise of Trump has defied almost all logic. But he isn’t appealing to logic. He is appealing to our most basic survival instincts. Those include fear and the natural tendency to thrive and conquer. This presidential election will be an important test for our nation. We will see if we are evolved enough for our logic to overcome our instincts.

 

By: Bobby Azarian, The Daily Beast, May 6, 2016

May 9, 2016 Posted by | Conservatives, Donald Trump, Fearmongering | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Tough Guy Assertiveness”: Membership Has Its Privileges; Donald Trump’s Man Card Pays Off

Donald Trump cut to the chase after his big wins Tuesday night: “Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the women’s card.”

Which is a hell of a thing to say after almost 250 years of American presidential candidates implicitly playing their “men’s cards”—perhaps no one more so than Trump himself, whose campaign rests largely on tough guy assertiveness and machismo bloviating. For many of his supporters, his appeal is very much that he’s a white man.

Don’t believe me? Try to imagine a woman of color running for president on his playbook. “Trump’s attitude coming from a woman or minority would make that person even more beloved by Trump supporters,” one person tweeted me. Which is not only incorrect but preposterous.

First of all, I can’t think of a single woman of color in American politics today who would back the sorts of ludicrous attacks on women and people of color that Trump supports. I can’t name one woman of color who wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States, summarily round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants—let alone who habitually calls other women like “dogs” and “fat pigs.”

But even if some Trump-ian woman of color Trump were to exist, it’s impossible to imagine her suffering the same landslide of critiques as Trump and yet emerging similarly unscathed. Women and people of color are simply held to a higher bar in our society. When you’re the only white woman in the corporate board room or the only black man in the legislature, you’re under constant pressure to prove that you’re as smart and qualified as everyone else and that you deserve to be there. It’s a bar white men are simply presumed to meet.

That’s the very definition of privilege—which is not just about where you come from, but what’s assumed about you the moment you walk in a room. And we know from study after study that the sexism and racism baked into American culture means that women and people of color are presumed less than—less than qualified, less than talented, less than deserving.

Try to imagine a woman of color skating by in a presidential primary with Trump’s thin soup of policy “ideas.” Imagine a white woman candidate reading a meandering, inconsistent and impractical foreign policy speech off a teleprompter. Imagine a black male candidate asserting he doesn’t need to give specifics on his policy proposals or how he’ll get things done because people should just trust him. Imagine a woman of color saying she only likes the soldiers who don’t get captured.

You know as well as I do they would be laughed out of politics.

Meanwhile Trump’s entire appeal is based on hyper-masculinity and machismo. He critiques Clinton, saying it’s “always drama” with her and she “doesn’t have the strength” for the job while he calls his Republican opponents names like “little Marco” and “low energy” Bush. He brags about his hot wife and how rich he is. Hand size innuendo aside, Trump is literally and figuratively boasting that he is the biggest guy in the room and as president will be the biggest guy in the world and will “Make America Great Again” because he’s great.

To buy into Trump’s candidacy, you have to buy into the Trump persona— because, let’s be honest, there’s nothing much else to go on there.

And his appeal is most directly to those who feel they have nothing else to go on themselves—mostly working-class white men who feel somehow that the ever-so-modest increase in rights for women and people of color in America has somehow meant less rights and opportunity for white men such as themselves. These voters would not, very simply, vote for a woman or person of color because that’s who they implicitly blame for their lot in life. Data have shown that, among white voters, higher levels of racial resentment correspond with higher support for Trump.

When Trump bases his entire campaign against political correctness, he’s implicitly evoking opposition to those who traditionally support political correctness—namely people of color and women. It’s no coincidence that Trump is running to succeed the first black president while running against the first major woman candidate. As Jamelle Bouie noted in Slate, this doesn’t feel like change to these voters as much as an inversion: “the end of a hierarchy that had always placed white Americans at the top, delivering status even when it couldn’t give material benefits.”

These Trump supporters—clearly not all, maybe not even most, but definitely many—are arguably the same people who think that racism against African-Americans isn’t really a problem in America today but believe in the myth of “reverse racism” against white people as a growing danger.

The impossibility of it aside, Trump supporters would never vote for Trump if he were a woman of color because they see women and people of color as a symptom of if not the actual cause of America’s problems today. These voters are clinging desperately to their white maleness and to their white male candidate.

 

By: Sally Kohn, The Daily Beast, May 1, 2016

May 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, War On Women | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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