The Appeal of Donald Trump

 

Donald Trump is having a huge impact on the 2016 U.S. presidential race and lots of people are trying to understand why. In a previous post I wrote that the Republican Party needs to figure out where all of the Trump supporters are coming from and then try to keep these people under a perhaps larger Republican tent.
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A very good explanation of the Trump phenomenon comes from the AEI social scientist, Charles Murray, writing in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. Says Mr. Murray:

  • The long time American Creed of egalitarianism, liberty and individualism is losing its authority and its substance. One of the most widely acknowledged aspects of American exceptionalism is the lack of class consciousness.
  • This lack of class consciousness has now been replaced by the emergence of a new upper class, a new lower class and the plight of the working class caught in between.
  • The new upper class is characterized by its condescension toward ordinary Americans. Mainstream America is fully aware of this condescension and contempt and is irritated by it. It may mean that American egalitarianism is coming to an end.
  • In the 1960s, white working class men in their 30s and 40s were almost all working and almost all married. But, as shown in the chart, these high labor participation and marriage rates have dropped dramatically in the past 50 years.
  • The success of the civil rights and feminist movements, both classic invocations of the American Creed, have led to a large scale ideological defection from the pillars of liberty and individualism. The problem is that affirmative action demands that people be treated as groups. Equality of outcome trumps equality before the law.
  • By the 1980s Democratic elites largely subscribed to an ideology in conflict with liberty and individualism. This produced the Reagan Democrats.
  • During the past half-century, American corporations exported millions of high-paying jobs while the federal government allowed the immigration, legal and illegal, of tens of millions of competitors for the remaining working class jobs.

As Mr. Murray says, “if you are dismayed by Trumpism don’t kid yourself that it will go away if Donald Trump fails to win the Republican nomination. Trumpism is an expression of the legitimate anger that many Americans feel about the course the country has taken.”

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6 thoughts on “The Appeal of Donald Trump

  1. Thanks for the interesting explanation of Trump’s popularity. It makes sense to me, but I definitely do not think that he’s a viable candidate.

    • I don’t know if Trump is viable or not. But then is Sanders viable either? Personally I like Kasich the best. But I think it’s looking more and more like Trump and Sanders being the major party nominees. In this case Bloomberg might get in as an independent. I think he’d be excellent!

  2. Jack,
    I feel compelled to answer Charles Murray’s description of the American Creed as one of “egalitarianism, liberty and individualism”. As I hope to explore in the Tolerant Atheist Group next month, several ‘isms’, I shall not go into any depth today. However, the suffix ‘ism’ refers to a body of ideas not a body of facts! Thus, I can not find sufficient evidence at any time when America could reflect egalitarianism, whether it be the new immigrants, the Native Americans, the African Americans, the Irish and etc. There was not even equality between the agrarian groups and the developing manufacturers. His notion of liberty is loaded with abstract problems. I shall say he makes no clarification between freedom from and freedom to, a longstanding problem when trying to apply any notion of being free. Understanding and applying individualism also faces many obstacles. I will give one response rather briefly. We are not born free; we are born totally helpless and will die in a few hours if not attended to at birth. Generally it takes a couple of decades before we are even close to independent living for basic survival.

    I would add that I have been following his career for decades and from the beginning found his research on intelligence among whites and blacks and successive works to be exorbitantly flawed. His conservative ideology obstructs any sense of balance or what you might call “objectivity”.

    I hope to hear that the wrist is healing nicely and that you are back running.

    Take care,
    Doug

    • I look forward to hearing more about your views at the TAG meeting in March. I do think there was an egalitarian spirit in America, as discussed by deTocqueville, for example, in earlier times. It has seemed to dissipate in recent years.
      My wrist is healing nicely but I have definitely not resumed running yet!

  3. Goes back to education If you insure that everyone has education you have a better work force and society People like Trump would not be as appealing Watching the GOP debate Sat night was appalling Their isn’t a viable presidential candidate in the GOP Very sad We need a good two party system to function properly as a country Some proposals that are advocated by the GOP makes me wonder if they really care about the country

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