Wednesday, September 9, 2015

David Rosen on the Fantasy Trump Adroitly Peddles to Working-Class Straight White Men: Longing to Be Back on Top of the World

And, finally for this morning, another outstanding essay I read early today to which I want to point readers — David Rosen on the white male fantasy that Donald Trump exploits adroitly to hook working-class white male voters:

Many of them still long for that long-gone age when being a white man meant you were on top of the world. And while these voters are nowhere near the bottom of America's contemporary social hierarchy, they don't see it that way. The entire trajectory of their lives has been the experience of relative decline in power, wealth and social status in relation to other groups – as women, people of color, gays and lesbians and other groups have won greater social acceptance and rights to which they were entitled but previously denied. At the same time, a similar shift has been underway on the global stage, as nations around the world – from China to Japan to Mexico – have become our competitors in the global economy. Add to that several decades of wage stagnation, exploding inequality and the disappearance of good paying jobs, and it’s clear that the white working class has experienced the past half-century as a steady and uninterrupted loss. It's easy to see why they feel like losers. 
So when Trump says, "We don’t win anymore," as he did twice during the first GOP presidential debate, he’s complaining that white men no longer call all the shots. He’s playing to the racist, misogynist and xenophobic resentments harbored by these downscale voters. His confrontational, shameless, never-back-down posturing is more than just a quality these voters want in a leader – it’s a live demonstration of what it's like to live in a world where you never have to apologize for anything, no matter how much it hurts or offends other people and other groups. Trump is what it looks like to win. 
This brings us to the second interesting thing about Trump's staunchest supporters: They are basically the same slice of the country that many of Trump's consumer brands target. From his clothing lines to his televised spectacles, from his restaurants and hotels to his bestselling books: Trump markets to a set of downscale, white and predominately male set of consumers who are attracted to opulent displays of power, wealth and status, as well as Trump's pithy, plainspoken and hierarchical worldview, which makes success look like a matter of ambition plus determination.
I find the graphic used at a multitude of websites, with no clear indicator (that I have discovered) of its original source.

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