Signal boosting: Make America White Again

Most of us have noticed the parallels between 1930s Germany and the situation in the United States today. But if we are willing to call the German obsession with the so-called Aryan race a form of white supremacy, it is curious that the designation largely slips past mainstream media when discussing Trump’s campaign, including his supporters.

I suppose it’s easier for a foreign paper to publish it. Content Notice: Paris attacks, not quoted here, but present in the rest of the article. (emphasis added)

Gallup’s goal was to create a profile of Trump supporters, describe their social and economic circumstances and locate them on the map of America. It collected more than 87,000 responses over a year ending this past July.

The resulting analysis is a dry read, some of which confirms what we already knew: Trump supporters are more likely to be white, older males; less likely to have a higher education; more likely to be Christian and to say their faith is important to them.

But the thing that is new and important is how the data upends what many thought was the economic and social experience of Trump supporters — namely, the belief that they are the people most deeply affected by a failing economy and rising immigration rates.

According to the Gallup results, those who support Trump are slightly better off economically and employment-wise than people who don’t support him. While they are likely to live in areas that have suffered economically, they are also likely to be better off than their neighbours, and to have been spared the worst effects of the 2008 recession.

They are also significantly less likely to live in communities where there is a substantial immigrant population. In other words, Trump supporters are less likely than other Americans — and less likely even than other Republicans — to have regular personal experiences with immigrants.

Jonathan Rothwell, a senior economist at Gallup, says that Trump has been misleading his flock.

Intuitively, I’ve been skeptical of any connection with reality concerning the “economic anxieties” line that’s often dropped when discussing Trump’s campaign. I understood that this was the perception, but tried to root around for numbers to substantiate it. The Gallup poll discussed here seems to indicate that while everyone was hit by the Great Recession, Trump supporters took the least of it. If Trump supporters are perceiving economic threats, they are missing the broader picture of who is actually shouldering the burden of the recession.

As is often the case. I refuse to believe that Republican supporters are simply “stupid,” and there had to be a reason they were so prominent among majority demographics.

They’re not rich by any means, but they’re well-off enough that the Republican’s assault on social services won’t generally affect them. That’s why they can support the racist and xenophobic policies of the GOP, policies bundled with a vicious assault on those living in poverty: As a demographic, they ain’t in poverty. By process of elimination, that largely leaves one motivating factor–racial anxiety.

You’re shocked, I know.

Many months ago, I sat down with Matt Heimbach, the leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party. He seemed calm, articulate and determined to sound reasonable — although that was before a YouTube video popped up showing him violently shoving a black woman out of a Trump rally in Kentucky.

I asked Heimbach what Trump meant to his movement.

“I’m not throwing in and saying I want Donald Trump to even be the president necessarily. What I do want is for him to keep saying these things, because it offers us a kind of political cover to be able to say, ‘Well, Donald Trump says it, we’re not that radical.’ It’s moving the discussion toward the right, towards nationalism,” he told me.

“He’s made immigration a topic here in America. He’s making the very question of what’s an American a question.”

That seems true. Trump has given broader license to the kind of political conversation that not long ago was relegated to the alt-right.

In my first chat with Ed Hunter, I asked him whether the people who supported Trump were mostly white people who resented having lost the power they once had in America.

“Well, they should be,” he jumped in, adding that they are struggling for “self-preservation.”

Man, I wish I could self preserve this aggressively. I’d go to jail, for a long time at that. The justice system is brutal to trans folk, trans women especially. That’s why I’m a pacifist–not out of any ideological aversion to hurting someone trying to hurt me–but because I have a better chance fighting a deadly assault in the hospital than I do a murder charge in the courtroom. But I mean, sure, let’s classify roaming lynch mobs in the making as “self preservation.”

“You know what they want more than anything? They want to be left alone.

Again, that’s an odd idea of being “left alone.”

They don’t want to be fighting off hordes and hordes of people from foreign cultures that are utterly changing their country to the core.

“You go into any airport, any public building, any public school and you look at what it is now compared to what it was 30 years ago, the level of security needed, the constant surveillance, the constant police presence.

“That’s not the America we grew up in. We didn’t need that. What changed? Who did they bring in that makes everybody so afraid?”

Immigration to America, both legal and illegal, has increased over the last generation. But crime has not. In fact, violent crime, including rape, has decreased steadily, and in some cases dramatically.

So what is it, really, that “makes everybody so afraid?”

Trump knew from the start.

Again, those pesky statistics can’t survive the lens of fear. It doesn’t matter to Trump supporters that the actual fact of violent crime is decreasing, they perceive it to be increasing and that’s good enough.

Read the rest here.