Let us analyze who the typical voter for Donald Trump is and secondly should we feel sorry for or sympathize with the plight of some of these voters?
The Atlantic Magazine had an excellent article on who the Trump voter is. To summarize what the Atlantic magazine said is to acknowledge that Trump voters include people who do not have a college degree. These voters also feel that there concerns are not paid attention to in the political process, that they have no voice that is heard amidst the clamor of other groups. Another group is a bunch of people who feel fear, and have a personal fear of terrorism. Their fear is concentrated on a fear of outsiders. They seek an authoritarian leader who will sacrifice liberty for security. These individuals prefer order to individual rights. The fourth group has been with us for some time. These are voters who live in parts of the country where there is a high degree of racial resentment.
If we accept the notion that most fear derives from or comes from economic insecurity should we sympathize and feel sorry for the life situation that they are in? Let us assume that the underlying cause that is underneath the surface for all four groups of Trump voters is the genuine fear of economic dislocation. Globalization affected many Americans but for the less than college educated we have seen their hours of employment reduced and the percentage of Americans without a college degree have a more difficult time even finding work.
For many of these voters they had already abandoned the Democratic Party for the promise of less government and more jobs that the Republican Party offered. One of the important aspects of earlier administrations was an acknowledgment that training workers for the inevitable challenge that globalization would present itself with, was etched in policy that provided some kind of help and guidance if you lost your job. This policy of training workers went by the wayside during the George Bush administration. If you were a blue collar worker who lost your job during the Bush years and after, well, you were out of luck. There was no help to be found. The fact is that many Democrats fought for a job training program, but they lost the fight in Congress.
The fact that we do not have a retraining program system or a training system for new industries and technologies left people out in the cold. First business let them down by leaving for greener pastures or their company town business went out of business, this all put a lot of people in harms way. The loss of these manufacturing jobs could have been cushioned or made easier by having an existing and functioning retraining and training program.
For the moment neither political party has any real answers or any real help for those blue collar workers who have had hard times, and that is the systems fault. But in a way, it is also the fault of those who found themselves in this position by not being vocal and active in the political process to make sure that they were heard by the politicians who are supposed to be there to help them.
J. D. Vance in his best selling book, says that they react to” bad circumstances in the worst possible way.” It is a crisis alright that sees decay in their community, and decay in their own morality in how they have dealt with the economic crisis that they have faced.
Race and bigotry are attributes that we see among Trump’s supporters in the South. This is not surprising as the Republican Party is reaping the whirlwind of racial injustice that they have encouraged since the advent of Nixon’s Southern strategy. When Lyndon Johnson worked so hard to pass the Civil Rights legislation, Nixon and the Republicans worked hard to garner support among the disaffected Democrats who saw desegration as being against their way of life.
For poor whites in the south nothing has changed since Reconstruction. The KKK fomented the fear that the poor white would become worse off financially if the freed slaves were allowed to have equal rights and this is still true today. It is less true in the cities and suburbs of places like Atlanta, Georgia but it is still true in the towns and villages of rural Georgia and in the rural South.
White priviledge is part of the equation as well, as white males in particular see their place in the sun being replaced by others, non-whites and immigrants. They were always at the head of the line. They look down on others as not knowing their proper place in society’s pecking order. For them it is a disturbing fact that we are becoming a multi-racial and multi cultural society. This is why 72% of his Trump’s supporters feel nostalgic about the 1950’s. They want to return to those days of white priviledge and good times when blue collar incomes were enough to live well on.
But ladies and gentlemen, we can not go back in time nor should we want to. Those times might have been better for white Americans but it was not a great time for all Americans.
Ignorance and stupidity are not an excuse for feeling sorry for those who have not reacted well to bad times. It is true to be sure that politicians should have anticipated the harsh times that globalization have caused. But the less educated among us have reacted in a bad way to harsh times. They have succumbed to blaming others for their difficulties and their own communities have decayed not only because of bad times but because the working poor have failed to show the necessary morality to overcome those times. Ignorance is ignorance. It is not some race of people who are responsible or it is not because of some immigrants who are at fault for not getting good jobs or any jobs at all. At some point in time each of us must take individual responsibility for our own behavior and our own deeds.