Trump and White Identity by Eric Keller

The recent events in Charlottesville as well as the rally in Phoenix highlight one important aspect of Trump's base supporters.  In plain terms, many of his most fervent supports are aggrieved whites.  They believe the advent of a multicultural nation, the rise of tolerance for different lifestyles, and the perceived governmental favoritism to minority groups are a threat to their way of life.  Despite all evidence to the contrary, whites who consider their ethnicity to be important to their self-identity think the national safety net (to include the ACA) takes care of minorities and "lazy welfare folks" more than it takes care of them.  

Three well-known political scientists are examining this phenomenon.  John Sides, Michael Tesler, and Lynn Vavreck used data from the American National Election Studies (ANES) which clearly show this in play. The graph below is telling.


The above graph shows how white identity is at the center of many Trump supporters.  This might be one reason why they stay with him despite the many obvious flaws he has as president.

64% of Anderson County voters went to Trump.  As Democrats, we have been trying to determine exactly why that happened.  The puzzle is why so many supported a con artist like Trump or any Republican candidate since empirical evidence clearly shows Democratic policies assist rural America more than Republican ones.  Healthcare, fair tax reform, union support, and minimum wage increase are just a few of those policies which leave many Trump supporters better off than the "trickle down" policies of the Republicans.

There are many reasons why voters vote the way they do.  In the puzzle just described, white identity politics are a major factor in Republican victories.  Their narrative is not correct.  Sadly, it will create a poorer and more angry set of people when reality sets in and they are no better off than before.  As Democrats, all we can do is be the steady, caring, calm, and strong voice of reason.  We truly bring hope with ideas and policies which actually empower and assist the very people trapped in white identity politics.  The key is to never give up- but to carry on.

Eric KellerComment