Trump Supporters and Dignity?

usa-election-trumpHere are two good articles that have helped me think about The Donald differently … or perhaps I should say the Trumpeters, differently. (Donald Trump is who he is.) Maybe the Trumpeters want something more from America than they’ve been getting–economically, culturally, or politically. Maybe they want their dignity back.

I’m not quite sure why, but Americans seem very willing to give over their dignity to whomever asks (as TSA pat downs  and social media shaming prove). Maybe it’s the cancerous capitalism and culture of consuming. If the market establishes the value on everything, then who am I to claim my own self worth?

George Lakoff is famous for defining conservative and liberal “frames” and the values associated with them. He says that to be effective one must argue from within the proper frame. Trump has mastered the conservative frame and is arguing brilliantly within it. Whether Trump is “conservative” or not, hardly matters.

Emma Lindsay unpacks Trumps strategic use of race-baiting to consolidate his base and confuse his opponents. In Duane Carr’s A Question of Class: The Redneck Stereotype in Southern Fiction he writes: “The practice of race-baiting by politicians, pitting working-class whites against African-Americans [or “Mexicans”] in order to control both, has been well-documented. … As [Kenneth] Stamp explains: ‘In a society of unequals–of privileged and inferior castes of wealth and poverty–the need to find some group to feel superior to is given a desperate urgency.'” Hence, seeking dignity.

1. Why Trump? by George Lakoff (Huffington Post)

Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition — who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn’t that way, one can become frustrated and angry.

There is a certain amount of wiggle room in the strict father worldview and there are important variations. A major split is among (1) white Evangelical Christians, (2) laissez-fair free market conservatives, and (3) pragmatic conservatives who are not bound by evangelical beliefs. …

Trump is a pragmatic conservative, par excellence. And he knows that there are a lot of Republican voters who are like him in their pragmatism. There is a reason that he likes Planned Parenthood. There are plenty of young, unmarried (or even married) pragmatic conservatives, who may need what Planned Parenthood has to offer — cheaply and confidentially.

Similarly, young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth. They don’t want to be saddled with the financial burden of caring for their parents. Social Security and Medicare relieve them of most of those responsibilities. That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare. …

2. Trump Supporters Aren’t Stupid by Emma Lindsay (Medium)

“Normally, when liberals talk about racism, they use “racist” as an end point. “Trump is racist” is, by itself, a reason not to vote for him, and “being racist” is an indicator of a person who is morally deficient.

But, if you don’t take this as an end point?—?if you instead ask “what do people get out of being racist?”?—?you’ll start to unravel the emotional motivations behind it. One of the best unpacking of this I have read is Matt Bruenig’s pieceLast Place Avoidance and Poor White Racism. To summarize, no one wants to occupy the “last” place in society. No one wants to be the most despised. As long as racism remains intact, poor white people are guaranteed not to be “the worst.” If racism is ever truly dismantled, then poor white people will occupy the lowest rung of society, and the shame of occupying this position is very painful. This shame is so painful, that the people at risk of feeling it will vote on it above all other issues.”


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