Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. From Whence Came Trumpism? Two Takes.

 

0d126d6photo.jpgOver the last few months, there have been many attempts to explain why the deepest bench in Republican Party history fizzled when faced down by a man with no political experience, no ideological consistency, and no ties to the party he chose to run in for the presidency. Often hinted at (but never said forthrightly) were the ideas that Trump’s support came from racists or hillbillies. Now these accusations have been addressed by Avik Roy and J.D. Vance.

Roy, who’s worked for Romney, Perry, and Rubio, is considered the go-to healthcare wonk on the Right. He is described in this Vox article/interview as a Republican’s Republican, though they might just as easily have said that he’s an avatar of much of what those who support Trump hate. The editorial style of Vox is probably responsible, but Roy comes off as having a right-back-at-you disdain for those who rejected all the non-Trump candidates this season. He calls out the Republican Party (and even conservatism in general) for suffering from latent racism and white nationalism.

When I first read the Vox piece, I wondered if Roy had lost his mind. He says:

Conservative intellectuals, and conservative politicians, have been in kind of a bubble. We’ve had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism — philosophical, economic conservatism. In reality, the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism.

And:

It’s a common observation on the left, but it’s an observation that a lot of us on the right genuinely believed wasn’t true — which is that conservatism has become, and has been for some time, much more about white identity politics than it has been about conservative political philosophy.

In Roy’s view, Trump proves the Left’s caricature of the right as the party of aggrieved whites pining for the days of racial supremacy.

J.D. Vance is a rather different sort. Though educated at Yale Law School, Vance began life Appalachia and the rust belt of central Ohio. It took one tough Mamaw and the US Marine Corps to aim him toward heights far above his raising. Discussing his book Hillbilly Elegy with with Rod Dreher he sees a different cause for the Trump phenomenon found in the people and problems of Appalachia and flyover country.

Vance offers an alternative view that paints a bleak, but a little less-disheartening picture.

The simple answer is that these people – my people – are really struggling, and there hasn’t been a single political candidate who speaks to those struggles in a long time. Donald Trump at least tries.

[…]

The two political parties have offered essentially nothing to these people for a few decades. From the Left, they get some smug condescension, an exasperation that the white working class votes against their economic interests because of social issues, a la Thomas Frank (more on that below). Maybe they get a few handouts, but many don’t want handouts to begin with.

From the Right, they’ve gotten the basic Republican policy platform of tax cuts, free trade, deregulation, and paeans to the noble businessman and economic growth. Whatever the merits of better tax policy and growth (and I believe there are many), the simple fact is that these policies have done little to address a very real social crisis. More importantly, these policies are culturally tone deaf: nobody from southern Ohio wants to hear about the nobility of the factory owner who just fired their brother.

Trump’s candidacy is music to their ears.

While I think Roy paints the entire Republican party and Trump’s supporters with the colors of the fringest of elements, I don’t think Vance accurately portrays the whole of this year’s electorate either. There is no one-size-fits-all explanation for why Donald Trump is our nominee instead of Walker, or Perry, or Rubio, or Cruz. I do, however, there is some truth in what both men said. The party of Trump often times sounds like a South Park episode with a bunch of men hollering “They took our jerbs!” When I talk to Trump supporters in my workplace, I hear people who don’t want speeches about tax cuts and policy details; rather, they simply want what feels like a meaningful say in the outcome of their own lives. I hear in their voices the same despair with broken promises and jellied spines from Republican politicians that I get from the smart people here who have placed their faith in Trump.

After reading these (and other) theories I still have no full or settled explanation of why Trump. As usual, I find myself with unanswered questions and the “start a conversation” button begging me to search here for answers.

There are 237 comments.

  1. Knotwise the Poet Member

    The King Prawn:

    While I think Roy paints the entire Republican party and Trump’s supporters with the colors of the fringest of elements, I don’t think Vance accurately portrays the whole of this year’s electorate either. There is no one size fits all explanation for why Donald Trump is our nominee instead of Walker, or Perry, or Rubio, or Cruz…

    After reading these (and other) theories I still have no full or settled explanation of why Trump. As usual, I find myself with unanswered questions and the “start a conversation” button begging me to search here for answers.

     I agree. There really is no one simple explanation to cover it all. I think another couple of factors include man’s general tendency to be attracted to alpha-male strong-man leaders, and also the fact that Trump is a famous celebrity and received way more media attention than any of his rivals.

    It still seems so bizarre to me that this primary played out the way it did. There’s been tons of posts here dedicated to analyzing the Trump phenomenon, and a lot of good insight, but in the end it’s still hard for me to fathom how enough people could actually trust Trump that he would win the party nomination. There were far better and more credible choices to put up against Hillary, yet here we are.

    • #1
    • July 26, 2016, at 10:04 PM PST
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  2. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    Knotwise the Poet: There’s been tons of posts here dedicated to analyzing the Trump phenomenon, and a lot of good insight…

    What’s never really been said here is what was said in the linked pieces: Trump is explained by racists, hillbillies, and racist hillbillies. I don’t want to believe that at all about my fellow citizens. Some of his supporters are jerks, douche nozzles, and complete tools, but they’re not ignorant, inbred racists. I lean more toward Codevilla’s explanation that the ruling class has simply stepped on those they mean to rule too hard and too frequently, and Trump is the ultimate slap in the face for them.

    • #2
    • July 26, 2016, at 10:09 PM PST
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  3. MarciN Member

    You raise a lot of good points, but personally I’m not taking any changed understanding of my fellow Americans from the Trump nomination.

    This was a crazy confluence of two things: The first was a guy who understood marketing and the media, who already was a household brand name, and who seized a whole lot of opportunities that fell in his lap. The second was the unusually high number of candidates–sixteen. Remember that Trump didn’t get in until the very end. I’ve always believed he saw the numbers and realized he could win the nomination, just by outsmarting an out-of-date primary system.

    • #3
    • July 26, 2016, at 10:10 PM PST
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  4. Salvatore Padula Inactive

    I would say that they’re both right.

    • #4
    • July 26, 2016, at 10:10 PM PST
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  5. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    MarciN: I’m not taking any changed understanding of my fellow Americans from the Trump nomination.

    This! Thank you for giving me what my wife calls a “big–huge–duh” moment. Judge the circumstances, not the people.

    • #5
    • July 26, 2016, at 10:13 PM PST
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  6. Knotwise the Poet Member

    The King Prawn:

    Knotwise the Poet: There’s been tons of posts here dedicated to analyzing the Trump phenomenon, and a lot of good insight…

    What’s never really been said here is what was said in the linked pieces: Trump is explained by racists, hillbillies, and racist hillbillies. I don’t want to believe that at all about my fellow citizens.

    Oh, I agree. I do believe some of Trump’s support comes from racists, but they are the fringe. A far larger contingent of Trump’s support comes from those who are sick and tired of being called racist because they don’t hold to PC opinions about illegal immigration or Islam.

    • #6
    • July 26, 2016, at 10:26 PM PST
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  7. MarciN Member

    I see it as similar to the Perfect Storm. The chances of the two massive storm fronts colliding when and where they did off the New England coast were nil. And it has not happened since. It was a random act of nature. That’s pretty much how I see this election.

    • #7
    • July 26, 2016, at 10:28 PM PST
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  8. Knotwise the Poet Member

    MarciN:You raise a lot of good points, but personally I’m not taking any changed understanding of my fellow Americans from the Trump nomination.

    This was a crazy confluence of two things: The first was a guy who understood marketing and the media, who already was a household brand name, and who seized a whole lot of opportunities that fell in his lap. The second was the unusually high number of candidates–sixteen. Remember that Trump didn’t get in until the very end. I’ve always believed he saw the numbers and realized he could win the nomination, just by outsmarting an out-of-date primary system.

    I think there is more to it than that, but I do think what you’ve just described were major factors. I remember when Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he was running for California governor and I was immediately sure he was going to win, because, honestly, how many people really knew anything about or recognized the other candidates running.

    • #8
    • July 26, 2016, at 10:29 PM PST
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  9. Knotwise the Poet Member

    MarciN:I see it as similar to the Perfect Storm. The chances of the two massive storm fronts colliding when and where they did off the New England coast were nil. And it has not happened since. It was a random act of nature. That’s pretty much how I see this election.

    Well, if you are correct I hope we never see another confluence like this again. No primary season has broken my heart like this one.

    • #9
    • July 26, 2016, at 10:30 PM PST
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  10. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member

    The King Prawn: There have been over the last few months many attempts to explain why the deepest bench in Republican party history fizzled when faced down by a man with no political experience, no ideological consistency, and no ties to the party he chose to run in for the presidency.

    I’ve been banging on about this for a while now, but I think “no ideological consistency” describes about 60% of the electorate, so in many cases it’s probably more of a help than a hindrance.

    This is why you get Hillary calling herself “a progressive who gets things done” or whatever the current line is. Never mind that when people who call themselves progressives usually get things done, it leads to a gulag.

    • #10
    • July 26, 2016, at 10:44 PM PST
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  11. EJHill Podcaster

    Trumpism is not a thing, it is many things. It is failure, broken promises, hatred, love, hope, and a nothing to lose attitude.

    One, it is the failure of the Republican Party to perform to the promises of its peak, the Reagan Years. It was supposed to eventually throw the leviathan state into reverse and it barely slowed it down. The “heirs” to Reagan turned out to be the tax collectors for the welfare state, the “good government” guys who were going to leave everything in place and manage it so efficiently.

    It’s the broken promises of wave elections.

    It’s the hatred that’s been directed at them for the better part of two decades now. They’ve been told they’re racist, homophobic, misogynistic and xenophobic. They’re constantly told they’re ignorant Bible-thumping delusional nutjobs that want to rape women and kill abortion providers. They are the source for all evil in the modern world.

    They’ve tried to explain their values and thoughts rationally but their enemies won’t listen and dismiss them. The people that they thought would champion them, the politicians they elected, the ministers in their pulpits, sometimes their very own children will not do so.

    They want to provide for their families and their jobs are slipping away, either to low wage foreign countries, low wage immigrants or technology. And all they get are promises of “retraining” and re-entering the workforce as a 50-year old newbie.

    Enter Donald Trump. He is, rightly or wrongly, giving them hope. It may be misguided but he’s all they got. They were told for years that if they nominated “the right kind of guy,” the Doles, the McCains, the Romneys, everyone would be on board. (They elected the Bushes three times but only because the Democrats put up two Bostonians and a guy who couldn’t even deliver his own state.)

    Finally, after all the years of being accused of things that weren’t true, they just don’t give a damn. Because, to the Left, there is no loyal opposition anymore. The Left has reached the point where their Marxist authoritarianism is openly preached. You will surrender, assimilate or be destroyed. And now someone is saying we may go down but we’re gonna go fighting. Trumpism is just another word for ain’t got nothing to lose.

    • #11
    • July 26, 2016, at 10:52 PM PST
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  12. Michael Minnott Member

    I think Jeb! was a major factor in the Trump phenomenon. He may be a perfectly decent man in person (I would rather have Jeb! for a neighbor than The Donald, the threat of eminent domain not withstanding), but his candidacy was an answer to a question no one asked. The general perception that the party was trying to cram him down our throats with a crowbar, coupled with his “act of love” speech, caused Republican constituents to blow a head gasket en-mass. If not for Jeb! I think we would be looking at Perry, or Jindal, or Walker as the candidate, with Rubio, or Cruz as VP right now.

    Jeb! and The Donald made for a perfect storm.

    • #12
    • July 26, 2016, at 11:03 PM PST
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  13. TKC1101 Inactive

    EJHill: And now someone is saying we may go down but we’re gonna go fighting. Trumpism is just another word for ain’t got nothing to lose.

    Very well put, EJ. I could almost hear Janis Joplin quietly doing Bobbie McGee in the soundtrack at the end.

    You got it.

    Conservatives and Progressives both have a vision of building a country that has no need for 90% of the citizens, just different floor plans. Eventually the 90% get a clue and push back.

    • #13
    • July 26, 2016, at 11:05 PM PST
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  14. DocJay Inactive

    I’d love the opportunity to publicly insult Roy. Oh this is it! Avik, your logic here is putrid. I also reject some of your healthcare ideas, so there.

    • #14
    • July 27, 2016, at 12:47 AM PST
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  15. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Good luck on your quest for enlightenment KP. Let me know when you find a comprehensive rationale for your own point of view, which cannot or will not discriminate between killers and lunkheads. Especially valuable is your quoting and linking a bunch of inflammatory democrat talking points in the mouth of a “conservative” establishment champion of his own RoyCare proposal for a different form of socialized health care and involvement in Romney, Perry, and Rubio campaigns. That and your tepid distancing of those same slurs and fighting words while reproducing them here.

    Trump supporters are racists. White Nationalists. Dey took are jerbs. “In reality, the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism,” says Roy, who, in your own words “… worked for Romney, Perry, and Rubio, [and] is considered the go to wonk for healthcare. He is described in this Vox article as a Republican’s Republican. He is likely an avatar of much of what those who support Trump hate.”

    You think?!

    You have real live Trump supporters here whose opinions you do not value and will not accept from the source. Meanwhile, it’s all you can do to not endorse Roy’s outside opinion. KP, you’ll just have to wait for Richard Attenborough to narrate the Secret Lives of Trump Supporters, or perhaps Nina Totenbag on NPR’s Awful Things Considered in order to finally have the closure you seek, so that you may finally end your quest.

    [redacted]

    [Editors’ Note: Explicitly baiting.]

    • #15
    • July 27, 2016, at 12:54 AM PST
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  16. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    EJHill: And now someone is saying we may go down but we’re gonna go fighting. Trumpism is just another word for ain’t got nothing to lose.

    I would quibble, but closely aligned. I feel that the business-as-usual ignorami are the ones who have resigned themselves to defeat. All we have done is begin troubleshooting the correct side of the difficulty with advancing conservatism in America.

    • #16
    • July 27, 2016, at 12:56 AM PST
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  17. Guruforhire Member

    Watch the Adam Sandler movie anger management. It is a beautiful parable which describes perfectly the failure of the republican party.

    When you are done, and if you still need another breadcrumb let me know.

    • #17
    • July 27, 2016, at 2:26 AM PST
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  18. Xennady Inactive

    It’s not “white” nationalism.

    It’s American nationalism.

    Yes, there’s a difference, not that I expect the cloud people who look down on America from their lofty perches in gilded ivory towers to get it.

    Or, actually, to care about it.

    Hence, Trump.

    Who does seem to care about it.

    • #18
    • July 27, 2016, at 3:42 AM PST
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  19. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Xennady:It’s not “white” nationalism.

    It’s American nationalism.

    Yes, there’s a difference, not that I expect the cloud people who look down on America from their lofty perches in gilded ivory towers to get it.

    Or, actually, to care about it.

    Hence, Trump.

    Who does seem to care about it.

    Why it gotta be ivory, honkey-boy?

    • #19
    • July 27, 2016, at 3:48 AM PST
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  20. Franco Member

    The King Prawn: Conservative intellectuals, and conservative politicians, have been in kind of a bubble. We’ve had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism — philosophical, economic conservatism.

    In addition to the deserved criticism from BDB and TKC above, I’m noting here that Avik Roy is admitting he and others were in a bubble, believing something about the ‘voters’ that wasn’t true. And now he thinks he’s found the answer.

    It’s indicative of a pattern. A pattern of misdiagnoses. He was unable to spot this “white nationalist” trend, if it exists at all, pre-Trump? If they were so far off before, how is it that he has been able to so quickly and conclusively discover the actuality?

    • #20
    • July 27, 2016, at 4:57 AM PST
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  21. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Hey, my Whence #NeverTrump post got shut down. “For reasons that should be obvious”. Oh, they’re obvious, all right. You can call us Nazis, but we can’t make jokes.

    • #21
    • July 27, 2016, at 5:13 AM PST
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  22. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive

    Franco:

    The King Prawn: Conservative intellectuals, and conservative politicians, have been in kind of a bubble. We’ve had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism — philosophical, economic conservatism.

    In addition to the deserved criticism from BDB and TKC above, I’m noting here that Avik Roy is admitting he and others were in a bubble, believing something about the ‘voters’ that wasn’t true. And now he thinks he’s found the answer.

    It’s indicative of a pattern. A pattern of misdiagnoses. He was unable to spot this “white nationalist” trend, if it exists at all, pre-Trump? If they were so far off before, how is it that he has been able to so quickly and conclusively discover the actuality?

    It doesn’t matter. [redacted] For now, wave and smile. Wave and smile.

    • #22
    • July 27, 2016, at 5:14 AM PST
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  23. Columbo Member

    Often hinted at (but never said forthrightly) were the ideas that Trump’s support came from racists or hillbillies. Now these accusations have been addressed by Avik Roy and J.D. Vance.

    Often hinted at?! This truly was a key component. This was said directly and with great disdain. The ‘Elites’ contempt for not only Donald J. Trump, but every single one of his supporters, dripped from their sarcastic lips from very early on. It only reinforced that he was the candidate of change. And it was time for change.

    • #23
    • July 27, 2016, at 5:52 AM PST
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  24. Songwriter Member

    EJHill:Trumpism is not a thing, it is many things. It is failure, broken promises, hatred, love, hope, and a nothing to lose attitude…. (continues)

    With all due respect to Roy & Vance, who both parse politics for a living, E. J.’s explanation is a more accurate summation of the issue, imho.

    • #24
    • July 27, 2016, at 5:53 AM PST
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  25. Columbo Member

    TKC1101 :

    EJHill: And now someone is saying we may go down but we’re gonna go fighting. Trumpism is just another word for ain’t got nothing to lose.

    Very well put, EJ. I could almost hear Janis Joplin quietly doing Bobbie McGee in the soundtrack at the end.

    You got it.

    Conservatives and Progressives both have a vision of building a country that has no need for 90% of the citizens, just different floor plans. Eventually the 90% get a clue and push back.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bRlRPIUJv0

    • #25
    • July 27, 2016, at 5:54 AM PST
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  26. The (apathetic) King Prawn Inactive

    Ball Diamond Ball: You have real live Trump supporters here whose opinions you do not value and will not accept from the source.

    They lost me after the debate where Trump praised socialized medicine in Scotland and tried to make a case for it here.

    Ball Diamond Ball: your tepid distancing of those same slurs and fighting words while reproducing them here.

    They were reproduced here to be fought against because they are stupid on stilts. They are the worst explanation of the foothold Trump gained among the electorate.

    • #26
    • July 27, 2016, at 5:56 AM PST
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  27. Columbo Member

    EJHill:

    Finally, after all the years of being accused of things that weren’t true, they just don’t give a damn. Because, to the Left, there is no loyal opposition anymore. The Left has reached the point where their Marxist authoritarianism is openly preached. You will surrender, assimilate or be destroyed. And now someone is saying we may go down but we’re gonna go fighting. Trumpism is just another word for ain’t got nothing to lose.

    housenods

    • #27
    • July 27, 2016, at 5:58 AM PST
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  28. Ekosj Inactive

    TKC1101 : Conservatives and Progressives both have a vision of building a country that has no need for 90% of the citizens, just different floor plans.

    Ok. This requires some explaining. Please clarify what you are talking about here … Because it makes no sense to me at all.

    • #28
    • July 27, 2016, at 6:02 AM PST
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  29. Ekosj Inactive

    The cause of Trumpism is this …Laziness.

    Progressives tell the 90% the 90% are not in trouble. They don’t need to be saved. Rather the 90% IS the problem. They need to be regulated more closely and to change their regressive ways. That’s a non-starter.

    Conservatives tell the 90% that they know the 90% is in trouble. But with more freedom, more liberty, fewer taxes and regulations the 90% can save themselves. That sounds suspiciously like work.

    Trump says I know you need saving and I WILL SAVE YOU!!! That’s Perfect!!!

    • #29
    • July 27, 2016, at 6:14 AM PST
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  30. Kevin Creighton Contributor

    Dang, so many good comments already, it’s hard to know which ones to quote!

    First off, @thekingprawn lays out the problem very well, and the @ejhill and @xennady drop daisy-cutter truth bombs onto the crowd.

    Well done. Really, honestly, if Rob and Peter want to bronze a comment thread and show it off to the investors as an example of what happens here, this is where I’d tell them to start.

    As to the “white nationalism” ideal, I think a better word might have been “American heritage” or the like. There were some ruminations awhile ago as to why American conservative Christians support Trump in such numbers, and it is my contention that they support him because they are those things in that order: American, conservative, and Christian.

    As a furriner to these lands and as someone who grew up in a church with “Missionary” right in the title, I’m not too heavily invested in the idea of cultural Christianity based on American virtues of hard work, rugged individualism, etc, that have been grafted onto the cause of Christ since, oh, the English Civil War, or so. There are too many of my fellow believers who have mistaken the Constitution for the Bible, and they tend to be the ones supporting Trump.

    • #30
    • July 27, 2016, at 6:25 AM PST
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