I’m working on a longer post about lessons from this excruciatingly close and catastrophic election, but I wanted to make this point now, because a certain conventional wisdom is forming. I would think we just learned to have a little more skepticism about conventional wisdom, but maybe not.
We keep hearing this was a change election. Consider the possibility this was the opposite, an anti-change election. Trump voters aren’t unhappy because there’s not enough change. They’re unhappy because there has been too much change. They want it rolled back. When they feel left behind, sometimes they’re doing quite well but don’t like how the country is changing. They actually tried to tell us with all the talk of making America great again as if it no longer is, of how things were better back in the 1950’s.
This is a long read, but worth it: A new theory for why Trump voters are so angry — that actually makes sense.
Cramer’s recent book, “The Politics of Resentment,” offers a third perspective. Through her repeated interviews with the people of rural Wisconsin, she shows how politics have increasingly become a matter of personal identity. Just about all of her subjects felt a deep sense of bitterness toward elites and city dwellers; just about all of them felt tread on, disrespected and cheated out of what they felt they deserved.
This is in Wisconsin, where city dwellers run just about nothing, not even always their local governments since the GOP state government feels free to override any local ordinances they don’t like. Trump voters are feeling resentful that the country is less white, more foreign born, less Christian, and more metro than it used to be. Consider the possibility that what moves the left, like economic inequality, achievement gaps, and unpunished banksters just has no currency on the right. When they say they want change, they mean an America that’s more white, less metro, less tolerant of gays, more Christian, more native-born — like it used to be. Change has come not too slow, but too fast.