7 Reasons Trump Is Winning The Hearts Of The White Lower-Middle Class by George Friedman, Mauldin Economics
Donald Trump appears likely to be the Republican candidate for president. This does not mean that he will become president, but it does mean that he mig
Many criticize that his supporters tend to be less educated, less well-off, and white. This has become a central, disaffected class in the United States, and while focus has been on other groups—Trump has spoken to this one.
This is the underlying reason why Trump has been leading polls.
What exactly makes Trump so popular among poorer, less educated white voters? Here are 7 reasons this demographic has flocked to him…
Reason #1: Trump addresses their major issue
The problem with the Republicans is that they have not noticed that the defining issue of this generation is the collapse in the standard of living of the middle and lower-middle classes. This is part of what brought Trump to where he is today, but only part.
Reason #2: He speaks in their language
The white lower-middle class sees politicians as being dishonest, saying whatever they need to say in order to be elected. This is not a new view of politics. However, in this case, what the politicians have said is neither in the language of the white lower-middle class, nor does it address any of their issues.
Trump maneuvered himself into the position of a man who, though he may be rich, thinks and feels like the lower-middle class. More important, he shows that they are not invisible to him—not because he speaks to them, but because he speaks like them.
Reason #3: He’s rich
Trump is perceived, rightly or wrongly, to have earned his wealth—not stolen it through financial trickery. That was one of Trump’s first assertions. The fact that he is a billionaire has helped, not hurt him. The Democratic fantasy of class jealousy doesn’t work where Trump is concerned. The lower-middle class admires his wealth.
Reason #4: Trump talks about US problems as they would
Trump spoke against Mexican immigrants (and implicitly a broader grouping of Hispanics). He is not seen as having his statements vetted by marketing people. And he says things the way his supporters would say things.
Trump made it clear that he heard their cultural concerns. Even his debating style—pugnacious, insulting, unapologetic, and frequently preposterously wrong—is not fundamentally different from the lower-middle class style of arguing.
The very idea that he might get the Mexicans to pay for a wall or tell the Chinese a thing or two might not be practical. But the thought that he would deal this way with the two nations they see as responsible for their misery is overwhelmingly seductive.
Reason #5: He’s never run for office
This is also a powerful factor in his favor. To this group, the political class is the problem, not the solution. The Republican establishment did not grasp that a career politician groomed to run for president has become anathema to this class.
Reason #6: Trump has built a real business
That Trump was successful as a builder also helped him. The claim that he built things is essential to a class who sees construction as real business… and hedge funds as legalized fraud. The bottom half of society is hurting, and Trump is not seen as one of those who helped bring the pain—as Romney of Bain Capital was seen.
Reason #7: He’s not afraid to go too far
Finally, and in some ways most importantly, he says the things they all think but are no longer permitted to say. When he accused Fox News anchorwoman Megyn Kelly, implicitly, of being offensive because she was having her period, observers thought the world would end. For the white lower-middle class, this was a common assertion.
He is perceived as a tough guy who is willing to lie, insult, or threaten to get his way. From the lower-middle class point of view, nothing else will get them the solutions they need.
Can Trump Win?
I don’t think Trump can win the presidency. But he has revealed a serious structural weakness in the American polity. As Americans who earn below the median income are increasingly unable to live the life they could have expected a generation ago, they will join in with resentment against the upper classes. That resentment will be built around cultural issues, as well as economic ones.
The issue is not the gap between rich and poor, but the fact that the lower-middle class is becoming part of the poor, and the middle class is moving that way as well. As in Europe, the inability of the political and financial elite to see that they are presiding over a social and political volcano will produce more and more exotic alternatives.
When those people who have skills and are prepared to work can’t get a job that will allow their families to live reasonably well, this is a problem. When statistics show that vast numbers of people are entering this condition, this is a crisis. When there is a crisis, these people will turn to politicians who speak to them and give them hope. What else should they do?
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