As the election edges ever closer, the question of how support for such a polarizing figure like Donald Trump even became possible is on many people’s minds.
An article in The New Yorker examines sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild’s new book “Strangers in their Own Land,” for answers to this Trump phenomenon. Hochschild set out to understand the emotional root of the Tea Party movement and the Trump euphoria. Hochschild spent five years conducting research in rural parts of Southern Louisiana, where the vast majority of the population are poor, uneducated, and white. She found that Tea Party supporters often described American society with a single narrative of “cheaters” and individuals who “do not want to work.” The New Yorker describes this narrative, below:
“The line-cutters were African-Americans, promoted by affirmative action, she writes, but also ‘women, immigrants, refugees, public-sector workers—where will it end? Your money is running through a liberal sympathy sieve you don’t control or agree with.'”
Hochschild writes that Trump fuels this perspective, shaming “virtually every line-cutting group” as people who are just eating away at government handouts, but then failing to mention that blue-collar white men benefit from food stamps and Medicaid.
“‘In this feint’—by making it seem that white people who accept welfare are only taking advantage of what everyone else gets—’Trump solves a white male problem of pride.'”