Growing up in a political family, Tessa joined her first political party at 14. Her interest in progressive politics & economics continues.
The Storming of the Capitol
Trump's White Sovereignty Comes From a Place of Ego Inadequacy and the Loss of Social Status
Donald Trump came into power on the back of hope and hatred. A man of lacklustre character, illustrating all that is frowned upon by Christianity, civilized behaviour, and accepted etiquette, he had sufficient supporters to gain him the presidency of the most powerful military country on earth. His ascendency to POTUS has raised many questions but, perhaps, the most pertinent ought to be, "Now that he is gone, why are they still here?"
In order to understand what drove so many people to vote for Trump, one has to look at the value system of the average person who supported him.
Profile of a Trump Supporter
- Far from being poor and uneducated, they are well educated and averaging between $60,000 and $75,000 per annum. This puts them solidly into the middle classes. Those who stormed the Capitol included many from the professional classes.
- They also tend to be Christian fundamentalists (though not all) plus authoritarian in the belief that some have the right to tell others what to do, and that if someone of a higher rank tells them what to do, then they ought to obey.
- Most have never set foot in Europe or other first world countries and know very little about the rest of the world. This means that to a large extent, the USA has retained a 50s cultural belief system while much of the rest of the world has moved rather more closely to the Star Trek model - universalism. They have also grown up on tales of American greatness which was told them by their parents and grandparents. Certainly, at one time the world was thankful to the USA for its assistance in winning WWII, and the USA was also admired for its mighty manufacturing capacity, but those days are gone, and these people don't understand why.
- Their understanding of political systems is limited. Years of indoctrination have given them no understanding of the factors which led to the prosperity of first world countries during the 50s and 60s. American text books are more written for the sake of engendering patriotism than educating its people.
- The white male has lost his place at the top of the food chain. With that loss has come the loss of several privileged positions. It's no longer possible to be granted access to something just because one is a white male. He was once automatically respected by all women. He was kowtowed to by people of color. His salary was automatically double that paid women and many others.All this came to him simply because he was a white male. Now he is angry because he perceives that 'inferior' people are being given what rightly belongs to him.
Will Trump Run Again?
A Culture of Resentment and Blame
In the 50s and 60s, it was easier for the middle class to have a good standard of living.
- Unions were strong and could demand better (and more fair) wages for blue collar workers. The Unions, however, were crushed by Reagan.
- America had the Reserve Currency which means that all international trade transactions had to be paid for in dollars. This has been falling away with many trade transations now been done in the Chinese Renminbi, the EU's Euro, and India's Rupee.
- Inequality of minorities meant that there was cheap labour and less competition. It also meant that there was someone else to look down upon.
- Mixed economies (a blend of capitalism and socialism) ensured that schools and community provided free upgrade of skills, plus there was better welfare provision. Far from teaching people to be dependent, it made them independent. Until the advent of Thatcher and Reagan, mixed economies were considered good economics.
- America sold far more goods to other countries - even the third world.
- Communism died in the USSR which meant their borders were opened to trade and this provided more competition to America.
- Tech redundancy hadn’t yet reared its head. So there were a lot more jobs than there are today. Currently, in both the US and the UK, there is only work for 75% population. Many jobs today require far a far greater level of education than in the past, e.g. computer science.
- Neoliberalism, an extreme form of capitalism, is a system of massive unequal exchange. Capitalism has been going for some 250 years, and that inequality has now ensured that some have become excessively rich while the vast majority are struggling financially on a day to day or month to month basis. In 2017, 8 individuals owned the equivalent of half the world’s wealth.At the beginning of January 2020, there were 2,153 billionaires in the world. They owned as much wealth as 4.6 billion people had. There are 7.8 billion people in the world.
In short, the world was a different place sixty or seveny years ago. There wasn’t the type of competition there is now, and there were were social resources available to those who couldn't afford what they needed.
So why do Trump supporters blame immigrants and minorities?
When one has been promised the American dream, and it doesn’t come despite very hard work, plus one lives in a society that evaluates one according to one’s wealth and success, inevitably the result is anger.
The reason for the blame is a combination of several factors.
- Entitlement – the belief that in America all things cannot only be achieved, but ought to be achieved. Desired achievements are simply not happening.
- Not being able to accept that one’s skill level is not good enough for the well-paid jobs. Parents and grandparents didn't need a university level education in order to live a decent middle class life.
- Generally, humankind has always been suspicious of other cultures, but from time to time, people who who want to take away power from a particular sector of the population, will point them in the wrong direction and say, "There's your enemy."
- A cultural belief system that is based on mythology and not reality, e.g. the law of attraction, prayer is answered, and many more. When, despite applying the effort that they are told will bring forth results and nothing happens, someone has to be blamed. “The reason God isn’t answering my prayers is because women are wearing mini skirts.”
- Business propaganda has ensured that many believe that business owners are the new emperors of the universe. The fact is that government's roll is the betterment of conditions in all people's lives whereas the goal of business owners is only the betterment of their own. There is an imbalance of power, and that is pushing workers increasingly to the bottom.
Trumpism is Here to Stay
Until the Underlaying Issues are Fixed, Trumpism Will Remain
It is always easy to sway people into believing propaganda when they are struggling, emotionally and mentally tired, feeling anger, resentment, hatred, and other negative emotions. People naturally want an explanation for why things are the way they are. When they have not been well educated, they are also more prone to believe that propaganda. Conspiracy theories, like those sprouted by QAnon, find fertile ground.
This situation will not disappear until the underlying issues are resolved. They will be resolved either by restoring America to the way it was in the 50s and 60s (impossible - the world has moved on), or by establishing a better system that makes it much easier to achieve goals. In other words, today the playing fields are not level.
One way of doing this is by returning to the tax structure that was used during the 50s and 60s. Millionaires (now billionaires) paid up to 93% of their income to government. That is what enabled people to live well.
Trump may be gone, but Trumpism will not disappear.
Trump's rhetoric and actions gave permission to his followers to become feral and release the savage inside. Most men contain that element of savagery - it just takes the right situation to get them there. Examples abound throughout history. William Golding spoke about that same concept in his book, Lord of the Flies.
Once the genie is out of the box, it's not possible to put it back again. Many millions of people in the United States now feel that their actions and belief systems are not only normal but justified. While some may feel that Trump let them down during his last days, just as people continue to believe in various religions throughout the world despite evidence to the contrary, so Trumpism will endure for many years to come.
Populism Has Become Both Violent and Universal
Populism is a class war. It is when the workers turn against the ownership class. Generally this happens when the gap between wealth and poverty has reach epic proportions. It is a cycle that has happened throughout history. The French and Russian Revolutions are examples of what happens when populism gets into full swing. When that is considered, then the storming of the Capitol isn't difficult to understand.
Currently, there are both peaceful and not-so-peaceful populist movements. Bernie Sanders and the progressives are peaceful. In the UK, Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour supporters were peaceful. Black bloc - those are the violent guys that wear black - are on the far left. They are anti-capitalism and believe that only violence will remove the system. The Yellow Vests in France are also pretty violent.
Until the imbalance of wealth and resources has become more equitable, the current situation will continue to grow until it explodes.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2016 Tessa Schlesinger
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on February 13, 2017:
Chris37, I am somewhat confused about your response. What have any of those links go to do with political correctness?
And what event are you talking about?
For the record, I am a populist. Populism is basically a class war. It happens in times of enormous inequality. I am absolutely furious with the way government has elevated neo-liberalism (an economic system that thinks there’s such a thing as a free market that magically regulates itself) and has left most of us paupers struggling for our lives. While I am not a Trump supporter, I do support Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
I’m a German citizen by the way.
CHRIS57 from Northern Germany on February 13, 2017:
Thanks for scratching on my clumsy examples. To get a little deeper into this, i would recommend following links:
About political correctness: Read this
It took quite some effort to bring this event to public, a perfect example of what long period framing does in the name of political correctness. And has nothing to do with correct gender endings.
I have the impression that rise of populist groups in the western democracies has to do with this. Name it Trump, LePen, Wilders, AfD, UKIP...
Tessa Schlesinger (author) on February 13, 2017:
You say, “But doesn´t this "mental condition" also come from many years of bombardment with political framing from the liberal establishment?”
Things may be different in Germany, but I read internationally, and I have never heard the term ‘humanitarian wars.” I have watched a good few wars start, and they always seem to have been started by conservatives (Thatcher, Bush Jnr., Bush snr., Eisenhower, etc. So, no.
I’m unsure what you have against equal opportunity. Do you believe in economic systems where some people are allowed to be educated but other people have to remain in the slavery class? This has nothing to do with political correctness. It has to do with the fact that throughout history, when one element of the population was held to be subservient to another, then there was a revolution (French revolution, Russian revolution.) Ask your wife what it’s like to live in a subservient environment. So, sorry, but equal opportunity has nothing to do with political correctness. It is a vital component of a civilized society.
With regard to the word ‘free world,’ again this is conservative jargon. Conservatives are always using terms like ‘free world’ as if it is something incredibly unusual. Most of the world is ‘free.’ Conservatives use these words to justify their wars.
Political Correctness was an attempt by some to stop the use of pejorative language when referring to minority groups. I suspect that when people want to substitute chairwoman for chairman, it has gone somewhat over the top. However, I do see the point. When power words are continually male, they lead to a subconscious belief system that power belongs to men only.
My experience with all people who have lived behind the iron curtain is that they are all suffer from a degree of paranoia to some extent, and that they sometimes misinterpret things – understandably.
CHRIS57 from Northern Germany on February 12, 2017:
Excellent writing, my compliments.
One remark please: You suspect the dumbing down, limited education to be one reason for the mind, blame and belief set of typical Trump supporters. Up to a certain extent i am following you on this. But doesn´t this "mental condition" also come from many years of bombardment with political framing from the liberal establishment? People seem to realize that wordings like "humanitarian wars", "equal opportunity" or "free world" are mostly wrong and come from a framing system that is called "Political correctness".
I would agree that dumbing down makes it easy to manipulate people. And this may be necessary - for the Trump administration - they do this manipulation and brainwashing in a very primitive way, they need dumbed down people to follow. But repeat saying "Make America great again" and people will start believing.
As my wife (from former Soviet Union) says: "You westerners have no clue of how to read between the lines". If you can´t read at all ...
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on January 31, 2017:
Excellent article. I wouldn't be surprised that Trump got 80% of evangelical votes, because evangelicals don't believe that women should be in power. I wish Trump wouldn't do so much damage, but so early in the game, he has already done so much harm. And he is so oblivious to it all. He causes a fracas at airports and says things are going very well. Yikes.
Oztinato on January 17, 2017:
Well thought out.
Such clear points can't be avoided unless a person deliberately chooses to do so; or they in fact know such things to be true but they really really want facism with all their heart.
Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on December 28, 2016:
The Trump supporters are aggrieved because they are losing the special privileges that they once enjoyed. This is their last gasp, or should I say, grasp. "Equality for all" will prevail. It is the arc of justice.
Leslie McCowen from Cape Cod, USA on December 27, 2016:
trump got 80% of the evangelical vote. the rest came from sanderites, and at the end, the comey letter swung the undecideds to vote for trump.
in the swiing states, it wasnt trump who beat out hillary, it was jill stein.
and ask the evangelicals how they could support a thrice married p grabber like trump...the answer? supreme court justices, i/e: goodbye roe v wade.
that is what it really boils down to. and now, even obama thinks he could have outdone the woman....
this age of male domination is going down HARD...
what a sight to behold