The disempowered and isolated vote for Trump
Economic disenfranchisement and insecurity pushes members of the working class to support Trump. | wikimedia.org
The illusion of patriotism and nativist sentiments has gained immense popularity among supporters of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
Angry minds at work
Trump uses racist and misogynist rhetoric to attract large crowds, but we must ask why so many people support Trump. Racism and xenophobia are the symptoms and not the root cause. Many people from the predominantly white working class vote for Trump because their communities have been destroyed and marginalized by the side effects of unfettered capitalism.
They have every right to be angry. They are the victims of corporations who moved factories overseas in the pursuit of cheap labor. Take a look at Flint, Mich. or the abandoned factories in Detroit. Vibrant industrial hubs that provided unionized blue-collared workers with a decent livelihood have become hollowed out shells of their former selves. Trump has tapped into this anger to push his presidential campaign.
The thought of a candidate such as Donald Trump ascending to the presidency is scary, but not unprecedented. Plenty of candidates and politicians in the past used false notions of patriotism and an ‘us versus them’ mentality to get elected. Barry Goldwater, a five-term senator from Arizona and the Republican nominee for the 1964 presidential elections was the Donald Trump of the 1960s. Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act proposed by the Johnson administration and was a right-wing extremist who used the Jim Crow culture to garner votes. American Historian Richard Hofstadter wrote in a Harper’s Magazine article in 1964 on how “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.” “In recent years” Hofstadter wrote, “we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Goldwater movement how much leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority.”
A monochrome image in the Library of Congress online photograph archive shows Ku Klux Klan members supporting Goldwater at the RNC in San Francisco. This creates parallels from the past with the presidential campaigns of today. David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard, told his audience, “Voting for these people, voting against Donald Trump at this point, is really treason to your heritage.”
Patriotism and nationalism finds themselves at home at Trump rallies. Again, this form of patriotism and to a certain extent, jingoism, is nothing new in American history. This particular form of nationalism lusts after power and requires its subscribers to use violence and dehumanize those who criticize the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rory Fanning, a veteran deployed to Afghanistan with the 2nd Army Ranger Battalion, experienced this strain of nationalism at a Trump rally held in Chicago. Trump supporters welcomes and thanked Fanning, wearing his combat fatigues, for his service in the military. The crowd’s attitude quickly changed when Fanning opened a banner that read “Vets Against Racism, War and Empire.” The crowd quickly used violence to oust Fanning from the rally.
The recent shutdown of one of Trump’s rallies in Chicago displayed a backlash against the real estate tycoon. It is time to stop Trump and harmful fear-mongering.