Professor Hochschild: "Trump did not help poor Americans, but restored their self-respect"

Professor Hochschild: "Trump did not help poor Americans, but restored their self-respect"

Professor Hochschild: "Trump did not help poor Americans, but restored their self-respect"

8 January 2021, 11:02
UC Berkeley professor and sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild has studied conservative voters in Louisiana for many years. She was not surprised that Donald Trump managed to mobilize 11 million more voters in the elections than in 2016.

A poll conducted today hot on the heels of the Trump supporters' takeover of the Capitol showed that 45% of Republican supporters believe Trump's actions are justified. Professor Hochschild has written a book about supporters of Donald Trump, and their loyalty to the president still does not surprise her, she told Der Spiegel.

The sociologist spent 5 years in Louisiana, a state where many Donald Trump voters live. Oil is mined in this state, and oil concerns are poisoning people with water, soil and air. The population is sick, life expectancy in the state is shorter than in other places. The president has cut the environmental budget by a third during his tenure, but people still choose Trump.

The sociologist tried to explain this phenomenon by economic reasons. She later realized that ordinary people choose Trump for emotional and cultural reasons.

Since the 70s of the last century, due to globalization, people began to be divided into winners and losers. The winners live in big cities, they graduated from universities and receive a lot of money. The losers live in small communes far from the centers of civilization. They are not so well educated and work for firms that are increasingly closing their American businesses and relocating them to Mexico or China. The workers are losing their jobs, they are afraid for their future. Because of this, they are deeply ashamed when they realize that they are becoming losers. Donald Trump recognized this shame, he manages to free these people from it.

On the one hand, he finds the guilty ones - illegal migrants, corrupt officials, blacks, women. He tells them: they are to blame for the fact that you feel bad. On the other hand, he promises these people to make a difference so that America becomes more successful, and with it, themselves.

Trump's economic policies have not helped the workers at all, only the rich have gotten richer. But ordinary people have not turned away from Trump. They are convinced that he is on their side and he fights for them. Their situation has not improved one iota, but they do not blame the president for this, but his "enemies": the press, which hates him, officials who allegedly sabotage his undertakings. Trump himself tells them: "Just for your sake, I will endure everything." He has some features of a messiah.

The professor came up with a formula to understand the views of Trump supporters. When she asked why they wanted to vote for him, they answered the same thing: "Because I am proud to be American." But behind this phrase there is always another, deeper reason. Hochschild gave an example of a queue in which people stand on the way to the top of the mountain. There, high up is the American dream: success, recognition, wealth. For twenty years people have been patiently queuing up for happiness and waiting. They work hard and hard, follow all the rules and do not look at the people behind them, only at those in front of them. And suddenly someone breaks into this line in front of them. First they are black, then women, then illegal immigrants. And they all face them, because this is what the democrats and the state want. And then these people turn around and tell them that they are racist. This is how Trump's supporters see the world. It doesn't matter if it's not true. If you look at the numbers, it turns out that African Americans earn the same as whites did 30 years ago. And they certainly stand at the very end of this line. What they managed to do was get into the center of public discussion. The white poor remained invisible to the public, even though they too had problems that democratic governments had not solved for decades.

If we look at the TV picture, we see an angry person. But he is not only angry, he is sad and intimidated. The industry that has fed him and his family for decades is disappearing. Due to the lack of higher education, the chances of finding a job are minimal. Not only families are being destroyed, but entire communities. People drink, fathers do not see their children, the percentage of suicides is growing. People are desperate, but don't want to show it. Instead, they put on a mask of pride.

For workers, Trump is a role model. He was bankrupt, but managed to rise again to the top of American life. Now he gets punches from all sides: from journalists, from the elite. But he does not turn the other cheek and responds to blows. This is the image of Trump that his supporters believe in.

It will be very difficult for Biden to convince these people to believe in him. Democrats do not want to see their despair, do not want to lend a hand to them. At the same time, Trump supporters are as deeply worried as Democrats are divided in society. Biden is to appoint a government minister to build bridges. It is necessary to create places and situations where both parties can meet and talk without blaming and berating each other. Many people want to overcome the contradictions and heal the wounds that Trumpism has inflicted on the country.

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