Hillary Clinton recently was quoted as saying
I think you could put half of Trump supporters into what I call a basket of deplorables. Right; their racist, sexist homophobic xenophobic islamophobic you name it, unfortunately there are people like that and he’s lifted them up.
This touched off a firestorm in which the Trump campaign depicted Clinton as arrogant, as a member of the Liberal Elite that has lost touch with the common people. But the fact is that much of the country, and in fact, the world, looks at the Trump supporters with fear and loathing. To understand what is really going on here one needs to take the larger view.
It is difficult for the GOP to talk about this issue as they are constantly harping about “class war” whenever the Dems talk about the fact that we have an entire under class of people who do not participate in the economic benefits of living in the US. It is a knee jerk response to yell class war any time the issue of wealth inequality is brought up.
Because when they try to talk about the “contempt” of the so-called liberal elites for the working class, that is EXACTLY what they are talking about… CLASS WAR. And in one sense they are correct that this is a class issue.
The so-called liberal elites are in fact a segment of the society that has directly benefited from our country’s affluence. They represent a good portion of the most educated citizenry. So, they do tend to believe that they have better solutions to our nation’s issues than the less educated among us. I can’t disagree with that. The GOP and it’s Tea Party wing has tried to imbue what in Victorian times would have been called “the great unwashed” with a sort of Rousseau-ian nobility. They are somehow the “noble savages” of our time.
But the fact is that traditionally, these folks have been called “the mob” and only periodically have political parties like the “No Nothing Party” or particular populist politicians like Huey Long focused their efforts at mobilizing this group because all members of the establishment, regardless of liberal / conservative leanings are scared to death of these folks.
It has historically been a tight rope walk because there are far more of these folks than there are of the folks in the establishment. All the way back to the Revolutionary War our leaders have been terrified of the mob. Now, for the first time in our history we have that “mob” taking over one of our major political parties. They bought the propaganda put out by the GOP leadership but then decided that leadership was part of the problem. And in that, they would be correct.
Donald Trump has shown a genius for expressing the fear, anger, bigotry, xenophobia, etc that these folks feel. All at once the traditional GOP has lost control of its membership. The result is what we see.
The traditional way that the establishment has kept these folks under control is to get them to blame their problems on the wrong people. It’s the Indians, it’s the Blacks, it’s the Irish and Italians, the Chinese, the Mexicans, the Japanese, the Muslims. We have a long history of ethnic cleansing in this country when the anger of these folks has boiled over. The most terrifying event in history for our economic elites was the Russian Revolution because Marxism and the International Labor Movement threatened to refocus the discontent of this under class on the real source of their problems. But modern liberalism and the birth of the social safety met under FDR and the New Deal took the life out of the far Left.
So, rather than Donald Trump representing a solution for these people, he is actually a manifestation of the traditional way that the elite establishment has sought to control them. He has them focused on Mexicans, on Muslims, on Liberals, on everyone except the folks who actually have the ability to change things for these folks. How they can be gullible enough to believe that a billionaire son of a millionaire is the messiah for a bunch of folks who won’t in their entire lives make as much money as Trump has in petty cash is beyond me. But he talks the talk beautifully even if he doesn’t even try to walk the walk.
So, America is in shock because here is a member of the elite establishment giving voice to the mob, to the great unwashed. America is used to ignoring these folks. The liberals have always understood they are there, and their basic economic program has been to make sure the social safety net is just enough to keep these folks in line so they don’t get out of control. The GOP traditionally (since the sixties anyway) has advocated policies that totally ignore these folks. They use wedge issues to get them to vote against their own economic self interest and this has worked for them until this election.
We are simply unused to see a member of the elite establishment talking like what the economic elite in the South would have been called “poor white trash”. So, while I do not believe that these folks represent anything but the darker side of our America, I don’t dispute that these folks have reason to be angry. They have been among the marginalized since the founding of the country and still are. They are simply not smart enough to understand who is responsible for their plight and they are ready made for a demagogue like Trump to control.