The Fate of Our Nation May Rest on Our Ability to Talk About White Grievance (High-status Groups) (Draft)

(Note: I wanted to strikethrough “White Grievance” in the title and replace it with “Grievances of High Status Americans” or something to that effect. Whites, Christians, males, heterosexuals, maybe non-immigrants are part of higher status groups. While not all members of these groups feel aggrieved, I believe significant numbers do; I believe their struggling with social and cultural changes, and they’re channeling their fear and anger  in political support of Trump. If we can’t talk about this, without demonizing Trump supporters–if we can’t find ways to help these people work through their anger and accept the changes–I believe our nation and democracy are in serious danger.)

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abraham Lincoln said that, and I agree with him. I’ve talked a lot about the Russian threat, but, really, I’m confident the threat would be relatively small–that we could deal with it effectively–if we were more unified, instead of polarized. If I had to name the biggest threat to our country, I might choose polarization–specifically, polarization revolving around race. I’m no historian, but my sense is that race has been an existential threat from the founding, and the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement or Barack Obama’s election hasn’t extinguished this threat. At the same time, my sense is that racism, especially the belief that whites are superior to non-whites, may not necessarily be the major threat now. Instead, what I would like to suggest is that
white grievance–the sense of anxiety and resentment white Americans have towards losing their majority status to non-whites–might be the greater threat, especially if far more white Americans feel this grievance, to some degree, instead of believing whites are superiority or white nationalism. In this thread, I’d like to do two things. First, I want to explain the reasons I think racial tensions pose an existential threat to our country. Second, I want to explain the difference between white grievance and white supremacy and the reasons I think understanding and expressing these differences when we talk about race is vital to extinguishing the threat.

Distinguishing White Grievance From White Supremacy and White Nationalism and Why That Matters

What’s the difference between white grievance, white supremacy, and white nationalism? Here’s my understanding: To my mind, the former is a natural, human response towards the loss of power–social, cultural, economic–that accompanies the loss of majority status. Since we’re talking about the U.S., I’m using the term “white grievance” because white Americans are, and have been, in the majority, and their majority status is declining or perceived to be on the decline. It’s important to remember though that grievance towards losing power is universal, not specific to white Americans. For example, I would expect the residents of a predominantly African-American community to feel fearful and angry at a massive influx of Somali refugees that lead to dramatic changes in the languages, clothing, food, festivals, businesses, religion of that community. Violence or institutional discrimination may not occur against the Somali immigrants, but I would expect at least some African-Americans to feel fear, resentment and even some level of hostility towards these refugees–specifically for dramatic changes occurring because of the latter. Or imagine a work place in the 1990s making a dramatic shift towards computers, creating significant changes in status and power among the employees–with the more computer savvy (usually younger) employees gaining more status and power and the less computer savvy (older) losing both. I would expect the less computer savvy to also feel aggrieved–angry and resentment at the workers gaining power. The employees could be of the same race, and I would expect these feelings of resentment.

In contrast, race is central to white supremacy and white nationalism. According to my understanding (and maybe I’m wrong), white supremacy is the belief that whites are superior to non-whites, and white nationalism involves the idea that white Americans are the “real” or “true” Americans, while non-whites are either illegitimate or not fully legitimate Americans. From what I understand, people who embrace white nationalism also embrace white separatism, the idea that whites should live separately from non-whites–and should remain “pure.”

While I believe understanding and making the distinction between white grievance and white supremacy/nationalism/separatism is crucial, in reality, I don’t think there are clear cut demaractions between these phenomena. My sense is these beliefs and feelings can blend together in variety of ways–with some of the beliefs being present in varying degrees. Some individuals may reject white supremacy/nationalism/separatism, and only experience very minimal feelings of grievance. Others may experience more intense levels of grievances, leading higher tolerance or rationalization of white supremacy, etc. Later I want to explain why making these distinctions is crucial, but for now I want to recognize that the situation isn’t clear-cut or binary.

Another point I’d like to make before moving on is that all of the above could lead to racist behavior and racist policies. That is, behavior and policies that discriminate against individuals of certain racial groups. White grievance could lead to racist rhetoric and behavior, even support for racist policies–even if the individual rejects white supremacy, etc. But it also may not lead to those things. In my view, while I believe designating white supremacy as racist is appropriate, I don’t think white grievance should be labeled as such. Why?

What I’m suggesting is to address race relations using this framework–address the white Americans who feel this sense of grievance, and do so in a way that distinguishes these feelings from racism. Feeling anxious and angry because of changes that diminish one’s status and power doesn’t make one a bad person, but holding racist beliefs generally does. Because of this, thinking and talking about these feelings is critical. To lump the white Americans who are struggling with social changes into the same category that includes the KKK or Steve Bannon is a dead end that will never lead to a solution, and will likely make things worse.

If my assumptions are correct, the solutions will involve finding healthy, constructive ways to deal with the negative feelings that come from these social changes

Other articles and sources to read:

From Salon: White Identity Politics and the Shutdown Vicious Racism Got Us Here

The following thread is a by a historian. Recommended:

17 thoughts on “The Fate of Our Nation May Rest on Our Ability to Talk About White Grievance (High-status Groups) (Draft)

  1. I wanted to share quick thoughts on a campaign ad that Trump tweeted on his twitter account and the idea of sending troops to the border to stop immigrants from coming into the country. Specifically, I want to discuss, in a good faith way, what might be going on in the minds of those who find both things appealing. I want to exclude explanations that point to racism or any other evil intentions. First, here’s Trump’s tweet:

    Also, here’s a tweet criticizing the notion of sending troops to the border:

    I think there are many people who would sympathize with the ad and the notion of sending troops to stop the caravan of immigrants. Some, perhaps many of them, will find aspects of the ad distasteful. For example, they may not believe that the majority of immigrants are murderers, and they may object to fear-mongering tactics of the ad. And yet, there are aspects that they would sympathize with. Off the top of my head, here are some possibilities, as well as their thought process about these issues:

    1. They may be deeply worried about the changes that are going on in the country–specifically, the loss of power and status by white majority. The caravan might be a symbol of that, and sending troops to the border and decrying Democrats for being soft on the border can also signal that the someone cares about these things and is fighting to stop it.

    2. They may believe that the changes are happening too rapidly, and that the Democrats don’t care about the pace of change. I might have the most sympathy for this view. I do think change that occurs too rapidly can be destabilizing and bad. However, I also think that people who use this argument may not just object to the rate of change, but the actual changes themselves–changes that would cause a group to lose their majority status.

    Assuming these things are true, I would like to examine the following questions, with Americans that fit the description above:

    1. Do immigrants, in this case, specifically the ones coming from Latin-American countries, make our country far less safe? Are we letting in a lot of criminals?

    If there is strong evidence that the answer is no, then it’s reasonable to question if the politicians are being dishonest and attempting to whip up fears in order to maintain or gain political power. In other words, they’re attempting to play the voters.

    2. Is the rate of change happening to quickly? I’m not sure if this could be answered in an objective way. That is, this ultimately be based on a matter of perception. We could look at the rates of immigration and compare them to other times in history and to other countries. But assuming, we couldn’t really agree on this, here’s the next question I’d ask…

    3. Would the changes be acceptable if they occurred at a slower rate? If one saw more non-whites in a community, heard different languages spoken, saw different restaurants or public celebrations–would one be comfortable with this? This is a critical question in my view, and I’m not sure if we would get honest answers.

    But if many of those who sympathize with the ad and sending troops would not be comfortable with the social and cultural changes I described, then that’s something we have to closely examine and discuss. Specifically, what are the reasons that someone is uncomfortable and/or opposes these changes, and what are the implications? We should all be able to agree the idea that whites are superior to non-whites would not be a good reason. In other words, if the opposition to social and cultural changes–immigration–is based no white supremacy, then such an opposition would lose legitimacy. I would hope what I’m saying isn’t controversial by the majority of those sympathizing with ad and sending troops to the border.

    What are some other reasons? One possible reason is a discomfort and a sense of resentment at the loss of social, cultural, and possibly economic power. I have sympathy for these reasons. Resenting the loss of power is a human reaction. I think most people, regardless of color, resent the loss of any type of power. However, what we should ask is whether this justifies specific policies like–sending troops, building a wall, deporting illegal immigrants who have lived here for years as productive, law-abiding citizens, separating children and parents at the border, leading to parents never seeing their children again in some cases.

    Additionally, while some may feel resentment at the loss of power, we should note that the resentment is directed at groups of people who are gaining power and status in our country. Opposing this because they look different, practice different religions, celebrate different customs, etc. seems highly problematic. To wit, doesn’t this contradict the American ethos that all men are created equal, that we are to be judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin. While resentment at the loss of power is understandable–and doesn’t necessarily make one a racist or evil–should that resentment lead to preventing the social and cultural changes that I describe above? If one allows the resentment to do this, aren’t we moving close to denying people of growing social and cultural status based on their race and culture? Is this consistent with our American values? Is this the type of America we want to be?

    Now, I can think of a problem with what I’m saying–and perhaps those who like Trump may also raise this objection–namely: What if the changes themselves lead to radical changes–for example, changes to the American values I’m citing? I would respond to this with a question: Suppose we create and require assimilation programs–that is, ways that immigrants can learn about the history and values of the country, and learn English? That is, if immigrants were to successfully embrace core American values, would the objection to social and cultural changes vanish? If not, that would suggest that resentment (or something worse) is the source of resisting change.


    A thought occurred to me while reading the above: If they really wanted to keep out illegal immigrants, they would want the most effective means for doing this. But it doesn’t seem like building an actual wall is the best way, especially in terms of efficiency. There are at least two possibilities: 1) They genuinely disagree–i.e., they really believe building an actual wall is the most effective way, or 2) the way is powerful symbol/metaphor. The idea of a wall will assuage their anxiety in a way that other means of border security do not. (A third possibility is a combination of the two.)

  2. Comments and thoughts off the top of my head.

    His research has discerned a general assumption among many GOP voters that elections are already rigged against them, via a shady alliance between minority voters and the Democratic Party that goes well beyond voter fraud and includes what is in effect vote buying via government handouts.

    I’d like to ask those who feel this way a question: Don’t government handouts benefit (poor) whites as well?

    A part of me thinks that ideas like Democrats creating policies that only help non-whites and that non-whites are voting illegally in huge numbers are symptoms of resentment at losing their majority status (or outright racism). That is, they’re looking for ways to justify and explain this resentment and anger.

    The alleged mass killer at a Pittsburgh synagogue is said to have acted on a belief that a caravan of immigrants was coming north, under the guidance of nefarious Jews, to overrun white people in the U.S. His action, a racist mass murder, was monstrous….

    …By this reasoning, the nonwhite citizens who are “in the tank” for Democrats are similar to the alien horde pressing toward the nation’s vulnerable “open” gates. The alien inside and the alien outside are twin elements of the Democrats’ effort to multiply Democratic votes.

    I have several thoughts, here:

    1. The conspiracy about the immigrants reminded me of a New York Times Daily podcast that discussed the rise of anti-semitism in the U.S. The podcast also brought up the concept of “white genocide,” which is the belief that increases in non-white population and interracial marriages will cause white population to diminish and disappear. There are racist elements of this–e.g., white genocide is objectionable because whites are a superior race. There is also a crazy conspiracy element to this–e.g., Jews are bringing in non-whites to make “eradicate” whites.

    My guess is that only a small percentage of whites feel this way. However, there could be a bigger group that responds to some elements of this idea. While this group may not view increases in the non-white population as “genocide,” they may see it as a decline in their influence and status–and that makes them anxious and resentment. The idea of interracial children may seem scary and alien–creating a social and cultural world that is new and confusing. How will they fit into this world? Will they be treated well?

    In my view, we have to help these people deal with this resentment and fear in a more constructive way. Part of this involves not demonizing them for their reaction. Another part of this is helping them see and experience that non-whites aren’t so different and alien as they may thing, and that children of mixed ethnicities are something positive to be embraced.

    2. If Democrats are appealing to non-whites to get their vote, why can’t Republicans do the same? Shouldn’t they do that? And if not, why not? Do white Republicans not want the GOP to create policies that help non-whites?

    If Democrats’ political power stems from minorities, why isn’t this seen as a political failure by Republicans–versus something nefarious and unfair by the Democrats?

    The broader electorate may be ready to reject GOP control of at least the House on Tuesday. Perhaps that will deter Republicans from advancing their race war. But it’s possible that they’ve steeped in their resentments for too long, and traveled with Trump too far. They may not want to go back, or even know how to.

    I think the way out of this is to talk about white grievance in a way that doesn’t automatically equate it with racism. As far as I can tell, no national leader is discussing this.

  3. Thread from Tom Nichols that I want to comment on. Here’s the thread:

    Counter-intuitive though it may seem, Trump winning was a political disaster for the white working class, especially older whites. They were once pandered to in elections; now it’s no longer possible to indulge the pretense that their concerns are economic – or fixable. /1

    That’s because there’s no ground for a policy fix or a compromise with people whose basic position is that they want America to be white, sorta Christian, and frozen in 1963 – except with 2018’s drugs, sexual liberty, govt transfer payments, ESPN channels, and internet porn. /2

    (emphasis added)

    (I just want to interrupt and add that males having more power should also be added here. Back to the thread…)

    That’s why I’m tired of people declaring conservatives (like me, Boot, Rubin, Wilson and others) who still believe in limited government, fiscal responsibility, a superpower foreign policy, and individual freedom to be “not conservatives” because we won’t pander to populists. /3

    Who’s more liberal? Us, or the working class Trump voters who are always looking to Daddy to excuse them for out-of-wedlock births, their embrace of a defeatist foreign policy, rampant drug abuse, chronic underemployment, and endless demands for government solutions? /4

    This “it’s not your fault, the system has it in for you” bullshit pioneered by Bannon and weaponized by Trump is something conservatives castigated liberals for saying to minorities years ago. And rightly so: it deprives people of agency and responsibility. /5

    If sucking up to small-town populism – the worst melding of ignorance and self-pitying, insecure nationalism – is now “conservative,” then the word has no meaning. Conservatives were once prudent, incremental, patriotic, and stoic. (Like, say, the President who just passed.) /6

    Yes, we were also hidebound, resistant to needed change, overly cautious, too wrapped up in our sense of tradition, and often indifferent to the struggles of others. (We were also the counterpart to progressives who needed the sensible ballast of prudence and judgment.) /7

    Conservatives and liberals need each other to make progress. What we’re seeing with Trumpism, especially two years in, is neither conservative nor liberal. It is a stubborn demand that the world treat white working class adults like children. To coddle them with soothing lies. /9

    (emphasis added)

    1. Our country does need conservatives and liberals to make progress–or to go about making progress in the best way.
    2. Trumpism has changed the nature of the conservative-liberal dichotomy. The tension involves illiberal/authoritarian/enthno-nationalism, on one hand, and liberal democracy/rule of law/pluralism on the other.

    So enough with the woes of the Iowa farmers who fear black and female presidents, or New Hampshire townies who fear immigrants without ever seeing one anywhere near them. That’s not “conservative” any more than Occupy Wall St guys taking dumps on police cars are “liberal.” /10

    I don’t know what it’s going to take for Generation Fox to figure it out. I now seriously doubt they will come to their senses, if they ever had any. (This is why I have very little hope that anything Mueller or anyone else says is going to move that 30-40%.) /11

    (emphasis added)

    What I’m suggesting in this thread is that these white supporters of Trump need therapy. This should first involve communicating that feelings of resentment and fear at social and cultural changes does not necessarily make them a racist. That is, make a clear distinction between white resentment and racism, acknowledging that racism is bad but feeling resentment is not.

    Next, I think we need to talk about ways of coping with these changes, dealing with this resentment in a way that is not destructive–that doesn’t lead to supporting a person like Trump or the type of policies that are cruel and un-American (e.g., prosecuting every illegal immigrant, which leads to separating parents from their children).*

    That intransigence is the disaster for the white working class: because it shows there’s no point in trying to compromise with what were once legitimate concerns about taxes, foreign affairs, education, etc. They’ve traded that agenda for mindless Trumpian ethno-nationalism. /12

    Yes, there’s no point if most of the Trump supporters really don’t care about these things.

    That kind of political agenda can’t be reasoned with. It can only be defeated. And realizing that this is no longer a rational political debate is not good for America (or Europe, or anywhere else), but that’s how it has to be. /13x

    The problem, as I see it, is that defeating the agenda (and Nichols mentions voting as a way to do this) is that this won’t make white resentment go away. I think it’s only going to prolong it. I feel like talking about this resentment without demonizing those who feel it is an important way to deal with and eventually exorcise these feelings.

    Here are some tweets from someone who responded to Nichols:

    I agree with most of this, except I think the most difficult thing for you (Boot, Rubin, et al) to come to terms with is that, in terms of intensity, the US right has always been racist. That’s what motivated the ground troops, not prudence, stoicism, & fiscal responsibility.

    Sorry, that’s too simple. Put it this way: US conservatism got as far as it did because resentful whites (both working class AND suburbanites) saw that the small gov’t/low tax/foreign belligerence agenda, in practice, aligned with protecting white power.

    If I were in your shoes, I would be thinking about how much electoral juice prudence, stoicism, & fiscal responsibility have once you strip them of white resentment. How many people were really in it for that aspect of conservatism? Current evidence suggests: very few.

    What I like is the way Roberts recognizes that “racism” may not be the best term, so he switched to “white resentment.” I agree with his main points about conservatism. I would add that I think there is another group of Republicans, maybe the most influential, who are wealthy and represent business interests. My sense is that the conservative ideology, policies, and philosophy don’t matter to them, unless it helps preserve their wealth and power.


    Voting for Trump may make one feel good because he’s raging against the changes that are occurring; he’s giving a very loud voice to the resentment towards non-whites, and the fear towards Muslims and immigrants. And he’s creating the impression that he’s fighting against these changes.

    But we have to show that there is a better alternative to dealing with these feelings. We can acknowledge these feelings, and not demonize the people who feel them and show them another way. The other way involves working through these resentment, anger, and fear; and talking about why this is a better alternative to supporting Trump and his policies.

    Off the top of my head, I think part of this discussion has to include American values and ideas. Are white Americans more American than non-white Americans? Do we want a country based on one’s race, religion and gender–that is, should we see white Christians as true Americans while non-white, non-Christian Americans should be considered less American? Is that the type of America we want to live in? Should this be what it means to be a real American? I do not believe this is American, and I do not believe this is a defensible position. I also that only a small number of white Americans will feel this way. (If I’m wrong, then we have more white nationalists than I thought.)

    If I’m right, then white American (Christian males) have to work through their feelings of resentment–they shouldn’t affirm and elevate these feelings. They’re not evil for feeling these things, but they shouldn’t allow these feelings to cause them to support un-American politicians and policies.

    More later.

  4. Is this racism, white grievance, or both?

    I don’t know. It could be several combinations of those options. My main point is that it may not be racism (white supremacy), and I think we should focus on those who are driven by grievance. These people may support the type of actions above out of this intense resentment and fear. If the support is largely emotional, then I’m suggesting we help the work through these emotions, which includes not demonizing them for these feelings.

    After that, I’m hoping we can examine the type of policies above. Why exactly would we take out “Madison and Millwaukee?” Can we agree that taking them out because they’re largely non-white would be wrong? Can non-whites rise in social, cultural, and economic status? Can non-whites, non-Christians be just as American as white Christians? If not, why not?* I think this kind of discussion can help people think through their values and beliefs and maybe expose the ones that are not really compatible with American values and the American creed.


    What’s the reason for keeping Muslims out or a harsh crackdown on illegal immigration? Does the reason involve national security and safety? If so we can examine to what extent both groups pose a threat.

  5. 1/4/2019

    Yes. I think this is less weird if you view the wall as a symbol or totem for whites who resent social and cultural changes.

    Why is the wall so important to this segment of Trump’s base in particular? Robert Jones, the head of PRRI, told me that the wall powerfully symbolizes the deeper reasons they supported Trump in the first place.

    “For white evangelicals who see the sun setting on white Christian dominance in the country, the wall is a powerful metaphor,” said Jones, who has spent many years analyzing the attitudes of religious voters, and published the book “The End of White Christian America.”

    Jones added that this metaphor embodies a white evangelical view of the world “as a dangerous battleground” made up of “chosen insiders and threatening outsiders,” as well as an “embattled minority trope that is rooted deep within southern culture,” such as the “Lost Cause theology following the Civil War,” and in “evangelical culture generally.”

    I really agree with Sargent and others who believe the wall is a symbol, or to use Sargent’s word “totem.” If this is true, the solution to this involves finding ways (if possible) to help the whites who feel this way to deal with their fear and resentment in a more constructive way and to find ways to help them accept the changes. I’m not saying this is easy, and I don’t know if there is a way to help bring this about, but without something like this, I don’t think these people will ever stop supporting Trump.

  6. The New Authoritarians Are Waging War on Women is an Atlantic article arguing that a hard push back against feminist gains connects authoritarians across the globe (including Trump), not economic inequality or resentment towards social and cultural changes.

    I found the article interesting, but I also see a strong link between the push back against feminist gains and the white grievance. To me, both involve the loss of power–of cultural and social status and dominance in a society. The world where white male Christians dominate–not just in terms of political and economic spheres–but the social, cultural, and demographic ones as well. The influence and presence of non-white, non-Christians, non-males are on the rise, and that triggers fear and resentment for a large enough group of people who are white, Christian, male or all or some combination of the above. They are fighting to preserve and protect this world (Building the wall powerfully symbolizes this effort.)

    But Beinart presents a different theory, one that I find interesting:

    To understand global Trumpism, argues Valerie M. Hudson, a political scientist at Texas A&M, it’s vital to remember that for most of human history, leaders and their male subjects forged a social contract: “Men agreed to be ruled by other men in return for all men ruling over women.” This political hierarchy appeared natural—as natural as adults ruling children—because it mirrored the hierarchy of the home. Thus, for millennia, men, and many women, have associated male dominance with political legitimacy. Women’s empowerment ruptures this order.

    If I understand the theory, since men wear the pants in most people’s homes, they are seen as the legitimate authority. Since many people see men as the legitimate authority in the homes, many people see men as legitimate authority figures in politics. Women who gain political power are seen as illegitimate. In the article, Beinart seems to say that if men are not seen as the one with all the power in the home–if they take on more traditionally feminine roles–then that legitimize female politicians.

    I don’t know if this theory is correct, but it could very well be. In any event, I don’t think it’s incompatible with the my theory above.

  7. While reading a biography about George Washington (His Excellency), an incident during his first term made me think of this thread. In 1790, two petitions from Quakers went to the House of Representatives, both pushing for the abolition of slavery, one advocating an immediate action, while the other recommended a gradual approach. This became a huge political problem because Benjamin Franklin put his weight behind the second proposal.

    Washington supported Madison’s moves–moves that essentially removed the question for debate, deferring the debate until 1808 and also pushing the decision to individual states. Here’s Joseph Ellis, author of the book above, describing Washington’s thinking:

    Whatever his personal views on slavery may have been, his highest public priority was the creation of a unified American nation. The debates in the House only dramatized the intractable sectional differences he had witnessed from the chair at the Constitutional Convention. They reinforced his conviction that slavery was the one issue with the political potential to destroy the republican experiment in its infancy.

    While I think the position is problematic, I think it was the right one, although saying so is unpleasant. What I want to point out is that the approach of deferring and delaying the issue of slavery, and, relatedly, racism, has been the primary modus operandi for many U.S. leaders. (Add Lincoln to this list.) Fast forward a 170 years and some white Christian leaders during the Civil Rights movement made a similar argument, advocating patience versus agitation, to Civil Rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously responded to this group in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” and, in this instance, it’s hard not to side with him. However, I do sympathize with the white Christian leaders in one way—namely, that bringing up slavery and racism to the forefront puts the nation at risk of being torn a part, maybe in an existential way.

    My sense is that this is still true today. Both the Abolitionists and the Civil Rights movement seem to focus on external laws and institutions, and have made great progress over time, although more needs to be made, my sense is that the main issue, the source of the problem is something largely internal, and psychological, perhaps spanning a range of sentiments and ideas, from the idea that whites are inherently superior to non-whites to the preference to live in a society and cultural that is dominated by whites. The latter includes an anxiety, resentment, and even anger at the thought of losing this level of influence and prominence in society, and this resentment, and even anger can be directed at the groups gaining more prominence and influence. As I’ve said in this thread, of the whites who fall into this group, the vast majority are struggling with the loss of influence and status.

    If this is correct, I think this is not something that should be deferred–just the opposite: it should be dealt with head on, with compassion, offering a way to work through these feelings, without causing harm, to a place of acceptance. I think one of the biggest challenges is dealing with this issue in a way that a) doesn’t demonize those who are struggling with this; and b) allows for nuanced view of these feelings–namely some degree of the resentment and anxiety is a human reaction, not a racist one. My sense is that a leader(s) who could do this could help us finally address one of the biggest problems America has faced.

  8. Two tweets:

    Tweet in response:

    I saw these three tweets, and I thought about how there is almost no conversation from the press or prominent public figures that I know of addressing articulating the difficulty with losing power and status for a social group that had most of it. My sense is that the conversation doesn’t go beyond racism or white supremacy, but I also don’t think that’s the only factor. Human beings, as individuals or groups, generally do not willingly give up a lot of power and status. They fight like hell to resist this. And they often have to be forced to do so. I believe this is the main reason King George III said that if George Washington resigned his commission (as commander in chief) to Congress, he’d be “the greatest man in the world.”

    Maybe I’m totally wrong, but my instincts say that we should talk about the difficulty, pain, and fear that accompany the loss of power. To vilify or scoff at the group going through this seems very counterproductive to me. Again, I could be wrong, but I don’t think this is primarily driven by white supremacy–not in the sense of thinking that whites are superior to non-whites. If Nigerian in Nigeria were becoming a minority to non-Nigerians, I think a very similar dynamic would occur, or Japanese in Japan were becoming a minority to non-Japanese, etc. Each of these nations would be facing an existential threat, in my opinion.

    Right now, I can’t help but feel that we’re not addressing the root of the problem, and maybe we’re making it worse. Donald Trump and his congressional and media defenders are one consequence of this–all of which pose an existential threat to the republic.

    1. Addendum

      1. I would be wary of listening to polls. I’m not the first to suggest this, but people who really like Trump may keep this hidden, including in polls. I think the key to Trump’s loss is how energized Trump supporters are, the overt and “covert” ones–and by “energize” I mean voter turnout. I tend to think this is more important that turnout for the Democratic candidate. While this is important, I tend to think if the energy and turnout for Trump isn’t extremely high, I don’t think he can win.

      2. Now, this assumes that Trump and the Republicans don’t pull any shenanigans to win.

      3. If I’m correct, then the key is to find way to deflate the enthusiasm for Trump or at least don’t do anything to stir it up. My sense is that this involves talking about or dealing with the white resentment I talk about above. By the way, one person who demonstrated some ability to do this is Mitch Landrieu, the Mayor of New Olreans, in a speech he gave about taking down Confederate statues. I thought he showed an ability to deal with a racial issue in a way that was unifying.

      I haven’t really been listening to any of the candidates, but I think the Democratic candidate needs to be able to help white Americans deal with their resentment and anger or at least not inflame it. I feel like this is the most critical attribute to win.

      4. By the way, even Trump has committed impeachable offenses, even if the Republican defense for him is hogwash, I don’t think it will matter to Trump supporters–maybe even the mildly supportive, too. My point is that the election will come down to the level of resentment, fear, and anger of those who gravitate towards Trump.

      5. Another factor I may be underestimating: Moderate, inattentive voters. If they pay attention and not completely confused, and turnout and vote against Trump. Maybe this could be a difference maker.

  9. If you can’t see the link, the link refers to the Lt. Col. Vindman’s lawyer speaking out against Trump’s criticisms of his client. I thought of this thread when I saw this tweet. Specifically, what if there is something force or factor that would cause military personnel to overlook this and still support Trump. I also thought of Trump’s disgraceful behavior towards Senator McCain (“I like my heroes that don’t get captured.”), harassing two(!) Gold Star families. (I would also count his speech in front of the CIA Memorial Wall, where he mentions how many times he appeared on Time magazine cover.) I could probably find more examples. The point is, in spite of these things, the support from military personnel and their families hasn’t shrunk significantly.

    Why is that? One possible reason is that the resentment, anger, and fear override actions that would normally cause these people to end their political support. If true, then this is another indication that to get out of this mess, we have to deal with this resentment, anger, and fear.


    Also, this:

    (Maybe non-officers actually like this?)


    I don’t think I’ve read the article, but the quote captures a lot of what I’m getting at in this thread. Put in these terms, talking about and dealing as a way to quell anxiety, fear, and resentment seems naive. Human beings, when they have power, don’t willingly or easily give it up. At the same time, I’m hoping the loss of cultural and social prominence and influence can be something more easily accepted–versus something that has to be fought to the death.

  10. Mutz’s paper mentioned in this tweet concludes that status threat (for whites, Christians, and males) explains support for Trump (in 2016 election) over being economically left behind.


    Ruth Ben-Ghiat, NYU professor who recently wrote a book on autocratic leaders, says something similar below:

  11. In the comments, several people with blue check marks saw the tweet as bizarre and crazy. I have a theory that would provide an interpretation for this tweet and other behavior by Trump supporters that seem bizarre or hard to explain. If the theory and interpretation is correct, the person making the tweet would not be crazy or at least seem less crazy.

    The theory is that Trump supporters can’t or don’t realize the real root of their anxiety and anger, and both emotions manifest themselves in a coded way. Using this idea, and attributing status threat as the primary root of their fear and anger, here’s how I’d interpret the tweet:

    “The Government” ostensibly run by Democrats, with Democrats representing either people enabling and embracing the things that pose a threat or the Government (run by Democrats) actually equals the changes that they fear. That is groups who have had minority status (e.g., non-whites, non-Christians, non-males) now have the most power.

    The government taking knives and guns = minority groups taking the power away from the dominant groups (e.g., whites, Christians, males)

    The government taking away “unauthorized food” and stored water = the minority groups depriving them of life–i.e., killing the dominant groups.
    (I’m not sure how to interpret “unauthorized.” Maybe this is connected to the way the left is seen as culture police?)

    I’m not sure about the reported part, but maybe that’s a general sense of anxiety and mistrust that they now feel with regard to in America as aa whole in their communities, specifically. There are more foreign elements all around them, ‘and this makes them feel like their own community will be betray them?

    “What happened to our freedom?” translates to “How did we lose our power” which is more an expression of despair. Freedom = having the most power and privilege which comes from being part of the dominant group. “Losing freedom” means the loss of majority status.

    Going back to the confiscation of weapons. I hear Trump warning, “They’re coming for your guns,” and other demagogic things relating to the 2nd Amendment. Initially, I thought this was stoking culture wars, relating to different cultural values and perspectives of conservatives and progressives. But now I’m wondering if guns are also a code for power–i.e., they’re coming to take away your guns = they’re coming to take your power.

    (Aside: Maybe codes are created because the Americans who experience status threat the most intensely can never express this explicitly. That is, they can’t say, “Man, these changes sucks! And I feel some resentment and anger towards groups gaining power.” If they said that they would likely be called a racist. So saying this is not a real option. So they repress these feelings, and they come in coded form and ultimately lead to destructive path–once a skillful demagogue comes along. What if these Americans could express these feelings, and we even allowed some way they could take our their aggression–maybe by smashing things. Would that deflate a lot of the support for Trump?)


    How a Road Trip Through America’s Battlegrounds Revealed a Nation Plagued by Misinformation by Charlotte Alter in Time magazine.

    She spent “three weeks driving across the battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania” talking to “nearly 200 voters of all political persuasions.”

    The President could be impeached for abuse of power, publicly muster white supremacists, tear-gas peaceful protesters for a photo op, pay less than his employees in taxes, declare that he’d refuse to accept the results of the election, hold a possible superspreader event at the White House–and millions of Americans will ignore it. To half of us, all this is an outrage; to the other half, none of it matters.

    How can these things not matter–and there is much more to add–Russian bounties on the head’s of U.S. soldiers; Trump’s $400 million outstanding debt to unknown individuals or groups; and more. To me, this demands an explanation. A closed information bubble does seem like a compelling explanation or at least a compelling part of it. And maybe that’s sufficient. But the reasons people have gotten into these bubbles and accepted them

    Much of the time, I got back into my white Ford rental with a pit in my stomach. Conspiracy theories like QAnon–the perverse delusion that Trump is the final defense against a “deep state” cabal of Democrats and Hollywood elite who traffic and rape children–kept cropping up in my conversations. Two women in Cedarburg, Wis., told me the “cabal” was running tunnels under the U.S. to traffic children so elites could torture them and drink their blood. When I checked into an airport hotel in Kalamazoo, Mich., the night manager made small talk about politicians running a pedophile ring as he directed me to the elevator.

    In a study of more than 38 million articles about the pandemic, researchers at Cornell University recently found that President Trump was the single biggest driver of false information about coronavirus. A major Harvard study released in October found that Trump had perfected the manipulation of mass media to spread false information about mail-in voting, and that the President was an even bigger source of disinformation than “Russian bots or Facebook clickbait artists.” No wonder, then, that so many Americans are caught in the confusion, unsure what to believe.

  12. Update: 2/11/2021

    The mocking seems apt, but I have an explanation that could make the connection more reasonable or at least understandable. The pain is the loss of privileges that come with being a part of a majority group–i.e., the groups with the most power and status in a society. That power waning because groups that haven’t had power are getting larger and gaining more influence in the process.

    Additionally, as the minority groups increase in numbers and influence, those in the majority groups may have more experiences as an outsider. Strange foods, customs, languages, smells, etc, may become more common in the media, in their workplaces and hometowns. They may begin to feel like strangers in their own communities. Some people have no problem dealing with these type of changes, but others struggle–and this can increase their anxiety and resentment.

    One way of dealing with these feelings is to direct them at the groups that are rising in status. Then we demagogues like Trump come along, heightening their fears and anger and directing them at these groups, some of them may embrace racist positions–and even hardcore racist groups.

    This is a way that pain can lead to expressions of racism .

    But what if we could help people cope with the anxiety and get them to accept the changes going on. Could we reduce the resentment and anger? If we did that, would this improve race relations, and decrease political polarization?


    This reference to Christianity made me think of something else–namely, Christian leaders, especially Evangelicals, need to denounce violence–just as the West called on Muslims to denounce terrorist acts by groups like al Qaeda. In fact, I would like to see a Christian leader, from the left or right, take the approach I discuss in this thread–in addition to denouncing violence and white supremacy. “Feeling angry or even resentful at those who are rising in status, does not automatically make someone a bad person. But expressing this anger in acts of violence is the wrong way to deal with these feelings; and fueling this anger is not healthy for the individual and the larger society. Those who want to increase this anger, resentment, and fear are not helping–they’re making matters worse. There’s a better way to deal with this anger–such as talking about it with others who will not judge or condemn them for these feelings. That seems like a good place to start.

    What are the alternates? Write these people off as irrational and irredeemable racists? Tell them “get over it?” Admit they’re racist and then work to stop being that way? Mock them or even ignore them? I think all these approaches are likely to make the problem much worse–leading to acts of violence and tragedy. And maybe those actions, if enough of them occur and are sufficiently tragic, will lead to some catharsis for people who are angry–a kind of final crie de coeur expressed in violence. Yes, I could see that helping those struggling with social and cultural changes, but I don’t want our country to pay that cost.


    These are the stakes.

    What I’m suggesting may not work, but the idea is analogous to turning on a pressure release valve. It would be worth trying if there’s a chance it can prevent violence.


    Economist, Paul Krugman,> comments on Alberta’s tweet:

    What’s so astonishing about this is that it’s not responding to any real grievances. No, the election wasn’t stolen. No, Dems aren’t Marxists — or pedophiles. No, BLM didn’t go on a deadly rampage (but rightists did). And many of these people have fairly comfortable lives 1/
    And we’re not like Mussolini’s Italy or Weimar Germany, bitter over a catastrophic war and, in Germany, a catastrophic depression (no, it wasn’t the hyperinflation that did it — it was the gold standard) 2/
    The best guess is that it’s about race — about white people infuriated by growing diversity. And maybe the GOP’s cynical cultivation of racial hostility in the service of plutocracy encouraged it 3/
    But still awesome to see democracy under violent siege based on almost nothing 4/

    (emphasis added)

    That Krugman calls white grievance “almost nothing” is a big part of the problem in my view. “People infuriated by growing diversity” is better thought of as “feeling like a stranger in one’s own country,” and fear at losing the dominant status and being resentful at the minority groups gaining greater status. To me, long-time majority groups losing this status is not “nothing.” It’s closer to an existential threat in my view. I wonder if any society that has gone through this have survived or have made this transition without violence.


    More on what’s at stake:


    Conservative columnist, Matt Lewis, has a excerpts of his discussion with David French, another conservative writer, and I wanted to comment on some of their points.

    First, French makes a great point that if the mob had Islamic flags or yelled, “Allahu Akbar,” we’d call this Muslim terrorist act. The mob had Christian symbols and slogans, so shouldn’t we think of this as a (politically) Christian movement?

    I wanted to comment on French’s response to this statement from Lewis:

    Matt: I tweeted the other day that I don’t understand why people feel so angry and aggrieved. We generally live in a time of peace and prosperity. One theory to explain this is that people have turned politics into their religion.

    (I noticed that Lewis is a conservative who also doesn’t understand the reason Trump supporters are so angry and aggrieved.)

    French says,

    David: The culture war is so intense, because both sides believe they’re losing. And so, you know, if you tell a Republican that the progressive left thinks they’re losing, they would look at you like you’d lost your mind, “What do you mean, they’re winning everywhere!” But you know, I’d heard from a million progressives in 2016 that the whole system is stacked against us?…

    My sense is that French is making a false equivalence. I believe there are real Democrats and Progressives who fit French’s description, but I assume they represent a relatively small minority. Or to say it another way, there are many more Democrats, center-left independents, and centrists/moderates that have significantly more political influence. I say this because the Democrats have not supported someone like Trump. Bernie Sanders, a progressive, lost twice in the Democratic national primary. He’s not authoritarian, but I don’t see any evidence he’d win if he were. Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden are center-left Democrats–moderate, not radical.

    So while there are aggrieved cultural warriors on the left, their grievance doesn’t seem to be raging an out of control–leading them to abandon almost every progressive principle they’ve espoused. That’s precisely what has happened with the GOP and the Religious Right. Or am I missing something?

    Well, there’s some interesting data. And this comes from the more common project that shows that those who pay most attention to political news are most wrong about the political views of their political opponents. They believe that they’re far more radical than they really are, and the reason for that is partisan political news is very, very good at picking out the most radical voices and elevating them as sort of symbolic of the whole.

    This is an interesting point, and it jibes with my experience with listening to partisans on both sides. What I find annoying is that they talk as if the people in the middle don’t exist.

    The problem I have is that my impression of the right is that many have become radical. Am I guilty of assuming they’re far more radical than they are? Or have they actually become more radical? I would point to the level of Trump’s support. It still remains high among Republicans–in spite of Trump violating many conservative principles. Indeed, Trump is close to the opposite of a conservative.

    French mentions two quotes from Eric Metaxas(sp?) that come from a debate between the two at a Christian college. French finds these comments absurd, but I want to translate them, to reveal the state of mind behind these quotes:

    “America will be over if Joe Biden wins.”

    Translation: An America with a white, Christian majority will be over.

    “The Church will lose its religious liberty if Joe Biden wins.”

    Translation: The loss of majority status for Christians will continue and eventually disappear. The thinking here seems to be: if Christians are not the majority, they will lose their freedom. Freedom = power of the majority.

    “If Joe Biden wins, we won’t even be able to have these debates anymore.” (The quotes come from a debate between French and Metaxas at a Christian college.)

    Translation: Majority groups losing their high social, cultural (and economic?) status equals a loss of liberty in America. I think this quote, as well as the one before it, are examples of Christian Nationalism. (defined by a group called, Christians Against Christian Nationalism. People like Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis are associated with the group):

    Christian nationalism seeks to merge Christian and American identities, distorting both the Christian faith and America’s constitutional democracy. Christian nationalism demands Christianity be privileged by the State and implies that to be a good American, one must be Christian.

    What they go on to write seems to be going on now, too:

    It often overlaps with and provides cover for white supremacy and racial subjugation.

    Metaxas and Trump supporters like him, seem to have merged identities of majority groups, which includes Christianity, with an American identity. My sense is that this not new, but has existed for a long, long time. What’s different in recent years is that the status social minority groups are rising, while the status of majority groups are falling. For those belonging to majority groups this is seen as an existential threat to the country–precisely because of a Majoritarian Nationalism.

    If many Trump supporters conflate identities of their majority groups with an American identity, that could lead to hyperbolic statements.


    Mother of the “zip-tie” guy who stormed the Capitol: “I’d rather die as a 57 yr old woman than live under repression.”

    My response: That Non-Christians and people of color have a greater presence and influence in our culture and society may feel like repression for long-time majority groups (e.g., Christians, whites, heterosexuals), but it’s not. That this social change makes one uncomfortable and even resentful and angry is understandable. But labeling this as repression, or end of liberty seems wrong. Can minority groups gain a larger voice and presence in our society–in our politics, in our communities, in our culture, in entertainment and media, etc.–in a way that will be acceptable? Or will this never be OK?


    David French makes some interesting observations/points in this post.

    Thus, I agree with Kidd. “Actual Christian nationalism,” he says, “is more a visceral reaction than a rationally chosen stance.” He provides an interesting example:

    I recently saw a yard sign that read “Make Faith Great Again: Trump 2020.” I wondered, How can re-electing Donald Trump make “faith” great again? What faith? When did it stop being great? No coherent answers would be forthcoming to such questions, but that’s the point. The sign speaks to a person’s ethnic, religious, and cultural identity in ways easier to notice than to explain.

    (emphasis added)

    What I underscore resonates with me. I think there’s a lot of truth to it. A part of me wishes we could engage in dialogue that would explicate what Trump supporters mean by phrases like that–as well as the MAGA slogan.

    Now let’s ask a challenging question—why do we see this nationalism more in white conservative Protestant Christianity than in any other strain of American Christianity, including the Black Protestant church or the Catholic church?

    I’d argue it’s because that for more than two centuries, the United States of America was quite likely the best place in the world to live if you were a white theologically conservative Protestant. No, it wasn’t a perfect place. But it was the best place. Our freedom, our prosperity and (ultimately) our power were unmatched anywhere else….

    …Black Christians could not feel such comfort. An enslaved person was certainly “in” America, but how could he or she feel truly “of” a land that put them in chains since the first African slaves arrived in 1619? The same analysis applies to those who suffered under Jim Crow.

    Or police killing people like George Floyd. Black Americans are seen as threatening in a way that white Americans–or any other American–are not. The overall perception of black Americans contains negative components that white Americans do not. This is the kind of thing that prevents the “slipper” from being completely comfortable.

    Moreover, there’s also a slowly-dawning realization that if I want my fellow citizens to feel more comfortable—to feel less like sojourners and exiles—then my slippers may just have to feel less snug. An expansion of American liberty and prosperity will inevitably mean both a change in American culture and a change in the understanding of America’s past.

    (emphasis added)

    Translation for me: White Christians have to be comfortable and accept a greater presence of non-whites and non-Christians–people not like them–in communities, businesses, on TV and film, and in positions of power, in our culture. What would it mean to not accept these changes? Wouldn’t that mean wanting these groups to be marginalized–only allowing minimal presence and influence in our society and culture? And this would be based on their color of their skin and religion–not their character or abilities. This seems incompatible to the American creed. How is this different from racism and bigotry?


    How to Live With Authoritarians:
    Democracies have to learn how to manage some people’s innate fears of change.
    by Karen Stenner in Foreign Policy

    Vox had an explainer about the basis of Trump’s support and Stenner’s research was the basis for it. (That Vox article made my list of must-read articles in the Trump era.)

    She goes over the same territory in this piece, but also addresses some things the Biden administration can do–although her recommendations are vague. Here’s one of the most important takeaways:

    The new U.S. administration should promote equity and justice while avoiding a loud and provocative display of stances and messaging that unnecessarily aggravates authoritarians. The progressive policy agenda shouldn’t be amended; it should simply be promoted more subtly. Given the ongoing threats of right-wing extremist violence, this may seem unreasonable, if not wholly untenable. But it is achievable if the Biden administration recognizes that even creating the mere feeling or appearance of oneness and sameness can be reassuring to authoritarians. Critically, authoritarian predispositions are not a problem that can just be educated away: In fact, liberal democracy’s loud and showy celebration of freedom and diversity drives authoritarians not to the limits of their tolerance but to their intolerant extremes. For this reason, a strong rhetorical focus on a unified Americanness can play a vital role in reassuring and deactivating the innately intolerant.

    (Note: I think the 4th of July red and blue celebration idea would fit nicely with this–i.e., bring country musicians and R&B musicians as well as other celebrities, politicians to celebrate the values we share in common.)

  13. Successful defeating COVID-19 may depend on successfully talking about white grievance.

    I read an Atlantic article about ways to convince vaccine resistant people to change their minds. The author, a sociology professor, draws on work done on victims of con artists. One aspect of the comparison–namely, the role of a “Cooler” in a con–stood out to me. The Cooler is member of the con artist’s team. His/her job is to calm the victim, preventing the victim from being so angry as to seek retribution.

    In a way the comparison of vaccine skeptics to con artists is not entirely apt. What’s missing in my view is that Trump and conservative leaders con is founded on the grievance and resentment of their followers–grievance and resentment that they’ve helped direct at Democrats, among other groups. I feel like this is a basis for many of the vaccine skeptics, as well as those who downplayed the pandemic and opposed mask wearing. Democrats encouraged taking the vaccine, emphasized the dangers of the pandemic and urged people to wear masks. I feel like the animus towards the Democrats is why many Trump supporters oppose those things.

    If this is correct, then getting people to take the vaccine is liked to reducing the animus and resentment directed at Democrats. Now, here’s where the Cooler idea seems apt. Democrats–or maybe Never Trumpers–should play the role of cooler—that is, cool down the resentment and anger towards Democrats. If that can be done, I feel like more Trump supporters would be willing to take the vaccine, wear masks, and take the pandemic seriously.

    (Note: Another path is more Trump supporters die or suffering severely from getting the virus. That could also change behavior as well.)

  14. I recommend reading Can Democracy Survive Racism as a Strategy? by Ian Haney Lopez, UC Berkeley law professor–a very clear and well-organized analysis of the GOP’s long history of drawing on white grievances (which I actually think includes other majority status groups, such as Christians, males and even heterosexuals) to win political power. He also, rightly in my view, explains the Democrats inadequate response to this–specifically, either decrying and condemning racism too broadly or ignores racism, focusing on popular policies.

    Lopez does offer a third option–namely, a message that identifies racism as a way for some to employ a divide-and-conquer strategy.

    I’ll try to say more about this message as well as disagreements I had with the piece.


    Here are some areas of disagreements or at problems that I saw in the piece:

    First, Lopez describes an interesting project where he evaluated responses to GOP language that could fall under the category of dog-whistles. Here are some examples Lopez cited:

    It advocated “fully funding the police, so our communities are not threatened by people who refuse to follow our laws,” and declared that “our leaders must prioritize keeping us safe” and that “taking a second look at China, or illegal immigration from places overrun with drugs and criminal gangs, is just common sense.”

    Unsurprisingly, white responded favorably to this, but African-Americans responded positively to a similar degree and Latinos responded even more favorably. What confuses me is the following sentence, in relation to this date:

    …the overwhelming majority of voters—including majorities of Latinos and African Americans—interpret racial dog whistles not as bald racism but as common sense.There’s good evidence the race-class fusion story works. In focus groups and poll testing I and others have done over the last three years, we’ve probed the power of race-class narratives like this one: “we need to pull together no matter our race or ethnicity. We have done this before and can do it again. But instead of uniting us, certain politicians make divisions worse, insulting and blaming different groups. When they divide us, they can more easily rig our government and the economy for their wealthy campaign donors. When we come together by rejecting racism against anyone, we can elect new leaders who support proven solutions that help all working families.”

    In my view, Lopez ignores the substantive factors that divide groups not only on racial lines, but lines involving religion, sex, and gender. Specifically, majority status groups feel anxious and angry at the perceived loss in their status. They direct these feelings towards the minority status groups who are becoming more prominent and influential. As Lopez alludes to, Democrats are also targets of animosity because they welcome and even attempt to hasten these changes, while also demonizing those who struggle with these changes. My sense is that this has to be addressed in order for the race-class fusion story to fully resonate.

  15. An NYT book review of Of Men and Boys by Richard Reeves made me think immediately of this topic, especially these two quotes:

    But I was struck by the theme of demoralization that wafts through the book. Reeves talked to men in Kalamazoo about why women were leaping ahead. The men said that women are just more motivated, work harder, plan ahead better. Yet this is not a matter of individual responsibility. There is something in modern culture that is producing an aspiration gap.

    (Note: The reviews cites a variety of a ways women, as a group, have made advances in terms of education and economics, while men seem to be losing ground, relatively speaking.)


    I come away with the impression that many men are like what Dean Acheson said about Britain after World War II. They have lost an empire but not yet found a role. Many men have an obsolete ideal: Being a man means being the main breadwinner for your family. Then they can’t meet that ideal. Demoralization follows.

    Ambition doesn’t just happen; it has to be fired. The culture is still searching for a modern masculine ideal.

    Women’s education and finances have improved, while men seem to be slipping. Our culture struggles to give men a new identity that will allow them to thrive in today’s world. Both seem like factors that could lead to grievance and resentment at women–at least for some men. Among these men, the appeal of people like Donald Trump is easy to see. And for me, I do think this provides a plausible explanation of non-white males supporting Trump.

    Besides finding a male identity that can help males thrive (which is a long-term goal), helping males who feel demoralized–or better yet, helping them succeed in school and in the workplace–seems like not only the right thing to do, but also something that can reduce the threat of Trumpism.

  16. How Donald Trump appeals to men secretly insecure about their manhood, analysis by Eric Knowles and Sarah DiMuccio, printed in WaPo

    I take the research with a grain of salt, but it’s worth noting.

    One interesting finding, which bumps against my claim in the previous post:

    Notably, fragile masculinity was unrelated to support for female candidates in the 2018 elections, once we accounted for the fact that female candidates are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans. It therefore appears that fragile masculinity doesn’t reduce support for female candidates but rather increases support for Republican candidates of any gender.

    (emphasis added)

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