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Identity Politics Of Deepest Trumpistan

Some folks didn't get the identity politics memo (mikeledray / Shutterstock.com)

A blogger named unagidon at the liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal has a short reflection on Arlie Russell Hochschild’s new book about white voters in a southwest Louisiana parish. Hochschild set out to figure out why these white people vote against their interests (in her view). Here’s what unagidon says:

What interested me about the book is that I come from an urban version of the same place.  I’m a working class boy.  When I was growing up, everyone’s aspiration was to become the supervisor or the detective.  If college entered the picture (and I was the first on either side of my family to go) then becoming a teacher or an accountant became possible.  Most of my family consider themselves conservative.  Since I know them all well, I’ve never considered them as stupid or even misguided.  So why Trump? And why now?

Unagidon takes a quote from the book from one of its subjects, then comments:

At first reading, a quote like this might look like what is going on here is simply racism.  These people are white people afraid that they are becoming a minority in the United States and that they are going to lose their privileged status.  However, I would argue that behind this is a belief that there is a finite set of resources available to the government that are not being allocated to them in the proportions that they deserve.  Their judgement of what those proportions could be skewed by racial beliefs.  Or it could be skewed by the simple fact that they don’t see their own communities and issues being addressed.  (Remember that Liberals tend to speak of blacks, gays, immigrants, Mexicans, Somalis, and the Syrian refugees yet to come as communities as well).  When these conservatives identify themselves as communities, based on race, religion, history, region, or almost anything else, they are mocked by the Left (who they see as running the government and the media) as backward, primitive, rednecks, hillbillies, etc.  And they feel insulted.

Trump is appealing to these people.

Unagidon continues:

We have to recognize that everyone has their own interest; that they feel part of their own community; that they see their communities as different from other communities…

If you’re not familiar with Commonweal, I should point out to you that it is very much not a pro-Trump magazine. Unagidon says it’s a shame that these people are turning to Trump to speak for them, but he (unagidon) makes a very good point here about white identity and the Left. I hate identity politics, but I really hate the double standard many on the Left have when it comes to practicing them. Trump is bad news for the country, for sure, but I don’t understand why it is considered normal and defensible for blacks, or gays, or Hispanics, to vote for Hillary because they perceive it to be in their interest as blacks, gays, Hispanics, etc. — but wicked for whites to do the same thing.


about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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