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Identity Politics Of Deepest Trumpistan

A blogger named unagidon at the liberal Catholic magazine Commonweal has a short reflection [1]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.


117 Comments (Open | Close)

117 Comments To "Identity Politics Of Deepest Trumpistan"

#1 Comment By mrscracker On September 21, 2016 @ 9:21 am

JonF :

…But it’s been said more than one here: Trump is NOT really the candidate of poor white people. He is the candidate of middle class white people who are doing OK, but who are afraid they (or their children) won’t be. ”
I think Donald Trump is foremost the candidate of Donald Trump-or at least the invention of Donald Trump.
I live in one of the regions of the US with a currently shrinking economy-unlike Lake Charles-but I see Trump signs & bumper stickers everywhere. I saw several Bernie Sanders stickers months ago & exactly one bumper sticker so far for Hillary. But that will probably change in the weeks to come.

#2 Comment By Elijah On September 21, 2016 @ 9:22 am

“Let’s have a small experiment: Germany invades Israel & bombs civilian infrastructure at random and kills a few thousand civilians prior to imposing a puppet government on it and let’s see how long it takes before Jewish terrorism on German soil becomes an issue.”

You just made the case for us to be suspicious of immigrants from the middle east.

I agree that this “white identity’ stuff is a load of mule fritters. But far too many people thing that because whites had a position of privilege for so long, they need to be punished, or at least put in a position where blacks hold that same position. It’s that endless game of trying to balance a racial scale which never ends. It never works either, but it makes a pig’s breakfast of a lot of lives.

#3 Comment By Pepi On September 21, 2016 @ 10:31 am

Several who commented said that there are “white identity issues” that are not anti-minority and several others asked for specific examples. We still haven’t seen anyone post in response to those requests. Is anyone going to step up to the plate?

#4 Comment By mrscracker On September 21, 2016 @ 10:51 am

Pepi says:

Several who commented said that there are “white identity issues” that are not anti-minority and several others asked for specific examples. We still haven’t seen anyone post in response to those requests. Is anyone going to step up to the plate?”
I thought I might have done that earlier mentioning the Cajuns.

#5 Comment By Eamus Catuli On September 21, 2016 @ 11:19 am


Are you seriously trying to tell us that the alt-right is an existential threat worthy of repeated public denunciations, but that radical Islam is bogeyman of Trump’s invention to attack ethnics?

True, radical Islam is certainly not Trump’s invention. But Clinton doesn’t support it. She was part of an administration that fought it on various fronts, over your objections, apparently.

Trump, on the other hand, does appear to support the alt-right. He and his genius kid borrow its rhetoric and re-tweet its memes. It’s the Democratic candidate’s job to point this out and make clear what’s wrong with it. That’s not about Clinton as such; if Bernie were the nominee, it would equally well be his job to do these things.

Furthermore, Islamist radicalism is principally based abroad. Sure, we should vet people entering the US and Europe to screen for terrorist inclinations, and we should of course deploy law enforcement resources to track down and thwart people in the West who commit crimes or might be planning attacks. Again, Clinton has not opposed doing those things.

But the alt-right is a domestic movement. It is part of the US political scene. It is a candidate’s and a party’s job to make clear its position vis-a-vis other political actors and claimants who are appealing for support from the same citizens and voters. The alt-right is among those. Making clear the Democrats’ position toward such movements means drawing sharp contrasts where necessary. By the same token, it is Donald Trump’s job to criticize and draw contrasts with movements he and/or his party oppose, like (apparently) Black Lives Matter. He would be a better candidate if he had the discipline to stick to this job and not keep getting distracted.

As to defending Clinton, I let lots and lots of the stupider libels against her here pass without comment. They’re not worth my time, and in addition, though I’m OK with Clinton, I’ve never been enthusiastic about her. But I’m unenthusiastic in the say way the Churchill was unenthusiastic about democracy: “the worst political system there is, except for all the others.” Clinton is the worst 2016 major-party nominee there is, except for all the others.

#6 Comment By VikingLs On September 21, 2016 @ 2:13 pm


Clinton as Secretary of State funnelled guns and money to the Free Syrian Army long after it was clear they were using terror tactics against unarmed civilians, her actions in Libya left it wide open as a base for terrorism in North Africa. So yes, if that’s what you consider fighting terrorism, I objected to it. You should have objected to it too, it was reckless and one of many examples of Clinton’s poor judgement.

Most people, normal people, did not know the Alt-Right was even a thing a few months ago. The alt-right isn’t setting bombs at marathons or attacking people at malls. It isn’t showing up a night clubs massacring gay people.

Islamic terrorism is a global movement and we’ve had multiple attacks in the US just this year. That’s a domestic threat.

Pretty much the worst thing the alt-right does is harass people on Twitter. Now that’s obnoxious behavior but acting as if this is an existential threat to the nation really only makes sense if you need your constituents to be afraid of someone.

You say that you’re unenthusiastic about her, yet you bend yourself into knots like the one above to defend her, or to attack Trump. (For example, you still don’t seem to be able to grasp the difference between wanting to fight ISIS and wanting to fight ISIS and Assad, and Russia.)

The thing is I’m pretty sure you DO grasp these things and you DO understand my point about Clinton’s use of what’s essentially a manufactured threat, but you’re being a good soldier for the Democrats pretending otherwise.

#7 Comment By Eamus Catuli On September 21, 2016 @ 3:46 pm

@Viking, I don’t think the Dems would consider me a very good soldier. I don’t do any work for them, and it’s been a very long time since I sent them any money, for instance. I’ve done more actual work for the British Labour Party than I’ve done for them, and I’m not even British.

But Clinton’s the Democratic nominee, and despite her faults and mistakes, she’s a vastly better potential president than Donald Trump, who came into the race knowing basically nothing about public policy, and with no experience of the challenges involved in making it, and who seems unable or unwilling even to try to learn.

To see them as more nearly equal, I would have to believe that when Trump was [2], for instance, that somehow if he had been in charge at that moment, his execution of such a policy would have gone off as brilliantly as he imagines. In fact, he would have been sticking his foot into a quagmire, just as our actual leaders did, and would have made plenty of mistakes — maybe the same ones, maybe others of his own. At least I see no reason to suppose otherwise. He has no record we can look to that would show that he’s a better executive decision-maker than they are.

It’s utterly clear at this point that Trump is [3] and even [4], so any contrast there might have been between him and Clinton in this area is, at best, rather muted. He also wants to unleash the big banks; he wants high-end tax cuts and an estate tax (or lack thereof) that would benefit only the very rich; and he has been warming up to the Paul Ryan budget, so he’s no longer even talking about safeguarding Social Security and Medicare as he had been earlier. He issues regular threats against the press and seems surprised to have only recently learned what the First Amendment means.

Basically, Trump has gradually become a standard-issue Republican, but with additional elements of demagoguery, erratic behavior and occasional racism, and without the charm or the great hair. It takes no tying of anything in knots to see all this as worse than the alternative; in fact it’s a very easy, straightforward call.

As to the alt-right, I really don’t follow you. Clinton is trying to assemble a coalition of voters who oppose that kind of thing. So she points out what’s objectionable about them. She didn’t say they kill people. She hasn’t called for throwing them in prison (a courtesy her opponents don’t extend to her), and AFAIK, she hasn’t said they’re worse than radical Islam. Nor is that necessary; it’s not a competition. It’s apples and oranges — or I should say, rotten apples and rotten oranges. We don’t have to pick: you can point out that the one is rotten without denying that the other is too.

I suspect that what’s really at issue here is that you, yourself, happen to like them oranges. Well, I of course don’t.

#8 Comment By Eamus Catuli On September 21, 2016 @ 4:30 pm

Also, @Viking, the point about the alt-right being a domestic movement and radical Islam foreign-based is not there are no Islamist radicals physically in the United States. It’s that radical Islam has no champions in mainstream politics — there’s no “Radical Islamist Party,” there are no candidates in the Democratic or Republican parties promoting the ideals of ISIS, or borrowing their rhetoric, or re-tweeting their tweets, or hiring their ideologues as campaign managers.

But one major-party nominee is cozying up to the alt-right in all those ways, and his victory would greatly help to bring them into the political mainstream. That’s a prospect on which the two candidates differ much more sharply than they differ over radical Islam, so naturally it’s going to be a subject of speeches and debates between the two campaigns. Election campaigns are about choices, so of course they tend to focus on the matters over which the parties and candidates disagree.

#9 Comment By Pepi On September 21, 2016 @ 9:14 pm

mrscracker says: I thought I might have done that earlier mentioning the Cajuns.

What you said was “Cajuns seem to be able to preserve their identity and culture pretty well and even market it for tourism.”

How is that a “white identity” political issue that does not have anti-minority impact? There is no political issue and Cajuns are a very small part of the white population.

I would really like to hear about specific white identity issues as described in various comments.

#10 Comment By mrscracker On September 22, 2016 @ 7:05 am

Perhaps I didn’t understand your question but Cajuns are a very large part of the region they live in and they’ve fought successfully to preserve their identity. Politicians running for election know to use a little Cajun French in their campaign speeches and commercials.
Public French emersion schools and Cajun cultural centers would have been inconceivable years ago when children were punished for speaking French in school. Cajuns fighting for their identity is what made the difference and it’s still a political issue.
I’m not aware that there is an anti minority impact. Black folks in the Cajun area speak French, too. At least the older ones. And as far as “minority”
I guess the demographics are close to 50/50.

#11 Comment By Pepi On September 22, 2016 @ 9:52 am


There are local cultures all over the country with various aspects preserved. That doesn’t make them ISSUES.

Issues are topics that are important to broad groups of the population, enough so that they are influential in voting decisions. So my question is what “white identity” issues are there at the national level that don’t have anti-minority impact?

#12 Comment By mrscracker On September 22, 2016 @ 10:14 am

PS: Here’s an example of a white identity group getting its own “prestige” car tags & drivers licenses to preserve their language & identity. There may be other folks in different parts of the country- Irish perhaps ?- doing stuff like this as well but the Cajuns stand out for their tenacity:

“Proud Cajuns can let the world know how they feel about their heritage with new prestige license plates that went on sale Tuesday to raise money for French immersion programs in the state.

The new license plate reads “I’m Cajun … and Proud” and features an image of a crawfish crawling over an accordion with a fleur-de-lis in the background…Mills backed a related bill in this year’s session that allows drivers to have “I’m a Cajun” printed on their drivers license for an annual fee of $5, with those proceeds also supporting CODOFIL.”

(There’s an alternative tag that reads ” I’m Creole & Proud”)

#13 Comment By Pepi On September 22, 2016 @ 2:40 pm

That’s great that Cajuns are proud. However, a white sub-group culture is not the same thing as an election or political issue.

#14 Comment By mrscracker On September 22, 2016 @ 2:46 pm

Pepi says:

There are local cultures all over the country with various aspects preserved. That doesn’t make them ISSUES.

Issues are topics that are important to broad groups of the population, enough so that they are influential in voting decisions.”
In the Cajun parts of Louisiana they are a broad part of the population & anything that affects/threatens their identity, culture & especially the French language *is* an issue in voting decisions. Trust me. They had to fight hard for it.
I don’t know how that expands on a federal level, but in local & state politics it sure does. Any politician ignorant of Cajun history doesn’t stand a chance come election time.

#15 Comment By JonF On September 22, 2016 @ 3:29 pm

Cajun, Pole, Greek, Irish, etc. etc are all valid ethnic identities in ways that “white” is not, (Heck, I even once saw a bumper sticker that read “You’re not much if you’re not Dutch”)

#16 Comment By VikingLS On September 23, 2016 @ 1:54 am


Look, if we go back far enough in these posts we can find you preemptively telling us that it’s ridiculous to suggest that Clinton is as bad as any of the Republican candidates and that she had learned her lesson from Iraq, and then becoming very angry when I pointed out that her actions in Libya showed in fact she hadn’t. Don’t try and kid us that you’re not a loyal Democrat and that you’re not just defending your team.

Do I like Trump? Well he doesn’t seem enthusiastic about Cold War 2.0. So I like that, and that puts him ahead of most politicians in either party. I’m old enough to remember what the first Cold War was like, and I know enough about Russia vs the Soviet Union to know how unnecessary all of this is. I am not remotely sorry about that.

Now, let’s be honest. I think you are liar. You know I think you’re a liar. I think you know perfectly well that I’m right that what Clinton has does is cynical threat inflation in regards to the alt-right and that they’re never going to be much more than a bunch of twitter trolls. There is no way for me to get you to admit that though.

#17 Comment By Chris Travers On September 23, 2016 @ 10:25 am

The problem with the Alt-Right is that the worst of their ideas are taken for granted by the Left.

Take Jared Tayler’s idea that blacks are better athletes and whites are better at building livable societies. This idea may be wrong and rightfully vilified but it is often vilified by the same people pushing a Eurocentric view of human rights and economics on the entire world. In other words, nobody hates the alt-right as much as those who don’t want anyone to know how much real agreement they have with that group.