Voting Against Economic Interests

I’ve been curious about why many angry or fearful white Americans — the core of Trump’s base — vote against their economic interests. This analysis makes sense to me.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/12/31/trump-white-working-class-history-216200

“Are working-class white voters shooting themselves in the foot by making common cause with a political movement that is fundamentally inimical to their economic self-interest? In exchange for policies like the new tax bill, which several nonpartisan analyses conclude will lower taxes on the wealthy and raise them for the working class, did they really just settle for a wall that will likely never be built, a rebel yell for Confederate monuments most of them will never visit, and the hollow validation of a disappearing world in which white was up and brown and black were down?

If they did accept that bargain, why? Or are we missing something? Might working-class whites in fact derive some tangible advantage from their bargain with Trump? Is it really so irrational to care more about, say, illegal immigration than marginal income tax rates?”

What white working class voters are getting by supporting Trump is an elevation of the benefits that accrue in our society by virtue of being white: preferences in housing, in employment, in access of all kinds. Plus, Trump’s elevation of whiteness delivers other, less tangible benefits:

“Of course, whiteness still delivers other dividends—as it always has. It makes one less likely to be killed by a police officer during a traffic stop. It enables white men to carry assault weapons (including long guns) in places of public accommodation, while a black man might be shot and killed by law enforcement officials merely for picking up a BB gun displayed on a sales rack at Walmart. It affords working-class white families the peace of mind that the government won’t invade homes or hospitals in pursuit of undocumented children or grandparents. Whiteness, in other words, continues to pay tangible benefits, and for right or wrong, it makes some sense that its primary beneficiaries are loathe to support candidates who expressly promise to disrupt this privileged status.”

Click on the link for the full article. It’s on the long side, but well worth reading. Trump voters are voting for white privilege, plain and simple.

2 thoughts on “Voting Against Economic Interests

  1. Reminds me of the book, What’s the Matter with Kansas. It was published in 2005. Of course, they sadly found out what was wrong when they tried those principles. It led to a disaster.

    Can’t find a blog to add this. I get notification from the WAPO and the NYTimes all day. First Sessions and marijuana – so much for the party of state’s rights and then opening up the Arctic and other coastal regions to oil drilling, despite the opposition of the Pentagon and those governors and then cutting aid to Pakistan despite warnings from State and Israel (Israel !!!)
    WHAT CAN WE DO?

  2. for Ada: Gear up for the 2018 elections. Give money. Support Democratic candidates. I have no sense that Republicans will do anything. What now horrifies us about Trump was visible in the campaign, and Republicans voted for him anyway. We need a change of power in Congress in order to do anything about Trump.

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