Thursday, January 11, 2018

Republicans got to have someone to hate

Thomas Edsall offers this chart as support for the contention of Daron Acemoglu of M.I.T. and Pascual Restrepo of Boston University that the move among white working class males (non-college educated) to Trump in 2016 correlates with areas where Chinese competition and industrial robots have trashed their jobs.

Some part of the swing almost certainly can be accounted for that way. But what jumps out to me is that shifts among white working class males to the Republicans also, and even particularly, correlate with overt expressions of white racism by Republican presidential candidates. Come on, folks -- Reagan always worked for the white supremacist vote, launching his first campaign at the Neshoba Country Fair in Mississippi with a "states' rights" speech. In 1984, his theme was "Morning in America," an only slightly less blatant racist dogwhistle than Trump's "Make America Great Again."

George W. Bush might seem an exception -- except that he too ran hard against a marginalized outgroup: in Bush's case that group was LGBT people. (That backfired quite satisfactorily didn't it? White working class males sometimes have queer children and they like marriage ...) As the working class becomes more brown, the present GOP strategy will also backfire, if we can preserve enough democracy to make people's preferences felt.

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