The Donald Trump phenomenon may be waning but that doesn't mean that his appeal is too. Many commentators
have pointed out that what's strange about The Donald is that he attracts many less-educated, low-income white voters even though he goes out of his way to make sure that they understand that he is not one of them. He constantly harps on how rich he is and how smart he is. Yet, instead of alienating them, he wins them.
Part of his appeal is his loud-mouthed, no-holds-barred, un-PC persona that takes no guff from establishment elites. But it's not just his style they are attracted to, I note in my column at The Week, they also dig his message.
White, working class America is in crisis. Death rates among 45 to 54 years old white men shot up from 1999 to 2004 even as they went down among Hispanics and blacks, a shocking study this week by Nobel laureate Angus Deaton and his wife Anne Case reported. And this is not due to rising car accidents or heart attacks. It is due to more suicides and addiction to prescription opiates, alcohol and heroin.
But why are white men doing this to themselves?
Ben Domenech at The Federalist points out because their prospects are bleak. The most vulnerable to the pathologies that Denton-Case identified are middle-aged white men with nothing more than a high school diploma. Thanks to intensifying competition due to globalization, well-paying jobs for their skill level are hard to find. However, disability welfare is relatively easy. The combination of the two factors prompts many of these folks to simply drop out of the workforce, all of which has a devastating impact on their marriage and psyche.
[Imagine] you are one of the millions of middle-aged unemployed white Americans with a high school degree. Having moved from unemployment benefits to disability, you receive sufficient benefits to subsist – around 1,200 dollars a month on average – and to pay for the alcohol and drugs that help you self-medicate, in addition to what your doctor has prescribed. Your life is essentially one marked by hopelessness. You are statistically unlikely to ever re-enter the workforce.
For all too many Americans in this segment of the population, the things that make life not only endurable but happy are faith, now lost to us; family, which is fractured; community, which is disintegrated; and work, which most find hard to come by. The TV screen flickers with images of people living lives you could never hope to emulate. Your situation is bleak, and while our soma is better, it is still not a replacement for the pursuit of happiness.
Enter Donald Trump brandishing both a scapegoat and a solution for your predicament.
Trump's scapegoat is the world that he insists is making a fool of America's incompetent political classes and bilking ordinary Americans of their jobs and money.
And his cure is a radical isolationism backed with a mighty military that'll strong arm China, Mexico, Europe, you name it, into doing his bidding to "Make America Great Again."
This is a coherent if false and dangerous worldview. Why? Read my column here.