Seen through the lens of politics, the rise of Donald Trump as candidate for president of the United States doesn’t make sense. It’s more comprehensible when seen as a class struggle.
Contrary to popular opinion, Trump support is strong among liberal voters. A poll by a ABC/Washington Post poll found that 17 per cent of the most conservative voters supported Trump; for somewhat conservative voters it was 24 per cent; and among moderate-to-liberal voters, 27 per cent supported him reports Doug Saunders in the Globe and Mail.
The collateral damage of this class struggle is the Republican Party which faces an existential problem. Republicans lost the last election because of lack of support from visible minorities. Trump’s bombast is driving even more of them away. It’s a losing strategy for Republicans which threatens to hollow out the party.
Trump supporters represent an inarticulate howl from a particular underclass called, for lack of a better term, the Disaffected.
The Pew Research Center defines the Disaffected as mostly male, overwhelmingly white, and especially lacking in education. Bewilderingly, they are lukewarm to the very welfare that they depend on.
“Disaffecteds are only moderate supporters of government welfare and assistance to the poor. They strongly oppose immigration as well as regulatory and environmental policies on the grounds that government is ineffective and such measures cost jobs.” Eighty per cent of them said immigrants “are a burden on our country” nearly double the rate of the general American public.
The Disaffected class go with the political flow. In 2004 they tended to vote for George Bush. By 2005 they were mostly independent. In 2008 and 2012 they voted for Barack Obama. Now they mostly belong to Donald Trump.
With many liberals among the Disaffected, you would think that the Democratic Party would be in trouble as well. But many support the overtly socialist candidate Bernie Sanders. At the heart of this class uprising seeks retribution for perceived injustice.
More than ideology, what they recognize is an outraged voice. The pack recognizes the baying of kin.
The Disaffected are against integration because it failed them. From the rust belts of America, they peer out at better educated, more entrepreneurial, often Muslim immigrants getting what they feel is rightfully theirs. Saunders elaborates:
“It is perhaps easiest to understand the Disaffecteds as a case of failed integration. As the children and grandchildren of the old postwar U.S. white industrial working class, they have followed a trajectory, and fallen into ways of thinking, that are strikingly similar to those of some unsuccessful low-income immigrant groups in Europe: a low educational-attainment rate, lack of entrepreneurial success, reverse social mobility across generations, a tendency to self-segregate into ethnic enclaves and self-policed neighbourhoods, and, now, an increasing tendency to vote for extremist politics.”
When America was great, in the minds of the Disaffected, they could leave high school and get a well-paying factory job for life. It was no accident that destroyed their life style: it was by design.
American politicians since President Reagan have purposely abandoned U.S. factory jobs. Under the sway of libertarians (Stephen Harper was a disciple), the jobs of the Disaffected were sent overseas.
America is now experiencing the blowback from the betrayal of an underclass.