Since President Trump’s election victory, we’ve heard experts proclaiming that it was Trump’s blue collar appeal that led him to the win. Free trade left Americans in rust belt states behind; Trump promised to quash that free trade. Government subsidies went only to areas beyond the horizon; Trump promised to bring them back. A solid mix of Democratic redistributionism and protectionism brought these voters home.
But now a new study says that the real reason so many white blue collar workers went for Trump had nothing to do with their Hillbilly Elegy economic status. Instead, the data show that these voters were simply alienated by the cultural myopia of Democrats, who have focused on an intersectionality-laden definition of American politics, labeling straight white men the bad guy in their bizarre morality play. According to PRRI/The Atlantic, a new model has been developed to measure the five most significant factors leading to support for Trump among white working-class voters. The first was obvious: identification with the Republican Party.
The second was fear of cultural displacement — the data showed that “white working-class voters who say they often feel like a stranger in their own land and believe the U.S. needs protecting against foreign influence were 3.5 times more likely to favor Trump than those who did not share these concerns.” This is where the Democratic Party has truly gone off the rails. By trotting out Hollywood celebrities who deride flyover America as a bunch of Bible-thumping simpletons, more and more Americans feel alienated inside their own country — and no Lena Dunham speeches and Laverne Cox diatribes will reverse that. In fact, the more Dunham and Cox are thrust to the fore by the Democrats, the more people will vote Republican in Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
The third factor: support for deporting immigrants living in the country illegally. Voters who supported deportation were “3.3 times more likely to express a preference for Trump than those who did not.” This was Ann Coulter’s thesis, and it was correct: people feel that the culture is changing in the United States not only due to the acidic effect of leftism, but due to the Left’s overt desire to change American culture through unfettered immigration without concern for assimilation. Workers in Ohio aren’t all that concerned about losing their jobs to illegal immigrants, but they are concerned about losing their country to people coming from lands that do not share the same basic values.
The fourth factor: disdain for higher education. Again, this is a cultural hallmark, not an economic one. According to PRRI, “White working-class voters who said that college education is a gamble were almost twice as likely to express a preference for Trump as those who said it was an important investment in the future.” That has less to do with people disdaining an engineering degree than people seeing that liberal colleges have become breeding grounds for anti-American “globalism” and anti-traditionalism.
The notion that these blue collar workers were deeply concerned with trade and subsidies is belied by the fact that the fifth factor evaluated, economic hardship, actually correlated in reverse fashion with Trump voting: “being in fair or poor financial shape actually predicted support among white working-class Americans, rather than support for Donald Trump.” These people — the people the media have suggested were completely taken in by Trump’s man of the people shtick — were actually 1.7 times more likely to support Clinton.
All of which suggests that the call from “moderate” Republicans to embrace Democratic economics is a fools’ errand, and that dumping the Reagan combination of social conservatism and free markets won’t actually guarantee a winning combination in the rust belt. Trumpism is less about Trump than about rejection of Obamaism and Clintonism. And that’s a good thing for conservatism and America.