The Angry White Male Caucus

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/opinion/kavanaugh-white-male-privilege.html

Trumpism is all about the fear of losing traditional privilege.

By Paul Krugman
Oct. 1, 2018

When Matt Damon did his Brett Kavanaugh imitation on “Saturday Night Live,” you could tell that he nailed it before he said a word. It was all about the face — that sneering, rage-filled scowl. Kavanaugh didn’t sound like a judge at his Senate hearing last week, let alone a potential Supreme Court justice; he didn’t even manage to look like one.

But then again, Lindsey Graham, who went through the hearing with pretty much the same expression on his face, didn’t look much like a senator, either.

There have been many studies of the forces driving Trump support, and in particular the rage that is so pervasive a feature of the MAGA movement. What Thursday’s hearing drove home, however, was that white male rage isn’t restricted to blue-collar guys in diners. It’s also present among people who’ve done very well in life’s lottery, whom you would normally consider very much part of the elite.

In other words, hatred can go along with high income, and all too often does.

At this point there’s overwhelming evidence against the “economic anxiety” hypothesis — the notion that people voted for Donald Trump because they had been hurt by globalization. In fact, people who were doing well financially were just as likely to support Trump as people who were doing badly.

What distinguished Trump voters was, instead, racial resentment. Furthermore, this resentment was and is driven not by actual economic losses at the hands of minority groups, but by fear of losing status in a changing country, one in which the privilege of being a white man isn’t what it used to be.

And here’s the thing: It’s perfectly possible for a man to lead a comfortable, indeed enviable life by any objective standard, yet be consumed with bitterness driven by status anxiety.

You might think that this is impossible, that having a good job and a comfortable life would inoculate someone against envy and hatred. That is, you might think that if you knew nothing of human nature and the world.

I’ve spent my whole adult life in rarefied academic circles, where everyone has a good income and excellent working conditions. Yet I know many people in that world who are seething with resentment because they aren’t at Harvard or Yale, or who actually are at Harvard or Yale but are seething all the same because they haven’t received a Nobel Prize.

And this sort of high-end resentment, the anger of highly privileged people who nonetheless feel that they aren’t privileged enough or that their privileges might be eroded by social change, suffuses the modern conservative movement.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/01/opinion/kavanaugh-white-male-privilege.html

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