Trump voters think 8 and maybe 9 of these 11 people cut in line…. (More)

“You read my mind”

Sociology professor Arlie Russell Hochschild wanted to understand the Tea Party, so she spent five years “visiting” with 60 Tea Party supporters in Louisiana. She wrote a book about what she learned – Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right – and adapted it in this must-read article at Mother Jones. You should read the entire article, but squirrels like things in nutshells and she offers one:

What the people I interviewed were drawn to was not necessarily the particulars of these theories. It was the deep story underlying them – an account of life as it feels to them. Some such account underlies all beliefs, right or left, I think. The deep story of the right goes like this:

You are patiently standing in the middle of a long line stretching toward the horizon, where the American Dream awaits. But as you wait, you see people cutting in line ahead of you. Many of these line-cutters are black – beneficiaries of affirmative action or welfare. Some are career-driven women pushing into jobs they never had before. Then you see immigrants, Mexicans, Somalis, the Syrian refugees yet to come. As you wait in this unmoving line, you’re being asked to feel sorry for them all. You have a good heart. But who is deciding who you should feel compassion for? Then you see President Barack Hussein Obama waving the line-cutters forward. He’s on their side. In fact, isn’t he a line-cutter too? How did this fatherless black guy pay for Harvard? As you wait your turn, Obama is using the money in your pocket to help the line-cutters. He and his liberal backers have removed the shame from taking. The government has become an instrument for redistributing your money to the undeserving. It’s not your government anymore; it’s theirs.

I checked this distillation with those I interviewed to see if this version of the deep story rang true. Some altered it a bit (“the line-waiters form a new line”) or emphasized a particular point (those in back are paying for the line-cutters). But all of them agreed it was their story. One man said, “I live your analogy.” Another said, “You read my mind.”

In other words, at least 8 of the 11 people in this article’s lead photo – the six women and the black man, fifth from the right – cut in line. And the guy in the red shirt looks kinda Hispanic, so he may be a line-cutter too.

How do Tea Party supporters know that? Because in the Good Old Days – before school desegregation and the Civil Rights Act and all that Liberal Tyranny – the two (or maybe three) white guys would have been at the front of the line … and everyone else would be behind them.

“Relief from a taker’s shame”

This is not “small government conservatism,” Hochschild found, or at least not the kind that ‘mainstream’ conservative pundits write and talk about. That brand of conservatism shames those who receive government help, unless that help comes as tax breaks for the rich and subsidies for agribusiness and oil companies. In the Beltway conservative worldview, those people and businesses earned government’s support, by virtue of being rich, as former Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) explained back in 2011:

Speaking at a town hall meeting last weekend in his home state of Florida, Stearns displayed a very sketchy grasp on how subsidies should work, explaining to Climate Progress that incentives should be given to mature companies, not early-stage companies.

“When somebody is successful, then you give them the subsidies and the tax credit,” explained Stearns, talking to Climate Progress.

And even Beltway conservatives – like the folks who write at the National Review – don’t hold “small government” as a universal principle. It’s fine if government dictates women’s health care or checks birth certificates and genitalia at bathroom doors. Or maybe that’s just government small enough to fit in your underwear.

The point is, Beltway conservatives love to shame ordinary people who need help. While Speaker Paul Ryan kinda-sorta apologized for his 2012 “makers and takers” rhetoric, his new budget still slashes programs that help the working poor, lest that safety net become a “hammock.”

But Hochschild found Trump’s supporters don’t mind government help … so long as it goes to the ‘right’ people:

Trump, the King of Shame, has covertly come to the rescue. He has shamed virtually every line-cutting group in the Deep Story – women, people of color, the disabled, immigrants, refugees. But he’s hardly uttered a single bad word about unemployment insurance, food stamps, or Medicaid, or what the tea party calls “big government handouts,” for anyone – including blue-collar white men.

In this feint, Trump solves a white male problem of pride. Benefits? If you need them, okay. He masculinizes it. You can be “high energy” macho – and yet may need to apply for a government benefit. As one auto mechanic told me, “Why not? Trump’s for that. If you use food stamps because you’re working a low-wage job, you don’t want someone looking down their nose at you.” A lady at an after-church lunch said, “If you have a young dad who’s working full time but can’t make it, if you’re an American-born worker, can’t make it, and not having a slew of kids, okay. For any conservative, that is fine.”

But in another stroke, Trump adds a key proviso: restrict government help to real Americans. White men are counted in, but undocumented Mexicans and Muslims and Syrian refugees are out. Thus, Trump offers the blue-collar white men relief from a taker’s shame: If you make America great again, how can you not be proud?

Trump supporters think welfare programs are fine, so long as they’re limited to Real Americans™ – white men and their families. You know, the people who’ll “make America great again.”

But don’t call them racist or sexist….


Photo Credit: Tetra Images via Getty Images


Good day and good nuts