Is hatred the glue that unites Trump with his supporters?

Liberals often say, even right here at SDMB, that right-wingers enjoy causing liberals to suffer; that lower-class white racists maintain life satisfaction by feeling that blacks are even worse off, and thus may even view black deprivation favorably. We often see “… and because it makes liberals angry” appended to the “arguments” by right-wingers here at SDMB.

Are these exaggerations? Strawmen? Or is the love of hatred — the sheer joy of seeing one’s opponents (or those perceived as social rivals) have pain and suffering — the “glue” that unites Trump and his supporters?

Those who vote Republican today don’t care about the Wall. They don’t really care if the price of corn or apparel goes up or down. They couldn’t care less about Russia, Syria or France and might not even be able to find those places on a map. They’re just delighted their party is finally led by a no-nonsense Hater who shares their own amygdala-based emotional outlook.

The Atlantic is the best general-interest magazine published on this side of the Atlantic. While nobody would deny it has a bias for rational progressive thought, The Atlantic has striven for intelligence and objectivity. During the first 155 years of its existence it endorsed a total of only one (1) candidate for the Presidency — a Republican. Recently it corrected even that bias; its Presidential endorsements are now tied: one R candidate and one D candidate.

Imagine my surprise, therefore, to read an opinion piece from an Atlantic Senior Editor arguing that “President Trump and his supporters find community by rejoicing in the suffering of those they hate and fear.” Read the whole article; I’ll just excerpt one paragraph.

Hate and fear, yes. And they forgot when Trump mocked the disabled reporter’s physical condition.

Well, Trump and his followers also share a deluded belief in Trump’s abilities.

Fallacy of composition.

So we’ve got [del]surprise[/del] hatred, fear, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the President, their nice red hats…

No, I believe this is mostly projection by the Left.

Or perhaps I should say

No, I believe this is mostly projection by the Left.


More fear than hatred. They see their way of life as threatened and they are correct. We’re watching the dissolution of communities at an insane rate. Stability is essentially zero at this point and they see a lot of this as due to liberal policies. Cities lost community a long time ago, but rural areas still function largely with a community dynamic. Structural changes to employment and migration combined with cultural and legislative changes to community bulwarks have knocked out two of its wheels. People who live in these areas are scared that their systems of functioning no longer work and they lay the blame at the feet of coastals and they aren’t entirely wrong. Of course, coastals don’t see it that way, they see it as providing level playing fields and protecting minority speech and culture and they are also right.

The problem is that we as a country are not able to function efficiently under the same system. A social system that works in a city does not work in a rural area. I’m from a rural area. When my father had a stroke, it took two hours for him to make it to a hospital after calling 911. Societal policing and equity before the law simply doesn’t work. In their county, there are four police officers. At any given time, only one will be on duty to cover the entire county. Having an equitable system of law is irrelevant because if something happens, it’s two hours before a single police officer shows up. To deal with this, rural areas develop strong community networks. You have to know everyone and you have to know how everyone acts. That encourages strong, homogenous social ties. That means that everyone is members of the same churches, the same organizations, the same social networks. Acting predictably and reliably are highly valued social traits, non-conformity is a problem and social pressures work to stamp it out.

People in urban areas rely more on a ‘societal social network.’ They do rely strongly on government and laws to enforce social norms. They can call the police and have them there in three minutes. It’s even something that police in urban areas record to show how efficient they are. Homogeneity is not necessary and quite frankly impractical. The transient nature of city dwelling means that you never really know your neighbors and they shift every few years. You have to learn to accept a certain degree of differences because it’s simply impossible to function otherwise. As such, their social network consists strongly of equality before the law. They want to know that they are playing by the same rules as everyone else. They also want a government that will allow their differences and since they rely so much on government they trust it more.

A stereo-typical difference between this community and society networking is if you hear two guys in a fight next door. In the city, you call the cops. In the country, you run outside and step in between them.

Because of this basic difference in their view of social networks, they view things extremely differently. Community values shared values, shared ritual, shared social norms because they need to be able to predict how those two guys fighting are going to react when they step in between them. Society values equal treatment, diversity, strong government because they need to know that when the police show up, they’ll treat everyone the same. Community views society as dangerous and society views community as oppressive. Neither is necessarily wrong, they just fail to see why these other systems exist and they fail to understand that the worst tendencies of these systems can be curbed without needing to destroy the entire structure.

So, to get to Trump, for a long time, the community structure has been under attack. Some of it has been necessary because community had gone to far and needed to be reigned in and some of it has not been necessary and while well-intentioned, it failed to account for these very necessary community structures. People who live in and really need these community structures are left in a very terrible place. Their structures for social functioning have largely been gutted, but the resources just don’t exist to replace them with societal structures, so you have them in a very dangerous limbo. They are seeing rising crime, rising drug use, real social problems that they had a structure that worked to protect them from that has been gutted by a government that they see as distant and out of touch. What Trump represents to them is a reaction to get back some of their structures and to tear down the societal structures so that people within societal social networks feel some of the pain that they feel. It’s not irrational or necessarily born of hatred, it’s really a cry of desperation.

I do think there is a substantial chunk of Trump supporters for whom hatred is a big part of why they support Trump. Look at the most recent reaction to Taylor Swift’s endorsement of Phil Bredesen in the Tennessee senate race.

I don’t think, however, that this is something created by Trump. I think that in all societies, not just in the west or in countries that are majority white, there seems to be a group of young men who are filled with hate. In the USA of 2018 this manifests as hatred of groups like homosexuals, blacks, feminists, etc. In other countries and at other times it manifests differently (the jihadists of Saudi Arabia, the young men in Russia that take part in the fight clubs that are popular in that country, the Islamists in Mali that destroyed cultural artifacts in Timbuktu, the Nazi hatred of Jews, the Japanese treatment of Koreans back in the day, etc.). I think the common factor is young men who seem to be filled with hate and feel a need to attack “the other”, whoever that might be in their particular society.

senoy brilliant post! But don’t go calling Chicagoans coastals.

This is another aspect, which helps explain the rural = red and urban = blue divide that we have. What I don’t understand about this explanation is why the rural red voters blame the blue urban politicians. The problems in rural America didn’t come about because of liberal politicians supporting equality for homosexuals and transgender people. Those problems didn’t come about because of BLM wanting stricter oversight of corrupt cops. AFAICT BLM has protested major PDs like the Dallas, Baltimore, and Chicago PD, as well as suburban PDs in places like Balch Springs and Ferguson. They don’t protest against the rural police or sheriff departments in rural Wyoming (at least they haven’t yet as far as I know). The problems of rural America, to the extent they can be blamed on immigrants, are also due in much larger part to Republican politicians than Democratic politicians. If Republican politicians supported a higher minimum wage and stronger enforcement on penalties against employers of undocumented workers then people in rural areas would have better jobs, but it’s Republicans who support the employers who want lower pay and who hire undocumented immigrants under the table, not Democrats. I could go on and on about how the policies supported by Republicans are what hurt rural America more than the policies supported by the Democrats.

Edited to add. I’m not criticizing your conclusions, just trying to understand why the rural voters seem to place the blame on Democratic politicians. From my perspective it’s Republican policies that have caused the problem, not Democratic policies.

Do 100% of Trump supporters fit the stereotype of haters? Of course not; and only willful misconstruction would suggest otherwise.

Does a shared amygdala-based cognition emphasizing hatred, disgust and fear help explain why many millions of Americans support a man who is obviously racist, sexist, and eager to make jokes at the expense of the downtrodden? I think so and so does Adam Serwar. The fact that Trumpists at SDMB, a board supposedly noted for intelligent discourse, often append “and because I like to make liberals mad” to their “arguments” confirms this thesis.

I think Serwar’s essay finally explains a great mystery: Why do so many Americans support this obviously despicable man?

Perhaps Bullitt has some argument against Serwar’s thesis, but that he can only come up with the trite “Fallacy of composition” suggests to me that he does not.

The false dichotomy of these gross generalizations is what Trump and many others before him have been exploiting. It’s nothing new.

The real glue is their gullibility in believing the narrative of the dichotomy, and believing that Trump actually gives a shit about them, or will do shit to help them.

I don’t think the majority of Trump supporters are haters, but I do think the majority of haters are Trump supporters. To preempt the objection that I’m sure Trump supporters will bring up, I don’t consider what I’ll call “self defense hating” as making someone a hater. Let’s say person A says “I hate gay people” and person B, a gay person, responds by saying “I hate person A because they hate me.” Person A counts as a hater, person B does not.

In the beginning, they didn’t. Rural areas were reliably Democratic. We know about the Civil Rights era and what it did to the south (and the south let’s not kid ourselves largely shifted over racism), but it doesn’t explain the shift in say rural New York or Michigan which have traditionally been pro-civil rights. What happened was that after the Civil Rights era, Democratic politicians began to seize on that momentum to push further Civil Rights legislation and Republicans were quick to paint themselves as upholders of tradition. I think what really started to push rural Democrats into Republicans were the attacks on religion. Notably Engel v Vitale and the end of prayer in schools. I think this is where you first start to see this idea that the left was not just about doing its own thing, but actively preventing other people from doing theirs. It was really the first time we see the left actively attacking community structures and once it was won, it encouraged further pushing from the left and really made rural people feel under attack.

Those types of homogenous rituals are really a key to rural community. These attacks on ritual are really the things that more than anything pushed people right. Every time you hear about a lawsuit about not having to say the pledge in school or not letting a coach lead a football team in prayer or taking down a cross in a school hallway–you may see that as a victory for minority equality, but they see it as an attack on their community and way of life by an outsider. (It’s part of the whole ‘Merry Christmas’ ridiculousness that Trump is so happy to exploit. To you, it’s a petty thing that includes other cultures to say “Happy Holidays.” To them it’s a “They won’t even let us have this?”) That’s part of what’s going on with the whole ‘kneeling for the anthem’ controversy. You likely see it as simply a peaceful way to draw attention to police brutality (which it is.) Someone who has a more ‘community social structure’ sees it as an attack on shared ritual and community itself. In their minds, it’s someone saying, “I’m not part of your community and wish to destroy it.” When a political party then says, “They’re right to kneel.” Someone from a community social structure sees this as saying, “We wish to destroy you.” There is a real belief among rural communities that Democrats look down on them and wish to see them destroyed. (And I’m not sure that they are completely wrong in this regard either. I know that when I’m online, my leftist friends certainly aren’t celebrating rural culture except in caricature and I have heard many comments about ‘waiting for them to die’ in regards to rural, older voters. This certainly shouldn’t breed confidence that they are valued and loved by the left.)

The bolded part about the rituals unifying a community and most of what follows is what I have trouble understanding. I think you are correct that rural communities are looked down upon by Democrats. I think that the people in those rural communities, however, fail to see why urban Democrats look down on them. When the people in rural communities say “I won’t tolerate you because you’re gay / black / Muslim / atheist / transgender / Mexican / whatever” it’s a natural reaction for the gay / black / Muslim / atheist / transgender / Mexican /community to turn around and say “if you don’t like me, then I don’t like you.” This is where the looking down upon the rural communities comes from. I just don’t get why excluding these groups would unify a community. Wouldn’t, for example, an unemployed coal miner in West Virginia benefit more from a new factory producing parts for solar power production opening up in their community than they would benefit from their gay neighbor moving to San Francisco?


For your last point, yes they would, but nobody is actually opening up a solar power factory in West Virginia. The claim is that a solar power factory would open somewhere and they could move and get a job. That’s a ‘societal’ solution since it destroys the ‘community.’ If Hillary Clinton had said, “I am going to open a solar factory with a thousand jobs in Welch.” She would have won southern West Virginia. Instead she said, “Your jobs are going away, I want to train you for other jobs that you’ll probably have to move away for.” That’s not something that a community social structure likes.

As for your other points, it’s important to note that community structures are not always WASPs, what they are is homogenous. There’s a difference. Rural Hispanics as an example, are much more Republican than urban Hispanics. Trump actually did better among rural Hispanics than Mitt Romney. Let’s not pretend in the era of identity politics that rural minorities are ruby red, but they are noticeably more red than their urban counterparts.

It’s also worth noting that community homogeneity does allow for diversity, but it’s diversity of an individual and not a group. Their definition of homogeneity changes as well, it’s just slower to change and needs time to process and absorb newcomers. My father used to say about racism that 100 Mexicans in a neighborhood are ‘a problem.’ 4 Mexicans are ‘The Garcia family.’ Growing up in a rural community, I saw this frequently. If a black family moved in, there would be an adjustment, but within a short amount of time (which I am not saying always went completely smoothly), they would become accepted. If a group of people (not necessarily minorities even white construction workers from another state.) they were a problem. They overwhelmed the ability of the community to absorb them and redefine itself. You would have much more serious conflicts between the ‘new white people’ en masse, than the new Hispanic people as a family. Communities exist under an assimilation mindset. Newcomers have to be assimilated to provide the community with the stability and safety that it craves. Impediments to that assimilation are the enemy. Any disruption to the assimilation process is scary and an attack. You have to remember that social pressure is really their only tool to create a functioning social unit. When you eliminate that tool, it creates a real feeling of powerlessness.

It’s more about fear than hatred. For decades, many conservatives have seen liberals winning culture war after culture war and feel helpless about it. They feel the blue wave has been advancing inexorably until it is about to engulf them. They’re desperate for something or someone to turn the tide. The Supreme Court is also of paramount importance. Many Trump supporters dislike him as a person but are willing to swallow almost anything if it means 2-3 conservative justices instead of 2-3 liberal justices.

Gosh! Which Trumpist should I search to find such a cite? How about …

HurricaneDitka !

senoy, if these communities kept to themselves, and made it clear that gays/blacks/Jews/Gay Black Jews were not welcome there, then that would be one thing (one despicable thing, but one thing nonetheless). But they vote, and based on the way that our society is structured, rural areas have disproportionately more power on a federal level – and this is intentional. Whenever someone suggests, say, getting rid of the electoral college and using a simple popular vote to determine the president, we hear the protests: “But then California and New York would decide who the president is!” Well… First of all, New York is only number 4, and Texas and Florida are between it and California (both red states – although if we didn’t give disproportionate power to rural areas, they’d be LESS red). But even so, if California and New York have more people than other states, why shouldn’t they get more of a say?

I digress. The point is – these people aren’t just saying, “we want our homogeneous communities to stay the way that they are”, they’re saying “we want society as a whole to follow our rules”. They don’t vote to ban gay marriage and abortion for everyone, not just in their small town. If you believe that this is a violation of the human rights of homosexuals, what are you suppose to say?

And even if they did just ban Gay Marriage at home, what are we supposed to say? “Fine, make life a living hell for gay people, as long as you only do it within your municipal borders”? If we are going to take a stand and say that discrimination is wrong, then it’s wrong everywhere, and we should fight it in any way we can. I’m not saying we need to invade Saudi Arabia and force them to legalize gay marriage, but within our own borders? This is America, and as Americans, we’ve decided (after way more arguing than necessary) to be part of the 21st century. If these people want to live in the 14th century so bad, they can move to a theocracy.