What does Middle America see in Donald Trump

Excellent analysis. I think you pegged it pretty well.

Depends on how you define the term, I suppose. I guess from a certain angle, sure. A more nuanced perspective might be that they hold somewhat unrealistic concepts about the nature of authority, namely:

  1. If someone rises to the top, there must be something “better” about them compared to the average person in some way, and so
  2. If the authority figure says the right words and set goals you agree with, it’s better to just follow the leader as a means to achieving those goals. And it’s then proper for the authority figure to browbeat anyone that strongly challenges authority.

The notion that the leader may just be some random schmuck who is not really any more talented than they are, who just happened to get a whole lot luckier and maybe worked a bit harder due to his increased access to opportunities, this kind of thinking doesn’t seem to register.

These factors run pretty close to what I consider defining characteristics of fascists.

Notice that not everyone in a position of power gets the benefit of your No. 1.

His words are typically unapologetically nationalistic and since the last time I looked at a globe it was divided into nations I can see how that resonates with those who don’t want to live in a world with no borders and free everything.

Cool story, bro.

Quick question; How often are these country mice asked to show some empathy for their fellow city mice? Any stories of the struggle and strife of city life filtering down to the simple, god fearing country folk? Or do they just want their farm subsidy checks and confirmation bias stories about the liberal elites coming for their bibles and guns?

You may be surprised to learn the following: even most of us who favor significantly more open borders and international integration do not believe that “a world with no borders and free everything” (I’m assuming you meant ‘free’ as in ‘free speech’, not ‘free beer’) is even remotely feasible right now, nor is that a policy that anyone ran on in the current Presidential election.

But that does cut both ways; I can’t count the number of “city mice” who have casually used the term “flyover country” to patently dismiss the “middle third” of the country (which is more like everything outside of the Eastern Seaboard, the West Coast (which politically speaking is really the San Diego-Los Angeles-San Francisco corridor and Seattle and the smattering of high population cities in the Midwest that tend centerist). And this “middle third” is actually responsible for producing many of the real goods that allow cities to exist, so dismissing their concerns, particularly when factors like globalization and automation are changing their lifestyles and employment options far quicker than many people realize, is not very helpful. Frankly, when intellectual labor starts to be automated en masse in the same way, you’ll see the same kind of demagoguery rising in urban areas (which is arguably what is propelling support for Bernie Sanders as post-college adults carrying opprobrious student debt find a job market that doesn’t need their ‘skills’), so this isn’t just a ‘culture wars’ problem, even if that is how certain propaganda outlets like to frame it.

What we really need is a long term plan for how our economy needs to transform in the face of both shifting demographics and an employment market that needs fewer people to do the same type of work, notwithstanding the societal changes that will be forced upon us by the effects of climate change and scarcity of conventional energy resources. As much as people of both political persuasions railed against the hypothetical costs of the “Green New Deal” (which really wasn’t a plan so much as a collection of policy ideals) we’re going to be paying costs one way or another, and the more we think about how to deal with that now, the better prepared we will be when change starts to occur. But people don’t like to think about change, and especially not a change that might occur decades from now, so they point fingers at “the other side” and make polemical arguments about partisanship, as if climate, economics, and our recent brush with global pandemics gives a good whore’s fuck about your political affiliation.

Stranger

Yeah, its a one-way street. Liberals leaders and media are urging their members to seek out an understanding of what drives the heartland conservative, but there isn’t a push on the other side to try to understand the liberal point of view.

The reason for this imbalance is that the notion of trying to understand your oppositions point of view in order to reach an understanding with them is itself a liberal idea. Its just another layer of multiculturalism. To ask conservatives to understand where minorities, immigrants, gays and inner city residents are coming from is basically asking them to become liberal. The culture war is fundamentally about their insistence that they not be forced to understand and tolerate alternative points of view, and arguments drawn form the desire to come to an understanding have as much chance of succeeding with conservatives, as would an argument to atheists that they should oppose abortion because it says so in the bible.

I’m asking whether it really does cut both ways. I’ve heard countless accounts of “flyover country” and their challenges. Are they hearing the same stories of urban/suburban life and its challenges, or do they think all coastal cities are nothing but liberal elites living their perfect instagram lives?

We can only do that if we can reduce polarization by the kind of partisanship that has been given steroids but the Trump administration. While the left can be dismissive of the middle third of the country, they do so based on the fact that middle America politics tends to promote division rather than coming together to solve the problems that we all have in common. As Ann Hedonia’s post highlighted, the want government out of their lives. Truth is, we’ll need to have government more responsive and involved in people’s lives if we are going to overcome the issues you outlined. How do we reconcile the two?

That crowd also tends to have great faith in the notion that there’s always a simple solution to a complex problem, and that they just need to find their Alexander to chop through the Gordian knots.

So Trump’s style of trying to reduce everything to sound bites and simplistic nonsense plays right straight to that- he’s basically telling them that yes, these problems are solved by simple solutions- border walls, hydroxychloroquine, etc…

And this belief in simple solutions to complex problems bleeds through in their thinking as well- they tend to view complex things in simplistic terms. They think that the mainstream media has a liberal bias, not because it does, but because they’re looking from the right, and EVERYTHING else has a leftward bias. There’s a real lack of critical thinking in that crowd- the idea that birth control education or availability “encourages” sexual activity is a perfect example. It doesn’t, any more than having smoke alarms and fire sprinklers encourages playing with fire.

So they’ve drunk the right-wing media kool-aid about liberal (i.e. anyone not right-wing) intentions and motivations, and assumes anything they want to do is actively hostile to their way of life and America as they perceive it. They don’t see liberals/Democrats as neighbors who merely have a different opinion on how things should be done, but rather as dramatically misguided people whose strings are being pulled by a bunch of arch-liberals and globalists like Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, etc… and that their policies are not only misguided, but an existential threat to what they hold dear.

So when a Trump shows up and farts out a bunch of nonsense about sticking it to the libtards and other “shithole” nations, they glom on to that like flies onto a dog turd, because it’s actively doing what they’d like to see done, not typical Republican politician talk, which is usually more politician-like and less loudmouth carnival barker.

As far as Trump’s base is concerned, they know all they need to know about liberals, and not just from what Fox News tells them. Every story touted in the mainstream media, every hectoring speech by a pampered Hollywood star, every op-ed calling them racist Bible thumpers, every beloved entertainment franchise that gets retooled for women and/or people of color — conservatives consider themselves under siege in a land where liberal values reign virtually unchecked.

That crowd also tends to have great faith in the notion that there’s always a simple solution to a complex problem, and that they just need to find their Alexander to chop through the Gordian knots.

So Trump’s style of trying to reduce everything to sound bites and simplistic nonsense plays right straight to that- he’s basically telling them that yes, these problems are solved by simple solutions- border walls, hydroxychloroquine, etc…

And this belief in simple solutions to complex problems bleeds through in their thinking as well- they tend to view complex things in simplistic terms. They think that the mainstream media has a liberal bias, not because it does, but because they’re looking from the right, and EVERYTHING else has a leftward bias. There’s a real lack of critical thinking in that crowd- the idea that birth control education or availability “encourages” sexual activity is a perfect example. It doesn’t, any more than having smoke alarms and fire sprinklers encourages playing with fire.

So they’ve drunk the right-wing media kool-aid about liberal (i.e. anyone not right-wing) intentions and motivations, and assumes anything they want to do is actively hostile to their way of life and America as they perceive it. They don’t see liberals/Democrats as neighbors who merely have a different opinion on how things should be done, but rather as dramatically misguided people whose strings are being pulled by a bunch of arch-liberals and globalists like Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, etc… and that their policies are not only misguided, but an existential threat to what they hold dear.

So when a Trump shows up and farts out a bunch of nonsense about sticking it to the libtards and other “shithole” nations, they glom on to that like flies onto a dog turd, because it’s actively doing what they’d like to see done, not typical Republican politician talk, which is usually more politician-like and less loudmouth carnival barker.

My Trump supporting family has the answers to this that they give in public about smaller government and lower taxes. They save the racial epithets for private conversations.

I heard a seminar many years ago that preached this message (paraphrased): "People will follow someone who says out loud in public what they have been thinking all along inside in private."

Not just Trump, but this is what explains the fervor of the Bernie Bros, or any other leader who commands an unusually devout following - someone who has the gumption to say out loud in public what his supporters have been craving and longing for, deep down, inside (be it right or wrong.)

Trump campaigned on a “Tell it like it is” platform in 2016, and that’s why he was so wildly successful in the GOP, and why conventional Republicans like Kasich, Jeb, Rubio, etc. stood no chance against him. Because for many years, Middle America had been longing for someone who would say things like, “Black people commit disproportionately more crimes, Hispanic illegal immigrants are a source of violent crimes, illegal immigrants take our jobs away, rural folk are the salt of the earth, affirmative action is reverse racism, political correctness mind-control is poisoning our minds,” etc. No other politician tapped into that vein, that nerve, like Trump did.

A lot of rural people fed up with being told how to do things by people who don’t understand them. People who don’t believe in them or what they do has any value. People that like to make rules that barely impact their lives but significantly impact the live of the rural people.

Sure, but - Trump is one of those people.

Trump’s policies have almost inarguably been worse for rural America; between gutting health care, attacking immigrants needed to support the agricultural industry, and his tariff/trade war undercutting basic agricultural exports like soybeans, Trump has been terrible for “Middle America”, and there is scant evidence that any of his policies have returned overseas jobs to the United States.

Stranger

Yes. And let’s add to that the rust-belt guy who has watched the Democratic Party, which used to care about him, abandon labor as neoliberalism became the dominant ideology of the party.

And they keep calling him a racist. Or that’s what he hears, anyway.

People keep telling me about city people who talk about “flyover country”, but I’ve never actually heard the term used except by rural people talking about what what they think city people think of them.

In my experience, real “city mice” don’t think about rural people at all, or if they do they have the same agrarian fantasy about what it’s like that country music does.

He is a racist.