Losing Privilege And Throwing A Tantrum

In 2016, following Trump’s win of the Electoral College vote, reasonable Americans  debated a foundational question: why? What would prompt a voter to cast a ballot for someone so obviously unfit for any office, let alone the Presidency? There were plenty of theories offered: hatred of Hillary, misogyny, a desire to blow up “the system,” Trump’s overt appeal to racism.

In the almost three years that have followed, the question changed. Now the mystery is his continued support by a significant majority of present-day Republicans. (I say present-day, because there have been sizable defections from the GOP in the wake of Trump’s election.) After three years of embarrassing behavior, constant obvious lies, and ample evidence of both ignorance and mental illness, how has he managed to retain the loyalty of his base?

A lot of us have guessed the (depressing) answer, but three years of academic research and simple observation have confirmed it. As a recent article initially published by Salon put it,

Trumpism is a form of backlash politics fueled by white rage at a perceived loss of privilege and power in a more diverse and cosmopolitan world. Trumpism is a temper tantrum along the global color line fueled by anxieties about power and social dominance.

That about sums it up.

It isn’t like the administration is trying to hide its bigotry. Aside from the horrendous treatment of brown people seeking asylum, there have been homophobic Executive orders about who can serve in the armed forces, anti-Semitic characterizations of Jews who disagree with Trump’s policies on Israel, attacks on Congresspersons of color, and a wide variety of other assaults aimed at those considered “other.”

Recently, reporters uncovered the fact that the Justice Department, among others, has been including white nationalist propaganda in official emails.

The Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review last week included a blog post from an anti-immigrant hate site in its daily news briefing to immigration court employees—and it was no accident: BuzzFeed News reports it has done this several times over the past year. It hasn’t been just the DOJ, either. “In addition, similar newsletters sent to the Labor Department, ICE, HUD, and the Department of Homeland Security included links and content from hyperpartisan and conspiracy-oriented publishers.” Among the sites have been Western Journal and Epoch Times, two sites that have spread birther and QAnon nonsense.

But a good chunk of this egregious behavior has come from the Justice Department, which has distributed links from VDARE, a white supremacist site popular with anti-Semites and other shits, at least six times since last September. In the most recent incident last week, the Justice Department shared a VDARE post that attacked immigration judges by name and “with racial and ethnically tinged slurs,” said National Association of Immigration Judges Union President Ashley Tabaddor. “If I had sent this,” she commented, “I would be facing serious disciplinary action.”

As the Salon report noted,

In their 2016 article “Trump, Brexit, and the Rise of Populism,” social scientists Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris also locate Trumpism as part of a global right-wing movement that is channeling what they describe as “retro backlash.” This is a feeling “especially among the older generation, white men, and less educated sectors, who sense decline and actively reject the rising tide of progressive values, resent the displacement of familiar traditional norms, and provide a pool of supporters potentially vulnerable to populist appeals.”

In the absence of principled Republicans in the Senate, Trump has been able to populate government agencies and–what is more frightening–the federal bench with men (and a very few women) who share his hostility to disfavored minorities.

The Salon article cites research suggesting that Trump voters embrace chaos in the hopes that what emerges will allow them to regain what they feel they have lost.

Whatever the psychology, there is one overriding lesson for Democrats: they will not “peel off” many–if any–Republican voters. Those who still support Trump are a lost cause, and trying to appeal to them is a fool’s errand. What will defeat Trump and his cult is turnout. 

Most Americans, fortunately, strongly disapprove of Trump and his racism. Our job is to make sure they vote.


  1. A fun fact – Epoch Times is ramping up it’s marketing efforts. YouTube pre-roll has a video from them – and it’s a good one and well produced. They make the claim that, essentially, “in this partisan world, you need a source for real, unbiased news”. If I didn’t already know Epoch was a lunatic factory I may have been at least hoodwinked enough to check out their work.

    Also, while often mentioned, I not sure these former Republicans of good conscious who Trump drove away from the parts exist. Trump polls in the 90s among Republicans and between 35 and 50 percent generally. Republicans enthusiastically agree with him. Oh, they may say they deplore the uncouth behavior, but they’re absolutely getting the end result they want .

    I think most of those people still pull the handle for Trump when they’re alone in the voting booth. It’s just socially untenable to say it out loud.

  2. In other words, if you don’t think putting a bartender with a 420 credit score, who thinks the world ends in 10 years if we don’t rebuild every budding in the country, ban air travel and start riding bikes cross country, in charge of the country’s finances is a good idea you’re racist…

  3. Greg if you are referring to AOC, you’re missing the point. She’s calling out the extreme. The longer we wait to address the issues, the less drastic options begin to be eliminated. Trying to roll back the clock to the 1950’s is NOT an option.

  4. @DirkGently Former Republicans driven out of the party by Trump absolutely exist. In terms of the polling, they no longer identify as Republicans.

  5. @Anne – Maybe. But, Trump has done most of the things Republicans approve of – attack the EPA, loosen regulations, hundreds of conservative judges, tax cuts for the wealthy, attack the social safety net, and on and on.

    I believe their sole real complaint is he’s made the “quiet part loud”. If he was better spoken and did the exact same things – those “real” republicans would be happy as pig in…

  6. Addressing Greg Miller’s hastily dashed off rant, I’ll mention two things: [1] Among the list of laudable accomplishments by that “bartender” is graduating cum laude from Boston University College of Arts and Sciences with a BA in 2011, majoring in international relations and economics. A cursory examination of her bona fides leaves her critics with little but racism as the basis of their attempts to discredit her. [2] Not every Republican is racist, but you can be damn sure every racist votes Republican.

    So, to answer your question, yes, you’re racist …

  7. “Most Americans, fortunately, strongly disapprove of Trump and his racism. Our job is to make sure they vote.”

    I keep seeing this claim with nothing meaningful to back it up; the polls are as confused and confusing as the long list of Democratic “candidates” who can’t agree on anything other than to remove Trump from office. No difference in the rallying cry from “most Americans” who didn’t vote FOR Hillary – they/we voted AGAINST Trump. Those who “…hated Hillary, misogyny…” voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson and the Bernie Bots wrote him in. The man who “could never be elected president” lost the popular vote by a total of more than 10 MILLION votes but he sits on the throne as Emperor of the world with stronger support than any Democratic candidate is showing…except in those confused and confusing and changing polls.

    If Democrats don’t form a cohesive party foundation in all levels of government and concentrate on the issues “deconstructing” this government; we are looking at more than FIVE MORE YEARS of Trump.

  8. The bottom line for getting rid of this monster and his minions is, as Sheila says, voter turnout for the 2020 election. Trumpers are more than just a lost cause, they represent the criminal ideologies and behavior that our fathers and grandfathers fought to defeat in World War II. Trump and his appointees are a clear and present danger to our republic and the world, that we must now defeat through internal mechanisms based on human decency. Otherwise, the U.S. will become the Fourth Reich.

  9. Greg,

    There is dignity in being a bartender, as there is in any honest labor. Also, you should know that a good bartender can do quite well with tips, although the salary is usually a Republican’s wet dream, since they are in an industry that is generally exempt from minimum wage laws.

    If you think it’s a bad thing for our government to pass a resolution that commits us to addressing climate change, then you haven’t been paying attention. We have 100 year floods every year these days. We have hurricanes that get quickly to category 5 and stay there long enough to devastate an island nation that has pretty strict building codes. We have drought that lasts longer than the drought of the great depression. We have wildfires that torch thousands of acres of forest and all the towns within.

    Conservatives should wake up and give AOC the props she deserves. She proposes bold change, mostly because she is young, but also because she is smart.

  10. AOC’s progressive values got the turnout of voters despite being outspent by her corporate Democrat opponent by $10 MIL. Despite Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s best efforts to appease Wall Street donors, the party has moved to the left. Corporate America, including corporate-owned media, has thrown their weight behind bland Joe Biden as a #NeverTrump candidate who won’t change anything but faces in Washington.

    Sheila writes, “What will defeat Trump and his cult is turnout.”

    You will not get the turnout for Joe Biden just like the turnout wasn’t there for Hillary Clinton. It’s not the candidate, it’s what they represent. At least the GOP had the smarts to run a populist for POTUS while the Dems picked the worst candidate possible. Did they learn anything from 2016?


    Once again, the only reason the DNC exists is to stop progressive movements from changing this country. They will continue losing elections across the country with this strategy.

    The whole corrupt system is what voters want changing despite the best efforts of our MSM to protect the status quo. The media wants unlimited campaign spending and a for-profit healthcare system because they profit off the advertising of both corrupt practices.

    Four years of the inept Joe Biden will not move the needle at all. If you want turnout, Warren or Sanders will provide it. If you want the under 35 crowds to miss Election Day altogether, give them Joe Biden.

  11. I think Dirk hit the nail square. Before I retired, I worked with guys in the utility industry who made a very good living for themselves. Originally it was mostly male and mostly white. They would make life miserable for anyone who is not like themselves in order to try and get them to quit. This usually provided a lot of fireworks, most people are not to walk away from $120-$200,000 a year. When the government put a leash on a lot of these practices of nepotism, and the good old boy network, it created a lot of hatred that became vocal around certain groups. They were smart and conniving enough not to blather in front of folks who might turn them into human resources or ethics.

    This wasn’t only nonmanagement, management was complicit in allowing behavior and acquiescing to those who wanted to keep things as they were. Their were plenty in management that wanted to keep the good old boy network in the pipeline. I’m not saying they would never hire minorities, but the minorities were kept separate, and considered not very bright. An example was when they would need people to shovel coal, those folks were usually African-American or un-connected or non-affiliated whites who had certain skill sets. Outside was good for shoveling coal, backbreaking work especially in the earlier part of last century. I was told, that the reason that mostly black men were all relegated to the coal yard away from the generating station, “they were to ignorant to know how to valve, read gauges, keep logs, and learn.”

    Interestingly, outside in the coal yard is where people made the big money. There was constant over time, the black men and a few women and the unconnected whites made almost twice as much or more than the folks inside of the generating station. This was because when a 300 car coal train came in, that train needed to be emptied quickly per the railroad (A lot of overtime, sometimes over 3000 hours). Then the coal needed to be compacted on the pile, the machinery needed for this was extremely complicated, and the operators were extremely skilled in operating this machinery. This alone blew their argument right out of the water that everyone outside was too ignorant to do complicated tasks.

    So make no mistake, this is ingrained deeply in our society. Trump just let any out of the bottle, he made it okay for people to be politically incorrect/uncorrect. And when a lot of these folks who seem to be on a higher rung of the good old boy ladder, if they didn’t have a dark skinned person or a woman to belittle, they would eat their own. The Irish would go after the Italians, the Nords always considered themselves superior to any other group. I have cousins who are very educated, lawyers, business owners, and the like, and all they do is forward stuff from these ignorant websites that are blatantly false, I point out and prove they are false, and the next day they are posting more trash. This is so much so that I usually quit communicating with them for long periods of time if not permanently. So, don’t think it’s “just”people on the lower rungs of the good old boy network, it runs through their Entire body politic from top to bottom.

  12. john sorg,perfect expample of what i deal with in the white bread world of employment. and north dakota,though im about as white as they come,old car customs,harley,driber truck,dirty work with a smile,ive had my share of assholes,undermining my work. i usually quit,and the boss knows what he just lost over what. (im from the new york,jersey metro area)
    as far as the subject goes, im one with a open mind,and lives in a world between many social aspects,poor and rich,i have delt with many.. i have judged,but the merits are obvious when the open their mouth. trump comes from the same filth that made NYC filthy$$$. his latest rants about rat infested,he never did a damn thing about any of it,except use it to build a new tower,and make the working class rents higher and non negotable in the area he just de$troyed.. when he said Baltimore was rat infested,hes just proping up kushnerville to be
    on the map,now… as his dog whistle push for more development,by his,investors.of course,like Frisco,(tech nationals)more will be dilebertly placed out of rents,and access areas for jobs. making it harder for the working class to exist. scam and slam and take,real estate is a game he made dirtier. after the last fallout,derived mainly by real estate greed,just ask mnuchin.heres a perfect example of greed,trumps buddy,and foreclosure king.. i see how easy it is to invest today,get a app,and trade,,,,but what profit,is being used to pay that trader?,,,probably our wages and bennifits,earned of those who actually do the work..nothing like keeping us next to poverty supporting day traders,who have only 16% of the total American market to deal with,when the other 84% is owned by the richest 10%. there will only be another scam to open it up,and if your stupid enough,you can depend on your retirement via markets,and fail as they greed it away.or get a guarentee on a social security. ask the retired who,(millions of union workers)lost it all because of investors and investements that went belly up in 2008. no one even mentions this,and its like we are not suppose to remember it. i never seen real estate as a investment,its a home,but the money see it as something they want,at any costs..

  13. I’ve been reading a lot recently on Jim Crow and The Great Migration of 6 million African Americans out of the South 1915- 1970. I came across something completely unknown to me I’d like to share.

    Nazi Germany modeled their Nuremberg Laws (1935) from the Jim Crow race laws in America, in order to target Jews and other undesired populations. Similarly, they embraced American eugenics and its active involuntary sterilization measures of the time, to identify and target their own “socially inferior” groups before turning to the “final solution”.


    Encyclopedia Britannica; ” In the early 1930s Nazi Germany adopted American measures to identify and selectively reduce the presence of those deemed to be “socially inferior” through involuntary sterilization. A rhetoric of positive eugenics in the building of a master race pervaded Rassenhygiene (racial hygiene) movements. When Germany then extended its practices far beyond sterilization in efforts to eliminate the Jewish and other non-Aryan populations the United States became increasingly concerned over its own support of eugenics. ”

    “The Atlantic; Jim Crow race laws and the Nazis”

    “The Passing of the Great Race” Madison Grant (1916) USA

    “The Rising Tide of Color Against White Supremacy” Lothrop Stoddard (1920) USA

    “The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians and Other European Immigrants Out of America.” Daniel Okrent

  14. epoch times,gives glowing reports on why the republicans support their agenda,give it all to the well to do, the wall street greed,and why… i guess the working class is suppose to roll over and just let them have it……guess again…they (the republicans)obviously dont like us calling their card,epoch times,its not fake news,its just a view,they need to convey,as why,they need to take it all…
    and who they are taking it from….. America,its freedom and democracy.

  15. “Whatever the psychology, there is one overriding lesson for Democrats: they will not “peel off” many–if any–Republican voters. Those who still support Trump are a lost cause, and trying to appeal to them is a fool’s errand. What will defeat Trump and his cult is turnout. ” Yes to this. Irrespective to all the comments above and below, this is the bottom line for our salvation as a democratic republic.

    My rant: The Trump administration is behaving like an organized crime family. They break laws, flout the laws and invent new laws all designed to protect the criminal enterprise of enriching the Don (pun intended) at the expense of the sods not in the family. The writers of our Constitution never imagined that the people of the United States would be so easily duped into electing this sort of criminal. Which brings me to the impeachment provision.

    From even a cursory overview of the facts already collected by the Mueller team and the New York courts, this president has committed many high crimes and misdemeanors that are right out front in bright lights for all to see. He has finally acquired a fundamentally corrupt attorney general to shield him from investigations and indictments by way of a phony letter/memo. They are now using that paper thin excuse to show utter contempt for Congress, the law and the people of the United States.

    If this isn’t enough to file articles of impeachment, I wonder what the threshold truly is. Pelosi keeps saying “NO” to impeachment because they can’t acquit in the Senate. O.K. She’s right about the latter part. BUT by publicly airing and advertising the high crimes and misdemeanors on a DAILY, MULTI-MEDIA BLITZ, she will drive these facts into the faces of the voters. Who cares what the Republicans will do with that? Let the people know that they have a outright criminal in the White House and in the AG’s office. TELL THEM EVERY DAY. Then, let the Republicans try to answer those questions back home when campaigning for the Senate or House seats. Then them explain why they didn’t indict or convict a blatant crime syndicate in the White House. LET REPUBLICANS WEAR TRUMP ALL THE WAY TO THE BALLOT BOX.

    So, will Pelosi wake up and gear up? It really doesn’t matter which candidate emerges from the scrum to oppose Trump. What the DNC MUST do is conduct a 50-state campaign – starting now – showing everyone in BIG headlines the laws that this president and his cadre of fools have flouted, broken and spit on. SHOW THEM, NANCY! IMPEACH TRUMP and force the Republicans to wear their opposition to it. Let the choke on their own corruption. That’s how we get our country back from the abyss of tyranny and fascism.

  16. Sorry. “…can’t acquit…” should be “can’t convict”. It’s often hard to be accurate when impassioned.

  17. We have become numb with Trump’s almost if not daily wrongdoings. We forget last week’s transgressions due to a flood of new ones. What to do? Start impeachment proceedings at once, subpoena witnesses and documents, fine and jail those who do not respond to such congressional orders, and in general get serious about the conduct of proceedings designed to rid ourselves of this criminal in the Oval Office with a view toward defeat of fascism and continuation of what is left of our democracy. We are in WW III, the only difference being that the fascists are attacking us from within.

  18. Thank you Sheila,

    I agree with Todd on this. The DNC seems hell bent on losing this election just like it did in 2016. They are inept many of the same people that ran things in 2016 that were biased in favor of a very poor candidate-Hillary Clinton, are back at it again sans Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. I get emails from them where some of the people that screwed everything up in 2016 in terms of campaign strategy, not one that encompassed the entire country-not just particular sections of it, are back at it again.

    They continue to misread the electorate both those that are registered democrats but also those that are essentially in the middle are all sorts of vantage points. They run the risk of allowing Trump to once again when in spite of what pollsters continue to say and argue regarding the sizable majority in this country that see Trump as an anathema to everything this country stands for have that observation reinforced every day by what he and his sycophants do just like right now.

    Since I’m someone, unfortunately for me, that follows this stuff very closely I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a generational thing with these folks along with the impact of our increasingly ineffectual educational system where people the end up aspiring to be political operatives have no grounding in civics nor in history and thus they miss or misread glaring opportunities to formulate coherent and balanced political strategies to face this thing that threatens to destroy and our country. Again, many of the same DNC operatives wrote off campaigning in whole swaths of this country 4 years ago which contributed to Trump’s Electoral College victory in 2016. My guess, from what I’ve been reading and hearing, is they are setting themselves up to do the same thing again along with the damage that the backbiting of Democratic candidates against each other is doing which is turning off voters in droves. Doing this will put us in the position where many voters will sit out both elections next year and hand the Presidency to Trump and his cult followers hook, line, and sinker electorally once again with horribly disastrous results for both this country and the world at large.

    This country cannot withstand this continual onslaught on the rule of law, human decency, the Constitution, and everything else this country is supposed to stand for based on 243 years of history. It drives home the point even more that those who see every day with this man and his Administration does and who are abhorred by it have to act and move those that seem to be trying to play by the Marquis the Queensbury rules of politics far out of the way since we are in a blood fight, for all practical purposes, for the very soul of this country and its future.

    I guess my final question is what more do they have to see? What is happening right now is in violation of all the long established norms of conduct emanating from the Office of the President in the United States. Given the unwillingness of the members of both Chambers of the Congress on both sides to both speak up and act against this creeping crud, being more concerned about their reelection prospects than the country, somehow some way the people need to act. It may very well boil downed to it being the only a recourse we have to save this country from this criminal enterprise infesting the leadership of the government, our government.

  19. Todd an excellent post. The evangelicals and other reactionaries in organized religion are in President Agent Orange’s and Pastor Pence’s back pockets. The Trumpter’s and the GOP today believe in the Authoritarian Male-Macho man. These people will not be turned away from President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence.

    Corporate Joe Biden constantly seeks to pathetically try to link himself to Obama and thus inoculate himself from any criticism.

    Now, the Corporate Democrats (DNC) are trying sell us an Avuncular Lunch Pail Joe Biden in his hard hat. President Agent Orange will not shrink from lies, hyperbole, etc., on the debate stage, Corporate Joe will be mired in mental mucilage if he he is one on one with President Agent Orange.

    If turnout is key, you have to have an inspiring person to lead with a Progressive Message. Corporate Joe Biden is not inspiring and is not Progressive.

  20. The link is to an article published by AlterNet, not Salon. It seems to be the same article referenced here. What am I missing? (And thanks!)

  21. I think this is the point: dumb people are tribal. Loser of the evolutionary lottery = less prefrontal cortex = less reasoning ability = reversion to instinct = difference is danger. Trump voters prefer professional wrestling to literature. Liberals foolishly buy into their own delusions of the nobility of man. The gorillas have outvoted the orangutans. The orangutans will either accept reality and control the gorillas, or they will serve as soldiers and slaves.

  22. We are, as a country, who we are. We are a democracy first and foremost which is a fact that many have been dragged away from by their choice of entertainment media advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing. We are all we, the people and can add our input to hiring and firing who governs according to the Constitution and other laws that we consent to be governed under. We are a giant unruly easily diverted quarrelsome bunch with a hugely variable level of education in every possible discipline. That led to a situation in 2016 that with only a little help from enemies we have made got us where we are today.

    None of that will change in 2020. Given that, what can we do to get a more functional result in 2020?

    Many of us grew to be apathetic about the political process over our lives because it always seemed to work before though often clumsily. Now we have been attacked by us. We can’t defeat us but we can focus on education of those who became so easily miseducated about civic and scientific responsibilities.

    How can we educate those disinterested in education?

    I don’t see any really effective way to do that other than waiting for an older generation to be replaced by a new generation.

    Between now and then we have to hope for the change and manage the turnout of voters.

  23. “If this isn’t enough to file articles of impeachment, I wonder what the threshold truly is. Pelosi keeps saying “NO” to impeachment because they can’t acquit in the Senate. O.K. She’s right about the latter part. BUT by publicly airing and advertising the high crimes and misdemeanors on a DAILY, MULTI-MEDIA BLITZ, she will drive these facts into the faces of the voters. Who cares what the Republicans will do with that?”

    Vernon; I knew you meant “convict” rather than “acquit”. Trump has all of us scrambling to unscramble what is going on. I agree with your comments above; and I agree with Speaker Pelosi that now is NOT the time to file impeachment and as for your question regarding Republicans, what I believe they will do if impeachment is filed before the 2019 November election is to double, triple, quadruple whatever they are paying to maintain red states and blocking voter registration and voter purging will become epidemic even in blue states to increase their hold at all levels of government. Joy Reid pissed me off earlier today when she asked why Democratic minds are not exploding – they are – why aren’t Republican minds exploding IF there are any true American Republicans left in this government?

    Republicans have all of the money, all of the power, all of the support of their voters because; contrary to how bat-shit crazy Trump is, they have all of the organization to maintain their hold on the entire federal government and the judicial system. Even their revolving door administration has become part of their organized distraction tactics keeping the Democratic party too confused to organize their own party and assemble a campaign foundation to address the issues rather than Trump’s craziness. IF, IF, IF we can regain Congress and the White House it will not be Trump’s craziness left to deal with but the ISSUES created by that craziness.

    As for Joe Biden’s and Bernie Sanders’ age factor; “It isn’t the years in the life that matter; it is the life in the the years.”

  24. Thank you, Sheila, for reminding us of this important truth – turnout is what will matter. As for which Democrat, I still believe that the pet rock would win IF the Democrats work on turnout. Given that, I will state that I don’t buy into this argument that we need to “go slow” and “be moderate” to win. Nobody is going to say “I would have voted for a Democrat, but I don’t like Elizabeth Warren, so I am voting for Trump” and she might bring out a lot more new voters. [note for the record, I am still an openly avid supporter of Mayor Pete, and believe that he could beat Trump]

    We lost the last election by losing the turnout. Turnout and enthusiasm. This ain’t then. The feeling on the ground is so different for 2020. Democrats just need to heed Sheila’s advice and concentrate on turnout.

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