The rise of Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election came to many of us as somewhat shocking. The violence at rallies, blatant racism, and lack of solid political rhetoric quickly swayed many from supporting him.
Even further, it quickly became noted that his initial supporters, as well as the majority that have come to vote for him, have all been of a very consistent ethnicity and social class; non-college educated, middle-class, white males which I have nicknamed the Trumpeteers. Many wondered why this group had come together at such consensus in so much as approximately 80% of the group favors Donald Trump over any other candidate according to a Politico interview with Angus Deaton. I believe that the reason behind this phenomenon is that the group has come to feel a sort of oppression, at least in their eyes, over the last several years both in population and economics and are now conglomerating.
First, economically, these Trumpeteers are watching the most progressive time for employment ever to occur in the United States, and they might be looking at it in the opposite way. Since the 1990’s, white unemployment has held an average of being the lowest by comparison to that of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians in America at only about 4%. Remarkably, this number has seen little fluctuation as even in the Housing Crisis of 2008 it only rose by about an extra 5%. While this number has been held fairly constant, minority unemployment has never been nearly as stable and fluctuates much more violently. However, since the Obama Administration has been in office, these averages for minorites have shown a steep decline by nearly 50% while the rate for whites has only gone down to its original 4% while it only rose to about 6% after the crisis. Importantly, white unemployment is still much lower than minority unemployment at less than 50%. I deduce that it could be the case that the white community feels as if they are not getting as well treated as minorities might be, and hence feel as if they are being oppressed in regards to employment opportunities. To conceptualize this, I particularly love a quote from Carol Anderson; “If you’ve always been privileged, equality looks like oppression.”
Another case in which I feel like whites might feel oppressed are in population ratios. It is no secret at all that America has always been a nation in which Caucasians are ethnically dominant. However, this mean has changed over the lifetime of the Trumpeteers; at the time of this group’s birth, the 1960’s, whites made up 85% of the total U.S. population, and this number has hence dropped by 21% to 64% of the population according to a demographic study by Lisa Wade. Although it is still apparent that whites are the majority in America, it does not take a sociologist to note the significance of an ethnicity going down in percent of a population by a quarter of what it once was. I propose that, perhaps, this rapid gain in ethnic diversity is threatening to these people, for whatever reason, but specifically might harass them as they have lived to watch it happen. Even more to scare the Trumpeteers, Wade predicts that this trend will continue as white population percentages could fall to as low as only 40% by 2050, making whites a minority to all other groups.
So, how does Donald Trump play into this phenomenon? Quite simply, I think that his slogan, “Make America Great Again”, is aimed directly at this group of citizens. Considering the points which I have brought up, it would appear as if white dominance within society and the business world was certainly much more prevalent during the time in which the Trumpeteers were growing up. Though it is absolutely not the case that privileges such as those mentioned above are completely gone from American society, they are beginning to diminish and dissolve which, to the Trumpeteers, looks like oppression against their White America. As well as the direct connection to economic settings, I think that the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic remarks that Donald Trump makes, though they might just reflect his true character, are largely aimed at triggering social recollections towards this time as well. For example, there are countless examples of Trump making comments about how it should be a woman’s job to be a stay-at-home who cares for the children and has food ready for their husband when they get home from works; I believe that while this is a problematic statement, it also directs Trumpeteers to a time when they didn’t have to worry about competing with women in the workforce and coping with the perceived attack on manliness that the situation brings.
In conclusion, I firmly believe that White America, specifically the Trumpeteers, are coming together in support of Donald Trump by the idea that they are being oppressed. This group, I predict, has come to feel as if they are being oppressed by modern progressive movements toward racial and gender equality both economically and socially and hence conglomerated into one big group of angry white men seeking to “Make America Great Again.” By all accounts, I believe that their goal is not to better America, and should perhaps revise the slogan to “Make White America Great Again.”
– Austin Falin