Trump Voters Are Feeling It

In a survey conducted by Pew after the election, 96 percent of those who cast votes for Trump said they were hopeful; 74 percent said they were “proud.” They were almost unanimous in their expectation that Trump will have a successful first term.

.. “Whether or not Trump can or should attempt to reverse the decline in manufacturing jobs is not the big story here. He can’t,” Tim Duy, a professor of economics at the University of Oregon and a critic of Trump’s policies, wrote on his blog on Sunday:

The real story is that he continues to tap into the anger of his voters about being left behind. That will give him much more power than our criticisms will take away.

Validation of voter grievances, in and of itself, is a powerful political and psychological tool.

.. What Gold and others are less certain of is how long-lasting the beneficial effects of simple recognition will be in addressing the deep reservoir of white estrangement and hopelessness that survey data has revealed.

.. Among the poor, controlling for socio-demographic factors, blacks are by far the most optimistic cohort, and are close to three times more likely to be higher up on the optimism scale than poor whites.

.. Whites whom he studied, Assari reported, were less resilient, had higher suicide rates and reported higher levels of pain in their daily lives than blacks did.

.. An important approach to depression in the psychological and evolutionary literature has been to view it as an evolved response to “involuntary subordination,” to being displaced from dominance. This is exactly what happens when you have to accept a subordinate position on a status ladder because you lost your job and can’t find a comparable one.

.. The loser’s best choice, according to Gilbert’s research, is “aggression suppression” — acquiescence to involuntary subordination.

.. People may recognize that they have to behave submissively to reduce the tensions or threats between themselves and a more dominant and powerful other, and feel relief when they succeed, but they may still harbor desires for later revenge.

.. A loss of a job or other events that lower a person’s rank, status, or capacity to make an adequate living are the most malignant stressors that people experience. Most people internalize the event and hold themselves responsible. They are most prone to depression after such a loss.

.. The results can be psychologically excruciating:

The sense of vulnerability that people who lose rank experience is tremendous. They are often ashamed of the loss. They feel it is their fault. They fear that people will no longer be interested in them and that they will be alone. Loss of self-respect is the most fundamental of losses.

.. The obvious question is what will happen if, over time, Trump disappoints his buoyant supporters and revives their feelings of discontent and estrangement. How will they respond to continued economic marginalization and a failure on Trump’s part to produce sufficient numbers of good jobs at good pay?

.. If rising expectations are thwarted, the radical white nationalism of the alt-right holds the potential to become more broadly attractive. Disheartened voters can quickly become a caldron of resentment and discontent. They may seek out a leader who promises solutions even more sweeping and uncompromising than the ones Trump has proposed. There is no way to predict where anger will lead if the promises Trump made do not materialize, and if the numbers of those marginalized by hyper competition— by automation, offshoring, skill mismatch and the forces of globalization — continue to increase inexorably. Where will the blame fall then?