The last few months have witnessed the appearance of a burgeoning cottage industry of take-writing about the rise and appeal of Donald J. Trump. In her latest post, Rachel Held Evans has voiced her opinion: Trump’s appeal among evangelicals is down to racism, xenophobia, celebrity worship, and his promise of power to supporters.

This is reassuring for any comfortable middle-class progressive Episcopalians who might momentarily have been afflicted by the nagging thought that Trump’s strong appeal among the white working class and its sizeable constituency of evangelicals might owe something to an unfair marginalization, rejection, and pathologization of valid concerns of that class by those of us who don’t belong to it. Well, crisis averted: It turns out that our prejudices about white working class voters were justified all along.

By vocally articulating our opposition to Trump supporters and confessing our white privilege—those uneducated white working class evangelical rubes just don’t get it!—we can now demonstrate our virtue to others within our social class on social media and tut-tut about how stupid, evil, deluded, and backward wide swathes of our Trump-supporting compatriots and coreligionists are.

The above has an element of caricature to it, of course, but the subject of the caricature is recognizable—many of us, myself included, have borne more than a passing resemblance to it on occasions. In exaggerating some unattractive features to the point where they firmly register in our consciousness, my hope is that we will start to be more suspicious of the reassuring and self-obliging lies that we tell ourselves about other people in order to feel better about ourselves. I highly doubt that the truth so readily underwrites our prejudices and sense of moral superiority.

What, then, are some alternative reasons for Trump’s appeal? The following are a few suggestions, suggestions that flatter neither Trump’s supporters nor most of us who oppose him.

Donald Trump is a master communicator.

Trump’s brilliance as a communicator is widely under-recognized, but a select few pieces on him have brought this aspect of his appeal to the fore (Justin Taylor highlighted a couple of these in a recent post). Some might consider it strange that Trump could be seen in such a way: His speeches so consistently feel disjointed, clumsily phrased, lacking in substance, jolting from one gaffe to another.

Yet this is to judge Trump according to a standard to which he is not seeking to conform. Trump is not attempting to speak the hedging and slippery language of the professional politician, which reeks of disingenuousness to the general public, but the language of a master of influence and persuasion. Trump speaks the language of business, advertising, and sales. He uses simple and emotionally powerful words, he paints bold images, he makes masterfully effective impressions while his opponents stumble to make arguments, he uses calculated vagueness, etc. Many modern politicians attempt to patch such language onto their arguments, but it is Trump’s natural tongue and he is peerless at using it. Trump is selling feelings, not facts.

The power of arguments to persuade people is greatly overestimated. People—perhaps especially people raised on TV—are more accustomed to persuasion through the disjointed emotional impressions of advertising than they are to persuasion through the logical progression of a carefully crafted and sustained argument. Trump is perfectly at home with such language of persuasion. Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) discusses Trump’s incredible talent as a communicator in this video. Trump can even take some of the most difficult questions and turn them to his advantage through such techniques as anchoring or linguistic judo, where the force of a challenging question is turned against it and it is left lacking even the strength accorded to a contrary opinion.

Trump’s version of dominance politics has real appeal to many voters.

Josh Marshall recently commented on Trump’s brand of dominance politics. Trump’s attacks upon his opponents serve to make them look weak and him look strong by comparison. Calling Jeb Bush ‘low-energy’, for instance, was a genius insult. With this insult Trump deployed an anchoring effect to set his own standard against which Bush’s later performances will be gauged, a standard that hurts Bush whichever way he goes. Likewise, calling someone like Ben Carson ‘nice’ is a perfect way to nudge his hearers gently to dismiss the man: Nice guys are inoffensive, but they are bland and not real contenders. The media conversation is also all about Trump because Trump has dominated, outwitted, and surprised everyone: the media, those running against him, people on the other side of the political aisle, even liberal Brits and the UK parliament.

The dominance that Trump is showing over everyone else at the moment appeals to those who value a president who is a bold and aggressive figurehead, projecting American strength to the rest of the world, over an ideologue or a policy wonk. As the American government appears weaker to the rest of the world nowadays—and international perceptions of Obama would seem to be part of that—it is unsurprising that many of the public want someone like Trump to deal with countries like China, Iran, and Russia.

When people claim that Trump’s overblown yet touchy ego is a sign of his weakness, I suspect that they don’t understand the sort of game Trump is playing. Trump is a perfect exemplar of ‘honour culture’, a culture within which people must earn and protect their reputation. Taking offence in an honour culture is a way of expressing power and dominance; weak men can’t afford to take offence, but strong men must be treated with the most exacting honour and respect or there will be payback. Honour culture prevails in contexts where people need to stick up for themselves and there aren’t reliable third party channels to handle disputes. Anyone who has watched wrestling or has the vaguest familiarity with rap culture should know the sort of world that Trump’s politics come from. Honour culture is also the prevailing culture of the working class and—don’t be fooled by his money—Donald J. Trump is a working class guy through and through.

By contrast, most of Trump’s opponents are political class people from a culture of dignity, where individuals are expected to take smaller slights and deal with larger offences through the involvement of third parties. In a context of stable institutions to deal with offences, one no longer needs to rest upon one’s reputation for strength. Alongside this dignity culture, there is a rapidly rising ‘victimhood culture’, where a sensitivity to the smallest slight (like honour culture) is coupled with an extreme dependence upon third parties (radically unlike honour culture), encouraging officious and censorious bodies that manage all interactions. Such victimhood culture thrives in such places as college campuses or online social media where there are many ways such recourse can be made. To honour culture people, dignity culture individuals, with their typical incapacity to stick up for themselves against those who attack their honour will appear weak (although at least they can ‘take it’); victimhood culture people, with their ‘running to mummy’ manner of dealing with conflict and challenge will appear even weaker (neither able to ‘give it’ or ‘take it’).

Honour culture people also probably see something real about the weakness of dignity culture politicians. Such politicians may work well in the context of Washington DC’s dignity culture, where there are third parties to resolve and moderate their disputes. However, international politics and foreign relations requires an ability to operate in a highly agonistic honour culture. In the world of foreign relations there isn’t a robust structure of third party institutions to appeal to. You must demonstrate strength and dignity culture politicians like President Obama aren’t great at doing this, making America itself look and act weak as a result. The slights experienced by a nation that isn’t accorded respect by its enemies will be taken more to heart by honour culture people, who will typically desire leaders who won’t lightly stand for such treatment.

Trump is #authentic.

One point that is repeatedly referenced among Trump supporters is Trump’s ‘honesty’ or ‘authenticity’. The connection of these two terms is important: Trump’s ‘honesty’ is not the accuracy and truthfulness with which he speaks of the world, but the unfeigned manner in which he dispenses his wild opinions and expresses himself. Trump’s bluster and willingness to say things no other politician would say wins him lots of support. Trump isn’t limited by political correctness: He tells it as he sees it. Trump may be full of bullshit, but, in contrast to the other politicians on the stage, Trump’s is authentic bullshit!

Trump is never pretending to be anyone other than Trump, which is what our regnant cultural value of authenticity is all about. This is the politics of personality, rather than the politics of character. In the politics of personality, candidates for high office are judged less on how well they conform to external standards of behaviour, but on how effective they are in tearing up the rulebook and making up their own rules as they go along. Trump’s personal brand enables him to do things that other candidates can not.

The white working class knows they are hated.

The American white working class—to which a disproportionate number of evangelicals belong—are well aware that they are hated and pathologized by upper middle class coastal liberals, who dominate key institutions in American life. They are branded with the stigma of racism, xenophobia, backwardness, and unprogressive attitudes. Liberals and progressives try to force enlightened thought upon them in a patronizing, officious, or censorious manner, and often despise, ridicule, and want to freeze their voices out of public life. For such people Trump represents resistance to their pathologization and marginalization. Trump is prepared to stand with them in being despised, hated, and pathologized by the establishment, speaking on their behalf. As people rush to write think-pieces demonizing Trump and his supporters and to demonstrate their fittingly enlightened sensibilities against the caricatured foil of the vicious racism, misogyny, and xenophobia of the white working class, it only makes the scapegoat status of the American white working class more apparent. No matter how enlightened our policies, people will react against us if they can tell that we despise them and their culture. They will generally love politicians that choose standing with them and bearing the slights cast at them over cosying up to the establishment.

The ease with which a progressive Episcopalian like Rachel Held Evans will chalk up Trump’s—overwhelmingly working-class—appeal to racism and xenophobia, with little attempt at a more charitable construction of other concerns that might be in play, is a depressing reflection of the widely dismissive attitude of the concerns of outgroup people (the linked post is a must-read) of lower socio-economic backgrounds that one all too often encounters among progressives (and among various conservatives too, for that matter). Such opinions may be great for virtue-signalling in our privileged circles on social media, where middle class pieties are more powerful factors than working class realities, but they exhibit little regard, respect, or concern for Trump’s working class supporters, who might know a few inconvenient truths that we would prefer to deny. A preparedness to put a charitable construction upon Trump’s supporters, and a willingness to listen carefully to what they have to say, without dismissing them based upon ugly class prejudices could go a long way. The dismissive treatment of the white working class as pathological and the use of them as a scapegoat through whose castigation we can all signal our virtue is part of the disease that creates a space for people like Trump in the first place.

Sadly, much of the left is too preoccupied with narcissistically and competitively demonstrating progressive pieties in privileged echo chambers on social media and in academia (using unenlightened working class persons and others who can’t navigate their linguistic minefields as pawns and scapegoats for solidifying their status as the morally superior ingroup). At its best, however, it is the left that has historically been committed to standing with the working classes, listening to them, ‘steelmanning’ their positions, and representing their concerns in the most cogent, compelling, and effective way they could. When this responsibility is shrugged off we shouldn’t be surprised to see the space that was abandoned filled by unpleasant clowns such as Trump.

Trump is the perfect troll for this moment.

Trump is an incredibly effective troll of the liberal establishment. The UK parliament even debated banning Trump from entering the country in response to a popular petition that was created in response to Trump’s remarks about banning Muslims from entering the US. The fact that liberals are so reactive to and scared of Trump is a mark in his favour for people who are bullied and despised by that establishment.

The white working class and evangelicals know that ‘political correctness’ is not just about ‘treating people with respect’ as some suppose, but is a whip to keep them in line, a calculated means of stigmatizing certain viewpoints, excluding challenges to liberal orthodoxies from public conversation, and imposing a set of tendentious ideological values upon the public in a manner that precludes serious contestation. Rather than appeal for a more respectful and open civil society, political correctness takes meddlesome, officious, and censorious measures to stigmatize or root out speech that it finds objectionable, often resorting to force and authority over persuasion where possible.

The working class and evangelicals know that political correctness is a powerful tool for dismissing their valid concerns. If they complain about the effect immigration is having on their communities they can be told that they are being xenophobic. If they honestly report the reality of crime in their neighbourhoods as something highly shaped by ethnicity and religion, such as the systemic sexual abuse of girls by Asian gangs in Rotherham in the UK, they can be told that they are being Islamophobic and racist. If they do not believe that an inner sense of one’s gender is sufficient to constitute you as a member of the other sex, they can be dismissed as transphobic, apart from any serious engagement. If they believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, they are homophobic, driven by hatred, their conscience deserving no protection. If they question various feminist orthodoxies they risk being labelled misogynists. Branded with such pathologizing labels, ideological lepers from society, they can be conveniently excluded from public discourse and its institutions, and their concerns will be unaddressed.

Trump’s discourse is frequently uncivil, crude, and morally objectionable. However, Trump has demonstrated his readiness to flout the illiberal and officious policing of discourse that evangelicals and the working class have suffered under in many quarters and by which they are slowly being frozen out of public life. Trump’s demonstration of his ability to resist the shaming and ostracization by which progressives police speech and determine those who are allowed to voice opinions publicly is a sign of hope to such people for the breaking open of an extremely narrow Overton Window.

“Make America Great Again”

Trump, unlike most liberals and those on the left and many conservatives, stands for America as a nation, not just America as a market within which detached individuals of diverse backgrounds can succeed. The latter conception of America is alienating for many, denying their sense of identity as a distinct people. America has a particular historical national character and a very particular tapestry of interrelated peoples within it. And Trump wants to make it ‘great’ again, to make people feel proud to belong to a particular nation, not just to happen to live as one deracinated cosmopolitan individual among countless others in an identity-lite region under a shared administration. On the ground many people know a truth confirmed by much study: in many cases diversity has not strengthened community, but has weakened it. Immigration, while good and effective in some instances, is not an unqualified or universal success story and the failures show recognizable patterns. Some groups never successfully integrate, let alone assimilate and the introduction of such groups weakens neighbourhoods and often forms resistant and bitter underclasses (a key factor here is marriage patterns—Arab Sunni Muslims, for instance, are predominantly from cultures where consanguineous arranged marriage at a younger age on the father’s side is common and are often very tight knit, patriarchal, and clannish in their loyalties and character as a result, even a few generations after leaving their country).

Politicians who largely speak of America as if it were primarily an economy to be managed for the interests of detached individuals and their families and don’t recognize the fragility yet significance of America as a nation won’t resonate with working class people as Trump does. National identity is more existential for people who are more regionally rooted, yet keenly suffering the effects of a globalized economy and unwelcome effects of poorly managed immigration in their neighbourhoods.

Scott Alexander’s discussion of the distinct ways that ‘America’ serves as a signifier for ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ political tribes is very important here too. As Alexander observes, the Blue tribe’s relationship with American identity is deeply ambivalent and often involves a lot of pointed distancing and criticism. The term ‘America’ is only wholeheartedly owned by the Red tribe and comes to stand for them. He argues that similar things are true about the term ‘white’: with the partial exception of ‘stuff white people like’, ‘white’ is a code term for the Red tribe. Cosmopolitan and college-educated middle class white liberals and progressives can talk rather a lot about ‘white privilege’ precisely because ‘white’ doesn’t really label them so much as those Red tribers who fail to check their privilege. For them, speaking of their ‘white privilege’ can serve as a way of distancing themselves from any stigma of the term in a way that marks them out as enlightened and only superficially ‘white’.

‘Making America great again’ is a slogan that resonates against the guilt complexes that such enlightened progressive persons often seek to impose upon the white working classes. It declares that, for all of its faults, America is not and has never been as pathological a society and nation as liberals and progressives present it as, that there are many things to take pride in, and that those who truly value its culture and identity aren’t going to let it be condemned to the toxic branding of liberalism.

Trump’s supporters don’t trust big politics or big business.

Many in the working class don’t trust the American political system. They see the money and the control of big business interests upon politicians who receive huge campaign donations. They see that their voice often counts for little by comparison. Trump represents a movement beyond such corruption for many. He is (in their mind) a self-funded person who is beholden to no business interest. He has the power to stand for them and against big business and the damaging effects that it exerts on their lives (and capitalism—which is not, contrary to much popular misconception, the same thing as free markets—is one of the most socially destructive forces known to humanity). He knows the world of business and, unlike regular politicians who are in the pocket of business and too weak to stand against it (many people, probably justifiably, feel that power in American society is migrating away from politics towards business), Trump can wrest some power back and exercise it on their behalf.

Trump represents the gifted dealer and broker of agreements who can work his magic in a world of politics that is hopelessly unable to get things done effectively. He knows ‘people’, ‘smart people’, ‘experts’ (the vagueness is important here). He will blow away the stifling cobwebs of inefficiency and inefficacy and make change happen using his own adaptability and instinct for business. More generally, many in the public may recognize that Trump knows how to work people, not just play around with ideas and policies on paper.


The success of Trump, if I am correct, is in no small measure a result of the failure of other politicians and the establishment more generally to take a number of genuine public concerns seriously, to treat the working class with respect and dignity rather than self-righteous superiority, to address the ineffectiveness of government, to resist the special interests of lobbyists and business that undermine the government’s commitment to the public interest and the common good, to stand for America as a nation, and to encourage a society of robust civil discourse rather than officious and censorious speech policing and pathologization.

When the establishment has demonstrated its lack of genuine respect or concern for a large segment of the population, it is not surprising that such pronounced anti-establishment sentiment should arise. Much as one might wish that Trump supporters—especially the evangelicals among them—followed politicians that sought to maintain a well-ordered and dignified political system, the appeal of Trump is at least as unflattering a revelation of the failure of the establishment to serve the common good and its captivity to party interest as it is of the sentiments of people who will vote for him.

I have written all of the above as someone who is resolutely opposed to Donald Trump. I believe that various of his policy positions on issues such as immigration are appalling and profoundly objectionable (besides being quite unworkable). I find the sort of politics that Trump represents are not just deeply distasteful but harbour terrifying danger. If you worry about ‘American exceptionalism’, just wait until you have the ‘presidential exceptionalism’ of the politics of personality, the ruling clown who makes up the rules as he goes along because he is being ‘authentic’. Italy has recently experienced such a president in Silvio Berlusconi and Americans would do really well to pay attention to how that worked out for them. The polarization of American politics is unpleasant enough as it is without falling into the realm of politics advanced through insults and dominance games. The integrity of political discourse will only be further degraded through the adoption of language of sales and influence as its primary rhetorical mode and vague impression-making as its primary form of persuasion.

However, a man such as Trump does not gain traction without reason. This post is a modest attempt to suggest that, if Trump has widespread traction in the white working class, it may have something to do with an unaddressed classism in American society, a noxious classism illustrated and perpetuated by many of those who have commented on the Trump phenomena. Rather than taking another opportunity to castigate and condemn the white working class, their values and concerns, perhaps it is time to turn some unflattering critical light back onto ourselves.

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Posted by Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University in England) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespass beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast and blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria.


  1. […] guest post of mine has just gone up over on Mere Orthodoxy. Within it I respond to claims that Donald Trump’s […]


  2. Woof. Some compelling points here. I’ve been pretty dismissive of the Donald, there’s some good correction in here for me.

    It looks like you were getting ready to cite Putnam’s “Downside of Diversity,” but I didn’t see a link. Here’s one, in case people are interested.


    1. Alastair J Roberts February 1, 2016 at 10:59 am

      Thanks, Micah.


  3. “Trump is an incredibly effective troll of the liberal establishment. The UK parliament even debated banning Trump from entering the country in response to a popular petition that was created in response to Trump’s remarks about banning Muslims from entering the US. – See more at:
    I think you are ascribing a particular interpretation to this move that doesn’t exist in reality. Have you seen the list of people previously banned from the UK?


    1. Alastair J Roberts February 1, 2016 at 11:00 am

      I have seen that list, but this case (which, as someone who pays attention to political debates on both sides of the Atlantic, I followed closely throughout) is rather different, because the parliamentary debate about banning Trump arose from a popular petition.


      1. The involvement of a ‘popular petition’ is largely historically contingent (and unlikely to arise in the days before click activism and indeed the epetitions site). The ‘liberal establishment’ (a phrase carrying a heavy load in this article encompassing as it does the likes of the Mail) were far less involved than they were – for instance – with moves to ban Farrakhan a few years back.

        That aside, the best that can be said is that perhaps evangelicals don’t really believe Trump when he says he’ll deport 22 million people, or Cruz when he promises to make the sands in the ME glow.


  4. I appreciate this piece. I really do. But, what am I, a woman, to make of his dismissive and hateful comments about women? What are blacks or other minorities to make of Trump’s derisive comments? The very real fear/concern is that at a time when we need someone who can bridge ideological chasms and “play well with others” (in the best sense of the term), we may get someone who exacerbates every divide that exists in this country. I am a member of the white working class. If I feel marginalized, I must keep it in perspective. What must the minority working class feel? Or better yet, the poor? Is it possible to be angry but not be the victim and lash out, blaming Obama for every evil? Is it possible to focus any anger on helping to change the system rather than oppressing those who are different and perhaps less able to band together into a solid voting block? Trump scares me. Not that I feel great about any of the candidates mind you.


    1. Dorothy – I think those are all great questions to be asking. For the record, we don’t have a single contributor here at Mere O who supports Trump. What we have are people who want to understand *why* Trump is popular and want to be respectful to a class of people who don’t often receive respect. (20+ years ago Wendell Berry wrote this paragraph and it still holds up pretty well, I think: “Quit talking bad about women, homosexuals, and preferred social minorities, and you can say anything you want about people who haven’t been to college, manual workers, country people, peasants, religious people, unmodern people, old people, and so on. Tolerant and multicultural persons hyphenate their land of origin and their nationality. I, for example, am a Kentuckian-American.”) We also want to show this to the “preferred minorities” as well, which is what much of our recent coverage on BLM has been trying to do. But it won’t do to follow RHE’s lede and totally demonize a very large chunk of the population in order to explain the rise of an objectionable candidate.

      That being said, I think the instinct many of us here at the site have–and it’s certainly where my heart goes in thinking about these things–is to do as much as I can to disentangle myself from national politics and to help my place and neighbors disentangle themselves from them. Unfortunately, we live in a cultural moment where that is *really* hard to do, but I think staying out of the national game as much as possible and prioritizing local community, local action, and just a general knowledge and affection for local places is what’s most needed in our moment.

      To put it in terms that Alastair uses above–the problem is that dominance politics are by definition bad, whether they are used by a left-wing president or a right-wing president. So the solution for conservatives is not, as it were, to seize the ring of power and attempt to use it ourselves (which is what the Trump and Cruz candidacies are both primarily about IMO) and instead to develop an alternative politics which must begin on a local level and, in time, mature into something larger that, nonetheless, does not ever abandon its localist roots.


      1. Not so sure the white working class want to be another protected minority. Lots of people want to tear down the whole edifice of political-correctness. If Trump is going to win, he has to appeal to this larger group. The white working class are certainly the most free to start this process – because they are damned no matter what they do/say.


      2. Thank you. This has greatly helped me understand what has been totally perplexing to me.


    2. Alastair J Roberts February 1, 2016 at 11:09 am

      Trump scares me too, as I hope I made clear at the end of the post. It is deeply concerning to me that many support him, especially among evangelicals.

      You should be appalled by his comments on women and various other groups, as should every other person who desires a just and civil society. It is possible (and important to learn) to be angry, without falling into the trap of nasty reactivity. However, very many people aren’t good at doing this and sustained injustice and class tensions will tend to produce ugly effects like this.

      On the subject of Trump’s misogynistic statements, I think that it is important to bear in mind that when the public widely believe that their political representatives are routinely self-censoring and failing to speak openly about what they believe or know to be the real issues, someone who speaks without any self-censorship whatsoever can be experienced as an exhilarating relief, even when they disagree very strongly with what the person actually said.


      1. So do you think that Trump has effectively become the collective sub-conscious of the WMC? Voicing what they think/feel but know they should not? (This is a real ?. No snark here.)


        1. Alastair J Roberts February 1, 2016 at 12:16 pm

          Perhaps Trump is the id of the white working class. I think that many people feel liberated by his pointed rebellion against the unreasonable demands of the establishment’s superego. For such individuals, the very outrageousness of Trump’s claims may serve to strengthen the fact that he is rebelling against the establishment superego, not just politely demurring from it in a few particular instances. This is hardly a redeeming form of action, but a vengeful way of purposefully striking out at establishment sensibilities. Such actions aren’t appreciated for their own sake, but because they directly assault middle and upper class sensibilities that working class persons feel have been forced upon them in a stifling and unreasonable manner.

          Such ‘political incorrectness’ is more an attack upon the ‘politics’ than an assertion of some contrary ‘correctness’. Many of the politically incorrect heroes (Milo Yiannopolous is a great example here) that people celebrate clearly do not believe what they say, nor do their fans. Their whole point is to strike out at and thereby reject the authority of the sensibilities that people feel stifled by, which is why many people, when pressed, will admit that they disagree with what Trump is saying, but like that he is saying it.


          1. I am blown away by your insightful and respectful comments here. Obviously, I need to be reading more of your work. Thank you.

          2. I can’t see the desire to say unkind things about people and the desire to rebel against those who would tell you not to say unkind things as anything but sin.

    3. Many see his derisive comments with the complexity they are intended to contain. They are much more likely about undermining the shackles of political correctness than communicating any hatred towards classes of people. Look at how often Trump speaks favorably of all these classes too. He makes it very clear and very direct how much he values them.

      And getting rid of the trump card (pun not intended) of political correctness is an important step towards change and bridging ideological chasms. If someone can always pull out “being offended” to reject other’s valid views, there is little we can do to build bridges.

      It seems to me that we are at a point where those that keep up political correctness are the real (often unintentional) oppressors.


    4. See ,you’ve let Trump get to you.I’ve been saying since Trump began all this, that he wasn’t even in the running.
      He’s showing how much he can manipulate the public and media.
      I didn’t get any of this from the article, I’ve been saying that from day one.
      I’m sure he’s racist, sexist,etc. to a point, Ten to one though, I’ll bet you he’s not as much as he puts out.
      He’s intentionally pushing buttons. I’m not saying that as wishful thinking that he’s not racist,sexist,etc., but I knew from the beginning he was playing his audience.
      The author of this article was using NLP terminology, basically it’s what most corporate/sales people are taught about behavior.
      He has zero to lose. For one, he wasn’t really planning to run, and even now ,he’s doing it as a game, to show he can.
      Liberals get faux satisfaction when they hear he’s lost business because of his hate filled speeches.
      The joke is on liberals . Trump has enough to live on comfortably for the rest of his life.
      The biggest thing few are aware of is, he’s spent virtually nothing .
      Check it out.
      I am progressive, but laugh many times at how naive and gullible liberals are.
      He’s gotten his notoriety as presidential candidate through liberals.
      No one has put him out there to promote, a tiny bit from his supporters, he surely hasn’t.
      No, he’s gotten publicity from liberals posting a million times in outrage of what he’s said.
      And talking about him on threads of their hate of him.
      He’s become popular (in a good way for his supporters,and bad way for those who hate him) and a top runner from liberals, and they don’t even realize it.
      He’s laughing in their faces. He doesn’t care whether he becomes president or not.
      Either way , it’s no big deal to him. And he’s gotten to where he is, a top runner for president, without spending hardly a dime.
      I’ve been so sick and tired of the attention he’s gotten, because of liberals.
      Not just because he’s doing it on purpose, but why the hate just towards him?
      Has anybody looked into the other repub candidates?
      They’re exactly the same . Trump is saying exactly what all those repub candidates also feel>
      He’s just more outspoken. Probably because he’s relaxed, which is because he doesn’t really care,and he’s getting a kick out of all the liberals getting angry.
      And all they do is get angry at him, leaving out the majority of the rightwing population who are racist,sexist,etc.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump was working with the GOP committee, to make him the one so hated, everyone else accepts Rubio or Cruz,etc.

      I harp on liberals, because honestly I’m tired of liberal democrats.
      As far as issues I’m probably more progressive.
      But they’re so naive, gullible, weak, afraid of the GOP,etc.
      I blame them as much for where we’re at as the rightwing, as they’ve allowed the ‘right’ to go as far as they have.
      There are no balls from centrist democrats.
      This is why the attraction to Trump and to Bernie.
      Whether one agrees or not, both say what they feel, and not afraid to fight back.
      They’ve got balls.
      That is what Americans are so fed up with , wishy washy,half assed responses,etc.
      I remember when Nader ran (as more progressive,to the Left) and Pat Buchanan, far right paleoconservative.
      Both of them were the only ones telling it like it is.
      Of course Buchanan’s was filled with hate, racism,etc., but at least he wasn’t afraid to show everyone who he was,and what he was about.
      Nader told it like it is. I voted for Nader, as I will for Bernie.
      There’s a blur between the two mainstream parties.
      We’ve heard all their rhetoric before, yet somehow it never has much substance.


    5. What do you mean….what are you to make…? Who says you have to make, or do anything.
      Don’t let it get to you. It’s words.
      I don’t understand how Trump scares you any more than any other politician of the rightwing.
      Sorry, but that’s naive.
      He’s merely speaking out, saying what the rest on the right agrees with, just doesn’t say.
      I just never understand that mentality.
      The loud ones rarely worry me.
      Just vote for the right candidate.
      For me ,that would only be Bernie Sanders.
      Sorry, but due to the weakness of the dems, I don’t see them as much better.
      Better to get rid of the two party system.


      1. You are lucky to not worry about what might be. I would seriously like to get to a place where things like this don’t ruffle me—but I’m not there yet.


    6. It’s unthinkable that you’ve never made hateful comments to some women yourself. Unless you’re saying that the likes of Rosie O’Donnel represent you personally or all women you’re really just buying into propaganda that because he distinctly dislikes some women that he dislikes all of them.

      Your concern is a ridiculous as if someone claimed he hated all men because he denounced Cruz. The only ones being partisan, sexist, and racist are the people universalizing these comments.


  5. There is much less overlap with the white working class and evangelicals in the UK. Great article – spot in fact – but I expect our evangelical leaders to follow the example of Rachel Held Evans and express their disdain for Trump and his supporters (as have many ‘conservative’ US evangelical leaders shown towards their own people)


    1. Alastair J Roberts February 1, 2016 at 11:31 am

      Yes, evangelicals over here are predominantly middle class, although the history of class and Christianity in the UK is really a fascinating one.


    2. My question is why they think treating Trump supporters with disdain will be in any way persuasive, particularly since they are so often lecturing others on the importance of treating those who are different with compassion and understanding.

      But perhaps they are not interested in persuasion.


  6. What this article does, really, is give me hope. If Trump’s supporters are real human beings with valid experiences, frustrations, and preferences—as you seem to be suggesting—and not merely a conglomerated, quivering mass of stupidity and hatred, like a tumor with voting rights, then I surmise it must be possible for another campaign to offer them a viable alternative that addresses their real, human concerns without collapsing the democratic order.


    1. Alastair J Roberts February 1, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Absolutely. I’m pleased someone has made this point explicitly, as it is such an important one. This is what I most hope for.


    2. Hermonta Godwin February 1, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      The problem is that I don’t see another campaign attempting to do such.


      1. (late to this discusison)
        Isn’t that what the Bernie Sanders campaign does? He as a very strong pro-working class message and also says that American workers should not lose jobs. He also talks more like the common person than an elite-institution educated politician and that has apparently appealed to a lot of blue collar workers as well. I seem them as almost duals in the techniques they use but they appeal to a similar base and there are some similarities in their trade policies (though not other economic policies).


  7. “Sadly, much of the left is too preoccupied with narcissistically and competitively demonstrating progressive pieties in privileged echo chambers on social media and in academia (using unenlightened working class persons and others who can’t navigate their linguistic minefields as pawns and scapegoats for solidifying their status as the morally superior ingroup).”

    No Trump fan here, but thank you, thank you…for saying THIS.


  8. I stand duly chastised. I have not been as dismissive as RHE but I have focused on the dysfunctions of Trump and not thought enough about the pain his campaign was responding to. Even as I still try to “talk people off the ledge” of supporting Trump I have to try to see the real person who has valid concerns that has lead them to such support. Thanks for reminding me not to reduce them to a caricature.


  9. Betsy Childs Howard February 1, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    I think that what the British refer to as “middle class,” Americans would refer to as “upper middle class.” “Middle class,” for us, is a broad range of people who can make ends meet but would not be considered wealthy. FYI.


  10. Here’s my negative critique:

    I’m finding some insincerity in this article, mainly in the “I’m not a Trump supporter, BUT…” rhetoric that I’ve also heard from other conservative critics of Trump. As one of those liberal Democrats that you rail against, I’m strongly against Trump. As mentioned in the comments, Alistair and other Mere Orthodoxy writters aren’t fans of him either. Alistair turns his ire to… other Trump critics, with the usual liberal-baiting boilerplate phrases. Fine, I expect such comments. But why, when previous MO writers denounce Trump, are they not derided as “snobby elitists”? Yes, I know that the actual issues by which we disagree with Trump aren’t completely the same (as Trump’s political ideology isn’t exactly orthodox conservatism). Still, if there is at least concensus that Trump is a crude, un-Presidential charlatan, why are only other conservatives allowed to make that point?


    1. Alastair J Roberts February 1, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks for the comment.

      The title of the post really clarifies what I am trying to do. I am not calling for sympathy for Trump himself (I think he is a genuine threat to American society and strongly agree with many of the critiques of him, both liberal and conservative). Rather, I am arguing that we need to show a bit more sympathy towards his supporters and not just write them off as racist, xenophobic, stupid, and evil. Such sympathy may be a first step to providing genuine solutions to genuine problems in a manner that radically undercuts Trump’s appeal and support base.


      1. That does make more sense. Thanks for the explanation.

        And for those supporters, it may be a bit of a challenge for me. I do know that many Trump supporters are worried of troubling times and often have true, concrete concerns, but there’s a subset of them (yes, like just those in other camps) that due to their behavior I have a tough time empathizing with.


        1. Alastair J Roberts February 1, 2016 at 3:09 pm

          Yes, I also have great difficulty in empathizing with certain of Trump’s supporters.


  11. How do you counter political correctness without some level of crudeness or shock?


    1. Alastair J Roberts February 1, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      What we need are strong structures to establish and protect a healthy agonism and to prevent it turning into ugly antagonism. Many of the changes I would recommend are to our cultural ‘ecosystem’. I would start by creating more aerated contexts of discourse, where people need not feel so threatened by opposing positions. I would also encouraged the development and strengthening of ‘playing fields’ of such agonistic conversation, from which people can retreat to their private lives. I would counsel a great focus on the particular, the local, and the practical over the universal, the centralized, and the ideological. Such a move might help to revive civil society, with its focus on robust institutions and other such mediating structures, and its ways of navigating differences through mutual respect and compromise.


      1. Those are great ideals to move towards. But doesn’t there sometimes need to be some less than idealistic steps to get towards those. Couldn’t having the sometimes crude Trump who is also in the unique (strange) position of potential to be in politics but not politically correct be a step towards having more people wanting healthy agonistic spaces and not relying so much on cheating through “politically correctness”?

        Jesus overturned the tables at the temple and brandished a whip to deconstruct a long held system. Many would consider that “discourse” as quite antagonistic, but there is a season for such.


  12. The suggestion that Trump’s success as a candidate is the fault of the the political establishment for not taking the working class seriously strikes me as rather ironic since this assertion itself fails to take the working class seriously. Simply put, Alistair’s argument fails its own test. It suggests that the working class can’t help but support Trump because of the way they have been mistreated.

    But how can we take anyone seriously without holding them responsible for their decisions? I would argue that we must ultimately place the blame for Trump’s success squarely on the back of anyone who actually supports him, regardless of class. To do otherwise seems a back-handed, paternalistic defense of those among the working class who support Trump out of a sense of anger and protest. This is no way to choose a president and taking people seriously requires us to expect them to know better. Indeed, the best way to respect Trump supporters is to hold them responsible and call them out for supporting someone who is obviously unqualified for the job. Faithful are the wounds of a friend.


    1. Alastair J Roberts February 1, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      You misread my position. The working class and evangelicals are quite able not to support Trump and should be held responsible for their Trump support. The question is how they are to be held responsible and whether they are the only ones that are responsible for Trump’s rise. I am arguing that they should not for the most part be held responsible as racist xenophobes, but as those who are choosing a dangerous and imprudent means of redress in a political and social system that often marginalizes or pathologizes them. I am also holding many of the rest of us responsible for preparing the ground for the rise of such a candidate.


      1. How do you think the “rest of us” are responsible? What can we do now and in the future to cultivate a different kind of political soil that will produce a more balanced candidate? I’ve been deeply troubled about the increasing human tendency to lean toward extremism and “political correctness” at the expense of our “opponents.” How do we encourage people to be more willing to dialogue, find common ground and seek to hear and attend to all legitimate points of view? On a different subject — I may subscribe to your podcast but I was also wanting to subscribe to your blog through email. But I can’t find anywhere to sign up. Can you help?


        1. Alastair J Roberts February 17, 2016 at 10:05 am

          Thanks for the comment, Dee. I am fairly busy at the moment, so am unable to follow up all of the comments here, which led me to bow out of the conversation altogether, rather than answering a very few comments and ignoring the rest. However, I am hoping to provide something of an answer to your (very significant) questions in another piece I am currently planning to write.

          On your question about subscribing: you need to click the little ‘follow’ button that appears in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. This article provides more information.


  13. There’s another aspect to this.

    (1) a bunch of white working class support an obnoxious, outspoken boor for president and they are racist xenophobes.
    (2) a bunch of non-white students at an upper-class university go on a verbal rampage through the university library, threatening, intimidating and abusing other students (especially whites) and they are lauded as expressing a legitimate grievance.

    The issue is not that group #2 doesn’t have a legitimate grievance – they most likely have several. But when that group is celebrated for expressing their grievance in a racist and anti-social manner (and those who complain rebuked) and the other group told that expressing their grievance in a legitimate (though perhaps foolish) manner is proof that they need social censure, don’t expect the first group to feel supported or listened to. It’s very, very hard for anyone who is not “in” with progressive culture to not feel that the mainstream media and liberal establishment is playing favourites as hard as they possibly can (and would do so even harder if they could get away with it).

    Disenfranchising and alienating a minority group breeds hostility. Now consider what happens when this is done to a majority…


  14. Well done, Alastair. Very insightful.


  15. I appreciate your empathetic tone towards Trump supporters. Is your major intention to get others (especially liberal elites) to see them empathetically, to stop accusing them of being primarily motivated by racism and xenophobia? You propose a number of alternative motivations with which I think few liberals would disagree (that, for instance, Trump supporters are drawn to his dominance politics and media savvy). Are you proposing that those alternative motivations are good motivations, or morally neutral, or objectionable but less so than racism? As empathetic as you are to Trump supporters, you seem much less so towards progressives such as myself (almost defensive it seems), and the lines seem drawn too facilely (for instance giving little space to white working class progressives who are as mortified by Trump as the progressive “elites”).


    1. Re. dominance politics and media savvy

      Political correctness is wanting all opinions to carry some kind of moral weight. Trivial 2015 media spotlight example: If I say “I don’t accept that Caitlyn Jenner is a real woman” or more charitably “I’m happy to refer to Caitlyn as a her but as I understand it she is in fact a man who experiences sex dysphoria”, progressives will label me a ‘hater’. Being gay myself doesn’t get me out of this bind because I’m also white, male, working-class and worst of all evangelical.

      Trump says “Screw all that! Bruce is a dude” and gets my vote. Clumsy, ugly, stupid at times but also funny and refreshing.

      More seriously, I don’t want my low wage cut even further by open borders. A little bit selfish but true.


      1. So are you proposing that the statement “Screw all that! Bruce is a dude” invites further open dialogue about Jenner’s gender status? The statement “progressives will label me a ‘hater'” is obviously over-stated (clearly some would, also clearly some would not, and we can debate about percentages, but without an actual study, it would be a highly biased debate). If a progressive (such as myself) feels caricatured by your claim, they are not likely to respond dispassionately, and so defensiveness breeds defensiveness. Perhaps instead of blaming the other side, we should do our best to seek mutual understanding. The point I was trying to make at the end of my original comment was that I think the author was too critical of progressives to make for an even-handed interaction.


        1. “So are you proposing that the statement “Screw all that! Bruce is a dude” invites further open dialogue…”

          This is where class/culture differences come in. A statement like that wouldn’t necessarily shut down further open dialogue in a working to middle class setting (at least not in private). The speech codes of elites are fine tuned to the upper middle-class experience. Perhaps they work at Ivy League universities where privileged kids of every race and nationality gather but they are of limited value elsewhere.

          Trump could be wrong and a sufficient number of Americans get the idea that he really is just a (wealthy) redneck loser. That’s the gamble he is taking.with his straight talking.


          1. We are not speaking in private, but on public media. And claim what you will, but in these venues of social media, the only way such a statement would lead to a profitable discussion in which both sides heard the other is if one side (apparently the polite elite side), disregards the dogmatism and close-mindedness of such a statement and responds with patience, calm and respect. What usually happens is that abrupt, dogmatic statements are responded to in kind, and it quickly turns from light to heat.

        2. Last night: On the issue of same-sex marriage, Marco Rubio said: “I don’t believe that believing in traditional marriage the way I do makes you a bigot or a hater.

          Why does Republican candidate feel the need to express an opinion in such a way?


    2. Because “progressives like yourself” are the worst excuses for human beings on the planet.


  16. Look, Trump and religion. It’s a hot topic. And I’m glad Christians are weighing in. And this is excellent.

    But it’s pretty interesting that you can take Rachel Held Evan’s piece and claim to beat it at its own game – if you’re a white male PhD student from a respected university.

    While I can see the positives of your piece, it has a strong resistance against Held, who is actually different from how she is depicted here — but that makes sense because if you co-opt her game as the one of the Liberal establishment, and you have your credentials, then well… you win. Because the game is rigged for you to win. As it is rigged also for Trump, a white male capitalist with a huge amount of media exposure.

    But whether to use Held’s argument to stage your own is a) a fair fight or b) virtuous activity are two questions at the top of my mind. I’m not sure you’re operating under the same project, although you sure do claim to be.


  17. Enjoyed it, but am I alone as a liberal in seeing the writer’s America as a “nation” vs “market” dichotomy as missing a pretty big boat?

    I’m not saying the dichotomy isn’t useful… I’m just asking how this plays out in the real world. Seems to me this largely plays out, not parcelled out to disparate politicians, but in singular, Janus-faced politicians; those who demagogue America-as-nation to get electoral support, then use the power obtained to treat the common man like a food animal, to be managed like just another market commodity.

    And how many vicarious elite-wannabe American “conservatives” get all moist in the panties when reminded about the nobility of the American character (read: the “national” American) then, when chided a little blurt out, “Why should the government force me to spend even a PENNY to support health care for anyone else?!” (the Darwinian “market” American)? Mind you, this is one person, not two.

    Seems to me that the liberals get the point, here: At least they’re more likely to sport one face when it comes to recognizing this dualism. In fact, while they might entertain aspects of both the national and market recognition of the American people (they’re not necessarily mutually exclusive), at least these culminate in a unified perspective: My fellow Americans and I have a shared, mutual interest in decent governance that maximizes opportunity and (at least) mindfully and actively seeks to avoid treating us like expendable, plug-compatible parts of a cold economic machine. That recognition originates in a shared destiny (an American “民族”), but (for now, anyways) needs to be realized in rather stark economic terms.


  18. I appreciate your thoughtful analysis, but in this case I happen to be observing the behaviors and attitudes RHE mentions.
    Trump supporter #1
    Loved George Wallace for prez with similar fervor, loves to tell/mail ethnic jokes, despises that we have a person of color in the White House. Says anyone voting Dem could not possibly be a Christian, is not ever getting to heaven. An angry person, an abusive husband & father. Claims very strong Christian faith.
    Trump supporter #2
    Young mom who teaches school and is frustrated easily. When son doesn’t draw what she wants, she breaks his chalk and yells. Entitlement to a better life is a focus of thought. Says send back immigrants. An atheist.
    Trump supporter #3 Veteran w PTSD, he realizes that Trump says the ridiculous,at times, but believes Trump is teasing us and has actual (unexpressed to us) good policy. A hard guy,biker, ex-con, says throw current bums out of gov. Also angry, some DV issues.Goes to support groups,some Christian-counseling based but no church.
    These are only anecdotes not data, of course.
    Perhaps I have too few friends in other demographics.
    It is a fascinating and dangerous time, thanks for sharing your POV.


  19. We need to get into perspective the problems Trump brings vis a vis the problems of the other candidates. To my knowledge he is the least gung-ho when it comes to foreign policy of the main Republican runners. He opposed the Iraq, Libya and Syria Wars. He’s also seemed to take a reasonable approach to the Russians, saying he’d “make a deal” with Putin. So the excessive focus on him being the harbinger of doom is misplaced. Cruz and Hiliary would continue the status quo overseas and Hiliary would be at least as authoritarian when it comes to civil liberties as would Trump, so to would other Republican candidates


  20. Eric Blankenburg February 2, 2016 at 10:33 am

    If you want to know the real reason people support Trump, go ask any factory worker whose job was shipped to China or Mexico, or any computer programmer whose job was shipped to India or who was replaced by an H1B Visa holder from India.

    No politician was talking about any of this before Trump got into the race.

    That’s why people support him.


  21. Thanks for this thoughtful article. I laughed when Trump first announced he was running and have since been baffled and appalled to see the very real support he has. I’ve sort of assumed that I generally have the same values as his supporters, but they’ve become disoriented in applying them and ended up supporting Trump when the very values “we” hold should condemn that support.


  22. So insightful almost an iconic piece of writing. One thing bothers me though – the problem with Trump is not really his policy positions but as you argue his response to people that attack him whether it’s that muslim woman who came in peace or the reporter with disabilty. A politician has to have big shoulders and be aware of his/her power so as not to abuse it. What I saw was abuse and mob rule.

    I agree though that the centre has shifted and has disregarded a swathe of the population. They shouldn’t really be voting for Trump – it’s an indictment of the US politics.


  23. […] Trumped Up? Is the Donald’s Support Really Driven by Racist Xenophobia?  – Alastair Roberts […]


  24. Hi! I’m studying English at Durham (2nd year) and do some Theology modules! Thanks for this, I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for challenging assumptions most of us would have of Trump and for exploring some of the factors behind his appeal. I really appreciate your approach!

    You mentioned that ‘capitalism […] is one of the most socially destructive forces known to humanity.’ Could you recommend resources that back up this claim? Also, what kind of biblical theology do you write about? :)


  25. Constitution Girl February 2, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    Oh, my gosh! This diatribe is just dripping with sneer and revulsion. I cannot stand the haughty, elitist language and condescending air. It is, to be blunt, nauseating (I know, a decidedly white-working-class thing to say). When I then read the FAQs/Who We Are page and find that this is actually written by Christians?? In what realm? Speaking of your fellow Americans with such egotistical manner, let alone fellow Christians is stunning. So much for they meek and lowly inheriting the earth.

    I find it despicable that you feel the need to use such ‘elevated’ linguistics (gasp! And coming from such an uneducated villager! To think she has the audacity to question….), to illucidate your points, all the while chastising the very academics (‘Such opinions may be great for virtue-signalling in OUR privileged circles on social media’, emphasis mine) of which you are obviously addressing. It makes one wonder if this exercise is really just one checkmark along the list of requirements of a post doc education. It certainly isn’t written to change a mind or course of personal action, and certainly not of the legion of elites expected to read it – written obviously intentionally so that those Trump supporters wouldn’t (or is that ‘couldn’t’?) read it. A celebratory back slapping, and acknowledging of the, ahem, potential, that the premise might, just might, be the teeniest bit correct, but, as the true learned sector, obviously not of significant consequence to bother selves with, and thus take the admonition well.

    I respond to you not as a Trump supporter, though I’m not decidedly against, but as a middle American that, yes, find the pretentiousness of especially academia – in all its forms and forums – and liberal religious institutions (and MereOrthodoxy, apparently), pompous beyond tolerance. And you’re correct in that the vast bundle of supporters are disillusioned with Washington politics. Conservatives, especially constitutional conservatives are disengaging with the ‘establishment’ because they don’t listen, nor heed requests from the majority of their expected followers. Trump supporters are brought to you courtesy of, well, individuals like YOU, the self professed ‘intelligencia’, and the body politic. Please, save us the pseudo scolding. No one believes it. Not even you.


  26. […] * See this (+) persuasive introduction to early 21st century American class war. (Plus.) […]


  27. Excellent analysis; very insightful and well written. Besides your oddly negative and wildly inaccurate parenthetical comments about capitalism, you hit the nail on the head.


  28. […] to understand Trump’s core […]


  29. Can we not hate sin without hating the sinner? I don’t hate the white working class, but I do hate when people say and do racist or sexist things. I won’t apologize for condemning these sins or be silenced by people who claim, “Oh, you’re just being politically correct. You just hate poor, uneducated white people.”


    1. Is being racist/sexist sinful? I don’t believe such concepts existed in the bible. In fact, scripture seems to support a perspective that many would label sexist/racist. I think you have elevated progressive dogma above Gods teachings. This is a problem for many Christians, progressivism is in fact their true religion. Their Christianity is superficial.


      1. Rejecting or demeaning someone for any reason is sinful. Speech that tears down rather than builds up is sinful. You aren’t loving your neighbor as yourself if you exclude him because of his skin color or tell “jokes” that make her feel uncomfortable and unwelcome.


        1. I don’t see the sense in that, everything, from groups to the cells that make everything up, require exclusion, barriers and rejection as a prerequisite for existence. Your “neigbor” per the Bible was usually your blood kin, or someone who needs your help that you come across. Your inclusive perspective is a recipe for destruction by groups who don’t carry your illusions.

          Men and women have biologically and culturally developed into specialized roles. This is absolutely supported by the Bible, a society that denies this and exalts feminism above God will weaken itself, most critically by interrupting the all important male group dynamic with female intrusion. So if jokes are needed to preserve male and female spaces, get over it.

          Race and ethnicity are quite real and essential to a healthy identity and community. By failing to recognize this and prizing altruism towards aliens as an essentially holy act, we embark on the path of self destruction. Not only do we weaken ourselves by tearing down millenia of traditional sex roles, but we destroy ourselves by accepting peoples with superior fertility to our own. The nations our forefathers conquered and built will be overtaken by hostile aliens because we foolishly believed it was sinful to keep them out and preserve ourselves as a distinct people.

          Your beliefs are not Christian, they are suicidal.


          1. That sounds like a pile of rationalizations to avoid having to obey the teaching of Scripture. “But wishing to justify himself, the man asked, And who is my neighbor?”

          2. Sweetheart, The Lord is not a pussycat, he had no problem with genocide and was being magnanimous in ruling that war brides should have a month to grieve before getting raped. He made us as tribes. It is you who rationalizes his word into meaning we should destroy ourselves to accommodate aliens.

            You are a progressive, not a Christian, the tenets of your faith come from the Ivy League, and you are revising the Bible to accommodate their false dogma.

          3. Wow. You’re not even pretending to read the Bible. You’re just making up whatever you want and calling it Christianity.

          4. It’s tragic how institutions invert over time. The Christianity that created Charlemagne now makes nothing but Ned Flanders and Ethel the Church Lady. Ah well, all things die.

            For your reading pleasure look at Numbers 31:18. Note also how many Biblical figures kept sex slaves. Including one of Gods favorites, King Solomon, with 300 sex slaves. Have you ripped these passages out of your Bible? Or have they come up with a progressive version that omits such things?

    2. The term “racist” has been rendered meaningless babble via rampant abuse, just pure gibberish. The problem with that word is that it is pinned on anyone not hewing to a sufficiently leftish take on anything and everything. Such word abuse, as Orwell pointed out in his essay on politics and language, renders that specific term meaningless.

      Sorry, you no longer get to use the term “racist”.


    3. The reality is that the vast majority of our species is parochial. What has happened is that one specific example of this nearly universal parochialism has been branded “racist” while all other forms have been left alone.

      The reaction is to the hypocrisy in this double standard.


      1. All I know is if you’re coming up with fancy excuses for why you don’t really have to love your neighbor, Jesus has some parables with your name on them.


  30. Alastair J Roberts February 3, 2016 at 12:59 pm

    I wanted to thank those who have commented here for their kind encouragements, helpful engagement with my article, thoughtful pushback, and considered criticisms. Unfortunately, I have not had and will not have the time to give you all the responses that your comments merit, but I greatly appreciate everyone’s involvement in this conversation.

    Thank you all.


    1. It was refreshing to read. I’ve read a lot of “Trump is just scary” articles with little to back it up, and I’ve read other “Trump will just win” articles with little reason for why he should. (In the near future maybe our attention will shift more to someone like Cruz.)


  31. This is an outstanding piece but I think it overestimates our ability to “bridge the divide.” The salaried progressive has every incentive to signal superior holiness in a status competition by castigating the white, wage earning class. Their economic and ideological interests are completely opposed. The salaried progressive wants cheap goods and good feelings for expressing altruism to aliens. The conservative white wage earner wants to drive out alien competitors even if it means driving up the cost of luxury goods.

    And I think more right wing whites are starting to understand the existential threat that progressive whites and their colored pawns pose. Genetic, cultural and economic displacement and replacement.

    Nothing points to reconciliation, everything points to war.


    1. It’s the the point where against expectations and advertisements the wage earner tends to be sick of cheap garbage products and while still probably overly materialistic, much less materialistic and consumerist than culture would lead people to believe.

      At very least consumerism is still somewhat of an ill to the whiteevangelical wage-earner, even as he’s party to it. I think there is an idea of people being happier with less things but more social and economic stability.


  32. If I could add one thing:

    “I find the sort of politics that Trump represents are not just deeply distasteful but harbour terrifying danger.”

    A lot of people in the classes that support Trump are a little tired of being told how “fearful” they are, and then hearing Trump’s detractors talk about how “terrifying” he is.

    Nothing personal to the author of this piece, but it’s as though it’s not bad enough to be condescended to and told that you’re a sniveling coward, you have to be called a sniveling coward by people who seem to take pride in being “terrified” of silly things.


  33. Something the author doesn’t fully understand is just how badly the working classes, middle and below, are doing economically in America. Their real income has dropped more than 20% in the last 3 decades, probably more like 40% with legitimate inflation figures. And it has recently been discovered that the death rate of this class has skyrocketed, along with their rates of depression and substance abuse….The middle class is literally being destroyed.


  34. […] one time I wrote a post about tribalism related to global warming. Also this post I just read on why Donald Trump appeals to the working class that’s amazing. Also my friend Amy wrote this great piece on Watchman that said a lot of the […]


  35. […] and Culture Award: Trumped Up? – Here’s a lengthy but excellent article to help you understand the nuances behind the […]


  36. Self-awareness? From a leftist? Don’t they crucify you for that in your circle?


  37. […] Keep America shitty again. Related: Trump’s evangelical working class. […]


  38. I found this piece very interesting. I think if we are going to “reach” the Trump supporters in any meaningful way, this is the approach that must be taken. I must admit I am very concerned about how many self-described evangelicals are supporting Trump. I find his comments, his past policy positions (if he has had any really), and behavior to be totally at odds with my Christian faith. I am concerned about all of the anger and ire his supporters seem to have.
    Full disclosure I am a Cruz supporter because his views align more with my conservative/libertarian viewpoint.


    1. It seems that ordinary evangelicals are no longer listening to their “betters” when it comes to supporting Trump. Or maybe you can explain why “liar” Cruz is a Christian?


      1. I think it comes down to the fruit that someone bears in their life. Cruz and Rubio’s actions and words are consistent with someone who follows Jesus. Are they perfect? No. None of us are and I think it is wrong to try and project a political figure as the perfect Christian or someone to blindly follow. Cruz just happens to be a person I agree with more than others, though not on all things. Which I feel is healthy. Contrast that to Trump who has repeatedly said and done things that are decidedly anti-Christian and inconsistent with a person professing to follow Christ. There is a great difference between being an erring imperfect Christian and one who thumbs their nose blatantly and Christian ethics and values. I would put Trump in the latter category and Rubio and Cruz in the former.


        1. The fruit of the Spirit is shameless lying? Or is it just working class cussing that is inconsistent with Christianity?


  39. I’m not sure that there are too many church-going evangelicals who support Trump. Trump’s evangelical support is largely from Southern whites who identify culturally as evangelical but who don’t generally attend church. I’d guess that Ted Cruz is the candidate who most closely represents church-going evangelicals. I spent a number of years in the PCA, and I’d guess that about 95% of PCA and SBC folks support Cruz.


  40. This is about the scared, racist, religiously bigoted whites who want to bully the rest of us. Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, Sikhs, etc, all feel rejected by the establishment, put down, discriminated, but they don’t lash out blindly at others or vote against their interests. If white evangelicals and working class want to they will just continue to suffer and fall behind.
    Stupid trash!!!


    1. Um… many Muslims support the party that supports homosexuality. Is that supposed to be not voting against their interests?


      1. Not at all. The dems/libs aren’t forcing religious children to go gay, wear bikinis, listen to metal, marry slutty blondes, say lords prayer, have abortions… It’s the Christian / Cons who make it harder for us to wear our religious garb, ban mosques, enforce prayers/merry xmas, push religious tests, pimp wars. Muslims and most minorities always vote against the white Christian / conservative party! Survival.


  41. Fantastic article. Thank you for writing this.


  42. […] Trumped Up? Is the Donald’s Support Really Driven by Racist Xenophobia? | MereOrthodoxy | Alastair Roberts | February 1, 2016 […]


  43. Thank-you for saying this, however when you called him a clown it offended me. I didn’t vote for him in the primary but I could easily vote for him in the general. He is not a clown. He is a serious and successful business man, who has stepped in to make several public projects successful and often times been very kind and giving to strangers. He has the potential to be a good or even great president and I’m tired of being treated with contempt by the ruling class.


  44. […] Roberts, who has written the best piece on Trump that I have read so far,sums it up […]


  45. […] Trumped Up? Is Donald’s Support Really Driven by Racist Xenophobia? […]


  46. A question: where did you hear of Scott Alexander? I love his texts, but he is pretty obscure.


  47. […] and demonization of others that have so often characterized this election cycle. Do you think everyone who voted for President-elect Donald Trump is racist, xenophobic, misogynist, Islamophobic, and homophobic? If so, I doubt you are rejoicing […]


  48. […] Trumped Up? Is the Donald’s Support Really Driven by Racist Xenophobia? | MereOrthodoxy | Alastair Roberts | February 1, 2016 […]


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