White Identity and Economic Dysfunction


This podcast looks at White Identity and Economic Dysfunction. While the NABWMT is a 501c(3) tax exempt organization, and cannot endorse political candidates, it can explore issues in society. So, today we will look at Donald Trump’s supporters. We do this from the lens of statistics from the Census Bureau and our source is the New York Times*.

As an example, The Times asked Trump supporters who their ancestors where and some respondents don’t give a standard answer like “English” or “German.” Instead, they simply answer “American.” They went on to look at current primary demographics and past elections and elections and found that “Trump counties” are places where white identity mixes with leconomic concerns.

So the NABWMT and it’s members I would guess, instinctively would label Trump supporters as racists, but the data is more nuanced than that. I have also published many podcasts on “White Priviledge” but here this concept is not as germain.

Trump has done well in the North and South, liberal and conservative, rural and suburban. So let’s look the data a little further. Yes they are mostly White, with no high school diploma. They also identify as “American” on the census. However, and here is the factoid that may cut across racial boundaries since they were in so called “old economy” jobs like agriculture, construction, manufacturing, or trade. In addition, their labor participation rate was low. (out of a job of given up looking for a job. They have largely missed the transition of the United States away from manufacturing and into higher technical jobs.

Moreover, they missed the traditional “American Dream” of owning a home and “settled” for living in a mobile home. This may be construed as the stereotype of “Trailer trash” but lets move on from that.

This is not just a recent concern, say the damage from the 2008 financial crisis. Rather, the economic problems that line up with strong Trump support have long been in the making, and defy simple fixes.

An then there is the high proportion of whites Trump supporters without a high school diploma has lasting consequences for incomes, for example. The education pay gap starts small when people are early in their careers before widening over the decades of their working lives.

In the Times analysis, surprisingly, it didn’t show a particularly powerful relationship between the racial breakdown of a county and its likelihood of voting for Trump. There are Trump-supporting counties with both very high and very low proportions of African-Americans, for example.

Clearly these American’s are angry at their situation and feel like they are “losing the American way of life”, and that is understandable. But before we get too sympathetic, there are underlying currents of concern. They have a history of voting for segregationists like supporting George Wallace in 1968.

So the take away from this appears to be: we understand why Trump supporters are angry at the political situation but we must be on guard against candidates that by their votes they empower candidates that could produce policies that promote racism, homophobia and income inequality. So, be careful what you wish for. American society is becoming more diverse and policies that embrace that are likely to align with the NA’s statement of purpose.

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