As I start reading my usual political websites and have an ear tuned to the news on MSNBC I don’t know what, if anything, I’m going to write later this morning. One thing caught my attention on Politico, Hillary Clinton’s path to victory, so of course I click on that cautioning my self before I do not to get too overconfident. Trump has only one path to victory:
… ginning up disaffected, non-college educated, working-class white voters -- many whom may never have voted before -- to sweep across the Rust Belt, in places like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio.
I’m not particularly proud of my reaction to this because it seems elitist, snobbish, and in current parlance certainly not politically correct. If it was merely disaffected voters he needed to win, you could say the same thing about Bernie Sanders. Much of his support has been among disaffected voters, the younger of those who may have never voted. However many if not most of them are either in college or college graduates. No matter that they may make the same or even less than those considered working class, when you consider other commonalities rather than economic class they are among those who might - non-PC alert - be called the critical thinking class.
If income is taken out of the equation, can we call the majority of Trump supporters poorly educated and working at blue collar jobs. Those that I’ve seen interviewed who were in college seemed to be, dare I say, gullible. The term that came to mind for may Trump supporters was “white trash.” I decided to talk a little walk on the Google side and found looking up”white trash” that there was so much written on a subject I’d have to spent several days wading though the relevant material of write a front page worth Daily Kos essay.
I thought I’d skim though some of the articles just to get a general idea what academic experts had to say.
In 2013 sociologist Matt Wray published "White Trash: The Social Origins of a Stigmatype”. He writes about the "deep historical entanglements with the politics of sex, race, and class.” But he reminds us that awhile back the term white trash was synonymous with poor white trash, often synonymous with “trailer park trash.”
I think the crowds that came out to hear Sarah Palin speak showed us that you didn’t have to be poor or live in a trailer park to be susceptible to demagoguery.
In 2014 an Urban Dictionary contributor named Mike offered up a pretty good definition of the kind of white trash whose mindset Trump is tapping into: Urban Dictionary:
A term used broadly and often inaccurately to define a person or group of persons whom embody the concepts of ignorance, racism, violence, alcoholism, and anglo-saxon ancestry. It is often used as a label on the poor caucasian working class. Many people are labelled "white trash" because of the clothes they wear and their appearance, regardless of wealth and standing. Many that use this term do not understand the lifestyles of those whom they deride and oftentimes neglect to see that many people in the poor white working class are actually very intelligent tolerant people who tend to like professional wrestling, cheap beer and NASCAR. Many others were born with mental or physical disabilities and are forced into the stereotypical "white trash" lifestyle by the opressive society of the united states which tends to ignore its lowest classes. If correctly applied, the term refers to people such as the military personnel who had a wonderful time playing fraternity pranks on the prisoners of Abu Ghraib prison, the corporate scum who build their big box department stores right across the road from mom and pop stores which are then forced out of business for the greater good of a couple of obscenely rich assholes at the top, idiots who write "dotheads are dirty" on the walls of gas station restrooms that are not even run by east Indians but people of middle-eastern descent yet they are too full of themselves to notice a difference, and especially Texan wannabe cowboys who carelessly overrun foreign countries without noticing the thousands of innocent lives that are constantly being ended and then having the nerve to say "GOD IS ON OUR SIDE!
As I embarked on my second cup of coffee and reread this definition it hit me that these are the sort of people who are fans of Howard Stern. I expect Stern would proudly say he appeals to white trash. This being said, I think it is telling that Donald Trump has been on the Howard Stern show some two dozen times (according to Huffington Post) where he once said “Do you like girls that are five-foot-one? They call it — they come up to you-know-where.”
In 2013, The New York Post, not known for scholarly articles, had a good opinion piece “When did white trash become normal?"
When Snooki, whose talents include getting sloppy drunk and throwing up on camera, made Barbara Walters’ “Ten Most Fascinating People” list a few years back, one could only ask: Was Octomom not available?
Last year, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” which features a cornucopia of social ills, was TLC’s highest-rated show, attracting more cable viewers than the Republican National Convention, which had the misfortune to share the time slot with the charmers from Georgia. The show’s matriarch, June Shannon, has four daughters by four men, one of whose names she can’t recall.
White Trash is the new normal — and you don’t have to tune in to reality TV to rub elbows with pathologies that once stayed put in Skunk Hollow. White Trash Normal has invaded every nook and cranny of life, from table manners, to dress, to money management.
As unnerving as it is to say, Donald Trump appeals to “the new normal.” Scary.