Relative Deprivation and Trump Appeal

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Most people would choose a 3000 sq-ft. house over a 4000 sq-ft. home — if that’s the only way that their house could be bigger than everyone else’s.

That may help to explain Donald Trump’s appeal.

The white working-class (Tump’s biggest supporters) have plummeted in relative status over the last 40 years.

Their wages have languished or fallen even as minorities have gained ground — threatening white privilege and dominance, points out Thomas Edsall at the New York Times. Plus, the buying power of the top 10% has kept many goods and services beyond their reach, he adds.

Meanwhile, half of Trump’s supporters think we’d all be better of if women adhered to traditional gender roles — even though white working-class family incomes would drop even more if women stayed home.

And many of them worry when they see blacks and Latinos gaining ground.

Interesting that so many of these guys are angry at the “unfairness” of losing their privilege even as they hope to increase the inequality of those “beneath them.”

I agree with Trump voters on one thing

I actually join Trump voter outrage when it comes to this, though: Our government has been ignoring the working class, and today America’s working- and middle-class is shrinking as almost all of the income gains of the last 40 years float to the top 1%.

But why not root for everyone, instead of just trying to feel like you’re better than someone else?

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 28, 2016, in men, politics/class inequality, psychology, race/ethnicity, sexism and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Often people blame minorities and immigrants for them not having a job, but the blame should go to the big corporations that keep the bulk of the money for the highest executives. Because Donald Trump makes people believe that he is a self made man and that he will “drain the swamp,” many white working class people support him. Another thing people like about him is that he likes the “traditional” gender roles and he sticks to the status quo, which gives people the illusion of stability. Donald Trump may not know politics, but he knows how to manipulate people using statements that are either untrue or incredible.

  2. “But why not root for everyone, instead of just trying to feel like you’re better than someone else?”

    I think we can agree. But, we can also ask: ” Why PRETEND to root for everyone…………?

    The problem here is very simple: Hillary Clinton, President Obama as well as Establishment Dems and Republicans have ALL been part of the problem. They ARE the problem still. So, I cannot understand just how voting for Hillary Clinton would change things? Have we not tried the “Hope and Change” thing already? Clearly HRC is just another Establishment politician masquerading as something else.

    Is Mr. Trump the answer? NO. But, all we are going to get with Hillary Clinton is just more of the same of BS. If you want that, then go ahead and vote for her. If you want to go in a different direction direction, then there is an alternative. The choice is yours. But, you do have choice.

    I am no fan of Hillary Clinton. Nor do I pretend to be. I can honestly say that Mr. Trump has a lot flaws…However, few Clinton supporters will even acknowledge that HRC is a liar and corrupt.

    • Well, take a look at today’s post.
      https://broadblogs.com/2016/11/07/why-would-my-friends-vote-trump/

      After rereading it I think I left a couple things out. Which I ended up writing in one of my responses to a comment:

      Some of my Democratic friends feel like the Democrats haven’t been working in their favor. But I meet with Congress members on Capitol Hill and the Democrats always want to do things that help the middle-class while the Republicans block everything. Both sides get blamed.

      The only thing that both sides of Congress agree on are things that help the wealthy, So they are the only ones who get what they want. And both sides agree on what helps the wealthy because large campaign contributions work like bribery. We must change the big money in politics system.

      If you look at Supreme Court decisions you will see a pattern where Republican appointees vote to bolster big money and Democratic appointees vote against it. Hillary would be much better on this issue.

  3. “Most people would choose a 3000 sq-ft. house over a 4000 sq-ft. home — if that’s the only way that their house could be bigger than everyone else’s.”

    Maybe that’s because people perceive 3000 sq-ft to be excessive already in terms of practicality. Lots of people cringe at the thought of cleaning a 4000 sq-ft house. Ask them if they’d prefer a 800 sq-ft house over a 1200 sq-ft house and I reckon you’d get a different answer.

  4. I actually join Trump voter outrage when it comes to this, though: Our government has been ignoring the working class, and today America’s working- and middle-class is shrinking as almost all of the income gains of the last 40 years float to the top 1%.”

    But that’s why people would go for trump despite him being a pig and jerk. Because the talk is of our government and how it;s causing problems. Well then that means the last thing people want is “Mrs. Government” as in Hillary Clinton. If government and the structure is bad and everything about it. But you have a candidate that wants more government intervention and policies an such, plus the scandals and there’s a new one today too. Then people are going to fear it’s going to get worse with her and will want almost anything even if that change might be worse with trump.

    They want change. They don’t feel Clinton is giving than change but would ramp up what’s already wrong with our country. I work with a woman who is really nice and she can’t stand trump, but she says she can’t do it anymore. She said it was bad enough with obama and she’s working two other jobs and just barely keeping her head afloat and can’t deal with further status quo as she’s barely getting by. And mind you, her other job is teaching. So she has a decent paying job to begin with and it’s not like she’s working at walmart or something. So that says a lot. And she isn’t conserivative and pretty balanced so that says a lot to me when someone like her feels that way and she also has some democratic or liberal views too and still feels that way. People are so fed up with status quo that they are willing to go with an alternative even if that alternative is not better and maybe more volatile. And I’m not so sure hillary is going to be any different than obama and possibly worse.

    • I get that scared people are more easily drawn to scary people. It’s something I have been talking to members of Congress about to convince them that they need to start helping average people and not only elites. I’m not the only one talking to them about this, of course. But they are starting to get it.

      We need to get big money out of politics because that’s the thing that gets congress only responding to the wealthiest.

      Get big money out of politics! Don’t elect scary people who look poised to do the country and the world a great deal of harm!

      And politicians are learning that if they keep ignoring average Americans they risk blowing up the country economically (Trump would be much worse — using his business MO he’ll have us bankrupt) and politically (he can’t figure out why we don’t routinely use nukes. Cause we’ll get blown up in retribution, idiot!)

  5. It’s definitely a problem when a person can have a full time job and not be able to support their family. To be paid a living wage is surely one of the fundamental rights, over and above, say, gun ownership?

  6. Cause humans are primarily motivated by their fear

    • Yes. And in this case it seems to be both a “relative” fear of being lesser-than along with an “absolute” fear of falling out of the middle class and into financial insecurity.

      • Yeah. Both seem to be very important to people

      • Don’t you think that’s a legitimate fear of falling out of middle class and into financial insecurity? God forbid that. If you’re losing you standing then it means you are losing your earnings and having more financial trouble, which is bad.

        Our government has been ignoring the working class, and today America’s working- and middle-class is shrinking as almost all of the income gains of the last 40 years float to the top 1%.”

        Which is why so many people are against hillary and for trump. If that said goverment is part of it and people are tired of it and want it shook up and then feel this candidate trying to be president is miss government and stands for everything that is big government as well as corporate. Then americans will feel not only will things be status quo but worse and more middle class shrinkage when she’s president. And that fear and the way things work is if the poor, urban and trailer americans who might not be doing their part and abusing the system, but getting benefits that middle class are paying and from the loss of $ by the middle class is who the lower class raises up closer to middle class.

        That’s the problem because hillary can say or others can say they will make it better for everyone, but it doesn’t work that way, not with our government. So what americans hear, middle class, is that they will be taxed more or costs will go up off setting, free college for example, which they are already paying a ton with anyway. For it to be evened out unfortunately it’s because one group is shrinking because of financially burdened by our government while the other group less so. So people are quite jaded about such promises. I know trump doesn’t care and it just saying stuff to get people to vote for him. But that’s his appeal to many people who find him grotesque as a person, but still will vote because they are tired of this and feel, he will shake thiings up and will help the middle class unlike hillary. Which people feel hillary will help either corporate 1% and the poor, but not middle class. Trump is self serving though, so I don’t believe he’s helping or would help the middle class or any except the wealthy and himself, but people feel since he’s not a politician and outside that he’ll do something more or better for the working class unlike hillary.

      • I do think that the fear of falling out of middle class and into financial insecurity is legitimate. And I actually meet with members of Congress, both Republican and Democratic, to talk about that legitimate fear and urge legislation that helps keep people in the middle class like putting people to work building and repairing our infrastructure and teaching our children, grants and low interest loans for education and job training that help lift people into the middle class, and a fair tax structure that doesn’t help the rich at the expense of everyone else — like the earned income tax credit that makes sure that no one who is working for a living is living in poverty.

        But that’s why I wrote this at the end of the post:

        I agree with Trump voters on one thing

        I actually join Trump voter outrage when it comes to this, though: Our government has been ignoring the working class, and today America’s working- and middle-class is shrinking as almost all of the income gains of the last 40 years float to the top 1%.

        But I also added these points:

        Interesting that so many of these guys are angry at the “unfairness” of losing their privilege even as they hope to increase the inequality of those “beneath them.”

        But why not root for everyone, instead of just trying to feel like you’re better than someone else?

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