Forget the Man: Look at Trump’s Supporters

ACADEME BLOG

The focus of discussion on Donald Trump is, understandably, the man himself—but the phenomenon of his success arises elsewhere. What Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, that “there is no there there,” applies to the man: all we have “there” is a massive ego. Trump is simply a skilled entertainer, Howard Beale of the movie Network brought to life. He exhorts people to yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” but doesn’t even care what “it” is. The applause, the votes—that’s all that matters to him.

Trump’s supporters, however, are something else again. Finally feeling a spotlight on themselves, they are people who have felt forgotten for generations. They are not descended from the American identity as was it imagined and written in New England and imagined and crafted separately by the southern white elite. That identity was only endured by them. The great…

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