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A savior of the depressed and frightened, that's how Donald Trump presented himself to white voters: sociologist

Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press.

According to exit polls in the last U.S. elections, three out of five white voters, gave their vote to Republican Donald Trump so that he could remain four more years at the helm of the country, which meant a slight increase compared to the 2016 elections, but what made them make such a decision?

Manuel Ortiz Escámez

For the professor emeritus in sociology at the University of California at Berkeley, Arlie Russell Hochschild, who over several years of study of those who support the "Tea Party" - a right-wing American political movement centered on conservatism - to which Trump belongs, the vote for the Republican is more visceral than rationing. 

Although Democrat Joe Biden won, the election was very close, as Donald Trump had more than 74 million votes, which represented 46.91 percent of the total votes.

The author of several books, including "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Grief on the American Right", pointed out that the Trump Effect, which has consisted of dividing society, has worked.

On the one hand, the Republican makes a group of his white voters feel that they are the best, that other communities have tried to appropriate jobs, spaces and opportunities that they don't deserve.

On the other hand, he plays the role of a martyr or even the "Savior" who suffers for his people, who understands all the problems and seeks to save them from bad situations.

"Donald Trump has a way of insinuating, of making it sound like he is a dominant paradigm of evangelical Christians and makes it sound like the Savior is about to come...he makes it sound like he is suffering, listen to him when he says ?I am suffering for you, to the ears of a Christian that is a ?who is suffering for me? Christ.

In that sense, he pointed out that for Democrats, the image of the Trump supporter is the one who could be described with the English term "sitting pretty" - being in a good position, usually because you have a lot of money - those who wear a red cap with the acronym MAGA - Make America Great Again - and who cheer every word of the Republican, however, he said, that image of "sitting pretty" describes very few.

Another image of the follower of the current U.S. president is that of the rich guardian, an example of which is the McCloskey family, a couple of lawyers who pointed guns at demonstrators of an anti-racist march from the front yard of their home in St. Louis, Missouri, explained the specialist during the virtual panel "The gap in the 2020 election race: Why white voters, including women, supported Trump", conducted by Ethnic Media Services. 

And thirdly, those white, college-educated, Christian voters who feel they are part of a minority group, "I know it's hard to say, but they themselves feel like some kind of minority group, and they believe that life is against them, their image of reality is what they see not only on Fox News, but also CNN or NBC," he said.

"And what they think is: ?ohhh look at all these people of color who are news anchors and weather anchors, there are no more white people. They see basketball stars and soccer stars who are black and multimillionaires and advertising deals...they're multimillionaires, God, those blacks are getting ahead," he added.

And it's not that they took ethnic courses in college, but simply based on what they see in the media, "that's the impression they get."

Similarly, he explained that not all, but several of these Trump supporters feel left behind, as they consider that other ethnic communities are growing, while theirs is declining.

He recalled that in the case of the African-American community, household incomes have not increased in the last 30 years, while for Latinos, the situation has not been easier as many of them have lost their jobs.

In that regard, he noted that there are many jobs that Latinos do that do not compete with those done by whites.

Given this and this idea of displacement, he said that these people, being depressed, seek to blame someone. "They are not angry, they are depressed, in fact, they are terrified, and somehow that depression turns into fear."

Hochschild said that in several parts of the country, the Democratic Party does not have a face, so they consider that no one has extended a hand for them, there is invisibility.

She added that support for Trump among college-educated white women is not as strong as among their male relatives, however, the right-to-life issue has been a big factor in their more conservative vote.

In the case of the "proud boys," he said, they are white nationalists who often have histories behind them that have to do with alcoholism, drug addiction and sociopathy, and in Trump, they see a figure who really understands and listens to them, "that's very powerful."

For her part, Mindy Romero, director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy, said that with nearly 50 percent of voters not understanding how Donald Trump got so many votes, the blame game is being used.

"This is all based on quite misunderstanding the Latino community and other groups ... expectations are always based on unrealistic terms of what to expect about historically underrepresented groups," he said.

He pointed out that only 67 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots on November 3, while 33 percent, many of them from non-white communities, did not vote.

In this sense, he pointed out that it is incorrect to believe that half of the country is with the Republican, when only 31 percent of the voters voted for him.

In the case of California, he explained that 47 percent of white voters opted for Trump, very similar to what happened in the 2016 balloting. 

However, the gaps between white and minority voter turnout are very wide.

In this election "the voters did not represent the people. Whites are overrepresented in every state, but those who don't vote have other differences and that doesn't even show up in the polls."

Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.

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