Trump already started to alienate the alt-right who supported him during his campaign. There’s a fair chance he’ll do the same with the white working class.
Paul Waldman in an opinion piece in the Washington Post, speaking to white working class people who voted for Trump:
If you have any sense, you’re coming to the realization that it was all a scam. You got played. While you were chanting “Lock her up!” he was laughing at you for being so gullible. While you were dreaming about how you’d have an advocate in the Oval Office, he was dreaming about how he could use it to make himself richer. He hasn’t even taken office yet and everything he told you is already being revealed as a lie.
No need to be an experienced expert in politics to imagine that pledges made during campaigns don’t necessarily translate in actual decisions.
I wouldn’t say that “everything [Donald Trump] told [to the white working class voters] is already being revealed as a lie“. Why? Because he’s not even President yet! And it’s not a matter of treating him “fairly” (or whatever); it’s just that you can’t prove that “everything” he pledged for was “a lie“.
But on his column, Waldman made several points.
(1) Yes, Trump seems to renege a lot on what he promised during his campaign – something that can alienate alt-right voters for instance. We’ll see what he’ll do once in office, but for now I agree that he doesn’t act as someone who’ll do what he promised.
Had Hillary Clinton won the election, the white working class might have gotten some tangible benefits — a higher minimum wage, overtime pay, paid family and medical leave, more secure health insurance, and so on. Trump and the Republicans oppose all that.
This is pure speculation, but (2) the idea that Clinton would have made better choices for the working class isn’t completely crazy.
So what did the white working class actually get? They got the election itself. They got to give a big middle finger to the establishment, to the coastal elites, to immigrants, to feminists, to college students, to popular culture, to political correctness, to every person and impersonal force they see arrayed against them. And that was it.
The British working class did the same with the Brexit earlier this year: they gave (3) a “big middle finger to the establishment“. A big middle finger that’ll cost them hundred of billions of pounds in the next decades. There’s numerous examples of regions that benefit a lot for EU fundings that voted for the Brexit.
Maybe I’m wrong, but to me the Brexit and the Trump vote were the same kind of enjoyable moment some people offered themselves as taking a strong stand against that stupid high school jock that’ll eventually crash you badly at the end of the day. That’s unfair and unnerving, but reality can sometimes be unfair and unnerving.
The most important question for these two events is why these people voted against their own interest? Populism is somehow an explanation, but where do this new look populism come from? Why is it so efficient right now? Fake news on social media likely played a role, but there’s more. Why are the moderate, reasonable people and views not audible anymore?
Maybe the (multidimensional) answer also lies on the realm of perceptions: there’s something happening to the white working class, whether it’s in the U.S., in the U.K. or in France. But what’s exactly happening? It’s hard to tell. And even harder is how it’s perceived, either by the working class people themselves or other groups of voters 1. And we shoudn’t forget that perceptions and emotions can play a huge role in our decisions.
The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are getting ready to move on their highest priorities, cutting taxes for the wealthy, scrapping oversight on Wall Street, and lightening regulations on big corporations.
Again, we’ll see what Trump and congressional Republicans will do, but (4) it was definitely odd to ear a multibillionaire like Trump pretending to defend the “forgotten men and women of our country” (source).
I don’t say he won’t defend these people (again, we’ll see), I rather say we can legitimately doubt it 2. What’s strange here is how little journalists and columnists and pundits questioned during the campaign why so many working class people were so eager to follow a billionaire with so little records of interest in the white working class fate.
We live a very weird time.