My husband and I own a business. We invest in housing in poor whites area. Virtually everybody in these areas are very angry, super conservative, always talk very angrily about "moochers on food stamps and medicaid" even though they are all on them, and when it comes to billionaires like Trump they say they are so relatable to them.
Full disclosure. My husband and I were born poor. We grew up poor. My husband talks about when he was a kid there were times he had to go to bed hungry. My family and I back in the 3rd world country where we immigrated from had to eat rats sometimes to survive. We are both liberals. We worked very hard to get to where we are. So, to us someone like Warren is a lot more relatable than people like Trump who were born into very wealthy setting and inherited hundreds of millions, an business empire, and the family culture that foster success.
I just don't get it. Why do poor whites think someone like Trump has their best interest in mind? I stay away from politics and such topics when I meet these people, so I never say anything. They can't wait to tell me how Trump is "one of us" and all that.
Here is the thing about being born into a poor setting. Learned helplessness. The belief is you will never ever become wealthy and that you are destined to work for someone else for nickels and dimes the rest of your life. My husband and I have a business idea, and both our families have been vocally against it since day one. Heck, even now after we have proven that we can work for ourselves and make a profit, they still are telling us to go "get a real job".
On the other hand, growing up in a business oriented family one is expected to build a business with what one inherited. One doesn't just inherit wealth. One also inherit the ambition, the drive to succeed.
I would imagine these poor whites grew up more or less like how we grew up, always being told they have to work for somebody else making pennies for the rest of their lives.
So, why do they find someone like Trump so relatable and why do they hate a "community organizer" like Obama so much? I'm just dumbfounded about this
If you say the word "gullible" slowly, it sounds like oranges. Go ahead and try it.
Why do poor whites think someone like Trump has their best interest in mind?
I think some of the answers are in a piece I cited a few weeks ago, Opinion | In the Land of Self-Defeat. Rural America believes Washington is spending money it shouldn't, even while simultaneously feeling overlooked and disrespected. They resent racial minorities on welfare and lazy urban professionals, people they think exist in substantial numbers and who they believe the government is spending substantial money upon.
This causes them to become determined to get rid of the institutions best situated for helping them. They want to keep migrants, government and people with educations out of their communities. In terms of local government they feel like there isn't enough money to go around, and that the only way to get things done is to do it yourself. Most of rural America is shrinking, and the hollowing out puts forces in motion that can't be stopped. It seems to cause people to retreat into themselves and encourages feelings of paranoia.
Trump is playing to these attitudes. His speeches and rallies appeal to the lowest common dominator, and also to xenophobia, racism and fear of government interference. Every state gets two senators no matter the population, and so rural America has an outsize influence on the federal government.
The vast majority of people don’t first decide what they believe is right and what is good for them and then decide what political identity best suits those beliefs. The vast majority of people establish their identity, (political, religious, and otherwise) early in life through the influence (often indoctrination) of family, friends, and community, and then select their beliefs to fit that identity.
Also, the hardest thing for a person to do is to admit they are wrong about important things. The innate human response to evidence that one is wrong is to dig in ones heels and disregard, obfuscate that evidence, or even fantasize counter scenarios. Since this is a forum on evolution it is worth noting that there is good ‘survival of the fittest’ rational for such behavior: it assures cohesiveness of the tribal group and discourages defection that could weaken communal strength.
Note of full disclosure: The above description applies as well to me; my beliefs derive strongly from my parents and the community I was raised in and I can’t imagine any scenario that would change those beliefs.