Surely only deranged people could possibly support Donald Trump. His mouth has no filter and is said to have the IQ of a three-year old. He repeatedly says he is the handsomest, smartest, most successful person in the world; Mexican/Central American immigrants are rapists and criminals; anyone who disagrees with him is a moron; and women are simply menstruating hysterics.
Yet Trump speaks to an important but generally unrecognised constituency, which can be called Voiceless White Americans. To those invested in the doctrine of "White Privilege", this construction may seem unlikely. Nonetheless, consider a few facts.
On current demographic trends, in just 30 years whites will become a minority. By about 2070 or so, only two of five Americans will be white. The majority of food stamps, an indicator of poverty, go to whites. The middle class, which is predominantly white, has been badly hit by the destruction of millions of manufacturing jobs. These once offered the opportunity for a decent life including a modestly comfortable retirement and the promise the children would do better than the parents. Globalisation, endless immigration, and the exploitation of all Americans by the top one per cent has led to the collapse of wages. The true unemployment rate, U5 plus U6, is 17 per cent, three times higher than the official U1 rate. Job security is zero. With few exceptions pensions are becoming extinct.
Of course, these changes affect everyone, regardless of colour. Yet, the absolute number of white Americans affected is huge. So, is lack of good jobs the source of Trump's appeal? And a nine-billion-dollar man is the spokesperson for economically badly-off whites? Intrinsically, however, a billionaire can have great credibility when speaking for the economic disadvantaged. But neither economics nor immigration per se is the reason for Trump's appeal.
A larger and more complex issue is the perception that the American way of life is dying. In the last 40 years, this way of life has been under sustained attack. America has undergone a cultural revolution of such magnitude that many people, especially less financially stable white, cannot cope. The migration tap used to be turned on and off as required, giving the native born a chance to adjust. Now there is a flood of non-white immigrants, legal and illegal, that cannot be stopped. Hispanic immigrants are so many they do not need to adapt to America, they are forcing America to adapt to them. The economic damage to the middle class has been noted.
The decline of traditional marriage had devastated the American way of life. In 1950, one of five American adults were unmarried. Now it is half. Children born to unwed mothers have grown seven times since 1959; only three of five children is born in wedlock and that number is falling. Gay marriage is adding to the sense America is out of control. The welfare state and government intervention in the daily lives of people have spread like terminal cancer. Christianity, a bedrock of American civic life is losing influence. Political correctness runs amok, limiting freedom of speech. The coarseness of everyday life is extreme and growing worse.
Even the above is not all. American political corruption has become so widespread that American democracy is endangered. Democracy at the local level is well and alive. At the national level it is on life-support because a few rich people buy the politicians, regardless of ideology. Americans have become extraordinary liars. On a global level, American has lost its way and will soon be relegated to second place. When India rises, America will fall to third place. The sun is setting on American exceptionalism.
Yes, this affects all Americans. But Trump whites feel everyone else has a voice, everyone else has an interest group; they alone are without voice. Donald Trump is not going to become president. But he speaks for a group of Americans that believe themselves as voiceless and disposed. That is his appeal.