Surprisingly (to me, as I’ve spent years hating on it) twitter has become one of my sites because it’s so easy to use as recommended reading list.
If you’re interested in following the presidential race, I’d recommend following Sopan Deb, who is covering Donald Trump’s campaign for CBS. Deb tweets incredibly frequently and posts transcripts of Trump’s speeches, including highlighted deviations from the Teleprompter, in almost real time.
It was through these tweets that I started reading three or four pieces on Donald Trump and his campaign a day. Some thinkpieces, some op-eds, and tons of theories as to whether or not his campaign will prove to have a lasting impact on American democracy.
Most of those theories are, justly, focused on the relationship between Trump’s statements on race and the views of the country as a whole. Or at the very least, the views of white Trump supporters.
It’s understandable that there is so much energy and attention being given to determine exactly why white Americans support Donald Trump. Apart from the alt-right (and I think that the GOP has really played themselves in acknowledging white supremacists as such, they are pretty open about having no ties to policy) we all want to believe that there are reasons why people we know and trust would support a man so openly encouraging of hatred. (That’s a statement that I think my fingers might have written for me, I’ve heard it said so many times. Personally, I believe that people are capable of of much worse than hatred. Hatred’s strange, it can linger in the hearts of millions of NPR listeners and factory workers alike. Fueled by nothing more than the subtle words of everyone they’ve ever encountered, it can be almost impossible to recognize. But hatred is an energy, of which we all have finite amounts. So it’s complacency, the type of thoughtlessness and detachment that doesn’t counter the turmoil which hatred leaves in its wake, that I’m concerned makes progress so difficult to achieve.)
J.D.Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy” argues that Donald Trump supporters are relating to his speeches in multiple ways, none of which include his racist asides. Listen to him discuss this HERE on The Run-Up, a NYT podcast (which unfortunately can’t be embedded).
From what I can tell, the book is more memoir than political treatise, which doesn’t come across well due to the nature of the podcast. And while Vance implies in the podcast that the white population of the Midwest aren’t motivated to vote for Trump by racism, it’s interesting to note that reviews of the book suggest that Vance believes they aren’t motivated by much of anything.
For other perspectives on Trump supporters, I’d recommend listening to Politically Re-Active with W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu. The podcast has quickly become my favorite of the summer. Be warned however, that for a podcast hosted by two comedians, the subject matter is extremely serious, and it’s mostly treated as such. I know that my sister listened to the episode on gerrymandering and found it to be a major bummer (this might not be the podcast to play whilst doing yoga).
Each episode varies a bit in tone and candor due to nature of the guest and their work. Some interesting takeaways are: at least two guests have made reference to the existence of multiple America’s as Dr. Martin Luther King discussed in The Other America and other speeches, and no matter the type of social and/or political activism the guests take part in, they all use the phrase “the movement.”
The following descriptions are excerpted from iTunes.
Van Jones is a CNN commentator and activist who has started numerous social and environmental justice initiatives. In this candid conversation, Jones shares what it’s like to be the preferredJones shares what it’s like to be the preferred punching bag of conservative pundits while also being the most compassionate person in the room.
There are two things that Pastor Michael McBride is sure of: Jesus… and white supremacy. The activist and religious leader join W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu in the studio to makesense of last week’s fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as the attack on the Dallas police during a peaceful protest of those killings. For those in search of a little grace and some straight talk about freeing white folks from whiteness (and minorities reaching for that same whiteness), this conversation is for you.
Both Jones and McBride address the question of the motives of Trump supporters with empathy and nuance. It’s feasible that white Americans might see a vote for Trump as one in their interests moreso than one against those of minority groups. But even if their motivation is not outright racism, the unquestionable influence of white supremacy and the discussions surrounding it this year will certainly be a part of the legacy of the Donald Trump campaign.