Poor Whites Are Still Poor Whites Though
If Trump and his majority support were truly all that then why hasn’t your socioeconomic status change for the better under this administration
In other words why are they still beholden to the elite whites in power for their self-esteem when in fact the politically and wealthy elite has always sought to socioeconomically oppress them as well. This piece was inspired in part by a notable writer I follow on Medium and when my comments on her analysis of the white underclass ran long I decided to write a full feature of my thought process on the matter in this separate piece.
Feel free to read her intriguing piece below.
I Know Why Poor Whites Chant Trump, Trump, Trump
From the era of slavery to the rise of Donald Trump, wealthy elites have relied on the loyalty of poor whites.
When the rallys are over the depersonalization should set in when the positive stereotypes about being white or being ensconced in this imperious groupthink membership should wear off. Even though the group dominance on display and within the many institutions are indeed impressive and performatively in favor of whites, poor whites still remain relatively poor in a society that has them posited atop of the the racial hierarchy.
Little do they know, as much, that their status was socially constructed from the beginning and that they were disadvantaged by the more wealthy whites since the beginning of the founding of this nation. Just like African Americans, poor whites were besieged by economic disadvantages and institutionally told that their only saving grace would be the position of their racial status to which they overly and only need to rely upon to get ahead.
This should go without saying but one cannot simply survive based on the spuriously racialized color of one’s skin. It would take a whole lot more than that to avoid poverty. But based on the election of Donald Trump, it suggests that this insensitive belief is somehow ordained. That somehow and in some way there is vindication and hope in being white but this carries a rather stench air of aristocracy over people of color who will indefatigably resist that notion based on their inalienable rights in the constitution.
The Trump administration has proposed to dismantle or cut several aspects of the social safety net and other systems that mitigate a much wider spread of impoverishment in our society.
Approximately 20 million households need food stamps and even with the help of SNAP many families still struggle to put food on the table. There are more white people who are assisted by federal assistance programs than any other demographic in the United States, but it remains to be seen if taking food off their plate will make them change their minds as voters. A study from 2018 found that Trump’s support among non-college-educated whites was one of the main reasons he won in 2016. However, it was more about racism than their own pockets, especially since Obama saved our own economy.
We all know that most of them will, but there is a contingent among them that know that the “white trash myth” is behind those political motivations to eliminate the poor in general.
The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement to today’s hillbillies. They were alternately known as “waste people,” “offals,” “rubbish,” “lazy lubbers,” and “crackers.” By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called “clay eaters” and “sandhillers,” known for prematurely aged children distinguished by their yellowish skin, ragged clothing, and listless minds — Nancy Isenberg, on her book White Trash. The 400-year Untold History of Class in America.
The elite and the well-to-do have either used the poor, or has always seen the poor in any color as a homogenous group, but whites in particular as basically not quite white, in order to disqualify their existence, even as they perpetuate it.
The denialism among most poor whites could not be more evident though since they are more so motivated by ignorance.
“The 2016 campaign witnessed a dramatic polarization in the vote choices of whites based on (their level of) education,” writes a research team led by political scientist Brian Schaffner of the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. “Very little of this gap can be explained by the economic difficulties faced by less-educated whites. Rather, most of the divide appears to be associated with sexism, and denialism of racism.”
More Evidence That Racism and Sexism Were Key to Trump's Victory
To the dismay of many, President Donald Trump has amped up his racist rhetoric of late, sending out angry, misleading…
It does appear that by chanting Trump, Trump, Trump, it keeps poor whites angry, resentful, and spiteful, but however prideful— in both physical and psychological segregation from their fellow Americans like blacks and other people of color, which is more than just social construction, it has proven to be socioeconomically profitable for the patriarchal elite who have been successful at exploiting those manufactured divisions.
There are some people of color who find opportunism and placate these elite as well for reasons that I won’t be adressing in this piece.
What has manifested from this is what William Brewer expressed so eloquently in a journal published by the University of Chicago Press in 1930, stating that “Slavery imposed upon this class nearly three hundred years of ignorance, inertia, and peculiar prejudice which crystalized into a wall of conservatism. Generations of education will be needed to break down this defense of provincialism.”¹
The Trump, Trump, Trump chants express a provincialism in deluded imperious groupthink logic where they rely solely on the appearance or semblance of primacy as a collective nation/race — even though their opportunities for gainful employment, healthcare, education, social security, labor protections, pay disparity, consumer protections, worker’s comp, shelters, and other social safety nets have diminished in quality and in efficacy by the lobbying, the politics, and influence of the wealthy elite of whom are driven by the ravages of unfettered capitalism.
Updated section to include further information on January 13, 2020
The bootstrapping rhetoric and its overused clichès is nothing more than polite fiction at the poor. We know that strict adherence to this meritocracy does not translate into guaranteed socioeconomic success (more evidence points to the demands of economic expansion). We also know that the wealthiest people are generally not the most talented bunch by most measures, they are however the luckiest.
We also should know that the middle class today is only 56 percent white and the political mumbo jumbo about a shrinking middle-class refers more precisely to what was once a much more predominantly white middle class.
The middle class, at least defined in economic terms, is not white: it is racially diverse; and whites will make up less than half the middle class within a few decades. Any policies that help the middle class will therefore help black and Hispanic Americans as much as whites. The choice between identity-based and class-based politics is, to this extent, a false one.
The middle class is becoming race-plural, just like the rest of America
For more than half a century, the term “the American middle-class” has served as a political reference to white…
Middle class as it is loosely defined in terms of financial security is also a misnomer. The whole idea that the middle class emerged out of the bootstrapping principles of whiteness is preposterous.
According to an article I read in MarketWatch this too can be considered a social construction.
Once again, if whiteness alone is what grants one primacy in this country then why are there still so many poor whites.
Poor whites still misunderstand that the progeny of slavery and by extension cheap immigrant labor is responsible for their impoverished socioeconomic status.
That it only takes racializations — as pseudo profound as they are — to stir divisions and ignore the larger more substantial issues that threaten social mobility, the essence of the American dream, is only mind-boggling and not at all in my opinion an oversimplified consequence of just slavery but a psychosis of irrational pride in being complimented as still white or assured of this faux aristocracy relative to non-whites by those very same oppressors of their own race. This makes the likes of Trump and his flunkies in all their incompetence, mendacity, and self-interests so compelling as to forget that poor whites are still poor whites.
¹ Brewer, W. (1930). Poor Whites and Negroes in the South Since the Civil War. The Journal of Negro History, 15(1), 26–37. doi:10.2307/2713897