Status fear right

For many Conservatives, their identity is built on a foundation of domination and they feel threatened by a changing America.

December 10, 2020

| 10:01 p.m.

Michael Candelori / Flickr

During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden spoke about restoring the nation’s soul. After the networks projected him as the winner, the elected president became said, “It’s time to get rid of the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again. In order to make progress we must stop treating our adversaries as our enemy. “

While it is important for leaders to articulate ambitious ideals, cynicism leaves us with doubt as to whether these feelings are realistic at a time of such elevation asymmetrical political polarization. However, if there is a chance to bring the temperature down on our political rhetoric, understanding how the heat came up is important.

In a column called “The Grudge That Never Sleeps,” journalist Thomas Edsall identified At the heart of the problem is the fear of falling social status – a subjective perception tied to a person’s sense of identity. As such, it depicts how individuals judge their status based on the cultural hierarchies we have built around things like class, gender, race, religion, geography, education, etc.

Rebecca Traister writes ahead of the 2016 presidential election captured What happened in an article called “The Election and Death Struggle of White Male Power”?

This moment, this election, these years represent the agony of all-white male power in the United States … The public spectacle of these presidential elections and the two that preceded them are inextricably linked to the racial and gendered anger and violence we have Look around … whatever their shortcomings, their political shortcomings, their progressive bumps and bumps, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton mean a lot. They represent a changed power structure and changed calculations about who is allowed to lead in this country.

To the extent that we witness the death of white male power, those who built their identities on it feel threatened. This fear drives people who care about Trump Politics of resentment. Indeed, white supremacist Richard Spencer was one of the first to figure out what Trump resorted to in 2015 what he said Evan Osnos from the New Yorker::

“Trump senses at the gut level that it is ultimately about demographics. We’re moving to a new America. “He said,” I don’t think Trump is a white nationalist, “but he believed that Trump” reflected an unconscious vision of whites – that their grandchildren could be a hated minority in their own country. I think that makes us Fear. You are likely unable to articulate it. I think it’s there. I think that explains the Trump phenomenon to a large extent. “

Note that Spencer said Trump is taking advantage of a fear white people have of what Power happen as a result of demographic change. Some of the experts Edsall consulted on this piece pointed out that loss of social status is not something that Trump supporters actually experience. It’s something they fear. For example, Peter Hall, a government professor at Harvard, described those affected:

The people most commonly attracted to right-wing populist politicians like Trump tend to be those who are several rungs up the socio-economic ladder in terms of income or occupation. My guess is that it is people in this type of social position who are most vulnerable to what Barbara Ehrenreich called “fear of falling” – namely, fear in the face of economic or cultural shock that they might fall further down the social ladder “, a phenomenon often referred to as” dislike of last place “.

As far as the initial polls for 2020 are correct, they are to back up Hall’s claim. Trump lost voters who earned less than $ 50,000 a year by 11 points and those who made between $ 50,000 and $ 100,000 a year by 15 points. The only income group Trump won were those who made over $ 100,000, with him coming out on top with 12 points.

This obsession with perceived loss of social status explains why neither the President nor the Republican Party felt the need to advertise proposed policy on an actual platform. Thomas Kurer, political scientist at the University of Zurich, told Edsall the following:

It is almost exclusively political actors of the right and the radical right who actively campaign for the status question. They emphasize the effects of a change in status hierarchies, which could negatively affect the social standing of their core groups, and aim to mobilize voters who fear a social regression but have not yet experienced it. The observation that campaigns against potential loss of status are much more widespread and appear to be politically more rewarding than campaigns against status gains makes a lot of sense, given the long-established understanding in social psychology that citizens care much more about relative loss than equal big profits.

It’s not that Trump supporters voted against their own interests. It is that they are interested in having a president who will confirm their fears and act on those they have identified as a threat. For this reason, democratic measures to address their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

So can something be done to “heal the divide”? If either side believes that their social status is threatened by pluralistic democracy, the answer is “not much”.

What these people experience is actually more psychological than political. your Identities were built on a foundation of domination – that is on a collision course with change. A crash is inevitable if you don’t find it in yourself to adapt. In fact, it is already underway.

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