Scared and White and Trump All Over
Hanna Brooks Olsen

It might be a good idea when talking about peoples’ perceptions, to examine whether their perceptions are actually justified and match up with reality. My experience in dealing with Trump supporters is that many, but not all, of their perceptions reflect reality quite accurately in many, but not all, respects.

Trumpeters are correct that their economic well-being has been declining for some time, although most of them are unable or unwilling to locate the commencement of that decline at the beginning of the Reagan administration. They have seen their livelihoods shipped to parts unknown, their unions destroyed, their communities shattered and their debts multiplied many times. That combination is almost guaranteed to instill fear, frustration and anger.

Sadly, economics, history and civics, courses of which are always a thin gruel, have been further deprecated in both public and private schools. The result is a profound ignorance in all classes of how we became such an unequal and unjust society in the space of 35 years. Even educated persons seldom have a reasonable comprehension of neoliberalism and how it has affected the direction of our nation. Practically no one (especially politicians) understands the difference between the national debt and private debt and why the latter is far more worrisome than the former.

Worst of all, propaganda has rendered us unable to determine who is responsible for the stealth economic restructuring this nation has undergone over the past 35 years that has harmed so many and enriched so few. That is why it is so easy for authoritarian demagogues to redirect that anger away from the real perpetrators towards more convenient targets: those who are different and vulnerable.

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