I feel like the key White Pathology that explains Trump is this idea that everything in life is graded on a curve, not just wanting to have good things, but to have MORE of those things than other people. A pathology that’s both the opposite of stronger together and the opposite of the Lake Wobegon Effect. A hypothetical Trump voter (especially the white woman voter who unexpectedly swung Trump) wants her child to go the BEST school. She doesn’t want the schools in Detroit to improve because then her child’s school will be less dramatically BEST. Or the Trump voter who is making a fine amount of money, owns his own business, own his own home, but feels that the success of the Pakistani-American engineer who lives down the street lessens his own success in some way. It might even be more satisfying to see things get worse overall, as long as they get More Worse for other people.
I’m not saying I know how to combat it, but I guess it starts with naming it.
I can personally testify that a lot of people who tend to vote Republican in general have this weird-to-me tendency to fret about the possibility that someone, somewhere might be getting money, resources, or a lucky break that they “don’t deserve.” This is different from the worry that a less “deserving” person might take something away from a more “deserving” person. Even if no one loses anything, and there’s plenty to go around, they’ll get worried and indignant that someone might get more than they “deserve.” It’s even more bizarre that members of this group often have stated theological beliefs that seem completely at odds with that attitude.
this makes me think a lot about Weber and the growth of capitalism-as-ethics in the wake of the Reformation.
for those unfamiliar, Max Weber was an early sociologist who posited that modern capitalism grew out of the psycho-social conditions created in western Europe by the destruction of the pervasive institutions of the Catholic church. his thesis was that prior to the Reformation, people were comfortable in the assurance of their salvation as long as they received the sacraments of the church and acted (more or less) under its authority. but with the security of the Catholic hierarchy and claim to One True Churchness gone, most people did not have a sufficiently developed personal spirituality to feel assured of salvation anymore. this was particularly acute amongst Calvinists because of the belief that God had already predestined who was going to Heaven and who was going to Hell- but there was no formal institution to tell you that you were deffo predestined for Heaven, no worries buddy, so you had to find ways to constantly reassure yourself.
and of course if you were one of God’s Chosen Elect, your life would surely be pretty great, and you’d be rich- or at least better off than those bad awful sinners who were born going to Hell. so you worked hard and made your work a spiritual calling, and you weren’t profligate with your money because you needed it to prove you were living the blessed life of the elect. and eventually accumulating money became an ethical end in itself, intertwined with other aspects of virtue- this was a big thing for Benjamin Franklin, amongst other major figures in the founding history of the USA. this also went hand-in-hand with disdain for the kinds of charitable practices that are central to Catholicism- if a person was poor, it was a sign of their non-electness, and they deserved to stay that way. the whole system requires that some peoples’ lives are shit, because then otherwise how can you be sure who’s going to Heaven?
and the same principles apply to white supremacy. it was easy to be confident and comfortable in your belief in the inherent superiority of white people when you had vast social institutions backing you up. in the Jim Crow south, you could be a poor as shit white person, but at least you got to drink from the ‘whites only’ fountain. but now those institutions are gone or going, and despite every effort against them people of colour are clawing their way to economic and social equality.
there’s nothing left to reassure the white supremacist. they can’t look at the corridors of political power and feel a bit better, because the head of state is a highly-educated black guy. they can’t even go the Calvinist route and pile up a big soothing stack of money, because you can’t tell by looking who’s God’s Deserving Elect, but you sure as hell notice when a black family moves into your suburb and are driving a nicer car than you do.
but if you can fuck yourself over in a way that you can be dead certain is going to fuck over people of colour worse, well, that just proves you were right all along, huh? now you’ve got more money than that black family, even if all of you are worse off.
tl;dr: requiring there to be people worse off than you as proof of your innate superiority is one of the founding socio-ethical principles of the USA and Protestant societies in general, which maps neatly onto the white supremacist need for people innately inferior to you to be worse off.
I think there’s a lot more to be said about Weber, Calvinism, and the development of white supremacy as an ideology, but I am no longer an academic so
On that topic, here’s an excerpt from an article published in the local legal press recently:
Lee is described by The American Lawyer as “one of the country’s top intellectual property litigators.”…
Lee, who is of Chinese descent but whose family has been in the US since 1948, recounted how he was filling his Mercedes-Benz SUV when a man approached him and asked how he could afford such a car. The man also reportedly said Lee was not welcome in the US.