Michael has presumably had a rough day. Nine hours working as an exterminator takes a physical toll on the 45-year-old, who didn’t go to college, makes $33,000 a year, and relies on a steady swarm of pests to pester people.
But home, with a bottle of beer and Fox News, he’s excited to hear from “his” President.
Michael is technically fictional, but he’s created entirely from fact. The story of Trump’s success is, in some ways, the story of the many American Michaels. Frustrated White men who reject the stories offered to them, and admire leaders who feel the same.
Angrier than Blacks
White Americans feel more angry than Black Americans, according to a November survey of 3,257 US adults by Esquire and NBC. White people were more likely than Black people to say their current financial situation isn’t what they thought it would be when they were younger, and they were also more likely to put that down to difficult circumstances rather than “wrong choices.”
When asked whether they ever hear or read anything on the news that makes them angry, White respondents were more likely than Black ones to say they felt angry at least twice a day. There were gender differences too – men were more likely than women to say that they felt angry about the treatment of White men.
Trump understands these White men – or at the very least, he understands that these White men want a politician who understands them. It was these voters that Trump was speaking to when he said “there is blame on both sides,” in response to the recent Charlotesville rally that turned deadly.
Liberals may have demanded a retraction, but for men like the hypothetical Michael, quotes like these are evidence that Trump is simply willing to state facts others are too cowardly to say. Michael still probably wouldn’t think of himself as racist – 10% of White Americans think White Americans are racist. But 38% of those White Americans think Black people are racist.
More than 20 years later, a Michael would probably still agree with the statement. When asked why Black Americans have worse jobs, incomes and housing on average than Whites, 45% of White Americans in 2012 said it was because “Blacks don’t have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves out of poverty.”
The fact that most media organizations do not repeat these beliefs – aka “facts” to some who hold them – merely entrenches the feeling that the mainstream, “lamestream” media cannot be trusted.