WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 2016
In our view, a strange thing to say: Why are people voting for Trump?
In one very basic way, it's a strange type of question.
At this point, we're talking about well over ten million people. (We base that on the percentage of Republican primary voters voting for Trump.) By normal standards, it's odd to look for one single answer to a question of that type, about that many people.
That said, these aren't normal times. These are highly partisan times; the times are highly tribal. At times like these, we the humans will tend to offer extremely simplistic descriptions of Those People, the people otherwise known as The Others, the subhuman group Over There.
Ideally, these simplistic descriptions of The Others will be highly negative. They will be the most negative account of The Others we can pluck from our tribal dreams.
We liberals used to criticize that unattractive, unintelligent practice. Now we seem to love it.
Why are people voting for Trump? In our view, one way to answer a question like that would be to ask Trump voters. That would be time-consuming, of course, and people won't always tell you the truth. But in the best of all possible worlds, that would be an obvious place to start.
In these highly tribal times, our tribe is tilting toward the simpler way of answering that sweeping question.
Why are people voting for Trump? Over at Vox, Amanda Traub has offered one sweeping answer: support for Trump is being fueled by "an unnoticed but surprisingly large electoral group—authoritarians."
Apparently by asking four simple questions, Taub says she has learned that 44 percent of white Americans are "high authoritarians" or even "very high authoritarians." This excludes an undisclosed number of people who are also "authoritarians" without qualifying for those elevated designations.
At any rate, why are people voting for Trump? Because they're authoritarians, Professor Taub has now said.
In her piece at Vox, Taub produced a sweeping explanation for the behavior of The Others. Today, Kevin Drum has offered a different sweeping explanation—an explanation even less flattering than the one Taub has devised.
"I guess now we know what all those Trump voters are pissed off about." So Drum says at the end of his post. He explicitly includes the word "all," seeming to fashion an open burlesque of normal intellectual process.
Why are Trump voters voting that way? Taub said it's because they're authoritarians, generally high authoritarians. Drum came up with a better explanation:
The Others are voting for Trump because they're all Googling N-word jokes! Or something like that. As is common at times like these, Drum felt little real need to explain.
We plan to return to Taub's remarkable piece tomorrow. We're congenitally unable to write about Taub and about Charles Blow all in one calendar day.
That said, we're disappointed and disturbed by Drum's sweeping pseudo-explanation. We know why The Others are "all" doing that, Drum has amazingly said.
At tribal times, we the humans are strongly inclined to "reason" in that primitive way. We're inclined to reason like prehumans, like the primitive people Back There.