The income of white men in the United States has declined since 1967 according to one of the best statisticians the U.S. education system has produced. Howard Rosenthal virtually designed the system still used by Congress to access incomes across the country. Rosenthal reported that during the same period, the incomes of white women, black men, black women, and most other minority groups rose, albeit at different rates.
If the income of white men has declined at all over such a significant period, it is not only a cause for concern, it is a feasible explanation of why they have endorsed Donald Trump to a level that is almost reverence. Trump certainly doesn’t command reverence in the minds of any thinking person, quite the opposite, so I have to ask why white males seem to adore him.
There is a simple explanation – recognition. I have said in a previous blog that publicly recognizing someone, or some group, that has been traditionally ignored is a very powerful aphrodisiac. Donald Trump, or more likely Donald Trump directed by his son-in-law, has done this. No increase in income for 49 years (1967 to Trump’s election in 2016) is certainly a very long time to be ignored. It is also an indictment of American politics and even American democracy.
No wonder white males are pissed off and will look at anyone, or anything, that recognizes their existence. It doesn’t matter how unethical, undemocratic, vengeful, or criminally insane the person who recognizes them might be, they will follow his every word and command. January 6 is an excellent example of this unthinking adoration. However, I would propose there is another element at work here that keeps white males convinced that no-one, except Trump, is the slightest bit interested in them.
I mentioned in my previous blog on this topic that when I drove from Colorado west and south for about 250 miles last year, I was struck by how little people who live in these almost endless rural landscapes could relate to urban life. For them, it is irrelevant. However, when they turn on their TV’s, the majority of what they see is precisely what is irrelevant to them: They see a great deal of time spent on “Black Lives Matter”, the plight of the urban poor, the issues of minorities and many other topics that bear no relation to their lives. No wonder they think “their country is going to hell in a hand-basket. The same applies to what they hear from Democratic leaders.
If the non-Trump section of the population is going to address this issue, they will need to document why this is happening. They can then use that information to direct attention across the country in a more equitable fashion.
All this reminded me of a technique that was develop by the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which became the CIA, during World War II to try and predict what was happening in Nazi Germany. The developers found that they could predict social and economic trends by counting the number of column-inches devoted to those trends in a cross-section of local German newspapers. The technique worked because the media, in their reporting, emphasized what the population actually felt before the government itself realized what was happening.
Much later, John Naisbitt took this technique and turned it into a very successful consultancy for many large American and international companies. He called his system Mega Trends. He was able to predict national social trends by choosing “bell-weather” areas of the country, and analyzing the column inche.s of local newspaper columns
You may well ask what this technique has to do with the main topic of this blog; the alienation of white males and their devotion to Trump. The technique needs updating a little to reflect today’s most influential media, which is not newspapers but what would it tell us if we measures “air time” by topic?
This is obviously a delicate topic but, if I am a white male living in rural America and, say, 70% of what I see on my television news coverage relates to things I have no interest in, or understanding of, then I am bound to feel isolated and bitter, particularly if my income hasn’t changed for decades. I may well then become a disciple of anyone who promised me a different path that appeared more relevant to my life, regardless of who that someone was.
Perhaps we need a comprehensive study, using this old OSS technique. What is our “sensationally-driven” media actually doing to the country as a whole, by the amount of time they spend on particular topics. A better understanding of the subliminal message they are sending to the isolated and ignored communities might help in banishing the Trumps of this world from ever rising to any sort of power. If the Trump “army” felt their lives were a major part of American society, instead of a fringe, they might not be turned so easily into radicals.
Of course this assumes the media would conduct such a study and, even more unlikely, that they would alter their approach based on the result. A thought, which needs further development, I think.