Appreciating the Effort

A "liberal sociologist," also known as a "sociologist," spent 5 years in what the article describes as "Trump's America." She was actually trying to find the Tea Party's America, but this was back before the Obama IRS did its best to prevent any actual grassroots Tea Party groups from forming. As a consequence, the Tea Party groups that formed were just fronts for establishment Republicans like Karl Rove, and the popular movement became even more hostile to Washington.

Thus, Trump, the only figure in either party's race who was clearly not a part of anyone's establishment. Whatever bad things can be said about him, that much at least is true.

Here are some of her conclusions. On overall motivation:
They feel their cultural beliefs are denigrated by the culture at large. They feel that they’re seen as rednecks, that they live in a region that’s being discredited. Many of them are deeply devout, but they see the culture at large becoming more secular. And then they see economically that this trapdoor that used to only affect black people and people one class below them is now opening and gobbling up them and their children too. So altogether it makes them feel like a forgotten tribe. “Strangers in their own land” is a phrase that kept recurring to me as I spent time there.

And the main point is that they feel the government, the federal government, has been an instrument of their marginalization. If you give it an arm, it’ll take a leg....
On what she calls "deep story":
Think of people waiting in a long line that stretches up a hill. And at the top of that is the American dream. And the people waiting in line felt like they’d worked extremely hard, sacrificed a lot, tried their best, and were waiting for something they deserved. And this line is increasingly not moving, or moving more slowly [i.e., as the economy stalls].

Then they see people cutting ahead of them in line. Immigrants, blacks, women, refugees, public-sector workers. And even an oil-drenched brown pelican getting priority. In their view, people are cutting ahead unfairly. And then in this narrative, there is Barack Obama, to the side, the line supervisor who seems to be waving these people (and the pelican) ahead. So the government seemed to be on the side of the people who were cutting in line and pushing the people in line back.
On hard work and social class:
Another thing, a lot of the people I talked to were doing really well now — but they had grown up in poverty, or their parents had, they’d struggled hard, and they’d worked hard. They were also white men, and they felt that there was no cultural sympathy for them, in fact there was a tendency to blame the categories of whiteness and maleness. I came to realize that there is a whole sector of society in which the privilege of whiteness and maleness didn’t really trickle down. And I think we have grown highly insensitive to that fact.
I think she puts too much emphasis on race, but she says that someone like me would think that. In any case, it's nice that she actually wanted to know what people like us think about things.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has a less generous take on her book.

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