This is the ninth in a series of posts considering Katherine Cramer’s Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker.
I first thought I’d post, chapter by chapter, on Katherine Cramer’s Politics of Resentment after I read her 11.13.16 article in the Washington Post, “How rural resentment helps explain the surprising victory of Donald Trump.”
That’s quite the title, enticing readers (especially opponents of Trump, as I am) to learn about a purported key to his rise.
Her work offers no insights about Trump’s rise.
In Politics of Resentment, Cramer contends that rural voters were resentful, that they favored small government solutions against their interests, and that voters’ concerns were of economic anxiety and not so much about race.
Trump ran on a platform that advocated (mendaciously but insistently) a trillion dollars in infrastructure spending, healthcare supposedly better than ObamaCare, protectionism to compel jobs back to the Midwest, wall-building to restrict immigration from Mexico (although most immigrants are not Mexican), and insistence on a registry for Muslim Americans.
That’s not a small government agenda.
Cramer’s entire book is premised on the notion that rural residents are so resentful they favor small government over their own supposed economic interests.
Trump’s entire campaign rested firmly on lavish promises of spending, a trillion for public works, and a steady diet of anti-Mexican and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Indeed, Trump’s campaign only took off after he insisted on immigrations to keep from America a flow of immigrants he falsely smeared as rapists, murderers, etc.
All the while, Trump relied on a steady diet of lies and ludicrous claims from Putin’s trolls to smear his principal opponent. This undermining of standards of truth and evidence is one of the most significant developments of our time, but Cramer’s book has nothing to say on the matter (and neither does her November WaPo article.)
On its own terms, Cramer’s book disappoints; as an explanation of Trump’s rise, it offers nothing useful.
Next week: On Monday, I’ll begin a series on Amy Goldstein’s Janesville: An American Story.