It was the racism, stupid: White working-class economic anxiety is a zombie idea that needs to die – Chauncey Devega / Salon

On Jan. 20, Donald Trump will become president of the United States of America. Donald Trump is an authoritarian and demagogue who meets the definition of a fascist, as I have argued on multiple previous occasions. His election and the 60 million voters who supported him are a threat to American democracy.

How did this happen?

The first draft of this history is being written now. In the years and decades to come, we will have the benefit of hindsight, as well as more information and context, to make better sense of Donald Trump’s victory on Election Day 2016 and its implications for American democracy and global politics.

But in the immediate present, the dominant narrative for explaining the rise of Donald Trump and his fascist movement has been centered upon the “white working class” and its purported “economic anxiety.” For a variety of reasons, this is a compelling story for the American corporate news media, the pundits and other elite opinion leaders.

The white economic anxiety narrative is simplistic. It is also the result of a type of “path dependence,” whereby the answers offered are largely a function of the questions asked. The white economic anxiety thesis is also a way for the pundit class — with a majority of its members being white and from a very narrow socioeconomic background — to ignore the enduring power of racism and sexism in American society.

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