Understanding Trump’s Victory: Some Sources



Donald Trump is now President. The Rust Belt delivered the presidency to him. Coastal folks are generally uninterested in knowing much about this part of the world. Others consider learning about “racist” middle America to be some sort of pact with the devil. Some, like the Princeton history professor I heard on TV today, will only consent to learn about middle America if middle America is equally curious about him. Never mind that his job is to learn and the people he’s asking to learn about him are supposed to do it after pulling a shift cleaning up shit at the local nursing home, but whatever.

Nonetheless, many friends, family, colleagues, and professional peers are interested in learning more about the place that gave us Trump. People who don’t know a lot about it don’t live in a “bubble” as many are likely to say. There has been plenty of news about tragedy in middle America that has had plenty of play on the coasts: deindustrialization, financialization, mass foreclosure, and so on, so sure bubble in that sense. But the Rust Belt hasn’t really mattered a lot in national politics for a while now. Remember that when it did, it was much more central in our national consciousness. TV used to celebrate the working class (black and white), our popular culture was obsessed with it. Cities like New York, Seattle, and San Francisco were working-class towns. Parts of the coasts have become extended international airport terminals, all of them look the same and feel the same. They are cosmopolitan in the sense of being connected to lots of distant places and sophisticated people, but also filled with people who may never have any contact with Old Economy cities fifteen miles away.

I am here to say that I am no better. I live in London, I spend time in New York, I enthusiastically go to Chicago or San Francisco. But my in-laws are Midwestern and I used to work in the Rust Belt and much of that work involved talking to workers. My dissertation research was on Rust Belt territories, though it didn’t really tackle the issue particularly directly. As a result, I am no particular expert, but I do have some familiarity. The following are things that I have found helpful for thinking about the Rust Belt and what happened.

Articles Relevant to the Current Moment:

Emmet Rensin, The smug style in American liberalism http://www.vox.com/2016/4/21/11451378/smug-american-liberalism

George Packer, The Populists http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/09/07/the-populists

Nelson Schwarz, Can Trump Save Their Jobs? They’re Counting on It http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/13/business/economy/can-trump-save-their-jobs-theyre-counting-on-it.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=0

Anything by Chris Arnade: https://www.theguardian.com/profile/chris-arnade

Suzanne Berger, How Finance Gutted Manufacturing https://bostonreview.net/forum/suzanne-berger-how-finance-gutted-manufacturing

Louis Aguilar, How Trump won the vote of Michigan’s white working class http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/macomb-county/2016/11/10/trump-won-vote-michs-white-working-class/93618428/

Andrew Flowers, Where Trump Got His Edge http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/macomb-county/2016/11/10/trump-won-vote-michs-white-working-class/93618428/

Joshua Green, Trump’s Data Team Saw a Different America—and They Were Right https://getpocket.com/a/read/1475699638

Glenn Greenwald, Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit https://theintercept.com/2016/11/09/democrats-trump-and-the-ongoing-dangerous-refusal-to-learn-the-lesson-of-brexit/

Robert Reich: Why the White Working Class Abandoned the Democratic Party http://www.alternet.org/economy/robert-reich-why-white-working-class-abandoned-democratic-party

Steven Greenhouse, Taking Trump’s Populism Seriously https://getpocket.com/a/read/1475964907

Jed Kolko, Trump was stronger where the economy was weaker http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trump-was-stronger-where-the-economy-is-weaker/

Jeff Guo, A new theory for why Trump voters are so angry that actually makes sense https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/08/a-new-theory-for-why-trump-voters-are-so-angry-that-actually-makes-sense/

Claudia Wallis, Trump’s victory and the politics of resentment https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-s-victory-and-the-politics-of-resentment/

Arlie Russell Hochschild, I spent five years with some of Trump’s biggest fans. Here’s what they won’t tell you http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/trump-white-blue-collar-supporters

Alec MacGillis, Revenge of the Forgotten Class. https://www.propublica.org/article/revenge-of-the-forgotten-class

Alec MacGillis, The Great Republican Crack-Up https://www.propublica.org/article/the-great-republican-crack-up-dayton-ohio-immigration-donald-trump

Somer Mathis, The Reality of Rural Resentment http://www.citylab.com/politics/2016/11/the-reality-of-rural-resentment/507659/

John Judis, Why Trump Won

Theda Skocpol, Response to Judis

Gary Yonge, How Trump took middle America

Thomas Piketty, We must rethink globalization, or Trumpism will prevail

Michael Stern, The Rust Belt’s blues turn it Red

Joan C. Williams, What so many people don’t get about the U.S. working class

Kathy Cramer, For years I’ve been watching anti-elite fury build in Wisconsin. Then came Trump

Josh Pacewicz, What’s the matter with Iowa?


Roger and Me

Harlan County, USA

Traficant: The Congressman of Crimetown

City of Hope

Out of the Furnace

American Dream


Ben Hamper, Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line

Thomas Geoghegan, Which Side Are You On? Trying to be for Labor When It’s Flat on It’s Back

Peter Rachleff, Hard Pressed in the Heartland: The Hormel Strike and the Future of the Labor Movement

Thomas Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit

Thomas Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North

Todd Swanstrom, The Crisis of Growth Politics: Cleveland, Kucinich and the Challenge of Urban Populism

Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb, The Hidden Injuries of Class

Richard Sennett, Respect in a World of Inequality

Jefferson Cowie, Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class

Carlo Rotella, Good with Their Hands: Boxers, Bluesmen, and Other Characters from the Rust Belt

Matthew Desmond, Evicted

Arlie Russell Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

Staughton Lynd, Solidarity Unionism: Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below

Kim Moody, An Injury to All: The Decline of American Unionism

Kim Moody, Workers in a Lean World: Unions in an International Economy

Jake Rosenfeld, What Unions No Longer Do

Katherine Cramer, The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker

Robert Brenner, The Boom and the Bubble

Robert Brenner, The Economics of Global Turbulence

Dan Immergluck, Foreclosed: High-Risk Lending, Deregulation, and the Undermining of America’s Mortgage Market

Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed

Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

Michele Lamont, The Dignity of Working Men

Jennifer Sherman, Those Who Work, Those Who Don’t

Monica McDermott, Working Class White

Maria Kefalas, Working-Class Heroes

Josh Pacewicz, Partisans and Partners

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