In “Why Many White Men Love Trump’s Coronavirus Response,” Atlantic editor Olga Khazan seeks to explain why 82 percent of Republicans support President Trump’s COVID-19 response. The article begins by presenting the opinion of a common man in Texas, who provides a simple yet reasonable explanation for his support, “that the president has left the pandemic response almost entirely up to local officials.”
Unfortunately for Kurtis, the young Texan Khazan quotes, his view is not presented as a part of an honest attempt to understand the sentiments of the class he supposedly represents. Instead, he is merely a strawman set up to demonstrate Trump supporters’ irrationality and is immediately thrown under the rhetorical weight of expert opinion that sets the stage for the spew of elitism that follows.
To understand the enigma that is the proverbial “white man” who supports Trump’s pandemic response, for left publications like The Atlantic, merely engaging with his arguments would not only be insufficient but also grant a platform to his harmful ideology. To truly understand this anachronistic man, then, its writers must consult an array of experts who may appropriately parse his glaring irrationality into a coherent academic framework.
Like the Bonobo, the white male Trump supporter must be studied under the strict scrutiny of science. Calipers, please.
Khazan presents several “expert” opinions about why “white men” love Trump’s pandemic response, but ultimately provides the most credence to the views of Dr. Arlie Hochschild, a professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkley. According to Hochschild, white men resent the advancement of women, minorities, and immigrants. They feel left behind by the economy and feel that their rightful status in society is being overtaken by those they see as beneath them.
The accumulation of these and other trends in American society has left white men feeling insecure regarding their manhood, Hochschild claims. Trump is their Christlike savior, here to fight their boogiemen on their behalf. Therefore, white male Trump supporters revere the president for fighting to restore their rightful place atop society. Meanwhile, they embrace the risks of COVID as a part of their vanity project to restore their masculinity.
Hochschild’s analysis is only one example of a prominent trend of leftist intellectuals who wish to elucidate white men’s primitive minds to satisfy their elitist reader base’s intellectual curiosity. At best, it stands among the relatively innocuous but misguided works of authors such as Nancy Isenberg and her book “White Trash: The 400 Year Old History of Class in America.” At worst, it stands among the more ostentatious and demeaning scholarship of authors such as Robin DiAngelo and her book “White Fragility.” In either case, Hochschild and the intellectual trend her work fits within fails to provide any interesting or relevant insight.
So why would a reasonable man support the duly elected president of the United States rather than blindly submit to the rule of experts? The answer is no different than why Socrates believed the people would not blindly submit to the rule of the philosopher. Simply, the rule of the wise must be qualified with consent.
That is, men of wisdom must be publicly recognized as such. In a republic, men are recognized as wise and elevated to positions of power through elections, not on the basis of their dissertations.
Responsible citizens wish to see their interests reflected in the laws that govern them. In America, that requires that decisions are made by those who have intimate knowledge of the sentiments and interests of the people they represent and by those who are most readily held accountable.
Intimate knowledge and direct accountability requires proximity. It requires that decisions be made by city councils and state legislatures, not by governors abusing executive orders or health departments issuing mandates.
In a regime lacking any semblance of self-government, any semblance of the rule of law, the people support the only one who understands and represents their position. Republicans are not responding to the president’s views. The president is responding to the views of his people.
For Khazan and Hochschild, such elementary concepts of American self-government are a foreign concept. That is why they and other coastal elites will never understand why a “white man” would support a politician who does not eagerly sacrifice his natural rights to the capricious rule of academic consensus.
Why would a man be willing to risk illness to provide for himself and his family? Why would a man be willing to risk illness to worship his God? Why would a man not readily submit himself to a government-enforced lockdown with no discernible end? Why would a man support a president who believes his fellow citizens are rational actors, capable of making informed decisions for themselves and their family, over an unelected government advisor? If you have to ask, you will never understand.
In an America now seemingly long gone, such questions would be nothing more than rhetorical. In today’s regime, these are questions that apparently require social science expertise to discern how a man could be so arrogant as to expect democratic legitimacy in the decisions that affect his livelihood or who thinks he is capable of judging what is best for his family.