So, why did so many white working class men vote for Trump? Why did so many women vote for Trump?
To me this is same question as why so of those who suffered the deprivation and abuse go onto perpetrate it. It is the same reason that those who have been treated harshly and in a very disciplinarian way go onto to treat others in the same way. It’s why those who went to boarding school put their own children through the same process. It is the same psychology as victims identifying with their abusers, the same as those who in post WW1 Germany thought that Hitler had the solution to their problems.
When we have been traumatised, be it from any combination of deprivation and harshness from whatever social class we come from, there is a tendency to identify with the source. We do unto others what has been done to us, unless we become self-aware. This identification helps us to avoid the pain, hurt, fear and distress of our own trauma, it is a defence mechanism which hides our trauma by making it ‘normal’ and which then has the strategy of projecting the (the un-accepted hurt, pain, fear or distress) onto the other in the form of ‘badness’. The immigrant, the bureaucrat, the politician, the ‘system’ become the ‘bad’ object.
It seems clear that a consequence of the financial crisis and the Wests’ response to it, which meant that the rich got fabulously richer and most got poorer, has been that those in deprivation have un- surprisingly become disillusioned with the political status quo. Hope has diminished and as is often the case, fear and desperation lead to knee-jerk reactions that are the opposite of creative and life enhancing, reactions which have lots of negative consequences.
It seems to me that this is very similar to the dynamics of our Brexit vote. And is partly the price of globalisation that will continue for a while yet as third and second world countries lift themselves up to some new global norm, whilst first world countries are forced to shift downwards. Governments and bankers must take a chunk of the responsibility as well though, for facilitating such an increase in inequality.
This same process applies to the question of why so many women voted for Trump. Centuries of oppressive patriarchy have left a huge psychic wound on women and despite the progress over the last century of women’s fight for liberation, the scars are still there. Many women are still stuck at some level, identifying with the abuser, (e.g. the over identification with physical beauty and perfection) and surely the acceptance of, and support for Trump, makes this crystal clear. Sexist behaviour is accepted because it is part of unprocessed abusive behaviour that has been internalised, which leads to the so familiar, “it’s ‘normal’ and “it didn’t do me any harm” with its underlying rip tide of denied personal inadequacy.
My hope is that Trump’s power will be severely curtailed by the practical reality of politics, with all the checks and balances within the US system. The worry is that with sufficient support from the other arms of power in the US, he could cause some really troubling times. Bullies can become dictators.
However, I’m also aware of the inevitable generational swing from left to right in politics, with right wing reactionary forces currently gaining the upper hand. Makes me think back to Thatcher and Reagan era, and previous see-saws. I still hold out hope that the underlying growth of consciousness in the world will continue, no developmental graph is without its hiccups and this is a very long game, evolving over centuries and millennia. I feel confident that it will not be possible for Trump to turn into another Hitler, the circumstances are vastly different, the weight of embodied freedom is too great to be bulldozered away.