How We Got Trump, In One Chart

After a couple of longish postings, a shorter one today (which is my general intent, tbqh).

Here is your chart of How We Got Trump:

Technically, you could make a good argument that it’s really a graph, but that’s not important right now.  This graphic is not a good look for people who were supposed to be at or near their peak earning years during the Great Recession and the sluggish recovery therefrom.  Not to mention that seniors tend to vote more than the young folks.

It is a graphic that also alludes to two of the “megatrends” David Frum mentioned in a recent Federalist Radio Hour as driving nationalist populism both here and in Europe: Stagnating incomes and people realizing they may be more dependent on government retirement benefit programs than they realized.

Furthermore, it’s consistent with what I wrote about the profile of the core Trump supporter back in August 2015: they “disapprove of the welfare state, but they endorse entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.”  This dynamic played out in much of the reporting during the 2016 campaign that Trump supporters make a big distinction between what they see (correctly or not) as “earned” vs. “unearned” benefits.

If you’re enough of a political junkie to be reading this you should recall the bemused reports of Trump supporters declaring they wanted the government to keep its hands off their Medicare.  And you probably have noticed the AARP’s new ad campaign reminding Pres. Trump of his stump comments that he would keep his hands off entitlement programs because people “made a deal long ago.”

Of course, there is a cognitive dissonance among this cohort, as I have previously noted: “embrace of the welfare state generally contributes to lower fertility rates and increasing reliance on immigrants to support government programs.”  America could be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the social democracies of Europe because the desire to avoid difficult political choices doesn’t recognize borders.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that — whatever narrative people now like to spin about the white working class — there is in fact a broader economic problem driving the Trumpian mindset among a broader demographic.  It’s likely a better explanation for How We Got Trump than the theory that people were getting their vengeance against a condescending media.  And it’s right there for you in one chart.  Or graph.  Whichever.

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