Why did many vote for Trump? Respect.

Why did many vote for Trump? Respect. By Megan McArdle.

Fifty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis, the scars of the riots that followed are only now fully healed in Washington. In other cities, they still aren’t. And we still don’t know exactly why they happened — or for that matter why the 1960s as a whole saw more rioting than the decades before or since. …

While a general level of deprivation may make riots more likely (if for no other reason than because the poor have so little to lose), variations in economic deprivation don’t. In the 1960s, blacks were economically oppressed everywhere, but there were still places where things were better or worse. So if economic conditions lead to riots, we’d have expected to see the most civil disorder in the places with the worst hardship. But that’s not what the data show. …

Nor did economic factors predict when riots broke out. After all, the 1960s were a period of unusually rapid economic progress for black Americans, thanks to anti-discrimination campaigns and the Civil Rights Act. If poverty and unemployment were driving rioters, the 1960s should have been one of the most racially peaceful decades in American history.

What did cause the riots, then? Well, rage and despair and a lot of hard-to-quantify socio-political factors. But taking them all in total, I’d sum them all up with one word: respect. Whatever our economic conditions, we also want — we need — to command a certain minimal amount of admiration from our fellow citizens. …

If you are resisting the idea that respect might matter as much or more than unemployment or poverty, consider that in the United States, economic deprivation is itself a species of disrespect, breeding and magnifying the social variety. But pure social disrespect matters, too, a great deal. If we forget that, we will never resolve our problems — not the old ones and not our current differences, either. …

Many places that voted for Trump never had many factories to lose to China or Mexico; many factory towns turned to Trump only after decades of decline. What most consistently motivates the Trump supporters I’ve met is not jobs or racism but anger at a culturally powerful elite that veers between ignoring them and disrespecting every facet of their lives.

Clinton’s crack about deplorables did more to lose her the election than anything else she said.