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Tue 8 Dec 2015 10:12 AM

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Why Trump is winning over the American white working class who Obama struggles to connect with

Given the anger and fear that has seized the country, a lot of voters are looking for an altogether different kind of leader than Obama

Why Trump is winning over the American white working class who Obama struggles to connect with

Here’s
President Barack Obama on the war against ISIL: “Our success won’t depend on
tough talk or abandoning or values or giving into fear. . . . We will prevail
by being strong and smart.”

Here’s Donald
Trump: “Every time things get worse, I do better. Because people have
confidence in me.” He promised, “We’re going to be so tough and so mean and so
nasty.”

What we’re
seeing right now in American politics is class warfare. But not the kind of
class warfare Bernie Sanders would understand. It’s not the working class
versus the 1 percent. It’s the working class versus the educated elite. In
fact, one of the richest men in the world is leading the revolt: Trump.

Trump’s support
for the Republican nomination is not defined by ideology or age or gender. It’s
defined by education. Among GOP voters with a college degree in the latest CNN
poll, Trump comes in fourth with just 18 percent. But he has a huge lead among
non-college voters — 46 percent. No other candidate comes close.

Today, in the
United States, the richer you are, the more likely you are to vote Republican.
The better educated you are, the more likely you are to vote Democratic. We saw
it in the last presidential race. It was Mitt Romney, the prince of wealth,
versus Obama, the prince of education.

Romney lost
because of his elitist economic values. He was Mr. 1 Percent, disdainful of the
“47 percent” who, he argued, are dependent on government. Trump, on the other
hand, is rallying white working class voters. Not around their economic
interests. Around their values.

Trump is the
anti-Obama. He was the first Republican candidate to challenge Obama on the
“birther” issue. To Trump supporters, Obama is the ultimate educated snob — the
candidate who, in 2012, was disdainful of hard-pressed small-town voters who
“cling to guns and religion . . . or anti-immigrant sentiment.”

Obama insists on
facts. “We need to know all the facts,” he said immediately after the San
Bernadino killings. Trump doesn’t deal in facts. The New York Times just
completed a comprehensive analysis of every public statement by Trump over the
past week. The conclusion? “Mr. Trump uses rhetoric to erode people’s trust in
facts, numbers, nuance, government and the news media.” He still claims he saw
“thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey cheering and celebrating
after the 9/11 attacks, even though there is no factual basis for the claim.

Trump does not
hide his contempt for Obama. “There is something going on with him that we
don’t know about,” Trump said at a recent campaign rally. He doesn’t think
Obama’s smart: “How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?”
Unlike himself: “When you’re really, really smart like I am . . . ” Trump said.
Trump spent his first two college years at Fordham University before
transferring to the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School.
The two men exhibit two different kinds of intelligence — book smarts versus
money smarts. Guess which one Americans admire more.

Obama is
thoughtful, knowledgeable and progressive: the professor-in-chief. He’s always
had trouble connecting with white working-class voters. He lost them to Hillary
Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primaries.

Given the anger
and fear that has seized the country, a lot of voters are looking for an
altogether different kind of leader than Obama. “The nation needs a wartime
president,” Senator Ted Cruz said. Someone who can be trusted to keep them
safe. Trump pledges to keep out immigrants who might be recruited to the
terrorist cause. Obama calls for gun control. “As if somehow terrorists care
about what our gun laws are,” presidential aspirant Senator Marco Rubio said.

Resentment of
education has always been stronger than resentment of wealth in the United
States. Especially since the educated elite has come to embrace liberal
cultural values — values that conservatives denounce as “political correctness.”

No one is less
politically correct than Trump. He claimed that some people failed to report
suspicions about the California killers because of concerns about racial
profiling. “We have become so politically correct that we don’t know what the
hell we’re doing,” Trump said.

Trump’s appeal
to Republicans isn’t based on conservative ideology. It’s because many
Republicans share his hatred of Obama. Republicans are rallying to Trump’s
cause and may even nominate him. But white working class voters are a shrinking
part of the electorate. Most Americans will be uneasy at the prospect of
electing a hater to be their president. In fact, a new NBC News-Telemundo poll
shows Hillary Clinton beating him by 12 points.

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