November 28, 2016

I think it's safe to say that we're all collectively still processing the election and trying to figure out what happens now. Certainly, the media is still trying (and mostly, failing) to get their head around how to cover President-elect Trump's erratic behavior and norm-busting. (As a side note, look at Jay Rosen's frustrating exchange with a USA Today journalist on how to cover Trump's unfounded accusations.)

CNN's Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter asked two Trump biographers what they think we can expect of a Trump presidency, having been brave enough to delve in to Trump's psyche before. Unsurprisingly, they warn of a raging narcissistic id now in the highest office in the country.

But that's not to say that Trump doesn't have at least a latent canniness. Biographer Michael Antonio speaks of Trump's ability to mine support from the dark underbelly of white resentment, a campaign he originated with his birtherism. But biographer Tim O'Brien also points out that, like Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, Trump positioned himself as a "change agent", which resonated with voters who felt the country moving forward without them.

Kathy Cramer, who has been studying these mythical white working class heartland voters for years and wrote "The Politics of Resentment" has this to say:

Here’s the thing that was really eye-opening to me this morning. Eventually, we got around to discussing specific policies. I asked, “So what are you hoping he accomplishes in the next four years? In what ways do you think he’s actually going to make your life better?”

And they kind of looked at me. And they said, Well, probably nothing. Presidents don’t do anything for people like us. But at least he’s going to balance the books and stop spending money that we don’t have.

They did believe that Trump was going to boost the economy. They thought there would be 4 percent growth in the economy under him, and there might be more jobs and things would perk up. But they also said, Well nobody even notices that this place exists, so it’s probably not going to affect our lives that much.

I think that’s a good indicator of the perspective that folks are coming from. They are feeling so stuck. Even this person, whom they support because he represents overnight change to them — they still don’t have hopes that he will significantly improve the quality of their lives.

The question remains, since they're so fatalistic about the personal benefit to them, what will be the tipping point to lose their support? Is it when he staffs his cabinet with insiders? Is it when he back pedals on his campaign promises? Or is it when he proves to be as poor an executive in the Oval Office as he's proven as a businessman?

Can you help us out?

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