Todd Gitlin in The Washington Post:
In the past few decades, plutocracy, globalization and compliant governments have betrayed workers, most of whom are white. Their decline began long before NAFTA, with the rise of low-wage foreign economies and a crushing, decades-long assault on the unions that had kept their wages up and their jobs in place. If Trump enters the White House, he cannot solve these problems. However often he fulminates against trade deals, he cannot conjure secure jobs for his fans. His “beautiful wall,” whether built or unbuilt, offers symbolic pleasures, but it would not make them walk taller or elevate their paychecks. Neither would tariffs, for which the price would be high. Then there are the cultural furies that fuel the Trump campaign: As a hefty share of white Americans see it, they’ve been forced to suffer the depredations of a black president whose middle name is Hussein — at this late date, 43 percent of Republicans still think he is a Muslim. What Trump holds out to his thwarted followers are the joys of instant, long-deferred gratification. When his supporters say “he says what he thinks,” they mean what they think and, even more, feel. How thrilling that, at last, a big shot, a winner, stands up for them, promises to wall off the bad guys, or punch them in the face, or both.
Most of all, though, there’s no respectable version of Trump — no Nixon — waiting in the wings to deliver on promises and contain the free-floating hatred. There’s no one to placate the enraged white working class, especially the men, and it’s hard to imagine policies that would make a re-greatened America “take the country away from you guys.” Neither Trump nor his GOP rivals can create that America — not soon, at any rate. Merely having a white president again is unlikely to mollify the angriest white voters. They want more than walls and nastiness; they want a viable, reliable economic life. They want a world where whites have secure, dignified jobs (better jobs, by the way, than immigrants and other upstarts who used to know their place). There’s every reason to believe that they’ll continue to feel victimized by malevolent interlopers: Barack Obama, China, immigrants, Muslims. Their frustration will have no outlet; no deliverance is in sight.