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I take seriously the arguments of well-intentioned critics who link the forgiveness of Trump among his otherwise masculinity-obsessed base with race and wish I'd said more about it. That's a part of it. But here's why it wasn't central to what I wrote. /1
There is *definitely* a "whitelash" or white anxiety among some of these Trump voters, but I wasn't trying to explain Trump's general support so much as I was trying to get a handle on the gigantic hypocrisy among his most reliable voters. /2
I think for a lot of these guys, race is just another area of disempowerment, along with the role of women and their decline of their value in the global marketplace. I buy all of that. But there's the still the neutron star of hypocritical dark matter at the center of it all. /3
What I've puzzled over for years is that these men have inflated the behavior of this effete, mincy old guy with the weird hand gestures into Rambo and Rocky and Amos Moses the Alligator Killer. Normally, this is the kind of man they hate on sheer principle. So, why? /4
Sorry/not sorry, but race just isn't enough. These are men who often work right next to men of color. Yeah, many of them hate it and have Old White Guy Nostalgia. But that's not it, to me. (And this was a piece about my cultural observations, not a sociology paper.) /5
I think of these men as chafing under the constraints of adult manhood. And I think that's part of a general collapse of maturity in America - but especially among men who are no longer socialized by institutions and conventions like marriage or universal military service. /6
I had no interest (nor did @TheAtlantic) in writing yet another "Whither American Manhood" piece. That's another subject for another day. But the analogy with Howard Stern nagged me for years. And when Stern emerged to talk about Trump, it sort of turned a light on for me. /7
What strikes me about both Trump and his most macho supporters is not that they are overtly racist or Civil War 2.0 LARPers or whatever, it's how *childlike* they all are. They have reactions that are where immature teenage boys are: obsessed with swagger and rudeness. /8
Think about the character of Miles in The Turn of the Screw. At one point he does something awful and the governess asks him why. He says, like all immature boys: "To show you that I could. And that I will again." That, to me, is Trump. An angry little boy, defying his mommy. /9
And so many of them who admire him seem to be the the same way. They dress like boys, they act like boys, they have the social dynamic - in group/out group, pal/enemy - that little boys have. Race plays into it, yes. But (I think) more an effect than a cause. /10
I think what these guys want more than anything is to be able to say and do whatever they want, to get out from under the obligations of a life they may not like all that much, to yell at the moon, with no consequences. As immature boys want to do. /11
The article was already long, so I didn't go down this road, but Trump, as I say in the piece, is a permission slip to shrug off maturity and the drudgery that goes with it. It's "aspirational assholery" as @TheRickWilson calls it, and it's very much in the Stern tradition. /12
@TheRickWilson Anyway, I take seriously the issue of race among *many* Trump voters. But I just don't think it's the most powerful explanation of the gigantic hypocrisy, the huge delta, between what these men *say* a man is and what Trump *actually is*. /13x
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