At this point there's overwhelming evidence against the "economic anxiety" hypothesis -- the notion that people voted for Donald Trump because they had been hurt by globalization. In fact, people who were doing well financially were just as likely to support Trump as people who were doing badly.

What distinguished Trump voters was, instead, racial resentment. Furthermore, this resentment was and is driven not by actual economic losses at the hands of minority groups, but by fear of losing status in a changing country, one in which the privilege of being a white man isn't what it used to be.

And here's the thing: It's perfectly possible for a man to lead a comfortable, indeed enviable life by any objective standard, yet be consumed with bitterness driven by status anxiety.


Indeed, my guess is that [Kavanaugh's] privileged roots are precisely why he's so angry.

I very much ran with the nerds during my own time at Yale, but I did encounter people like Kavanaugh -- hard-partying sons of privilege who counted on their connections to insulate them from any consequences from their actions, up to and including abusive behavior toward women. And that kind of elite privilege still exists.

But it's privilege under siege. An increasingly diverse society no longer accepts the God-given right of white males from the right families to run things, and a society with many empowered, educated women is finally rejecting the droit de seigneur once granted to powerful men.


So what we got last week was a view into the soul of Trumpism. It's not about "populism" -- it would be hard to find a judge as anti-worker as Brett Kavanaugh. Instead, it's about the rage of white men, upper class as well as working class, who perceive a threat to their privileged position. And that rage may destroy America as we know it.

We think Krugman is half right here. We don't buy the stats that there is simply no cause for economic worry by Americans of all stripes -- white or otherwise. To argue this is to suggest that millennials actually do not have it worse than their parents, or that wages haven't stagnated since the 1970s. Those declines may not be unique to "angry white males", but they are certainly feeling them. Of course, that doesn't justify upholding undeserved privilege.

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