Here's Stephen Marche in the Guardian taking yet another stab at why white males in the Midwest appear drawn to Trump and Sanders. Why Marche lumps Sanders in with Trump, I don't know. Balance, perhaps? Because, really, there's not much comparison between the two. Except for the color of their skin, that is, which is where Marche focuses his explanation of their interests in either candidate. Race, and that is it.
There is nothing in this piece on unemployment or poverty in America. Nothing on the crisis in healthcare or the crisis in education. Nothing on the insecurity and instability many in this country face, whether white, black, or other. Nothing on racial inequality, really (though there is a throw away statement that connects a few white men playing cards in a casino in Iowa and cops shooting black men in open daylight, as if it were that simple). And nothing on Hillary Clinton, or her husband, or, for that matter, anyone else implicated in setting the US economy on a path that ended in the financial crash of 2008.
In other words, Marche’s explanation of voting interests among Midwestern white males is a non-explanation. It’s also a popular one, and I suspect we will see more of it in the months ahead. But it does make me think back to Ellen Willis's review of Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas?, aptly titled, "What's the Matter with Tom Frank (and the Lefties Who Love Him)?” It’s a necessary antidote to the kind of critique on offer with Marche and others who write in this vein.
What Marche puts down to "white man pathology," Willis explains as a rational choice. In a country dominated by two parties beholden to corporate interests, neither of which takes much cares much for the concerns of ordinary workers, predominantly white voters in the Midwest do, and will, vote on purely cultural lines. The answer is not ridicule or cynicism, as is Marche’s tactic, but rather serious engagement with the root causes of anxiety and despair among white voters in this part of the country.