How "White Privilege" Helps Explain the Polls
How is it possible that Donald Trump has surged to his largest lead yet in national GOP polls, just a week before real voting starts? His campaign was supposed to be a joke, and his early decent poll numbers an aberration that would disappear once voters "got serious."
Here, I think, is a good chunk of the explanation: When our elites keep telling single mothers living in a trailer with their unemployed, meth-addicted sons, and working at Walmart for $10 per hour, or guys whose father had a high-paying factory job for 45 years but who were laid off from a similar job four years ago and have found no work since, that they are beneficiaries of "white privilege"... well, what you get is Donald Trump.
When I mention such examples to someone who uses the phrase "white privilege," at least someone intelligent who uses it, e.g., Daniel Kuehn, the response I typically get is, "Of course, 'whiteness' is only one aspect of privilege, and there are many others." And it is true, there are times and circumstances in which it is an advantage to be "white." (I use quotes because making "white" a monolithic category is itself a political choice: I grew up thinking I was "American" and "Irish," and that "Italian" and "Jewish" and "black" and "white protestant" were all similar categories to "Irish." And by the way, growing up in an "ethnic" manufacturing town slowly transitioning to a commuter suburb, by far the most foreign of these to me was "white Protestant.")
But if the only form of privilege ever talked about is "white," and no one ever mentions, say, Obama's "Ivy-League privilege," or Vernon Jordan's "at-the-top-of-the-corporate-hierarchy privilege," the "just-one-of-many-forms-of-privilege" qualification starts to seem a little like, "Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" In fact, it starts to seem like a way a bunch of people very much privileged, like tenured professors and wealthy attorneys and corporate managers, of all races, can try to keep the "white" working class from getting too angry about all of the jobs they once had being shipped overseas.