Saving Liberalism

Foreign Affairs

One way to understand last year’s events is through a theory in social psychology known as “othering.” It explains how identity formation, as well as group cohesion, is facilitated in part by distinguishing oneself from those viewed as different.

Trump worked the othering tendencies of both parties to his advantage. His victory is often explained as a product of racism and anti-immigrant nativism, but it is not as though the American electorate suddenly became more racist than ever before. Indeed, Americans are, on average, more racially tolerant than ever. What changed is that Trump took a longstanding Republican narrative about smug elites one step further. Vulgar “political incorrectness” was a badge of honor to be worn in protest of Washington elites—embodied by his rival Hillary Clinton. Even if many Trump voters did not like his racist or sexist views, they loved his willingness to tweak the noses of polite society. Othering was part of what allowed a billionaire to portray himself as a man of the people.

This article is an example of how easy it is to be a blogger – you just scan through the stuff that crowds into your inbox – and then post a link to the good stuff.

This is good stuff.


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