Recent Books: The United States: The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump/The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America/The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics

By Mead, Walter Russell | Foreign Affairs, September/October 2018 | Go to article overview

Recent Books: The United States: The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump/The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America/The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics


Mead, Walter Russell, Foreign Affairs


The United States The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump BY ALAN I. ABRAMOWITZ. Yale University Press, 2018, 216 pp.

The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America BY ROBERT WUTHNOW. Princeton University Press, 2018, 200 pp.

The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics BY SALENA ZITO AND BRAD TODD. Crown Forum, 2018, 320 pp.

These books offer three distinct perspectives on the central question in American politics: Why did so many voters support Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election? Abramowitz uses political science to analyze the electorate, Wuthnow takes a sociological perspective on the residents of the small towns that voted disproportionately for Trump, and Zito and Todd use a mixture of journalistic interviews and demographic analysis to understand Trump voters.

Of the three, Abramowitz offers the bleakest perspective. In a radical shift in political behavior, polarization is no longer limited to talking heads on cable news; more and more, tribal loyalty characterizes the American public as a whole. Racial resentment and insecurity, Abramowitz suggests, are the leading- although not the only-forces behind this change. "Racial resentment," as

Abramowitz uses the term, is not identical to old-fashioned racism. He defines it by the extent to which respondents agree or disagree with statements such as "Irish, Italian, Jewish, and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without any special favors." He finds that those kinds of sentiments have increased among Republican-voting whites in the last three decades while modestly decreasing among whites who vote Democratic. Those sentiments were strongly correlated with support for Trump in both the primaries and the general election in 2016.

Wuthnow also wrestles with racism in his sociological look at small-town America. …

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Recent Books: The United States: The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump/The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America/The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics
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