Home / World News / Opinion | There’s a Reason Trump Loves the Truckers

Opinion | There’s a Reason Trump Loves the Truckers

The former president is not alone.

“I hope the truckers do come to America,” Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, told The Daily Signal, a conservative website. “Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights, you name it. Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates.”

Nor was all this confined to North America. “Ottawa truckers’ convoy galvanizes far right worldwide,” an article in Politico on Feb. 6 declared. “Leading Republicans, right-wing influencers and white supremacist groups have jumped at the chance to promote the standoff in Ottawa to a global audience.”

In “Bowling for Fascism: Social Capital and the Rise of the Nazi Party,” a 2017 paper in the Journal of Political Economy, Shanker Satyanath of N.Y.U., Nico Voigtländer of U.C.L.A. and Hans-Joachim Voth of the University of Zurich offer a counterintuitive perspective on the spread of right-wing organizing in Canada, Hungary, Brazil, India, Poland, Austria and in the United States.

The three authors argue that in the 1930s in Europe:

dense networks of civic associations such as bowling clubs, choirs, and animal breeders went hand in hand with a more rapid rise of the Nazi Party. Towns with one standard deviation higher association density saw at least one-third faster entry. All types of associations — veteran associations and nonmilitary clubs, “bridging” and “bonding” associations — positively predict National Socialist Party entry. Party membership, in turn, predicts electoral success. These results suggest that social capital aided the rise of the Nazi movement that ultimately destroyed Germany’s first democracy.

Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Neil Lee and Cornelius Lipp, all of the London School of Economics, pick up this argument in a November 2021 paper on the paradoxical role of social capital in fostering far-right movements. Noting that the “positive view of social capital has, more recently, been challenged,” the three economic geographers write:

The rise in votes for Trump was the result of long-term economic and population decline in areas with strong social capital. This hypothesis is confirmed by the econometric analysis conducted for U.S. counties. Long-term declines in employment and population — rather than in earnings, salaries, or wages — in places with relatively strong social capital propelled Donald Trump to the presidency and almost secured his re-election.

It is, the three authors continue,

precisely the long-term economic and demographic decline of the places that still rely on a relatively strong social capital that is behind the rise of populism in the U.S. Strong but declining communities in parts of the American Rust Belt, the Great Plains and elsewhere reacted at the ballot box to being ignored, neglected and being left behind.

Translated to the present, in economic and culturally besieged communities, the remnants of social capital have been crucial to the mobilization of men and women — mostly men — who chanted, “you will not replace us” and “blood and soil” in Charlottesville, who shot bear spray at police officers on Jan. 6 and who brought Ottawa to its knees for more than two weeks.

In a separate paper, “The Rise of Populism and the Revenge of the Places,” Rodríguez-Pose argued, “Populism is not the result of persistent poverty. Places that have been chronically poor are not the ones rebelling.” Instead, he continued,

the rise of populism is a tale of how the long-term decline of formerly prosperous places, disadvantaged by processes that have rendered them exposed and almost expendable, has triggered frustration and anger. In turn, voters in these so-called “places that don’t matter” have sought their revenge at the ballot box.

In an email, Rodríguez-Pose wrote:

Social capital in the U.S. has been declining for a long time. Associationism and the feeling of community are no longer what they used to be, and this has been documented many times. What my co-authors and I are saying is that in those places (counties) where social capital has declined less, long-term demographic and employment decline triggered a switch to Donald Trump. These communities have said “enough is enough” of a system that they feel bypasses them and voted for an anti-system candidate, who is willing to shake the foundations of the system.

In a separate email, Lee noted that while most analysts view higher social capital as a healthy development in communities, it can also foster negative ethnic and racial solidarity: “Social capital can be a great thing when it is open and inclusive. But when everyone knows each other, this can result in in-group dynamics — particularly when people are led to be concerned about other groups.”

About brandsauthority

Check Also

Lava threat eases for major Hawaii highway

Scientists in Hawaii say lava from the world’s largest volcano is no longer an imminent …

%d bloggers like this: