Why some Americans vote for Donald Trump

“Trump and the Rise of the Unprotected” by Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, is an interesting analysis of Donald Trump’s popularity. Here are some excerpts from this WSJ piece:

There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.

The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.

[The protected] are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers. Some of them—in Washington it is important officials in the executive branch or on the Hill; in Brussels, significant figures in the European Union—literally have their own security details.

Many Americans suffered from illegal immigration—its impact on labor markets, financial costs, crime, the sense that the rule of law was collapsing. But the protected did fine—more workers at lower wages. No effect of illegal immigration was likely to hurt them personally.

Similarly in Europe, citizens on the ground in member nations came to see the EU apparatus as a racket—an elite that operated in splendid isolation, looking after its own while looking down on the people.

[The protected] let the public schools flounder. But their children go to the best private schools.

… we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens.

Perhaps the central story of our time therefore is “inequality,” though not simply “who is a rich enough douchebag to have a penthouse next to the lift at Beaver Creek and use it twice a year?” Could it be that the most consequential inequality is between people who have government jobs, especially high-level ones, and people who don’t have the connections, education, or skill to get those jobs. My hometown of Bethesda, Maryland, where the ruling class tends to move after having kids (don’t want to pay for private school; don’t want your children to encounter any poor kids), has become spectacularly posh over the past 40 years. Baltimore, Maryland, by contrast, is plagued by violence. Baltimore, however, is just far enough away that nobody in Bethesda has to care what happens there (see this chapter on Maryland family law, in which a state legislator from Baltimore described the laws of Maryland as having been made to benefit “wealthy lawyers who represent people in Montgomery County”).


  1. paddy

    February 26, 2016 @ 12:00 pm


    The simplest example is probably Lewiston, Maine.

    No one wanted Somalis to come over to the USA in the first place.

    Imagine if your father worked hard to buy or build a 4 story building in downtown Lewiston, comprising some storefront space, and offices. You can’t easily move your investment to some other location; and now you are in the middle of a junky town – and your own tax dollars were used to entice Somalis to come and then continue to receive benefits!

    Govt workers in the social services sector, however, are happy – they live somewhere else and have 100% job security due to all the new cases they have to manage.

  2. Brian Gulino

    February 26, 2016 @ 1:24 pm


    The left, along with academia, has been extraordinarily effective at characterizing many policies that they do not agree with as racist. Disagree with immigration policy (or the lack of of it) or want some say in who gets to immigrate to the U.S.? That’s xenophobic and racist. Want some say in what biological sex gets to use which bathrooms? That’s homophobic. Want to ask someone on welfare with 4 kids if they ever heard of family planning? Rude and racist besides. When you remove such questions from the public discourse, you get people like Trump.

  3. Vince

    February 26, 2016 @ 1:25 pm


    Peggy Noonan is mistaken. Most of the people who are doing really well in America, such as those radiologists who earn $600k/year, don’t, in fact, work for the government or the media. Very few government employees or reporters make near that amount. This may be part of an effort by Ms. Noonan and the WSJ to distract the population and get them to blame the wrong people for their economic woes.

  4. philg

    February 26, 2016 @ 1:35 pm


    Brian: I think I’ve previously posted that anyone who disagrees with me is a racist! I win every argument that way!

    Vince: Do reporters make $600k/year? Except for some TV reporters, it seems unlikely. Do the managers and owners who control what points of view get aired or printed make $600k/year? Why not? How about politicians and senior government administrators? At least at the federal level they don’t make more than $400,000 per year. Once they go out the revolving door to a regulated industry or to a lobbying firm, however, it seems that $1-5 million/year compensation is realistic (see http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/congressman-bank-lobbyists-article-1.1804659 for example). So averaged over a working career it would be a lot more per year than the average American voter’s wage income (Bureau of Labor Statistics says that median weekly gross income for an American is about $820, or $42,640 per year; see http://www.bls.gov/news.release/wkyeng.t01.htm ).

  5. philg

    February 26, 2016 @ 1:54 pm


    (Actually just getting to live in the Washington, D.C. metro area separates a person from most of the rest of America. A lot of stuff in D.C. is gold-plated using funds collected from Americans nationwide. There are free museums and cultural events. A lot of neighborhoods feature walkability and/or Metro access. The median lifestyle in the D.C. area is much better than the median lifestyle for the typical American.)

  6. michiel

    February 26, 2016 @ 2:37 pm


    If there’s anything illustrative of how left-wing the United States is, it’s how readily classist arguments are used by politicians.

    Yes, the 50% of the population that agrees with you consists of ordinary, hard-working folk. The 50% that doesn’t are an estranged, traitorous elite.

  7. Vince

    February 26, 2016 @ 3:37 pm


    Corporate executives who work for major media outlets are very well compensated, as corporate executives are generally. It’s not clear that Peggy Noonan was referring to those executives when she referred to “figures in government, politics and media”. If she was referring to executives, it would make no sense to focus on those in media and ignore executives in finance, for example, who are probably those with the highest incomes. Also, she appeared to be referring to the current incomes of politicians, not any future earnings.

    Also, many conservative Americans who live in suburbs in Middle America disagree about your point regarding Washington, DC. They rarely venture into any city because they think that cities are rife with crime, drugs, welfare families and unions. They’re disgusted by the idea of riding to work on the Metro because it would involve sitting next to strangers who may be violent criminals.

  8. philg

    February 26, 2016 @ 3:42 pm


    Now I’m sure that you’re right, Vince, because I have never seen any tourist from the Heartland riding the D.C. Metro to get to the Smithsonian…

  9. jack crossfire

    February 26, 2016 @ 5:07 pm


    Don’t know whether The Donald’s image as portrayed by the media is real or not, but he would probably finish a lot of unfinished infrastructure projects & labor unions would hate him for it. The bay bridge walkway has been under construction for 3 years & will never extend the full length of the bridge, but The Donald would get it done. Debating The Donald is a waste of time anyways, since no republican is ever going to be elected.

  10. Don Hodges

    February 26, 2016 @ 6:07 pm


    Matt Taiibi nails Trump:


    Political discourse has grown so phony that a coarse wrestling personality is preferred by Joe sixpack and to several nearby demographics.

    Trump is just like, say, Rick Flair: “I’m whuppin’ you in the polls, I’m whuppin’ you in TV face time, I’m whuppin’ you in this debate(!), and Tuesday I’m whuppin’ your sorry ass in the real election!”

    Then he goes out and does it, because the “campaign trail” can’t hold a candle to hitting prissy politicians over the head with chairs.

  11. Mark

    February 26, 2016 @ 6:19 pm



    I’ve thought about this Trump thing awhile, and it seems as if the extreme left is simply getting a dose of its own medicine. If someone dares to cringe at a TV image of two men kissing, they’re homophobic and Chris Matthews will do his utmost to have the offender tarred and feathered. If someone complains about the absurdity of “transsexual rights”, they will be categorized as nuts. If someone notes that over seventy percent of black kids under the age of 18 live in a fatherless environment, they’re screamed at for being racist bigots.
    Now, we have Trump literally saying whatever he pleases and the same lefty folks who are described above HATE Trump for doing so, yet in reality he’s only doing what they promote: being heard and felt. And there have to be millions and millions who are silently thinking: “Hell, yeah!” every time they hear DT waylay someone.
    I believe those silent millions are gonna get Trump one general election away from the White House. Or closer.

  12. Lynn Clark

    February 26, 2016 @ 7:30 pm


    Way back in 1972 or so, when I was deciding what to do for a living, I seriously considered going to work for the Post Office. I had an uncle who did, and it seemed like a pretty good gig. Not the best pay or job satisfaction in the world, but secure, lifetime employment. (Instead, I opted for mental stimulation and got a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and spent the next 30 years working in the private-sector, high-tech world before walking away from it in disgust and going to film school.) That’s the way it used to be. If you worked for “the government”, you traded high(er) wages for lifetime job security. Now, not only do you get lifetime job security, but you also get equal-or-better pay than your counterparts in the private sector, plus retirement benefits that private-sector workers can only dream about. I’m starting to despise government workers more with each passing day, even though I seem to be surrounded by them (sister – city/county library employee; dad – retired National Guard; son-in-law – FBI agent; son-in-law – firefighter; daughter – district attorney office employee; daughter – teacher, but in Hong Kong, so doesn’t really count here).

  13. firingline

    February 27, 2016 @ 1:11 am


    You missed the point. It’s the unprotected that support Trump, therefore the question is who are they, and what is their experience? The protected are all those who feel safe enacting these policies – as she explains – those who are unaffected by influxes of immigrants, or offshoring of jobs. They live in bubbles and make policy that sounds good on paper but threatens the livelihoods of the unprotected. Whether you’re employed in government or media has no bearing on it. Academics, business executives, political operatives, etc., are protected, though they aren’t in government.

  14. GermanL

    February 27, 2016 @ 6:04 am


    Best comment I’ve read in a related article “If he has Charlie Sheen as his running mate, I’m going to have to vote for him.”

    The jig is up for the GOP and Democrats. The ol’ Panem et circenses is not working anymore.

    Funny thing is, some Trump supporters told a Vice News correspondent, that if Trump doesn’t get on the ballot, then they’ll vote for Bernie Sanders. It’s an anti-establishment movement.

  15. ianf

    February 27, 2016 @ 7:21 pm


    @ jack crossfire #9: “Debating The Donald is a waste of time anyways, since no republican is ever going to be elected.

    So you keep saying. But I remember the 2000 election, with a serving VPOTUS shoe-in Dem candidate, a patrician, professor, inventor of the Internet and what not, a done-deal really… opposing a little known good for nothing failed Republican Texas oilman. When it was over I heard a TV panel trying to figure out WHAT HAPPENED. One of the talking heads came up with this winged explanation (quoted from inexact memory): “they both were like frat boys crashing a party, but one brought a six-pack with him, so he ended up being disliked marginally less than the other.”

  16. GermanL

    February 27, 2016 @ 9:38 pm



    I’m starting to think philg’s prediction is going to be disproven. Trump is looking way too strong and if they put Clinton up against him, Trump will CRUSH her, hands down. There is just too much dirt on her that is public and he has probably more insider information on her and is not shy to expose her.

    A Sanders nomination might be the best bet for the Democrats: http://static.currentaffairs.org/2016/02/unless-the-democrats-nominate-sanders-a-trump-nomination-means-a-trump-presidency

    If HRC in nominated, I can hear the chants already “Trump for POTUS! Hillary for PRISON!”

  17. Paul Houle

    March 2, 2016 @ 8:43 am


    I think Peggy Noonan has been saying this for a long time (years.)

    I don’t see illegal aliens as a physical security problem. I mean, they keep a low profile because they know any contact with law enforcement could result in them being sent back home. I am much more worried about getting bitten by my (white) neighbor’s pitbulls.

    The underlying reality is that the agriculture business in the lower 48 is a big business and is completely dependent on immigrant workers. It pays a bit better to be a farmhand than it does to work at Burger King, but people who are born in the U.S. will give up a few dollars an hour so they can work under air conditioning.

    Also the level of responsibility is unlike other jobs. If some yogurt store at the mall fails to open in a morning it is a minor embarrassment. What happens if you fail to milk dairy cows is unimaginable. Maybe you could get “US-ians” to do these jobs for $30 an hour but let me break it to you that the dairy farmer doesn’t anywhere near that. From Mexico (or Somalia or any place in the third world) you have people who are ambitious to run their own farm who are going to bring a lot more to work than anybody from here.

  18. Freddie

    March 2, 2016 @ 9:08 am


    @Paul Trump talks about shutting down LEGAL immigrants, not illegal. Trump’s shutdown would have blocked the parents of one San Bernardino killer. The parents would have stayed in Pakistan so the killer would have been born in Pakistan (instead of California). The other killer immigrated here LEGALLY in 2014 and Obama gave her a green card in 2015.

    Trump means shut down immigrants from Pakistan, Syria, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia who come here to collect govmint checks (91% on food stamps and 68% straight cash sez https://muslimstatistics.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/usa-muslim-refugees-91-4-on-food-stamps-68-3-on-cash-welfare/ ), not Christian fruit pickers from Mexico who come to work.

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