Why ? Une petite question adressée à monsieur Paul Krugman, du New York Times


Cher monsieur Krugman,

I am a French-Canadian and observe your country from this side of our mutual fence. Quite often, I am struck by the superficiality of the political comments I read in the US media. In Canadian media as well, I might add.

May I ask you a question that is rarely asked? Why did so many Americans vote for Trump? More than seventy-three million US citizens support him, almost half of the electorate. What are these people hoping for? What drives them? Is it their religiosity? Partisanship? Economic sour grape? Pure rage? A cult thing? Alienation? Or do they have serious, objective grievances?

No doubt, religious people forms a part of the Trump base. But this seems to me rather bizarre. People who say they adhere to moral principles acclaim for moral reasons the most immoral champion. Perhaps it is this assumed religiosity that explains the fact that 50% of them, against all evidence, think that the election has been rigged. What is your proof, we may point to these people? We do not need proof, they would answer, we just know that it is true. This is the seminal preachers’ argument: it is God who dictate our behavior on earth, who among other things tell us to vote for Trump. What is your proof that this God exists? We do not need to prove that God exists, they would answer, we just know that he does, and that he speaks to us; we are faith-driven people, our world is no less genuine than your so-called fact-driven reality?

The white-uneducated-male outcasts form another part of Trump’s base. But again, this devotion is odd. Donald Trump has never done much for the ordinary joe. In fact, his fiscal policies tend to enrich the rich, not secure a more decent income to the struggling lot. Health insurance benefits all citizens, especially those of modest means. Yet, some of the people who benefit the most from Obamacare fight tooth and nail to eliminate it. Why? Are they what some American social scientists call ‘low-information-voters’? Low information voters? Is it a euphemism for ‘stupid’? Or alienated?

Or perhaps Trump followers are the losers of the system. To repeat a worn-out cliché, they feel that there is too much money on Wall Street, not enough on Main Street. Are they right in their assessment?

Do you see a parallel between the French Gilets jaunes and the US Trump followers?

Or perhaps again, is it simply a question of perception? The Trump followers are scared of the future and Trump promise to protect them by building a wall. Of course, it is a mirage, but the followers do not seem to care. Government bashing is the most popular game in town. Trump plays this game better than anyone else, enjoys insulting those he calls the establishment elitists, and the faithful love him for that. It is a good show. Like TV-reality. Nothing but a fleeting image.

Yes, indeed, why did people vote for Trump?

Merci beaucoup.

Monsieur Krugman, je vous souhaite une excellente journée,

Michel Lincourt PhD


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