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Shame as a political weapon: Donald Trump and the US presidential election

Chris Wallace writes in The Conversation (1.12.16) about how Donald Trump employed a ‘choreography of shame’ during the presidential election campaign that diminished everybody – except white working-class men.

‘Many reasons are still being advanced to explain Donald Trump’s win over his experienced, accomplished, much-fancied-in-the-polls rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 US presidential election. White working-class anger has received a lot of attention, but Trump’s success exploiting anger’s inner manifestation – shame – should be getting a lot more focus.

‘Shame has a political pedigree in modern US politics. … By comparison with what might be described as surgical shame strikes, Trump’s use of shame in 2016 was more carpet-bombing in nature. Sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild says Trump employs a “choreography of shame” that diminishes everybody – except working-class men.

‘… Trump personifies “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”; Clinton personifies the professional class perceived to boss the white working class around. Trump promises – and embodies – a return to the era: “… when men were men and women knew their place … it’s comfort food for high-school-educated guys”.’

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