What the people I interviewed were drawn to was not necessarily the particulars of these theories. It was the deep story underlying them—an account of life as it feels to them. Some such account underlies all beliefs, right or left, I think. The deep story of the right goes like this:I think that is part of the story, but far from all of it. The sort of white solidarity politics Trump has perfected is only partly about economics. Another big part is the sense of violence and disorder that pervades America; Trump talks more about immigrants as criminals than about immigrants taking jobs. To his followers the country is in danger of falling into violent chaos, and that can't be our fault so it must be someone else's.
You are patiently standing in the middle of a long line stretching toward the horizon, where the American Dream awaits. But as you wait, you see people cutting in line ahead of you. Many of these line-cutters are black—beneficiaries of affirmative action or welfare. Some are career-driven women pushing into jobs they never had before. Then you see immigrants, Mexicans, Somalis, the Syrian refugees yet to come. As you wait in this unmoving line, you're being asked to feel sorry for them all. You have a good heart. But who is deciding who you should feel compassion for? Then you see President Barack Hussein Obama waving the line-cutters forward. He's on their side. In fact, isn't he a line-cutter too? How did this fatherless black guy pay for Harvard? As you wait your turn, Obama is using the money in your pocket to help the line-cutters. He and his liberal backers have removed the shame from taking. The government has become an instrument for redistributing your money to the undeserving. It's not your government anymore; it's theirs.
I checked this distillation with those I interviewed to see if this version of the deep story rang true. Some altered it a bit ("the line-waiters form a new line") or emphasized a particular point (those in back are paying for the line-cutters). But all of them agreed it was their story. One man said, "I live your analogy." Another said, "You read my mind."
Another part is basic tribalism vis-a-vis the rest of the world. One thing about Trump that confuses mainstream observers is his foreign policy; is he for more foreign wars and interventions or less? Neither, actually. What bugs Trump and his fans about American foreign policy is a sense that we are losing, and what they want is to feel like winners again. His basic position about for example the Islamic State is that they are winning and we need to turn that around; ditto his position on trade with China, which is not based on an economic analysis of trade's effects but a raw sense that they are beating us.
People who praise the strength of old-fashioned communities, such as small white towns in the South, usually ignore the extent to which their strong senses of togetherness are based on violent opposition to outsiders: Indians, Yankees, Nazis, Commies, liberals, uppity blacks. Trump taps into a sense of economic unfairness, yes, but he is also making a more primitive call to rally the home team against threats from the outside.