Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan said Saturday that white middle-class Americans have become so disenfranchised that many are looking to Donald Trump as African Americans did to Barack Obama in 2008 — "with hope."
"I think, culturally, they're under assault," Buchanan, former aide to Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, told Michael Smerconish on CNN. "The phrase "angry white male" is one of the few slurs that can be used today.
"I think for the white American middle class, they feel that the good times are over for good and they look to Donald Trump the way that African Americans looked to Barack Obama, with hope."
Buchanan explored the issue in a column this week on his website
and on Newsmax
, building from an article published last year in The New York Times
"Middle-aged whites are four times as likely as middle-aged blacks to kill themselves," he said. "Their fitness levels are falling as they suffer rising levels of physical pain, emotional stress and mental depression, which helps explain the alcohol and drug addiction."
Buchanan attributed these conditions to myriad economic and social factors, ranging from continuous stagnant unemployment, immigration — legal and illegal — plunging marriage rates, affirmative action and negative images of whites in history books and the media.
"White males, now down to 31 percent of the population, have become the only Americans against whom it is not only permissible, but commendable, to discriminate," Buchanan said.
He called Trump "The Great White Hope," taking the name used to describe boxer Jess Willard, who knocked out Jack Johnson in 1915 to win the heavyweight title.
Willard lost the title four years later to Jack Dempsey.
"It's just a term, but what is very important is what it indicates," Buchanan told Smerconish. "The largest turnout ever has taken place in the Republican primaries — and, enormously, the votes for Donald Trump had been white votes, working-class votes, middle-class votes, people driven by nationalism and populism who have never come out before.
"We have to explain that and understand it," he added, beating back ideological concerns.
"I make the best effort I can do to do that — and to have the political correctness line thrown at you on every line you use in the column, I don't think is helpful."
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