Pundits and prognosticators are now saying that even if Trump is defeated in 2020—or impeached before then—it won’t necessarily be the end of Trumpism. While dog-whistling racism and pandering to the lowest common denominator certainly helped get him elected, that’s not the whole story. The steady decline in the standard of living for working-class Americans of all stripes, especially in the Rust Belt states, is the toxic soil that nourished Trump and the whole alt-right movement supporting him.
Many of the folks who had previously voted for Obama tipped the last election to Trump, not because they agreed with his racism, sexism and xenophobia—they were just desperate for some kind of salvation, and the Democrats under the Clinton wing of the party didn’t offer it. To the average underemployed Joe in Pittsburgh, the soaring costs of living affected his life more directly than any other issue.