I was in Ohio last weekend for the funeral of a long-sick uncle. It took place near his hometown, a long-sick steel town called Middletown. I've written about Middletown before. Revisiting that place (and that piece) helps me understand the Donald Trump thing.
Middletonians were told by the American Dream in the context of the post-World War II era they grew up in, that as long as they sat up straight and ate their spinach, they would have roughly the comfort, admiration, professional fulfillment and spring and summer vacations they sought.
They were told this by their mothers, and shown by experience: Over several generations, Middletonians watched a lot of average people do a lot better than average.
Today's middle-aged Middletonians have not received these things, because the American Dream is a far sterner and luck-dependent test now than it was in the wake of the war, when the whole world except for America was on its economic ass.
Middletonians are angry after four decades of being astonished at how hard they have had to work and how little their work has come to. The question isn't how could Middletonians be attracted to a rich guy who promised to restore the natural order to the world, it's how could they not be.
More amazing is that a guy as rich and narcissistic as Donald Trump saw Middletown so much more clearly than the chattering class that thinks he's out of touch.
Present company excepted, of course.