From Class War to Race War: Historicizing the Devolution from New Deal Populism to “Trumpism”.

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King, Alexander Mackenzie




This thesis historicizes the case of White working-class support for Donald Trump. The debate focuses on three major tropes that recurred throughout Trump's speeches and campaign materials: an ongoing attack on a nebulous group of "special interests," an attendant demand for a return to "law and order," and a celebratory appeal to an undefined "silent majority". Using Laclau's theorization of "floating signifiers" to frame my debate, this thesis analyzes campaign materials, polling evidence, and secondary sources to judge how said populist tropes gravitated away from their progressive connotations of class warfare during the latter half of the 20th century. The following project finds that Trump and his reactionary forebearers used these formerly progressive signifiers to channel post-Civil Rights White backlash towards a conspiratorial "special interest" network of liberal Washington elites that had overlooked a victimized "silent majority" of workers in favor of racially marginalized citizens through an "unfair" tax-and-spend agenda.


United States History
Political Science
Social Structure and Development




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Political Economy

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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