The Politics of Losing

Trump, the Klan, and the Mainstreaming of Resentment

Rory McVeigh and Kevin Estep

Columbia University Press

The Politics of Losing

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Pub Date: January 2019

ISBN: 9780231190060

272 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $32.00£25.00

Pub Date: January 2019

ISBN: 9780231548700

272 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $31.99£25.00

The Politics of Losing

Trump, the Klan, and the Mainstreaming of Resentment

Rory McVeigh and Kevin Estep

Columbia University Press

The Ku Klux Klan has peaked three times in American history: after the Civil War, around the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and in the 1920s, when the Klan spread farthest and fastest. Recruiting millions of members even in non-Southern states, the Klan’s nationalist insurgency burst into mainstream politics. Almost one hundred years later, once again the pent-up anger of white Americans left behind by a changing economy has directed itself at immigrants and cultural outsiders and roiled a presidential election.

In The Politics of Losing, Rory McVeigh and Kevin Estep trace the parallels between the 1920s Klan and today’s right-wing backlash, identifying the conditions that allow white nationalism to emerge from the shadows. White middle-class Protestant Americans in the 1920s found themselves stranded by an economy that was increasingly industrialized and fueled by immigrant labor. Mirroring the Klan’s earlier tactics, Donald Trump delivered a message that mingled economic populism with deep cultural resentments. McVeigh and Estep present a sociological analysis of the Klan’s outbreaks that goes beyond Trump the individual to show how his rise to power was made possible by a convergence of circumstances. The experience of declining privilege and perceptions of lost power can trigger a political backlash that overtly asserts white-nationalist goals. The Politics of Losing offers a rigorous and readable explanation for a recurrent phenomenon in American history, with important lessons about the origins of our alarming political climate.
McVeigh and Estep’s book makes an important contribution to our understanding of white nationalism, its endurance in American politics, and the conditions that brought it back into the mainstream with the election of Donald Trump. Using the 1920s Klan as a reference point, the authors show how declines in the standing of whites (political, economic, and status-based) have often produced sizable populations open to racist appeals, spawning political movements and fracturing enduring electoral coalitions. Marc Dixon, Dartmouth University
Through a clear and dispassionate comparison of the ascendance of the Klan in the 1920s and Trump in 2016, McVeigh and Estep trace the roots of white nationalism in American politics. They show how opportunistic leaders combined race, economics, culture, and religion to mobilize white resentment. The Politics of Losing is the best book to account for the rise of Trumpism that I have read. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, president, American Sociological Association
Contents
1. Introduction
2. The Ku Klux Klan in American History
3. Power and Political Alignments
4. Economics and White Nationalism
5. Where Trump Found His Base
6. Politics and White Nationalism
7. Status and White Nationalism
8. White Nationalism Versus the Press
9. The Future of White Nationalism and American Politics
Conclusion: Making America White Again
Appendix: Methods of Statistical Analysis
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

About the Author

Rory McVeigh is the Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor in Sociology at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Center for the Study of Social Movements. He is the author of The Rise of the Ku Klux Klan: Right-Wing Movements and National Politics (2009) and coeditor of American Sociological Review.

Kevin Estep is an assistant professor in the Department of Cultural and Social Studies at Creighton University. His research focuses on the consequences of residential sorting on politics and public health.