The lead up to every US Presidential election, and in its aftermath, and during other events, political and otherwise, media and popular culture likes categorizing and inventing different subcultural and demographic groups. Some of these groups make sense, and some of them do not. Some of them are groups that we encounter every day, some seem to be the feverish imaginations of lifestyle journalists who have a deadline. Often the group does exist, but the generalities ascribed to them are overly broad. I have known many mothers whose children play soccer, but beyond the fact that they were all within the 90% of American sociopolitical opinions, I can't say much more about them.

One of the problems that a group often has a "Je ne sais quoi" about them that is apparent in context, but is hard to describe using strict descriptions. One of these groups is a group that has been an important factor in United States politics since the 1990s, and has been described under different names and descriptions. The groups origin and importance is that while for many years, Republicanism was the province of staid, suburban types, including many in New England, these old fashioned "Rockefeller Republicans" or "country club Republicans" started fading away through the 90s and now are almost absent from the party. Instead, the backgrounds and social leanings changed to...something different. The problem is, when describing that group, we are dealing with a lot of shorthand, and attempts to describe them often end up in circular definitions that are circular.

Depending on the era, over the past few decades they have been described based on their economic basis (manufacturing), their religion (Evangelical Christian), education level (completed High School, but not college) and even leisure and recreation (such as when they were called, for a few months in 2004, "NASCAR Dads"). The problem, especially to an outsider, is that these attributes all are used for connotation, not denotation. I can probably explain this best by using a counter-example.

Take, for example, a man in his mid-40s who lives in a upper middle-class neighborhood of Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a college graduate with a degree in accounting and works as an accountant at a telecommunication firm. He is from a Polish background, and regularly attends a Catholic church, but is not particularly devout. He has two cars, a sedan and a late model-SUV. He owns a gun, which he uses on occasional hunting trips. He is a regular Republican voter. In the American sociopolitical categorization, this man still falls under the category of a working class, rural, and Evangelical Protestant voter despite being middle class and educated, living in a suburban or even an urban area, and being a Roman Catholic. In many parts of the world, and for most of US history, Catholics and Protestants were distinct, often antagonistic groups, but at this point, the specific doctrinal differences have been overshadowed by other cultural characteristics. Why is this man still in this target group? Because he likes barbecue, football and would be afraid to take mass transit. Also, within a few miles of his home there is an REI that sells outdoor gear, and a Cabela's that sells outdoor gear. He shops at Cabela's and not at REI, and that makes him rural and not urban.

One of the keys to Donald Trump's politics is that he was an empty signifier. He had no politics or policies or values, but was just an empty image for people to project onto. For years, pundits have been wondering what rural, working class, Evangelical Christian voters wanted. And the answer is "nothing", because the people in the group have nothing in common, except for belonging to the group. And Trump gave them a loud, flashy, but empty sign to attach themselves to.

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