TUNKU VARADARAJAN INTERVIEWS HARVEY MANSFIELD ON TRUMP AND MASCULINITY:
In 2016, Mr. Mansfield continues, Mr. Trump won “a majority of white women—and women are attracted to manly men, I think.” He agrees that there’s a connection between the campaign for gender-neutrality in the U.S.—seeking, as he sees it, to erase all differences between the sexes—and the “hunger” that made Mr. Trump’s political rise possible.
In Mr. Mansfield’s view, Mr. Trump’s success wasn’t a racial reaction to President Obama as much as a backlash in favor of masculinity. Mr. Obama “had the scolding demeanor of a schoolmarm—very much, I think, following the temper of today’s feminists. It’s all a matter of correcting the behavior of misbehaving juveniles, and of condescension.” Here, he checks himself, allowing that this observation “is a little unfair to Obama, because some of his speeches were pretty good, and he did have a vision of America and the way America ought to be.” But it was not an America that “throws its weight around. That’s precisely what he wanted to avoid. So, in his foreign policy, and in his domestic role as condescender-in-chief, he showed his hostility to manliness.”
Mr. Trump saw the electoral opportunity. “Trump’s not a clever man,” Mr. Mansfield says, by which he means that the president has little propensity for abstraction or intellectual complication. “But he’s shrewd. He saw that there was a way to be appealing, and to knock off the competition of his rivals in the Republican Party, by a display of manliness and an attack on political correctness.” Mr. Trump is “really the first American politician to use that, to see that there was a political opening there.”