Trump is the president of the United States, as he often reminds himself. And yet his status anxiety — about his intelligence, his competence, his attractiveness, his health, his net worth and his victory in 2016 — is deafening. Perhaps his voters, because they fear they lack education or small talk or grace with hors d’oeuvres plates, also feel left out of some mythic cocktail party. Maybe they identify with his impulse to overcompensate.
But what the heck does college really provide people that so decisively affects their worldview?
That’s the wrong question: It’s what not having a college degree does to you. Without a degree, you spend a lot of time thinking about what people with a degree have that you don’t: the keys to some fabulous kingdom. And it messes with your mind.
A component of the paranoid resentment that many Trumpites have for “libs” may be part and parcel of the grudge kindled by the fear that, without a college diploma, they must always prove themselves.