Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event Aug. 10 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Like E.J. Dionne Jr., I am interested in understanding and engaging the segment of the electorate wooed by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s rhetoric and promises [“Elitism won’t defeat Trump,” op-ed, Aug. 8]. I am reluctant, however, to put their pain on a pedestal. Rightly, the research paper that Mr. Dionne cited characterizes Mr. Trump’s backers, in part, as “ethnic majorities,” as well as male and less educated. At some point, we need to stop coddling this demographic and point out that the economic hardship and competition that working-class white men now face have plagued American women and racial and ethnic minorities for years.

Yes, it is elitist to belittle Mr. Trump’s supporters, but it is also cowardly and politically expedient to not ask them to consider those Americans who have never experienced the privileges and protections from which much of white male America still benefits.

Kyle Dargan, Washington

E.J. Dionne Jr. encouraged those who are more educated and thoughtful than supporters of Donald Trump to act and think as if they were not. In the times of pseudo-populist demagogues such as Hitler, Mussolini and Mr. Trump, the parallels to be drawn are not among the principals but among their supporters. It is high time for those who think more clearly, analytically and morally than the supporters of a demagogue, and his myths, to act as such.

I am an educated person who has a knowledge of history (gained from a lifetime of reading), is a rigorous critical thinker (honed by a formal scientific education and a lifetime of biological research) and has moral judgment informed by the facts, not the myths, of life. As such an “elite,” which means little more than “literate,” I oppose the supporters of Mr. Trump as ill-informed about economics, prone to be fooled by goofy-speak and itching out of ignorance to spew the hatred that has been in their hearts for far longer than the recent Republican-created recession. No, Mr. Dionne, “elites” should stand up and say what we have learned. “Elite” is not a dirty word, and there is a world of difference between being knowledgeable and being condescending. The “elite” is a category of people on whom we all depend for our modern way of life. The rejection of expertise and clear thinking is not a proper response to demagoguery.

Tim Clair, Columbia