It’s the Racism, Stupid!

Mehdi Hasan - It's the Racism, Stupid!So who were the people who put Donald Trump in the White House? Is it a revolt of the dispossessed? Or the left-behind — globalization’s losers? Is it the backlash against free trade? Some of the top voices on the US left seem to think so. But what if the economy isn’t the main driver? What if it’s racism and racial resentment that helped put Trump in the Oval Office? What if it’s the “whitelash”?

Just look at the evidence. First off, exit polls from the primary found the median household income of a Trump voter was well above the national average. And the exit polls of the presidential election confirmed Hillary Clinton won the majority of voters making under $50,000. In addition, a massive pre-election Gallup study found that living in areas more exposed to trade or immigration does not increase Trump support.

Second, people of color in the United States, especially black voters, are far worse off economically than their white counterparts. If it’s all about income and jobs and trade, why did people of color vote overwhelmingly for Clinton, not Trump? Or did their economic anxiety not count?

Third, just listen to what Trump voters actually say about why they support him. One study found that the easiest way to identify if someone supports Trump over Clinton is to ask if they think Barack Obama is a Muslim. It’s more accurate than asking them whether they’re Republicans. That study also found that factors like economic pessimism and income were statistically insignificant to Trump’s rise. Other studies found a strong relationship between anti-black attitudes and support for Trump — with Trump supporters more likely to describe African Americans as criminals, unintelligent, lazy, and violent — more likely to think people of color are taking white jobs, with a majority rating blacks as less evolved than whites. Do I really need to go on?

But what about all the low-income white voters who Obama won in 2008 but Trump won in 2016? A, there’s no evidence that the same people that voted for Obama voted for Trump; we just don’t have that data yet. B, Democrats lost more votes in counties where white income growth was highest than where it was lowest. And C, Obama wasn’t running against a candidate who engaged in the textbook definition of racism, and had a long history of anti-black bias.

There are multiple reasons why Trump won: a flawed Democratic candidate and low Democratic turnout; the email issue; and, of course, the economy played a role. But to focus all or most of our attention on income inequality and the “left behind” — real issues that need addressing — doesn’t tackle the racist elephant in the room. And yes, I accept, not all Trump voters are racist. But the racists did vote for Trump. Plus, as one very viral tweet actually put it, “Not all Trump supporters are racist, but all of them decided that racism isn’t a deal breaker.” And so we have a situation where in January, the first black President of the United States will hand over to a president endorsed by the KKK. But apparently, “It’s the economy, stupid!” I don’t think so.

–Mehdi Hasan
Noam Chomsky on the New Trump Era — UpFront Special

11 thoughts on “It’s the Racism, Stupid!

  1. Let’s try this again despite the stupid spam filter:

    Clinton had to run against:

    Racism
    White Backlash
    Sexism
    FBI
    Wikileaks
    Putin
    The Media
    and Trump

    It was the most concentrated effort against a single candidate of all time. The media refused to let up on anything but perceived flaws. Racists came out in droves for the Racist candidate, sexists refuse to vote for a woman, the FBI released three things that hurt her the most (Careless and two letters), Putin sent his minions to hack the DNC and other areas, Wikileaks and Assange played willful stooge, and Trump ran a terrible campaign.

    Yet she won. She won over 2.5 million more votes then he did. Hell even the leftist who would have voted for Stein were roped into voting for her at a higher rate than the libertarians for Johnson (Stein’s numbers were way down compared to his.) America picked and they picked her over Trump. Which drives him nuts.

    But for an old outdated system that was racist and stupid when it was created, she would be President-elect.
    Turnout wasn’t even a problem-it was at 2012 levels if not slightly better. Hundreds of thousands of people made a serious effort to get the vote out for her and succeeded. Yet here we are.

    There will never be a perfect candidate. There can’t be. But there can be someone who can beat despite all all odds the massive hate thrown her way and still not get the job. Because Clinton was that person. And she didn’t get the job because literally everything hit her at once.

    • And now we have a big change in Republican attitudes toward the EC. There wasn’t after 2000. But I assume that now the Republicans know this is the only way they can win elections.

    • I agree with the author to some extent. But he seems to be saying that Democrats should double down on what they’ve been doing for 20 years. Focus, above all, on social issues. Enact no policies which threaten Wall Street profits. Let the magic of demographics come to the rescue.

      I don’t see this working. Among Trump voters, their top policy priority was “repeal Obamacare.” (This appears to have changed somewhat now that people are learning what that would actually entail.) So — Democrats should have enacted a MORE pro-insurance health bill?

      The problem isn’t that people don’t support liberal policies. In Pew polls, they do. It’s that they don’t trust Democrats to enact these policies in any way that benefits their lives. They see the Democratic Party as being in bed with fancy finance, hip tech jobs, and the like. For good reason. The party leaders are precisely that.

      If the suggested strategy is more of this, less attention to labor, demographics will win in the end, that’s fine. I support social liberalism. But I’m not needed in that fight. Others are engaged in it and will continue to be.

      The fight I want to engage in is social equality PLUS economic equality. If the party’s willing to accept voices like mine, I’m happy to help. If it decides I’m worthless, because I do not work in an office and will never be able to get a job where I do, I wish it Godspeed on other noble goals. But I’ve had too many friends in my life who looked down on me for being unhip, uncool, unsophisticated, unrich. I don’t need anymore of that.

      • You do know that they literally don’t give a shit right?

        I mean I don’t think Minnesota is that different than Arizona in that the Dems will be happy to have anyone show up to help out.

        As for the “voters don’t trust the Democrats to pass certain legislation” no, voters know exactly who passes legislation that helps them. But when you do the break downs: the poor vote straight Dem because they aren’t stupid. The wealthy liberals vote for Dems. The middle class non-white and single moms vote Dem.

        But married white men and their wives who are middle class and above vote for Republicans because it isn’t about the legislation that helps them-it is about those non-whites getting even close to some of the pie.

        Go canvass in a white middle class neighborhood one of these days-ask them things like “do you think we should have universal pre-K?” the answers will horrify you.

      • I think you nailed it. There seems to be this strain of thought in establishment Democratic politics that looking out for workers means turning a blind eye to racism. I think it’s just a straw man to avoid looking seriously at the economic policies of the party. Personally, I’m not interested in reaching out to white working class voters; I’m interested in reaching out to all workers. I think many in the DP are terrified of that.

        • Very good article, thanks! I take issue with this passage: “Clinton talked about the working class, middle class jobs, and the dignity of work constantly. And she still lost.”

          I don’t think that’s correct. As Ramona said over on her blog, “Hillary, Stop Attacking Trump.” The ads were all negative, not positive. I was in favor of those ads. I believed identitying Trump as an American fascist was the most important message. Ramona was right, and I was quite wrong.

          You might be amazed to know, as crazy as it sounds, this is not exactly the first time I’ve been wrong about stuff! What a shocker, huh!

    • I half agree. But it’s not a question of the Democrats turning their backs on minority groups. The DP can stay the same way it is and still liberalize on economic policy.

      • Someone on LGM wrote that it wasn’t so much that Trump said he would bring jobs back but he would bring manly jobs back. Which I think might be a good part of it. The people who voted for him didn’t do it because they were broke. They did it because they like manly men and wiping butts as James puts it, isn’t consider manly.

        • I think there’s a lot to that. Teaching, wiping butts, nursing, those aren’t he-man jobs.

          But I think those jobs epitomize the essence of manhood! And womanhood! Just to be stereotypical here; you give a female nurse, a really good nurse, more than wimps can handle? She rolls up her sleeves and says “bring it.” You tell a male nurse, a really good nurse, to enact a treatment plan he thinks is harmful for the patient? His inner caveman kicks in and he growls, “you better prove that, motherfucker.”

          It’s like what Jon Stewart told Larry Wilmore when Wilmore began the “Nightly Show.” You scrape any issue in America, you will find gender, race, and class. Bank on it. It’s there. It’s always there. That’s America. Extricating which one of those concerns affected which moment in our history? Very tricky (which is why history is super fun!) But those are the Big Three.

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