It turns out that Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren, Michael Moore and Democratic leaders are wrong. They are well intentioned, trying to see the best in people, but they are wrong. It turns out that economic challenges were not the main reason Whites got behind Trump. It was bigotry towards blacks and Muslims. That's what the Intercept reports in its article,
The article reports that even in hard hit rust belt states, Whites were more likely to support Trump, ie., economic hardship was not the driving factor. Mehdi Hasan, author of the Intercept article, after detailing how Sanders, Warren, Moore and numerous Democratic leaders have said that bigotry was NOT the reason Hillary lost, argues,
"Both Sanders and Warren seem much keener to lay the blame at the door of the dysfunctional Democratic Party and an ailing economy than at the feet of racist Republican voters. Their deflection isn't surprising. Nor is their coddling of those who happily embraced an openly xenophobic candidate. Look, I get it. It's difficult to accept that millions of your fellow citizens harbor what political scientists have identified as "racial resentment." The reluctance to acknowledge that bigotry, and tolerance of bigotry, is still so widespread in society is understandable. From an electoral perspective too, why would senior members of the Democratic leadership want to alienate millions of voters by dismissing them as racist bigots?"
Then, Hasan details how multiple pollsters and 2016 presidential race analysts have concluded that bigotry was a major factor. He cites Philip Klinkner, "a political scientist at Hamilton College and an expert on race relations," who studied data from American National Election Studies (ANES.)
Hasan quotes Klinkner,
"whether it's good politics to say so or not, the evidence from the 2016 election is very clear that attitudes about blacks, immigrants, and Muslims were a key component of Trump's appeal." For example, he says, "in 2016 Trump did worse than Mitt Romney among voters with low and moderate levels of racial resentment, but much better among those with high levels of resentment."
Even young Whites went more for Trump than Clinton. Hasan adds, in his Intercept article,
"The new ANES data only confirms what a plethora of studies have told us since the start of the presidential campaign: the race was about race. Klinkner himself grabbed headlines last summer when he revealed that the best way to identify a Trump supporter in the U.S. was to ask "just one simple question: is Barack Obama a Muslim?" Because, he said, "if they are white and the answer is yes, 89 percent of the time that person will have a higher opinion of Trump than Clinton." This is economic anxiety? Really?"
But wait, there's more. Hasan observes,
"Other surveys and polls of Trump voters found "a strong relationship between anti-black attitudes and support for Trump"; Trump supporters being "more likely to describe African Americans as 'criminal,' 'unintelligent,' 'lazy' and 'violent'"; more likely to believe "people of color are taking white jobs"; and a "majority" of them rating blacks "as less evolved than whites." Sorry, but how can any of these prejudices be blamed on free trade or low wages?This is ugly. But worse, it makes clear that the Democratic leaders, including progressive Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, are basing their inclination to believe in the better nature of people to lead them down a misguided path along barren political theoretical fruit that will not lead to success. If they pursue strategy based on these well intentioned but dangerously wrong assumptions they will insure their continued failure as a party.
For Sanders, Warren and others on the left, the economy is what matters most and class is everything. Yet the empirical evidence just isn't there to support them."
It's a lot easier to pursue a strategy based on economic hardship. But the fact is, a lot of well to do people backed Trump and more people struggling with the economy supported Hillary. It reminds me of the story of the guy who lost a key. He was looking for it under a street lamp. When asked where he last had it, he pointed to a dark area down the street. "So, why are you looking for it here," he was asked. "Because the light is better here."
I'm not sure what the best strategy is when you are dealing with bigotry.
One way to start is to identify populist candidates of unimpeachable integrity, who people can trust.
Another approach might be to face the fact that bigotry was a factor and to mould campaigns to evoke voters' better selves, I'm not sure characterizing Trump supporters as deplorables or bigots is a winning strategy. It may be when it comes to candidates. I'm not sure about that either. But at the least, it is essential that any candidate running against conservatives attempting to tap Trump's magic bigotry elixir understand that going after economic injustice is not going to work with the people who voted for Trump.
Another thought. There were many people who voted more AGAINST Hillary-- who they believed to be corrupt, dishonest, untrustworthy and more likely to take us to war-- than they voted FOR Trump. Those are the people who the Democrats and the Greens and other third party groups should be seeking to sway, not the Trump Bigots. To do that the Democrats, Greens and other third party groups must truly embrace the kind of truly populist economic policies and anti corporatist stands that Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein supported-- in addition to the usual prochoice and social justice stands the Democrats and Greens already take.