Monday, January 30, 2017

appeal to white voters - or change their minds?

It wasn't voter turnout that gave Trump more elector votes than Clinton. As has been widely reported, it was all the white people that voted for Trump. But I fear how this fact is being interpreted. I'm already seeing people saying that Democrats need to abandon emphasis on social justice issues, to have a harder line about Muslims, to back off support for gay rights, and on and on, all in a quest to court more white voters.

This New York Times article points out that, while Hispanic voters are often credited with President Obama's victories, the reality is that President Obama would have won re-election without the Hispanic vote, because President Obama won the white vote. And Hillary Clinton didn't win that white vote. By contrast, in 2016, Trump made huge gains among white voters - working-class white voters.

Mr. Trump owned Mr. Obama’s winning message to autoworkers and Mr. Romney’s message to coal country. He didn’t merely run to protect the remnants of the industrial economy; he promised to restore it and “make America great again...”

Taken together, Mr. Trump’s views on immigration, trade, China, crime, guns and Islam all had considerable appeal to white working-class Democratic voters, according to Pew Research data. 

But the article misses the mark in saying that that the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage didn't play a role in Trump's, as well as his "law and order" diatribes - thinly disguised fear-based rhetoric that fuels fears of black and Latino Americans. One look at the newsfeeds of my many Facebook friends and family back in Kentucky and throughout the South and mid-West shows those positions on abortion, same-sex marriage and "law and order" were hugely important factors in decision-making regarding voting, along with those unrealistic comments about the coal industry and trade with China and policies about Muslims.

I've given up watching CNN, because during the election, CNN rarely called out Trump, or his supporters, on their lies. CNN was all about commentary by pundits, but not about journalism. But even a broken clock is right twice a day, and CNN's John Blake gets it right in this article, which notes:

Trump's triumph is now being roundly described as a revolt by white working-class voters; racism, sexism and religious bigotry had little, if anything, to do with it. People making this argument are following a script first honed by another group of Americans who made history disappear. After the Civil War, "Lost Cause" propagandists from the Confederacy argued the war wasn't fought over slavery -- it was a constitutional clash over state's rights, they said; hatred toward blacks had nothing to do with it.

It was an audacious historical cover-up -- to convince millions of Americans that what they'd just seen and heard hadn't really happened. It worked then, and some historians say it could work again with Trump.

I fear that Democratic Party leaders will encourage Democratic candidates to backtrack on social justice issues in a misguided effort to appeal to white voters... unless we get involved in our local Democratic Party committees, and pressure them to stay true to our values.

And here's news from another source: Trump lost every income bracket below $48,000 - including white people - and won every group above it.

I still don't know how to reach middle class whites who voted Trump - facts don't matter to them. BuzzFeed reported that fake news stories about the USA Presidential election this year generated more engagement on Facebook than the top election stories from 19 major news outlets COMBINED – that included major news outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and NBC News, and on and on. And then there's Pizzagate.

But if the Democratic Party abandons our values just to reach middle class white people that voted for Trump then, most certainly, millions of us will abandon that party.

Also see:

  • No, it wasn't about the economy
  • 2017 & beyond
  • silence means approval
  • What does it mean to be "white" in the USA?
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