BY FRANCIS MCKANE '17
Hillary Clinton is the bitter pill the Republican Party needs. The right lost the culture wars, and while they rail against the liberal media, the rest of the country keeps happily consuming it. Women are an enormous demographic and a winning vote in this country. The white men’s vote used to be enough to win national elections, but it isn’t anymore. Hillary Clinton will win the White House, in part thanks to her 19 point lead among women voters, but also to Donald’s Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric that has alienated many non-white voters.
When (not if) Trump loses in November, it will be the third straight national loss for the Republican Party. George W. Bush said he is worried he might be the last Republican president, and if Trump is the kind of candidate the party’s base is looking for, no party leaders will be able to stop the party from becoming a fringe collection of nativists and white supremacists. The Republican Party is no longer a nationally viable party. Though Trump will lose, his voters aren’t going to go away after the election is over.
Hillary called half of Trump supporters “deplorables” because of the racism so flagrantly on display in Trump’s campaign, and the numbers seem to support her. A recent Reuters poll found that almost half of Trump supporters consider blacks to be more “criminal” and “violent” than whites. This is clear evidence that Trump’s supporters are racist.
The problem is that the same poll found that a third of Hillary’s supporters also think blacks are more “criminal” and “violent”. This should not be surprising. Most white people, if not all white people, are racist, and arguably a poll of this kind only distinguishes between people who know whether or not to display racist attitudes. Or, even more specifically, which racist attitudes to censor in themselves.
A person who knows not to call blacks “criminal” and “violent” is not necessarily a person free of prejudices or a person who is not racist in other ways. Trump’s voters and Hillary’s voters are racist. Ac-cording to the poll, if only white people voted on November 8th, Trump would win 369 to 169. If no white people voted, Clinton would win 538 to zero.
The left has decided that working class whites are not worthy or capable of understanding leftist ideas or politics and have left whole swaths of the country’s electorate for Republicans to dominate.
Politics should not be a simple tally of public preference, but an actual arena of debate and exchange of ideas where people try to change each other’s minds. The Democrats have entirely given up on some areas of the country and this failure leaves whole communities out of the political process.
Liberals have a moral responsibility not to write off Trump voters, but to bring them into the conversation. Our task is to understand what leads people to the vile and xenophobic rhetoric Trump spouts. It should not be difficult to see why poor whites cling to whiteness — without white privilege, what do they have? Working class whites are as angry as any other group that the American dream is a fantasy. What is crucially different is that they think their whiteness entitles them to the American dream ahead of other people (immigrants and racial minorities, among others).
This is not to say that this is how they articulate their ideas. More often than not, these ideas manifest themselves simply as anger or as feelings of having been cheated.
Consider a white man who, trapped in poverty, is confronted with the fact that his maleness and whiteness alone are not enough to guarantee him success. At this he becomes angry rather than despondent because he is upset he has not gotten what he was promised: success and stature by virtue of his maleness and whiteness. In part, his privilege is that he believes he ought to have won.
The conservative right has capitalized on this anger and used it as an opportunity to vilify immigrants and people of color. It is the failure of the left to not use this anger as a way to unite different groups in a fight against economic exploitation and the economic manipulation of society by the super-rich.
If liberals continue to treat the whole demographic of working class whites as a lost cause and unworthy of being part of political discussions, it should be no surprise when they vote for the other half of the ticket. For now, the Democrats don’t need their votes to win.