Don’t Call It A White-Lash

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Trump is now the President-Elect, and I for one am thrilled. On a personal note, this is the first time that a candidate I supported won both the primary and general election since I supported John Kerry in 5th grade because my favorite color was blue. Trump struck a nerve with us disaffected Republicans who were dragged to the voting booth to vote for establishment candidates like Mitt Romney because the likes of Karl Rove lectured us about how “he was the only one who could win” (joke’s on you, he lost). Trump channeled that frustration by addressing blatant flaws with our immigration system (something the base has wanted for years), talking about trade policy, targeting America’s failed foreign policy in the Middle East, and establishing himself as an outsider by self financing his campaign to be free of “the donor class.” Trump also seized upon the inherent weakness of Hillary Clinton, who is the face of disconnected “say anything do anything” politics, and whose candidacy was treated as an investment by her Wall Street and Silicon Valley backers. The Democrats had hoped that the Clinton brand, the “historic-ness” of the possibility of electing the first female president, and the star-studded list of celebrity endorsements would be enough to carry the scandal-plagued candidate to victory. But still, despite having almost every resource at their disposal, the Democrats not only failed to win the Presidency, but also failed to take the Senate or the House. They have handed over the Supreme Court to the Republicans for at least 4 years, and also now represent a minority in state power, being a minority nationally in terms of Governorships and state legislature majorities.  

So what went wrong?

The tactic that was used almost immediately to explain the stunning victory came from Van Jones, who explained it as a “white lash.” Following his lead, later commentators claimed that racists who couldn’t stand minorities and the fact we had a black president for 8 years fueled Trump’s victory. This explanation is lazy and meant only to shame and guilt people who didn’t support Hillary. The truth of the matter is that the areas that Trump won that secured him victory included many counties in places like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that Obama had won in the two prior elections. Not to mention that Wisconsin and Michigan are deep blue states which, during the primary, went to Bernie Sanders, whose rhetoric on trade and corruption was quite similar to Trump’s. This would imply to me that these areas are simply more sympathetic to “change” candidates. Obama, Sanders, and Trump all ran on the platform of being outsiders to the system who could come in and fix it, and all three performed well in those states. Trump also won the white college educated vote, and the white female vote, so it wasn’t just “dumb white males” (as some have characterized them) whom Trump managed to win over. Another interesting development was the actual increase of support from the Hispanic community this election compared to previous ones. Trump out-performed Romney by a decent amount, with some counties having the turnout as high as 30%.  These results just show that Trump’s victory cannot be simplified to just screaming racist/sexist/homophobic, but rather it was much more about how the Democrats lost their working class base and instead became the party of condescending elites who hide behind their allies in the media and entertainment.

As a Republican I am personally content with the results of the election, and with the current state of the Democrat party. I feel confident Trump can win reelection; mostly because all the hyped up doomsday predictions that were made before the election are going to be exposed to just be fear mongering by out of touch political hacks. I will offer some advice to liberals, though. If you want to avoid becoming an irrelevant ideology always on the fringe, you have to become more tolerant of other opinions. Stop relying on Project Fear as a main tactic (ex. “Trump appeals to fear mongering to get support, btw if Trump wins the KKK will literally be running the country and start another holocaust), it’s not effective and turns moderate people away while insulating those who are likeminded. It has become a noticeable issue about how quickly people on the left retreat into their echo chambers surrounded by pre approved opinions. This college in particular is a good example. Many people have noticed just how hostile the campus is towards students with a “non-St Mary’s approved” opinion on most issues. And most of the students also know better than to take statements about how the school is going to “embrace minority opinions” seriously. If liberals want to get reconnected to their working class roots, they are going to have to engage with the people they claim to represent. And that means hearing opinions they may not like. But I also highly doubt that this advice will be heeded. After all, I am a white cis male at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

-Casey Urey

3 COMMENTS

  1. Corey, thank you so much for your message. I imagine it’s not easy to stand up for what you believe in when you feel you’re surrounded by the opposition – SMCM is known to have a liberal and progressive climate.
    As an admittedly progressive liberal alum living and working in Washington, DC (I am part of the swamp our president-elect is ready to drain), the campaign rhetoric has felt both personally and morally hurtful. I would be lying if I said I am still not smarting from that – the same way, it sounds like, the anti-Trump rhetoric has been hurtful to you and others who support him.
    However, I love this country, and I look forward to dialogue with Americans of all religious, SES, races, AND political parties, about how we move forward and heal from the fissure this presidential campaign has created. Speaking as a “DC insider,” but also as a critical thinker (thanks SMCM liberal arts degree), the most unsettling thing I have seen is the unprecedented secrecy surrounding president-elect Trump’s transition. As human beings, we fear the unknown, and my hope is as we learn more and more about what’s going on behind closed doors, some of the “fear-mongering” can be re-directed into positive dialogue energy.
    I speak for my progressive, liberal inner circles to say that I think the advice you offer is being heeded, and in fact nurtured, by many in DC and around the nation. This dialouge is happening – in school hallways, in nursing homes, on the Hill, in the Oval (see POTUS’s speech), on front porches and most certainly around family tables this Thanksgiving.
    Once stances and policies become clear, I think we can continue on as we did under Clinton, Bush, and Obama – as a thickly diverse nation full of different opinions. This type of dialogue and respect of others’ opinions is what makes this democracy the one I want to be a part of!

  2. Casey, I applaud your desire to support a multicultural society, but I personally have come to believe as a result of hearing an absolutely astonishing amount of racial vitirol, some of it directed at me simply for being a black woman, as well as disheartening instances of physical violence, that thankfully I was not involved in. But I firmly believe, as many other blacks do, that the electing of Trump has emboldened those with racially biased views, due to their interpretation of various statements made by Trump during his campaign run, that could be taken as racially insensitive. There seems to be no end in sight for this behavior and combining this with the open hostility that many in the black community believe that members of law enforcement have for blacks.

    Because of this I am quickly coming to the conclusion that racial co-habitation is an impossible dream and that my race needs to begin to withdraw from engagement with the rest of the population of America as much as possible. I think that my race needs to have it’s own banking, educational and even medical system as much as possible, with black businesses and home-ownership being the foundation.

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