(originally posted to my Facebook page)
Did Trump beat Clinton because of racism and sexism? In many cases, undoubtedly so. For those of us inclined to think Americans are mostly good people, it’s depressing to see how many backed Trump’s blatantly xenophobic campaign.
But the overall picture is more complicated, and I think left-wingers will make a big mistake in simply writing off 48-49% of their fellow Americans as irredeemable bigots.
South Carolina went for Trump. Not surprising for a southern state, right? But they also reelected an African-American Senator (Tim Scott) and are governed by an Indian-American female Governor (Nikki Haley). They’re both Republicans – and presumably many of that state’s Trump supporters voted for them.
(Update: it also looks like the people of North Carolina voted for Trump but also ousted Governor Pat McCrory, of bathroom-bill infamy.)
Trump won the election because of his strong showing in the “rust belt” states – Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin. The traditional manufacturing areas that have been hit hard by gloablization. I am unabashedly pro-market and pro-free-trade, which is one of many reasons a Trump victory horrifies me, but even I can’t deny that some parts of America have lost out. Trump promised to restore their former glory.
The thing is, these states all went for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And many blue-collar workers who backed him then went on to back Trump. Did they somehow become more racist since then, or was economic anxiety (now a clichéd, heavily mocked phrase) the reason?
It’s easy to forget in the black-and-while world of social media, but most things have more than one cause. The left says bigotry got Trump elected, Trump voters say it was the economy, and #NeverTrump conservatives like me say Hillary Clinton’s deficiencies as a candidate (notwithstanding her gender) caused it. The truth is undoubetdly a blend of all these factors, and more.
I want Trump to be a one-term President. I want the Democrats to take back Congress in 2018. But if we’re going to dismiss and insult all of his voters, Trump could be around for two terms.