Not surprisingly, in the first election where a woman had an actual chance to win the White House, America’s media suddenly decided to deliberately and overwhelmingly center white men. White men from the rust belt who supported Trump, white men from New England who supported Sanders, white men, white men, white men. Most articles/news reports/discussions centered on why white men supported Trump, rather than on why black women, for example, overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton. There were dozens, and dozens, and dozens of articles that discussed why white men, especially white men who were unable to earn a college degree, supported Trump. Meanwhile, women who supported Hillary had to hide themselves in secret Facebook groups in order to avoid the doxing, mansplaining, and harassment that came, not only from Trump supporters, but, also from the “liberal” bros who supported Senator Sanders and who couldn’t stop ‘splaining to those dumb women how and why they were wrong.
Even after the election, the media has overwhelmingly focused on Trump voters. Hey! Here’s an article about folks who voted for Trump, ostensibly because he promised to bring back coal jobs, and who will be hurt by his actual policies. Let’s go out and interview them! Let’s center them. Let’s make the focus of our discourse whether these folks were wrong or right. Let’s bring in Bernie Sanders, who is NOT a Democrat, and ask him to, as he has for his entire career, bash Democrats for not being somehow responsive enough to white men! Hey! Here’s Chris Hayes and Bernie Sanders (two white men) going out to West Virginia and talking to an overwhelmingly white crowd about why they voted for the white man, Donald Trump.
Over, and over, and over.
The media narrative had it that these white folks voted for Trump because they were “economically anxious.” This narrative was so strong that, even after it came out that, well, no Trump’s voters weren’t actually poor (in fact, they tended to have above-average incomes), white dudebros were desperately writing posts that pushed the silly notion that, well, gee, even folks earring $70,000 might STILL be sort of “economically anxious,” and that would still, of course, explain their votes for Trump. Trump voters, it turned out, actually earned more than others, were less likely to live in places impacted by trade deals, and were less economically anxious than, for example, black women. But reality did nothing to change the discussion; white men with out college degrees voted for Trump and that MUST be due to their economic position.
In reality, the facts show that, black women were far more “economically insecure,” than the white men who voted for Trump. Those women were surely even more interested in promises to bring back jobs than were the white men making over $70,000 who voted for Trump. Like Trump, Clinton promised to “bring back jobs,” but she did so in far more detail and in ways more likely to be actually successful than did Trump. Meanwhile, unlike Trump, she didn’t trash “Obamacare” nor did she run as a member of the party that had voted many, many times to repeal it. She had some proposals for expanding it (Medicare for everyone over 55, for example). Assume agruendo that white men WERE economically insecure. If so, why didn’t they vote for Clinton’s detailed jobs programs? Why didn’t white men (especially those who who depend upon Obamacare) vote for Clinton’s health proposals? If their votes were driven by their economic insecurity, one would expect them to vote for Clinton and against Trump. But that’s not how they voted.
At some point, we have to ask ourselves why, if economic insecurity explains a vote for Trump, the people (white men) who were less economically insecure voted for him while those (black women) who were more economically insecure voted against him. Because in the face of those facts, the whole “people voted for Trump because they were economically insecure” argument doesn’t hold water. And then, since economic insecurity doesn’t explain it, you have to ask yourself why white men without college degrees really voted for Trump.
And those answers aren’t pretty. Those answers have to do with sexism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and social privilege. Examining those answers would require us to stop constantly centering white men and begin to consider the ways in which white men harm the rest of us. Maybe someday, someone will go interview some black women who voted for Hillary.
Picture found here.