Despite concerns about race relations, foreign policy, the U.S. Supreme Court, immigration, the environment, gender-based wage gaps and reproductive health for women – I was not surprised at Trump’s victory.
The racist and misogynistic content of the 2016 U.S. presidential race hinted at this outcome. Working class white men, and a large number of Republican women, were not ready to relinquish the U.S. presidency to a woman (particularly a Clinton, and not after Obama).
For as much as Clinton was the most qualified presidential candidate, she is a woman – in an era of vital statistics that reveal white males’ rising mortality rates shifting closer to those of poor minorities, and their rates of drug addiction, overdose, and suicide sky-rocketing.
White working class men are in a state of despair. To which I say, “Welcome to this country! We’ll stamp your passports here.”
On election night, pundits and pollsters owned their dead-wrong predictions of a Clinton victory and declaimed Trump’s no rules politics, and an “unexpected” and “underestimated” white working class Mid-Western/Rust Belt vote, as reasons for election night upsets.
What was so unexpected about it?
The failure of news media and political pundits to see, and make clear, the unique potential for devastation of Trump’s divisive politics was monumental. Instead, they fawned over the show – gave him the lion’s share of free coverage and kept him in the headlines. Meanwhile many liberal and progressive voters denounced the possibility of America being racist, sexist and bully enough to elect Trump.
But, it is. And, for those votes cast to “make a point,” that point seems that women and people of color are again politically expendable to restore the social and economic power of white men.
Well, now we’re all going to have to live at the end of that point.
For decades white working class males have seen their life chances and quality of life dwindle significantly as a privileged group in America. This election, they helped elect a candidate who promised to restore economic potential and affirm their sense of social supremacy.
But what Trump has promised – a supremely white, male-dominated, thriving, nativist, isolationist, blue collar, U.S. industrial economy is a defunct vision of this country.
Trump’s restoration of the idea of nostalgic and supreme white working class masculinity has paid off for him – he is president-elect – we have yet to see if it pays off for anybody else. Trump himself has never been working class.
As for the Democratic Party strategists and pundits, they failed to realistically confront some important facts about Clinton in an era when white males feel vulnerable. In addition to being a woman, Clinton would be following the first black male in the White House, giving the appearance of a seismic shift in power for white men in the U.S.
Also, there’s the Clinton slickness. The political slickness I speak of implies a hubris and impulse toward contemptuousness, and sometimes petty deception of those you have promised to serve. This, and U.S. Solicitor General Ken Starr, was at the root of the impeachment trial.
Slickness felled President Nixon. It almost felled President Clinton.
And finally, Clinton is perceived as ruthlessly ambitious and that’s just not tolerated in woman in public life. Though numerous undesirable qualities are allowed in male candidates (i.e. bullying, petulance, lewdness, idiocy, corruption and let us not forget deceit – Weapons of Mass Destruction!).
Clinton’s gender, her perceived ruthlessness, and that Clinton slickness – put her over the top in the most ironic way. She won the popular vote without having won the confidence of the country – a particularly Clinton thing to do.