I’ll admit it, I’m still baffled by the Trump win. In hindsight, the polling that was coming in in the last few days looked pretty bad for Clinton. Her numbers slipped and his rose after the Comey letter. Folks like Nate Silver made the point that looking at those numbers in isolation was a mistake, and that earlier numbers should stay included in the model. That seemed reasonable at the time, but we now see that the newer numbers were actually reflective of the outcome, and Clinton lost in the states that mattered, by a very slim margin.
I know it’s been almost two months, and I’m honestly not one of those people who is refusing to accept the outcome, signing off with the #notmypresident hashtag, but it doesn’t mean I’m over it, and it doesn’t mean I’m not still shocked by the outcome (and by the president-elect’s behavior since the election).
A friend posted an article a couple days ago that expressed some of how I feel. The piece, “Voter anger over Trump’s election goes deeper than Clinton’s loss,” articulates how I feel in some ways, but with a pretty important caveat.
Please understand that I am not mad at you because Clinton lost. I am totally unconcerned that you and I have different ‘politics.’ And I don’t think less of you because you voted one way and I another.
No, I think less of you because you watched an adult mock a disabled person while addressing a crowd and still supported him. I think less of you because you saw a candidate spout clear racism day after day and still backed him. I think less of you because you heard him advocate for war crimes and still thought he should be given the reins of government. I think less of you because you watched him equate a woman’s worth to where she landed on a scale of 1 to 10 and still got on board. I think less of you because you stood by silently while he labeled Mexicans as criminals and Muslims as terrorists.
“It wasn’t your politics I found repulsive. No, it was your willingness to support someone who spouts racism, sexism, and cruelty almost every time he opens his mouth. You sided with a bully when it should have mattered most, and that is something I will never be able to forget.
I think this applies to how I feel about some people, but I’m not likely friends, at least not close friends, with any of those people. I think there were plenty of people who voted for Trump, but really didn’t want to. I think there were plenty of people who have such a horrible view of Clinton (unfair in my opinion) that no matter what Trump did, they would never have voted in any way that helped her get into the White House. I think the people saying that they hated both candidates were genuine (although, as I’ve written about before, I think that might say more about one candidate than the other). In the end, they still picked the guy who mocked a disabled person, who spouted racism, who advocated for war crimes, for equating women’s worth to their 10-point scale, who labeled Mexicans as criminals and rapists, and labeled Muslims as terrorists. They did still pick that guy, which I still find shocking, but, at least for the ones who I want to continue a relationship with, I’m willing to believe (maybe fooling myself) that it was a very close choice, and that things like the Supreme Court and what they feel was an assault on their religious freedom that would amplify under Clinton, was the deciding factor.
That’s how I feel about those I’m close with. But that’s not how I feel about all Trump voters. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that Trump would not have been elected without outright support for racism and sexism. A piece in Vox describes a recent analysis by Schaffner et al that regressed voter attitudes on issues with their voting behavior. What’s clear from the analysis is that, as has been said many times, economic dissatisfaction was a fair predictor of voter behavior. More satisfaction was associated with a greater probability of a Clinton vote, and less satisfaction predicted a Trump vote. But the predictive value of economic satisfaction paled in comparison to the predictive value of measures of sexism or racism. The slopes of those lines were far steeper, and accounted for much more of the variance in voter preference.
Yes, those are the people who make me feel exactly how the “Voter anger…” piece articulates. Those are the people who I will not just come together with and get over it. Those people, who supported Trump because of, not in spite of, his sexism and racism; those folks and I will always be done. I know I should be more tolerant of them. I know I should talk with them in the hopes that they’ll see what’s wrong with their views, but I know they won’t. That’s not to say that I think they’ll never change, just that I know that I don’t have the power to change them. No, that seems to lie only in the people they hate the most. Indeed, there’s evidence that more engagement with Muslims, for instance, can make people less afraid of Muslims. In fact, this is exactly what Reza Azlan has been looking to do. In the way that Will & Grace helped people see homosexuals as normal, good people, he is looking to Hollywood to create television/movies that have normal, real Muslims that many of us know and work with and talk to regularly. It’s a fantastic idea, and might be something that can help.
Again, I’m NOT saying that every Trump voter is a racist or a sexist or an islamophobe. I’m saying that if you’re a racist or a sexist or an islamophobe, you were more likely to vote for Trump. You could have voted for Trump without feeling any of those things, and if that’s you, this isn’t about you. Not everything is. But everybody needs to recognize, even those who hate racism, sexism, xenophobia, but voted for Trump anyway, we all need to recognize that Trump would NOT have been elected without votes because of those things. So, even if it isn’t you, if you voted for Trump, and wanted Trump to win, the only way he won was with support of these folks who you don’t like. That might not be comfortable, but it’s true. It might make you question if you do hold racist, sexist, xenophobic views, and that’s good. It’s good to look inside and ask ourselves those questions regularly, like I did here. But, again, I’m not saying that voting for Trump makes you all the things his campaign catered to.