Ultimately, Trump Supporters Don’t Matter — Sincerely, Someone Who’s Not White
Dear New York Times:
I can’t believe we’re still talking about this. Liberals have taken their “fingers out of their ears.” I’m constantly reading about how we need to reach out to Trump supporters. We’ve created TV shows that talk to Trump supporters, trying to understand them. We even have articles painting sympathetic portraits of neo-Nazis. And the media keeps talking about “rural America” as though urban America isn’t real America, as though POC aren’t also real Americans (and apparently can’t also live in rural areas).
Where the Left has actually failed all of us is that it keeps moving right, and it also cares primarily about money. Bernie Sanders would be considered moderate in Europe. And the Democrats are just as beholden to corporate interests as the GOP —meanwhile, my generation and the ones after are bearing the brunt of policies that favor the rich, policies both the Right and the Left have implemented over decades. Income inequality isn’t the sole domain of the Republican Party.
Trump Supporters are More Racist Than They are Poor
But let’s talk about Trump supporters. Study after study keeps showing that the single factor that correlated most with an individual’s willingness to support Trump was racism. Not education, not income. In fact, poor white people were more likely than rich white people to vote for Clinton.
Does that make every Trump supporter racist? No. But it means that most of his supporters are. And every Trump supporter had to look at a racist xenophobe and decide that he was OK, that however bad his xenophobia (and homophobia, and misogyny, and everything else), it wasn’t bad enough to make voting for someone else more palatable.
Frankly, that means that I can’t trust anyone who voted for him. They supported a regime that supports neo-Nazis and white supremacy. Those people literally want me dead.
Reach out to the 50%, Not the 25%
I know how conservatives think — I grew up as one, and I still interact with large numbers of them, including my own family (Asian-American Trump supporters are a whole other discussion). As a group — again, because racism was the single thing that resonated most deeply with his supporters — you can’t cater to them, because doing so means you have tone down the progressive message that says racism is bad. And that would have consequences for those of us who aren’t white.
But the good news is that Trump supporters are only 25% of the country. A good 50% of the country didn’t bother to vote. Those are the people we should be reaching out to. Even in purely strategic terms, why reach out to the 25% that really, really don’t want you (you’re not going to win them over), when instead you can reach double the number of people, some of whom are also horrified by the current administration?