Why We Need to Listen to Racists
ian leslie

I have two noteworthy problems with this analysis, both of which may have been addressed in other comments to this post. First, I think the point is that Trump won by slim margins in the Midwest because he was able to convince enough Obama voters from the last two elections that he was going to do more for them, economically speaking, than the consistent neoliberal, free trader Hillary Clinton. The point is that for enough of these individuals, globalization is a broken model for advancing their well-being. It is not that these people are necessarily racists, especially after they helped to put Obama in office in the first place. And, yes, of course the Democratic Party needs to do some soul searching as to how to get these people back into the fold, as much as their demographic featured sure union Democrats before Reagan. But, again, the problem here isn’t racism, it’s economics and the problem of insulating vulnerable groups from the adverse effects of free trade and technological change.

Second, if we want to fully account for the sources of Democratic loss in this election, then we have to address the problem of turnout and ask where, especially, all those excited millennial voters who turned out for Bernie Sanders in the spring went. The answer to this problem seems, also, intrinsically tied to the first problem. The neoliberal Hillary Clinton just wasn’t very convincing to the demographic that was attracted to Sanders. Here, again, it is not a question of cozying up to abject racists and trying to make a big tent with them. The Democrats just need to be more persuasive and convincing with populations for which a progressive economic program can appeal. By and large, I am not convinced that there were large numbers of springtime Sanders voters who cast their lot with Trump. Rather, I think that some moved on over to Jill Stein and the rest, the majority, just didn’t even bother to show up. The Democrats need to do a much better job of getting these people to come out, not by appealing to the horrible character of the alternative, but by embracing a brighter vision of change more loudly and convincingly than Clinton had.