Liberals: Stop Placing All the Blame on the Racists
There’s been a lot of finger pointing since Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a landslide last Tuesday. Everyone is confused, everyone is surprised, everyone is asking: how did this happen? I’m sure the victor — who’s now wondering how many days out of the week he’s expected in the White House — is as well.
The convenient explanation many have jumped to, namely liberals, is that the U.S. is home to more misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobes than we originally thought. Though the spike in hate crimes towards marginalized groups following Trump’s victory can attest to this, it is not the only answer. Hillary Clinton is that model high school student who did everything right — did everything everyone told her to do throughout her career — and still couldn’t get into Harvard. And Donald Trump? He did everything wrong; he began his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, is accused on multiple accounts of being one himself, led a fiasco of a convention, is set to go on trial for the fraudulent Trump University, and disrespected a Purple Heart family. 60,072,551 people still voted for him. If that isn’t a sign that there’s something wrong with politics as usual, I’m not sure what is.
Trump beat out a plethora of conservative, establishment candidates and the former Secretary of State to come out on top. It happened because he aroused a group of disillusioned, frustrated voters who are sick and tired of not having their needs met by such politicians. This demographic was promised by Reagan’s and Bush’s and even Obama’s that if only they work hard enough, they will reap the benefits in due time. But as income inequality steadily increases and their jobs are shipped overseas, they still haven’t reaped the benefits. Those 60,072,551 votes were protests votes — a protest against the system which has repeatedly forgotten them. People wanted change, and whether or not Trump is the right kind of change didn’t really matter.
Thus, it now comes as no surprise to me that blue-collar counties in Pennsylvania which, 8 years ago unabashedly supported President Obama, went red this time, enticed by empty promises of invigorated infrastructure and the return of coal mining jobs. In such cases, an attraction to political incorrectness isn’t the sole explanation; it has to do with economics.
This isn’t a justification of voting Trump, and I’m sure many people, namely the economic elite of his supporters, did so because of his discriminatory views. But whatever the motive, it’s disturbing that people could look past his stunning bigotry. Many Trump supporters claim they themselves aren’t racist or Islamophobic, but that’s a part of the package they bought into. Clinton’s campaign was quite the opposite; she told us that we were “Stronger Together” and capitalized on Trump’s follies and prejudice every chance she got.
I, too, was sure she would win. I, too, was baffled that the most qualified person for the job didn’t get it — but now I realize that’s exactly it. She’s as insider as insider gets, and apparently people believed the insiders weren’t speaking for them. Many are also still blaming third-party voters as if they haven’t seen the map; Clinton still won the popular vote. Instead, people must rally to reform the electoral college, an undemocratic, 18th century system that, twice now, hasn’t represented the voice of the American people.
It’s been a week, and the “How did this happen?” is becoming a “Now what?” If the people most disgusted by this victory want to reclaim the presidency in four years, they will have to pay attention to the voices screaming for change, and they will have to organize. Bernie Sanders’ most recent New York Times Op-ed speaks to this. He said, “I believe strongly that the [Democratic] party must break loose from its corporate establishment ties and, once again, become a grass-roots party of working people, the elderly and the poor.”
Democrats must not accept a Trump presidency and agree to work with him in the name of preserving democracy. It is clear after this election that this democracy needs rebuilding. Instead of dismissing the protests as unnecessary, we must join them in solidarity. If we think we’re more accepting than those who voted for Trump, then we must support movements like Black Lives Matter which will be fighting for survival the next four years. If we fail to agitate institutions embroiled in corruption like the DNC, we won’t win back the White House or rebuild this broken party. So unless Democrats can produce truly progressive candidates who speak for the common American instead of for Wall Street, 8 years of Trump should come as no surprise.