The White Party

Jamelle Bouie has an excellent piece similar (and superior) to my own that I learned about after crafting this. It is required reading. 

Like many Americans, I was profoundly disappointed and shocked by Donald Trump’s victory Tuesday. I found myself starting and then scrapping essays decrying the media, pollsters and American society at large. Maybe those ideas will develop and come to fruition at a later date, but I started to catch myself partaking in justifiably hated behavior that often follows an election: blaming others for my side’s loss and subsequent disappointment. Who doesn’t hate that friend on Facebook you threatens to move to Canada if X doesn’t win? So after I spent an hour browsing the Belgian Consulates website in hopes of gaining citizenship, I realized it was time to step back from the edge.

I believe Trump is dangerous and one of the greatest threats this country has faced since the end of the Vietnam War. I worry about the damage he will have on the international order or on race relations at home. I am concerned for my students who belong to groups targeted by Trump in his ill-conceived tirades and how they are going to rationalize his rise to power. Knowing Trump is an absolute swaggering con artist makes me fear for the very state of the nation’s institutions.

I am scared and you should be too.

Yet, if our Republic was but one bad executive away from ruin, the nation was already on its last legs. Even with my progressively cynical view of the state, America will surely survive and overcome the Trump presidency.

What is clear is that race and identity are driving American politics in ways that are not always discussed or measured in our national conversation. I noted in the past that what animates many Trump voters is a sense of demographic displacement (both imagined and real), and this emotional component around debates on jobs, education and order was the genuine driver behind any eagerness to “Make America Great Again.” Many in the white middle and working classes were looking for someone to stand up against the perceived rise of other ethnic and social groups. Trump made clear that he was their guy.

Conservative critics since the 1960s have disparaged the supposed clannish support for the Democratic Party within the African and Latino communities, especially when those communities came out in droves to vote for candidates that shared their background. Regardless of the fact that black voters routinely supported candidates not from the African American community, conservative activists continued to deride the black community’s alleged monolithic and continuous support for a single political party.

How times have changed. The exit polls reveal just how white Trump’s support was.

What appears to have made the biggest difference on the night was the turnout for Trump of white voters across the board – of both sexes and almost all ages and education levels.

Among the more startling data to emerge from the poll:

– White voters, who make up 69% of the total, voted 58% for Trump and 37% for Clinton. Non-white voters, who make up 31% of the electorate, voted 74% for Clinton and 21% for Trump.

– White men opted 63% for Trump and 31% for Clinton; white women voted 53% for Trump and 43% for Clinton.

– Among non-college-educated whites, 67% voted for Trump – 72% of men and 62% of women.

– Among college-educated whites, 45% voted for Clinton – 39% of men and 51% of women (the only white demographic represented in the poll where the former secretary of state came out on top). But 54% of male college graduates voted for Trump, as did 45% of female college graduates.

I already saw some on social media arguing that Clinton’s poor showing in African American communities is the reason for her defeat. This avoids the glaring elephant in the room: white voters went to Trump in massive margins. This is why he won.

Sure, you may note that Clinton lost with white working-class voters that previously voted for Obama, but this fact doesn’t disprove my point. Voting for the party of white people does not necessarily make one a racist. If anything, it reveals how the last decade has only exasperated racial divisions and animus. The rise of the alt-right and white racial identity has amplified at an alarming rate across all classes of white people to such a degree that they were willing to ignore every comment and misstep from Trump. He was their guy and it didn’t matter that their own professed rules of political conduct were now being shattered.

“Christian evangelical” and “constitutional conservative” are terms with almost no meaning following the rise of Trump. White voters may have felt allegiance to those ideologies in the past but they are now nothing more than guises to mask a large swath of white voter’s true faith: nationalism. The left, and the Democratic Party, will need to think long and hard as to how they can win said voters to a party that is inherently multiethnic and pluralistic.

There is plenty of blame to go around in the next few weeks, but make no mistake, white voters made Trump’s victory a reality. They tossed their previous loyalties to civic nationalism and public decorum to the wind and replaced these ideals with a crude form of ethnic nationalism. This should alarm us.

Staff Writer

Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father just north of San Francisco who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular contributor at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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48 thoughts on “The White Party

  1. A friend of mine from high school who works as a journalist has just started to receive anti-Semitic tweets and press releases from White Nationalists. There as always been a strain of American identity that the United States as a White Christian nation despite the words in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. This tendency manifested in different ways at different times; Know-Nothings, the KKK, American First, the John Birch Society but it has always been there. Trump invoked this in his campaign.


  2. What Lee said. This is nothing new in American politics. There have always been strains that view the nation as Anglo-Protestant and react badly when they are perceived as having their hegemony slip away.

    What we are going to find out is how many groups that thought they counted as white no longer do? Jews largely knew that their whiteness was only a matter of convenience. Or mainly did. The Commentary and Weekly Standard crew (plus Jennifer Rubin) is now homeless. I wonder how much they will review their social conservatism. I suspect Sheldon Adelson will find that Trump is not so friendly to Jews as well.

    What I suspect though is that many conservative Catholics will find a good amount of anti-Romanism stll exists in the United States and the alt-right is emboldened to take anti-Catholic stances.


      • I’d worry a lot less about the idiot college kids (which is 99% of all the SJW’s — and the other 1% barely have power of their own lives, much less anyone elses) and worry more about the folks holding the whole federal government.


          • I’m gonna be honest. I started skimming over your posts without really reading a long time past. It’s all just paranoid conspiracy theory rambling, with a side order of “WTF”. For the most part, I just ignore them or file them away as “irrelevant misc. CT stuff”.

            By all means, continue to ramble. I wouldn’t dream of asking you to stop. Just be aware that, by and large, I’ve joined the large list of people who’ve tuned it out.


        • The idea where one group sees me an “evil revolutionary Jew” who is against White Christian America and the other group seems me an “evil white capitalist Jew” is not comforting. Its the feeling of stuck between a rock and a hard place.


    • Saul,
      Fucking Philadelphia.
      Didn’t see you fucking bitching YEARS AGO when white guys went into philly WITH GUNS to hunt black men.

      It begins. Liar. It’s been happening, but you haven’t bothered to notice.


    • When you see these kinds of stories, keep this in mind. There’s a long history of people doing these things to get attention, “raise awareness” (i.e. score political points(, or whatever else motivates them. And for every person who gets caught or confesses to this kind of hoax, there are many more who get away with it.

      I’m certainly not saying that every such incident is false-flag. But some are. This one, in particular, looks like a protest to me, possibly not even intended as a hoax. “I’m 15 and a super deep thinker, so I’m going to make some super deep commentary on how Trump’s supporters are like Nazis.” There are actual Nazis in the US, and they probably voted for Trump. But they’re outnumbered 100-to-1 by leftists calling Trump and his supporters Nazis.


      • On a related note, I went to one of the very first Tea Party protests back in 2009, when it was about taxes and spending, and not social conservatism (IIRC, it was actually on Tax Day). There were some punk kids in the back holding up racist signs and trying (badly) to pretend like they were with us. If it had happened today, there would be pictures of the signs up on Twitter with comments about how racist the Tea Party is being passed around as SJW porn.


  3. “white voters made Trump’s victory a reality.”

    The majority of voters in the country are white, so if Clinton had won, they’d have made her victory a reality.

    And Trump didn’t actually win the popular vote.

    But keep telling yourself that the problem wasn’t that Clinton was a rotten candidate. Keep telling yourself that this was not the reason.


    • You really need to read LGM on this subject. Many liberals believe that Hillary Clinton was not the best candidate but she won the Democratic primary by three million votes. The people who participated in the Democratic primary liked her just as much the people in the Republican Party liked Trump.

      Just because Hillary Clinton was a bad candidate, doesn’t mean that a better one existed. Personally, I think Trump would have attacked Bernie Sanders as a wacky Jewish atheist socialist and it would have worked. The safest bet for the Democratic Party would have probably been a White Catholic man like Joe Biden or Tim Kane but these were not that people popular with those participating in the Democratic primary. That was mainly women and the women wanted Hillary Clinton. A White woman who wasn’t Hillary Clinton might have won. Somebody like Gillibrand.


      • “I think Trump would have attacked Bernie Sanders as a wacky Jewish atheist socialist and it would have worked.”

        Imagine how the Democratic Party would have performed with a candidate who hadn’t been part of the decisions that cost the country its manufacturing jobs.

        A candidate who said, straight-out, “all of you who lost jobs, I will give you free healthcare and free college”.

        A candidate who didn’t need to have weird email tomfoolery explained away, who didn’t have an FBI investigation into how they handled classified material, who didn’t have an iffy track record in a cabinet position. Who wasn’t going to have to stand next to Bill Clinton while talking about fighting to punish men who thought power and privilege excused sexually-predatory behavior.

        A candidate who could say “you all like me as a person, you think I’m OK, please come out and vote instead of staying home” and not be laughed off the face of the planet.


      • Lee,
        From a Clinton Operative, I have that clinton deliberately rigged the vote (disqualifying bernie voters before they could vote, among other things.).
        I’m not willing to say that she won the Primary.


  4. This would be a stronger argument if Trump didn’t also outperform Romney with both Hispanic and African-American voters as well as whites.


      • Interesting indeed.

        I’m really amazed by how Clinton under-performed across every demographic and in every swing state. The demographic and geographic crosstabs are nearly uniformly lacking in bright spots. But I think we’re still going to have to sit through a lot of “Hillary’s campaign didn’t fail, it was failed by all the white people who didn’t fall in line.”

        Bouie is a when-all-you-have-is-a-hammer kind of writer, which is why he’s so well-suited to the race beat. He’s often right, but I bet he won’t really engage with these exit polls and what they mean about how the race was won.

        I do live in a liberal bubble, but sometimes work takes me out to Trumpland. The sample may be unrepresentative, but the Trump supporters I’ve met all say they neither want him to do what he’s proposed nor do they believe he has any intention of doing any of it. Some of them even voted for Obama. They want to blow up the system and are willing to roll the dice on what comes next.


        • It’s not just Bouie, though. I’ve seen lots of black people on Twitter very angrily declaring that whites (and white women in particular) “voted overwhelmingly” for Trump.


          • White women vote what, 51% to 53% for Trump. Thats a majority but it isn’t overwhelming. The fact that many people are going to the Identity Politics bunny hall does not bode well for the Democratic Party.


            • Hillary’s campaign stopped after “I’m with hurr”
              Seriously, this was identity politics all the way.

              I was told that if I didn’t vote for hillary, I’d have a special place in hell — because I’m a woman.

              I’d vote for Molly Ivins in a heartbeat. Not clinton. Not mcginty (and I loathe the racist Senator from Saudi Arabia).


        • This. I work with a few Trump supporters (as well as a metric fishton of Johnsons – pune or play on words intended). They also don’t believe Trump will do what he says, don’t want him to do what he says, or even would actually oppose his doing what he says. They just believe that the system is rotten and/or (through enough exposure to Kool-Aid that they’ve built up immunity) that Clinton was uniquely corrupt enough to be an existential threat.
          And there’s the Supreme Court. Which will be around long after Trump has been mostly forgotten by everyone but a new generation of Buchanan and Harding biographers.


          • El Muneco,
            Clinton wasn’t… uniquely corrupt, I don’t think. But she was too big to fail.
            Still wasn’t why she didn’t get my vote, mind. I’d have voted for February Clinton. February Clinton was still sane.


            • I don’t know where the meme came from, but they’re infected with it. It’s not just “Clinton is a bad candidate and would be a bad President” even on steroids. Their opinions flew on by “Hugo Chavez” a while back and are at something like “Kim Jong-Il, only with less self-restraint and worse fashion sense”. I can’t explain the depth of the enmity.


              • I talked to a friend and Trump voter who sincerely thinks Hillary Clinton has had dozens of people murdered for nefarious purposes. I have a Trump-voting family member who walks around terrified that she will be killed by an ISIS terrorist. To be fair, I’m sure you can find equally disconnected from reality Clinton voters, but it’s disturbing to consider how many people out there make Kimmi’s view of the Clintons seem measured and evidence-based.


                • When I encountered similar mentalities this cycle, I basically disengaged. You can’t reason with crazy, you can’t explain things to contempt, and most of the time, presenting opposing arguments or pointing to (the lack of) evidence just makes them double down.

                  I wonder now if that was a mistake, or irresponsible, or just morally lax of me.


                  • I’m at the same place. I’d like to talk things out more, to – as another (or maybe this one, up at the top) thread suggested, both step back and see if there is common ground beyond the immediate issues.
                    But I just see the crazy. And I’m sure they see it in me. I think I’m the one who’s right, but then I would, wouldn’t I?


  5. It’s not just you looking for ways out apparently – the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website crashed from the load around 10 MST last night. For serious.


  6. One of the reasons Obama won the rust belt states against Romney was his ability to frame Romney as “outsourcer-in-chief”.

    Romney didn’t stand a *CHANCE* after that happened. Not with those voters.

    Trump went in there and talked to these people and faked compassion pretty good. Certainly better than “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners out of work!” communicated compassion.

    Have you seen this from Michael Moore?

    I think you ought:

    This is Michael Moore, in his movie in which he advocates for Clinton. This is a movie arguing for *CLINTON*.

    But Moore isn’t focusing on the “white” thing. I think looking at what he’s looking at illuminates more than “race” does.


  7. “white voters made Trump’s victory a reality. They tossed their previous loyalties to civic nationalism and public decorum to the wind and replaced these ideals with a crude form of ethnic nationalism. This should alarm us.”

    Yep. Now, take a step back and think about why those people voted how they did when in the past a lot voted for Obama. Just WHY the shift? If you listen long enough and think, maybe you’ll get an answer. Now what are you going to do about it? Are you going to fix the problems or are you just going to paper of the issues with labels such as “all those people are a bunch of racist nazi crackers”? Your choice will help determine the course of future events.


    • Couple things :

      1. As noted in the piece, I don’t think the literal answer you are going to hear from voters is going to accurately explain Trump’s support in white communities that have supported Dems in the past. I know plenty of Trump supporters, and all the talk about “jobs” “order” and “immigrations” has this thread of demographic displacement just under the surface. I believe that is the driving factor.

      2. I spent 2015-16 writing a lot about this here at OT. Immigration has not be tackled or discussed in a meaningful way by polite society and it has fueled the rejection white voters have for the Dems.

      3. If saying that whites are embracing a form of ethnic nationalism in larger numbers than in previous decades is calling them “racists,” then ok. I wouldn’t use that terminology. But even a casual observer of politics will note the rise in nationalism across the Western world. This is an insurgent and rising persuasion. I know of its allure; I have my own nationalist tendencies as well. Clearly, the old institutions that have bound communities together in the West (church, family and social orgs) are on the ropes. The ideologies that went hand-in-hand with those institutions (general conservatism being one of them) is thus in retreat as well. Nationalism is filling that void.

      4. Neoliberalism is (and has been) deeply unpopular across the nation. Its connection with jobs going overseas, immigration, and the removal of community control over elements of the economy are things the left has been concerned with as well. I just hope Democrats learn enough to realize these policies (that were synonymous with Clinton) need to be changed/altered/rejected.


  8. From what I can see, the electorate that voted Trump into office doesn’t look that much different from the electorate that voted for Romney.
    Even more to the point, there were 156 million whites eligible to register this time around (less than half the population), and Trump was up 21% to Romney’s 20%.

    Again, there are simply not enough angry white males in this nation for angry white males to dominate a political party enough to field their own candidate, much less to win in the general.

    In fact, the big divide here appears to be between the college-educated and those without a college education.

    More broadly, the internet is a horrible place to go to find a representative sample.

    I can think of all kinds of reasons Trump won:
    The Republicans have dominated the presidency since Lincoln;
    The only consecutive Democrats to hold the presidency were the result of a death in office; et al.

    I think there is a lot more to parse out in looking at the Congressional results.

    Here’s Pew proclaiming “2016 electorate will be the most diverse in U.S. history.”
    Doesn’t sound like a bunch of angry white dudes.


  9. I have to say, it’s funny seeing people tell me that Sanders had no chance due to his economic populist message, while looking at Trump, who ran on an economic populist platform and won the Rust Belt with it.


  10. The actual swing to Trump relative to the Republican vote in previous presidential elections was quite small. He got fewer total votes than any Republican candidate since Bush in 2000. As far as I can tell, Trump won mostly because a bunch of people reliably vote Republican no matter what, and Clinton couldn’t pull people to the polls the way Obama did.

    Note that while Trump won 58% of the white vote, Romney won 59%.


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