When Michael Moore Says Clinton’s Loss Isn’t About Racism, You Know It’s Not. And It Really Wasn’t Sexism Either

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Nov 14, 2016 1:30 PM
When Michael Moore Says Clinton’s Loss Isn’t About Racism, You Know It’s Not. And It Really Wasn’t Sexism Either

There’s a lot of nonsense being dredged up by the Left regarding the outcome of this election, namely that President-elect Donald J. Trump shows that this nation is racist, sexist, or misogynist. Pretty much the scholars of these worthless safe space studies and social justice warrior degrees are having a field day without analyzing the exit polls, having a sense of history, or even admitting one of the main reasons why Hillary Clinton lost: she’s an awful candidate. Was Trump flawed? Yes, but he won—which shows that he was more than a couple touchdowns better than Lady Macbeth. She sucked. Her campaign misread the tealeaves. That’s not the fault of racism. Nor is it sexist. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Clinton’s primary challenger won 22 states, energized the Millennials, especially young women. Bernie was the young people’s candidate. Have these progressives seriously forgotten the primary?

Feminist writer and lawyer Jill Filipovic did not hold back as to what she thought this election was about in Esquire the day after the election:

Trump's win is racist and sexist. Before Tuesday, the media narrative was all about economic anxiety, and that remains a comforting explanation: that whites, and especially white men, voted for him because they are apprehensive about their financial futures, and Democrats will be able to capture their votes in future elections if only we are sensitive enough to their economic concerns. Exit polls, though, tell a very different story. If this were about economics, we would expect to see working-class voters of color lean Trump, but they voted overwhelmingly for Clinton. We would expect to see poorer voters lean Trump, but those making less than $50,000 a year voted for Clinton. We would expect white men with college degrees to have significantly broken from the white men with less education who voted for Trump, but they didn't. Among whites, income didn't really impact voting patterns, belying the idea that this was a white working-class revolt. Even among self-identified Democrats, nearly 20 percent of men didn't vote for Clinton. In other words, Clinton's loss wasn't about economic anxiety. It was about white people and men, feeling anxious about their loss of near-total power, staring down the possibility of a woman in charge after eight years of a black president. Calling it anything else is making excuses, and refusing to name a problem doesn't fix it. Trump's win was about racism and sexism.

Did she forget that 42 percent of women voted for Trump? Fifty-three percent of white women voted for Trump. With all due respect to Filipovic, who offers a good read for the other side by the way, this is a dispatch from inside the bubble, of which I also reside. All you have to do is look at the counties Trump won to see that this is a genuine working class uprising that delivered the Rust Belt to Trump—and it was extensive and overwhelming (via WaPo):

Of the nearly 700 counties that twice sent Obama to the White House, a stunning one-third flipped to support Trump.

Trump also won 194 of the 207 counties that voted for Obama either in 2008 or 2012.

[…]

By contrast, of those 2,200 counties that never supported Obama, Clinton was only able to win six. That’s just 0.3 percent crossover to the Democratic side.

Clinton had more opportunities to peel counties from the Republicans. Historically, Democrats rely on few (but very populous) counties to chart a path to victory. Republicans, by contrast, draw support from a wide swath of many more rural and suburban counties.

[…]

The Obama-Trump counties were critical in delivering electoral victories for Trump. Many of them fall in states that supported Obama in 2012, but Trump in 2016. In all, these flipped states accounted for 83 electoral votes.

This also points to another fact that must be repeated over and over again: Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate and a very bad campaigner. How can you blow this? Moreover, based on the exits, it’s not a racism story. Nate Cohn of The New York Times aptly noted, “Clinton suffered her biggest losses in the places where Obama was strongest among white voters.”

Also, these folks have zero time to debate about sexual politics, or think about that when they're voting, though a little bit of that is at play here and I'll get to that in a second. But their wages have stagnated. They’re fighting a growing heroin epidemic. The ones who do have jobs are working. And they do feel abandoned. ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis and reporter Salena Zito had excellent articles from inside the middle of America, where bars filled with Democrats and independents from Western PA found Trump’s economic language as a breath of fresh air, whereas Clinton’s came off as formulaic, inauthentic, and not speaking to their concerns. Not a shocker since the Clinton campaign model did not account, care for, or thought that white working class voters were important. They ended up being the lynchpin from which the entire Obama coalition was built upon. Talk about a rude and violent awakening. One of the things that MacGillis observed was that Trump was bringing people out of the woodwork who haven’t voted ever, despite having two-decades or more voter eligibility. MacGillis’ piece pointed to people who were just trying to find work, some of them driving 90 minutes away to pay the bills, along with noting how Democratic abandonment had led to Trump coming in and breaching the blue wall in counties in the Ohio and Pennsylvania areas that were once bastions of liberal support. That’s no longer the case. With rising heath care costs, zero wage growth, lackluster job creation, drugs, and other aspects of societal decay that these people care about sexual politics of this race. It was about change. It was about flipping the table over and resetting it with the majority of the country present: the folks who aren’t college-educated and don’t speak with an inflection that’s considered appropriate to be even worth considering a human life form by the snobby legions of liberals who infest America’s cities.

Now, getting back to the sexual politics bit for a second because Joan Williams wrote in Harvard Business Review that there is some of this at play in working/middle class families.The size of a man’s paycheck, being the main breadwinner, etc. all of that is viewed through the prism of one’s manliness, which has been neglected and ignored by the political class. The main liberal reaction to this is scorn, mockery, and eyerolls. Williams noted that these men want what everyone else wants in life: basic dignity. For years, they’ve felt bereft, alone, and a bunch of losers until Trump came on the scene. From the liberal bastions, there’s this concern trolling. A smug, condescending attitude that these men are archaic dinosaurs, and they should get with the times (i.e. be what liberal America thinks they should), which could mean going into fields that are typically dominated by women. Here’s the problem: there’s no call for elite men to do the same, hence class anger. And that is where Williams points to as the main driver for Trumpmentum. It’s no racism of sexism. It’s that fact that class anger and division was ripe and Trump showed them he could be their champion. Granted, even Williams’ article mentioned sexism was inherent in this race, but surely class won out:

…women don’t stand together: WWC women voted for Trump over Clinton by a whopping 28-point margin — 62% to 34%. If they’d split 50-50, she would have won.

Class trumps gender, and it’s driving American politics.

Yet, Williams also noted the concerns of the middle/working class community and you can easily see how the Democratic Party’s abandonment of this group of voters led to their economic cornerstones being comprised of liberal urban-based elites, whose message falls flat:

The terminology here can be confusing. When progressives talk about the working class, typically they mean the poor. But the poor, in the bottom 30% of American families, are very different from Americans who are literally in the middle: the middle 50% of families whose median income was $64,000 in 2008. That is the true “middle class,” and they call themselves either “middle class” or “working class.”

“The thing that really gets me is that Democrats try to offer policies (paid sick leave! minimum wage!) that would help the working class,” a friend just wrote me. A few days’ paid leave ain’t gonna support a family. Neither is minimum wage. WWC men aren’t interested in working at McDonald’s for $15 per hour instead of $9.50. What they want is what my father-in-law had: steady, stable, full-time jobs that deliver a solid middle-class life to the 75% of Americans who don’t have a college degree. Trump promises that.

[…]

Remember when President Obama sold Obamacare by pointing out that it delivered health care to 20 million people? Just another program that taxed the middle class to help the poor, said the WWC, and in some cases that’s proved true: The poor got health insurance while some Americans just a notch richer saw their premiums rise.

[…]

Class conflict now closely tracks the urban-rural divide. In the huge red plains between the thin blue coasts, shockingly high numbers of working-class men are unemployed or on disability, fueling a wave of despair deaths in the form of the opioid epidemic.

Vast rural areas are withering away, leaving trails of pain. When did you hear any American politician talk about that? Never.

[…]

Economic resentment has fueled racial anxiety that, in some Trump supporters (and Trump himself), bleeds into open racism. But to write off WWC anger as nothing more than racism is intellectual comfort food, and it is dangerous.

National debates about policing are fueling class tensions today in precisely the same way they did in the 1970s, when college kids derided policemen as “pigs.” This is a recipe for class conflict. Being in the police is one of the few good jobs open to Americans without a college education. Police get solid wages, great benefits, and a respected place in their communities. For elites to write them off as racists is a telling example of how, although race- and sex-based insults are no longer acceptable in polite society, class-based insults still are.

Even New York Times’ Frank Bruni said that the Left’s cultural political correctness fetish might be partially responsible for their epic screw up this cycle. Also, according to Williams, it feeds into that class anger that the elite is more concerned about transgender bathrooms than the annihilation of scores of rural American communities:

From the presidential race on down, Democrats adopted a strategy of inclusiveness that excluded a hefty share of Americans and consigned many to a “basket of deplorables” who aren’t all deplorable. Some are hurt. Some are confused.

Liberals miss this by being illiberal. They shame not just the racists and sexists who deserve it but all who disagree. A 64-year-old Southern woman not onboard with marriage equality finds herself characterized as a hateful boob. Never mind that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton weren’t themselves onboard just five short years ago.

Political correctness has morphed into a moral purity that may feel exhilarating but isn’t remotely tactical. It’s a handmaiden to smugness and sanctimony, undermining its own goals.

[…]

Donald Trump’s victory and some of the, yes, deplorable chants that accompanied it do not mean that a majority of Americans are irredeemable bigots (though too many indeed are). Plenty of Trump voters chose him, reluctantly, to be an agent of disruption, which they craved keenly enough to overlook the rest of him.

Democrats need to understand that, and they need to move past a complacency for which the Clintons bear considerable blame.

Every author cited said that there is racism, sexism, or misogyny at play here, though Bruni made that point in a more nuanced way, since racism and sexism have played parts in national elections. This isn’t a perfect nation, but to say that Trump’s win was solely because of sexism and racism—or that Hillary lost because of it—is absurd. Even left-winger Michael Moore said last Friday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this wasn’t about racism since, again, millions of Obama supporters voted for Trump; places where Obama was strong with white voters four years ago—and that the bubble mentality was once again evident in the mockery of Trump spending more money on hats than ad buys. Moore quickly put his baseball cap back on, noting that this is what people do where he’s from. He also said that it’s not the rural folks who live in a bubble; it’s the urban-based elites. He also faulted Obama for saying too early that the drinking water in Flint, Michigan is safe, which then killed future media coverage. It depressed the city, which is majority black. It reinforced its voters’ feelings to stay home on Election Day. Why should they vote if the system doesn’t respond?

You have to accept that millions of people who voted for Barack Obama, some of them once and some of them twice, changed their minds this time. They're not racist, they twice voted for a man whose middle name is Hussein. That’s the America you live in; that even though this country is only 12 percent black—the vast majority of this country, especially its young people, if you remember it was really the only white demographic he won in ’08 was 18-35 year olds. They poured out in record numbers. They made that happen But if you put people through another eight years where you haven't — there's no middle-class jobs, they are struggling to get by, the basic things, like you said, the price of a box of cereal doubles, these are the things that are important to people because they are trying to get by and living paycheck to paycheck…

Co-host Joe Scarborough aptly noted that in the elite areas of the country, voting by ideology is possible for these folks. They don’t have to worry about the rent, whereas the people in the Rust Belt vote on survival. Elections are not events that can be used as examples to reinforce the insufferable ethos of American progressivism. This isn’t about sexism, racism, or any “ism” in the buffet of liberal grievances. There’s data. Data says the Rust Belt saw Trump as a person who can get them jobs, which means survival. Trump meant a tomahawk to the face of the political class. Trump meant that they had someone who understood them; they were forgotten in the media and in Washington. Whether Trump becomes that champion remains to be seen, as he’s less than ten weeks away from becoming the 45th president of the United States. I’m sure rooting for him to succeed, as should any American. The 2016 election was the revenge of the white working class voter. It wasn’t due to racism, sexism, or misogyny. Those weren’t the motivating factors for Trump supporters. If it was, then millions of Obama supporters became racist overnight, and I don’t think that’s the case; it was decades of leaving rural America abandoned to the elements and not caring. Well, they’re an army and they came to collect on November 8 because their survival was on the line. Do they hail from counties that are predominately white? Yes—that doesn’t mean economic pain is felt differently. Trump was a violent reminder that there is another America that’s beyond the Beltway, I-95, and the like that’s been suffering for years. And there are enough of them to elect a man that the political establishment loathes because after all, there are more of them that can be ushered to the polls across the country.