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One of the major explanations of the Trump victory is that it was a white racist backlash. There is some truth in this. Without question the President elect ran a racist campaign. Without question a proportion of Trump voters are racist – certainly the KKK is and it endorsed him.TM

But. To reduce his win to this simple formula is to not only insult those who voted for him who are not racist, but also to miss the details of the vote and the quality of his opponent. It leads to a patronizing view of America and Americans, not to an understanding of modern America.

Trump increased the Republican vote among Hispanics. Romney won 27% of the Hispanic vote in 2012, Trump won 29%.  How do those who argue a Trump vote is a racist vote explain that? That those Hispanics who voted Trump are racist?

It is more plausible, and less patronizing, that the Trump Hispanic vote looked at the candidates, looked at their economic policies, and voted according to who they thought would do a better job. The same goes for the 8% of the black vote which went to Trump.

If it can be argued that these decisions were not racist votes, it is only fair, indeed logical, that not all of the white Trump votes were racist, just as not all of the millions of women who voted for him are misogynists.

Some of the black and latino trump voters will have given up on Clinton believing their vote was taken for granted. Many will have agreed with their white counterparts that the free trade agreements she supports hurt American workers, especially those on low incomes.

In Pennsylvania 53% of voters agreed that free trade is bad for jobs. Is it so hard to believe that a black or Hispanic voter in that state cannot be among that 53%? Does an unemployed steel worker have to be white to reason that the guy who promises to raise tarifs of Chinese steel dumping might be the one to vote for.  Once in power Trump may or may not do that, but he was the one making the case against an opponent who flip flopped on trade from a year ago, to when she was up against Sanders, to when she was the candidate.

Trump said he will tear up some trade deals and bring back jobs to America. You might not believe him, you might think his policies will be disastrous, but it is a patronizing leap to believe that therefore people of colour agree with you, or that white people who do not agree with you are racist.

In 2012 college graduates were 48% of voters in Florida. In 2016 they were 52%. In 2012 67% of Florida voters were white. In 2016 61% were. Clinton still lost.

It is worth stressing again. A significant percentage of the Trump vote will have been racist. But to write off his victory as simply for that reason is to miss a bigger picture.

The liberal CNN political commentator Van Jones was both impassioned and at times brilliant in his summing up of the vote.

 “This was a rebellion against the elites, true. It was a complete reinvention of politics and polls, it’s true. But it was also something else…This was a whitelash against a changing country. It was a whitelash against a black president in part, and that’s the part where the pain comes. And Donald Trump has a responsibility tonight to come out and reassure people that he is going to be the president of all the people who he insulted and offended and brushed aside.”

This is a deeply painful moment tonight. I know it’s not just about race. There’s more going on than that, but race is here too and we have to talk about it.”

I agree with Mr Jones, and accept that there was a significant element of a ‘whitelash’ but he’s also right that there’s more going on than that.  We need to talk about all of it.




18 Comments on "The Why"

  1. mahatmacoatmabag | 9th November 2016 at 12:37 pm | Reply

    Tim I couldn’t resist returning to have my say, so here goes, feel free to ban me afterwards !
    Trumps victory is America’s Brexit & escape from the Marxst-Democrat Gulag of Soros, Obama , Clinton & the insane Left ! God bless America!

  2. Clintons failure to give a concession speech because she was too upset says it all about her and why she has always failed to connect with voters. It’s all about Hillary and always has been. Never mind the people who spent over a year busting a gut to get her elected, she couldn’t even suck it up for two minutes to thank them for their efforts.

  3. I have seen many social media posts saying the Trump win was all to do with racism and those who were attracted by some of his more extreme language. We do need to look at exactly what happened and why as this was an historical change which makes Brexit look small fry.

    I think it should be a wakeup call for all politicians both sides of the Pond and in Europe They need to understand why so many feel alienated .Why so many are fed up with broken promises and lies by Politicians who seem to be becoming more remote and out of touch

    This was a rebellion against the establishment and the Clinton Dynasty but why have so many turned to a candidate even some high ranking republicans could not endorse? Was another reason that Hillary Clinton had so much baggage? Would any other credible Democrat fared better? Was this more of a vote against Clinton than a vote for Trump?

    Yes race is part of the picture but not the whole story and it would be dangerous to assume so. All Politicians need to think deeply about why a Real Estate Mogul who despises NATO, wants to cosy up to Putin and is looking Isolationist is now the Commander in chief? It cannot be race alone.

  4. Hillary has only herself to blame. She failed to follow the correct procedures for sending and receive emails. I agree with mahatmacoatmabag concerning American Brexit which I have just said in an interview with a Beirut based TV Channel via Skype.

  5. correction: sending and receiving emails

  6. You bringing up the KKK’s endorsement of Trump is irrelevant. Why are you saying that Black Lives Matter and other criminal organisations endorsed Clinton? And recall that KKK leader/member Senator Robert Bryd was a mentor of Hillary Clinton, by her own words.

    You can do better journalism than this.

  7. ross appleyard | 9th November 2016 at 3:58 pm | Reply

    Hi Tim, Is it just me or was the media coverage of Trump like no other election in our history? As a journalist of over 30 years I was always taught to be impartial regardless of party or candidate yet in this election Facebook and other social media networks were full of journo’s openly screaming for Trump’s head – or at least toupee! Maybe the people of America saw this as a conspiracy and voted accordingly. Perhaps by default the “media” so seemingly opposed to “The Donald” inadvertently brought him to power?

    • Ross,I think there’s something in what you say. The tone was of ‘we all know this candidate is horrible’. On one occasion a UK corr said ‘unfortunately he looks like he’ll win this state’.I don’t mind that from a columnist/opinion piece, but not from a reporter.

  8. Connor Robinson | 9th November 2016 at 6:18 pm | Reply

    Dear Tim, I must to some extent disagree with your analysis of the situation, I reject the notion of a white racist backlash as the source of Trumps victory, the statement is to my mind unfounded and (considering it has not yet been 24hrs) is a statement with very little evidence. I feel you spend your article trying to argue against your opening statement, and while I agree economic factors played a significant role in certain swing states, your quoting of Van Jones suggests you want to support the original statement of a “white racist backlash”.
    I find the use of the word “Whitelash” patronising to all the working class of America who wanted to be heard. To me it reduces their concerns to the colour of their skin, and as if they should just accept the idea that they should be in a minority.
    I also think considering Clinton’s obsession with race and diversity she may have inadvertently driven away supporters from states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. The endless pandering to “woman, Blacks, Hispanics, LGBT, Asians” all the while ignoring and looking down on the “white” working class American, may not have played well in those northern states.
    I also dont really see the significance of an endorsement by the KKK, who are the KKK but just a bunch of nuts with no power and or significance. If Trump had openly come out and accepted and campaigned for their vote the endorsement might have meant something but since this did not happen it is ridiculous to suggest a connection. (would you label Brexit supporters racist all because the BNP supported Brexit?).
    But on the issue of race I feel quite angry, we are told time and again that we are all equal, but when it comes to elections the major parties who reject racism, play the different skin colours off each other: “you have to give blacks something if you want to make inroads here”, … “you have to allow high levels of immigration if you want to secure the Hispanic vote”. You have it seems to put each race and minority into different piles and then work out which ones if I pander to will make it more likely for me to be elected. Well I reject this, and I also think if whites voted in large numbers against Clinton then I would suggest that this is the reason for that.
    People want equality, not cultural and racial favoritism.
    I am minded to quote Morgan Freeman who a few years ago in an interview said “if you want to stop racism, stop talking about it… I am going to stop calling you a white man, and I ask you to stop calling me a black man” Are they not both Americans. Something to think about.

  9. Trump was a cheap vote if your are in the flyover. To compound this – Clinton has just about everything wrong should anyone bother to look. Those who chose not to vote certainly found nothing to vote for. I saw nothing I could like in Trump. Give people are terrible choice, and they can only give a terrible answer.

    Clinton is a woman who took money from people who detest, and opress women (thus wrecking part of her supposed charm) and who have a hatred of Americans – She proved by bad choices on the email server to show a level of both lack of fitness and lack of judgement, and she was part of an admin who has been one that has been head of the state while black people keep dying, while the police keep being militarised, and where people like Chelsea Manning and Snowden and jounralists are persued for crimes it turns out Clinton has a hole below the water line on. She has so many skeletons in the closet – and is too close to many interests that flyover people really dislike, and worse, she looked wholly unfit to be CinC at all given the e-mail nonsense. People in the Natsec environment, and in the military can and do die for and from classified and secret data. Having a CinC who breached that covenent wasn’t something viewed with pleasantry in the places where ‘merica’ matters to people, wven if they be at the simple end of ‘people’.

    Obama stepped in to ‘help’. Buit his presidency has been in a whole for months. Syria, Ukraine, and a generally poor outcome for his medical reforms – have created a situation where saying anything did little to change the critique. Citing that Trump was in Putin’s pocket kinda runs hollow if your the president or if you worked in the amdin where Putin walked into Ukraine and walked all over Syria. Weak. Sauce. Obama’s legacy isn’t very good. Its reflected in how poor the turnout was since he trained to get his vote out for Clinton.

    There is also another angle. There has been for an extended time a dismorphia in the media and in the left where ‘immigration’, ‘political correctness’, Islam, The Gay and the trans community, and minorities, and other ‘weird’ (as seen by some) things that do not appeal in much of flyover land have had an effect where people who lean towards those views thought that they had simply ‘won’. Anyone else who had a different view was ‘wrong’, ‘stupid’, racist’ ‘islamophobe’ – or worse, waves of jobs being lost and positive descrimination. For a very long time, the suppression of people who at least hold contrary viewpoints worked. And it could work is in a general sense enough good was in place to mask and keep a certain level of .. balance. But – you can’t thought police people forever. And certainly Trump and Brexit have been an outpouring of people who grew sick to the back teeth of being told what to think, how they have to behave, how they have no voice, and how they can shutup, or be abused by name calling, and where what they thought was degraded, mocked, abused – no longer mattered – simply turned and said no. No more.

    I watched an interesting clip of Bill Maher, where having for a long time along with buddies like Michael Moorer – called everyone like Bush and Romney ‘racists’, stupid , ‘facists’ – make a concession, that – ‘they had cried wolf – and Romney or Jeb Bush would not in fact have been that. But Trump REALLY is a facist, racist blah blah’. This is entirely part of the problem. Words like ‘racist’ and ‘facist’ have entirely lost their way and meaning by overuse on the wrong people, for the wrong reason, for too much of the time. So when Maher was bleating – it was really meh.

    Maher like many others reached a point where he felt, and they felt that they could simply abuse a large part of the population, entirely discount how they think or see the world, break their tradition, history, laws, jobs, way of life, – you name it, and that there was no flipside to the coin. For a long time Maher mocked the GOP party (and it deserved much of that for sure) – but he missed something. That mockery wasn’t going to mean the people would vote clinton. What it meant was that as soon as a Trump turned out – a ‘whitelash’ as Tim called it surged.

    I don’t share a view that all the voters are racist. Some are, certainly. But many are not racist. But what they are is a very large group utterly fed up with being villified, abused, and being (or perhaps feeling like) second class citizens in their own country, media, towns, cities and life generally.

    Since the election, its been an observation that the Clinton/Dems/ fan clubs have been full on in social media, doing all the spade work they like to accuse the GOP and others of. Abuse, Abuse, more abuse and #’He’sNotMyPresident’ which they said wasn’t appropriate when the shoe was on the other foot with Obama.

    As a footnote, both parties and the American elective system come out of this dog eared and very ragged around the edges. The Republicans are now stuck with a non republican in the whitehouse and continuing problems trying to recover to being ignored and sidelined by their own base. And the Dems are in ruins – with Clintonism wrecked, Bernie Sanders bid ruined by corruption and scandal, and its own voter base riddled by apathy towards Obama, and Clinton and cronies. They also lost all 3 arms of the exec, so its going to be 2 years of ruin before they can even start to patch the holes. Dems tradionally recover in half term elections, so I think Trump and the GOP will lurch through the first 2 years and then lose the 3 part control, but we will see.

    Anyway – what a generally awful, dire and appalling election, and outcome.

  10. The reason Donald Trump won in America was in way the same reason the no vote won in th UK Most working class people are fed up with the centre ground politics that seem to prop the elites and the global financial institutions.We no longer have a real defined Right and left anymore hopefully the good that will come of this as with the UK a re firing of strong political debate with politicians fighting for the people rather than securing they’re long term establishment futures.

  11. One of the interesting phenomena that feeds into this is the paradox of intolerance. The definition of liberal is as follows.

    ‘willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own; open to new ideas.’

    If that is a true definition, then the ‘liberals’ who have been so damning of Trump are certainly misrepresenting themselves.
    If you wish to drive opinions underground, allow resentment to fester and ensure that people lie about their voting intentions then by all means shout them down at every opportunity and label them as bigots and racists. These people have ironically been under attack during the campaign every bit as much as Mexicans and Muslims.
    I can only speak for myself but when I come under attack for my views I am more likely to entrench rather than see the error of my ways.

  12. By the way Tim, your former employers are sorely missing you. Saw the the question put this morning in the light of Trumps victory ‘ Could Russia become the worlds policeman?’ erm…….no.

  13. Now that some data have come to light, it appears that Trump’s victory depended less on what he did and more on what Clinton failed to do, namely to get out all her potential voters. The overall turnout was the usual 57% or so which probably intrinsically favoured Trump. Yet the real clincher for Trump seems to have been the 100000 or so votes he managed to gather in the three swing states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, giving 46 precious electoral votes- and the presidency.

    For me , as an Israeli, this is reminiscent of the 1996 election, where a similar failure by the Israeli Labor party to get the vote out for Peres, enabled Benyamin Netanyahu to win his first term as prime minister by less than 1% of the vote.

  14. Many of the comments here are proving to me what I always suspected: the idea of a democratic vote is only valid to those with a socialist bent when it goes their way. Whether it is Brexit in the UK, Netanyahu in Israel or Trump in the US, I am sure we can now expect endless whining from those who don’t like the decision about “how terribly unfair it all is”. Enough already. Those who confidently expected a Clinton whitewash, and trumpeted their opinions ad infinitum, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, should consume their collective hats, whimper into their cornflakes and slinker off into the shadows for the next four years, give or take a few months. Ánd for God’s sake, give it a rest.

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