In the wake of one of their biggest losses since George Bush’s trouncing of Michael Dukakis, liberals are searching for explanations of why they lost to Donald Trump. One of the more popular attempts to explain away Clinton’s loss is the widespread racism of the American electorate. The argument is that Trump’s nationalistic sentiments have tapped into a deep-seated bigotry among voters, and this bigotry is what has led to his electoral success.
But this explanation is as lazy as it is wrong.
Nationwide, there are 209 counties that voted for Donald Trump who had previously voted for President Obama — twice. On average, these 209 counties most severely faced the impact of the recession, of globalism, and of anti-business legislation. These counties played a deciding role in the 2016 election, and they swung hard for Donald Trump. This wasn’t due to some dark feelings of racism — they voted twice for a black man with the middle name Hussein — but feelings of economic uncertainty and neglect from Washington.
Say what you will about Donald Trump, about his overly ambitious economic proposals, his concerning foreign policy plan, or his treatment of women in the past. But it is intellectually dishonest to dismiss the concerns of those living in the rust belt as some form of racism that only came up in the Fall of 2016.
Instead of blaming the alleged racism of the nation for the rise and reign of Donald Trump, liberals would do well to meet with those residents of the 209 counties who feel betrayed by Democratic policies. All sides would truly benefit from a dialogue about the concerns of these people and how our leaders can work to fix the economic problems of the country. If the left decides to reach out to these voters and hear them out, they may just be able to work in concert with Republicans to make the country great for all Americans.
But before that happens, Democrats need to stop vilifying half the nation.