The “Whitelash” Charge

CNN commentator Van Jones, who is black, made the following statement on-air soon after the projections showed that Donald Trump would win the Presidency:

“This was a whitelash – this was a whitelash against a changing country. It was whitelash against a black president, in part.”

Hyperbole? Exaggeration? Not if a number of exit polls taken at hundreds of polling places across the nation happen to be correct. White voters, who compose 69% of voters, voted 58% for Trump and 37% for Clinton. This margin was even more pronounced among men. White men opted 63% for Trump and 31% for Clinton, while white women voted 53% for Trump and 43% for Clinton.

By comparison, non-white voters, who make up 31% of the electorate, voted 74% for Clinton and 21% for Trump.

Trump not only won white voters without a college degree by a margin of 67% to 28%, according to Research for the National Election Pool and Pew Research, but also those white voters with a college degree, if by a much smaller margin of 49% to 45%.
Even among more well-off whites, according to CNN studies, of the 64% of American voters who earn more than $50,000 a year, 49% chose Trump, and 47% Clinton.

Unhappily, these aren’t just factoids and statistics. They represent a white misperception of economic reality… or possibly just a failure by affected white workers to understand that they’re not the only ones hurting, and hurting badly.

I’m not denying that 5-6 million largely white manufacturing workers lost jobs to globalization and automation. Nor am I denying that middle-class income levels, largely of white families, have stagnated over the past thirty years.

The problem is that it’s far worse for minorities, and they feel that their opportunities are also hampered by persistent discrimination and by an economic and justice system that makes their path harder than for whites.

Even though now 23% of African Americans over age 25 have at least one college degree, 36% of whites, and 53% of Asian Americans do. Unfortunately, only15% of Latinos do.

But even with equal degrees, the results aren’t equal. On average, college-educated and degreed blacks make 20% less than similarly educated whites.

According to Census figures, the average [median] income of all households in the U.S. is about $54,000, but the average income of African American households is lower than any other ethnic group at just over $35,000. In terms of savings and housing and some form of assets that can buffer hard times, the average [median] household wealth for whites is $114,000, for Hispanics $13,000, and for African-Americans $11,000. Not only that, but over the past 25 years, the wealth gap between blacks and whites has nearly tripled, according to research by Brandeis University.

Currently, a quarter of black and Hispanic families live in poverty, compared to ten percent of white families, and the numbers are even starker when looking at child poverty. Under 11% of white children were in poverty in 2013, but 38% of black children and 30% of Hispanic children are poor.

While great improvements have been made in the educational achievement of minorities and in increasing minority income levels, the gaps are still huge.

What this means, in political and social terms, is that the Trump administration cannot just focus on dealing with “white” economic pain, not without risking even greater political and societal unrest, an unrest that will get even more intense if it is not addressed as the white electorate becomes a smaller and smaller proportion of the population – and we’re talking about a population shift without taking into account ANY future immigration or lack thereof.

Catering to “whitelash” exclusively is a prescription for longer term disaster.

And all that doesn’t even take into account the equally great problem of gender discrimination, which is far too big a subject to include in this post, except to note that it’s also a problem that isn’t going to go away, no matter what white males think.

22 thoughts on “The “Whitelash” Charge”

  1. Joe says:

    I find the “whitelash” comment repugnant because it assumes the only reason people might not vote Hillary Clinton is racism.

    Hillary Clinton lost the election because she did not motivate people to vote for her. A black guy, Obama, did by getting 10 million more votes than her. He carried the Rust Belt states. If most whites, or just most whites in those states were racists, this could not have happened.

    Obama preached hope and change. He won. Hillary preached more of the same. She lost. Trump preached change. He happened to win, but that’s a fluke of our electoral system when Democrats don’t get a sufficiently large lead.

    This election was an unpopularity contest between the two most disliked candidates ever to stand for president. It was remarkable for the number of people who went to vote, but abstained from choosing a president, concentrating on Senators, Congressmen and local ballot initiatives.

    Why did the Democrats do so poorly? The fault lies clearly in the DNC and Hillary Clinton. Why might they have failed to motivate people? As demonstrated by its use of superdelegates, its internal emails, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC refused to allow the more popular candidate to stand on the Democratic side. It is clear that the DNC cares more about providing a home to a coterie of self-interested traders of favors than in providing a true alternative for the country. This put off a large number of Sanders voters who would most likely have made the difference. Instead some voted Trump, some Green, and most abstained.

    Macchiaveli’s The Prince has something to say about self-interested traders of favors: “But to enable a prince to form an opinion of his servant there is one test which never fails; when you see the servant thinking more of his own interests than of yours, and seeking inwardly his own profit in everything, such a man will never make a good servant, nor will you ever be able to trust him; because he who has the state of another in his hands ought never to think of himself, but always of his prince, and never pay any attention to matters in which the prince is not concerned.”

    The fault also lies with the media, whose propagandist anti-Trump behavior was cruder than anything Pravda has done. The Huffington Post added to every article about Donald Trump, “Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist…”. What kind of fourth estate is this? Objective analysis, not ad-hominem attacks, is what the press should concentrate on. If they had, they might not have mispredicted the eminently predictable outcome that so many people would be disgusted, they wouldn’t vote, and this would be enough to swing the election.

    I supported Obama in 2008, but was somewhat disappointed by him.

    I could not support Hillary Clinton because of her war hawk policies, such as imposing a no-fly zone in Syria and wanting to confront “the bully Putin”. Russia currently has the best missile defense system of the world blanketing Syria. It would be insane to try to dismantle it. It is also insane to irritate the only country able to destroy ours in 30 minutes. I also doubted that her progressive drift was genuine, and not just a public position she would change later. If you recall her speeches to Goldman Sachs, she has public and private positions, those that get spoken about, and those that are acted upon.

    I could not support Trump because he wants to torture people.

    Jill Stein provided the only rational policy, therefore I supported her.

    I fear Trump less than the Republicans he is assembling as a team. I hope he, an unlikely a candidate as Reagan was, will work on reducing the nuclear threat to the world, as Reagan did. His team worry me. For instance, Pence wishes to be an understudy to Darth Cheney, who made the world much worse. This is worrisome. I also fear for our climate, although the fact that no new coal fired power plants have been built this year suggests long term business interests may trump politics on this one.

    1. Matt says:

      I was going to post here because it’s like you (LE Modesitt) didn’t read my post which listed the vote totals for the last four elections, where Democrats who failed to inspire the electorate lost, but Republicans pulled similar numbers every time.

      Joe nailed it and pretty much said everything that I was going to say, so there isn’t much to add.

      1. Matt says:

        I should add that I didn’t find Stein to be a viable candidate. She pandered to anti-vaxxers, which I find to be reprehensible. Her choice of a running mate was similarly unsupportable. I voted for Clinton because even though I didnt like her, she was the best of the four self-interested self-promoting nightmares that we had up for election.

  2. Tom says:

    Anti Clinton voters may not have voted because of racism alone, but, it was and is a significant factor in this country. An almost communist such as Sanders may have worked for the DNC, because those voting for trump seemed to be the same portion of society who would vote for the opposite extreme and his promises were as preposterous. Obama disappointed me because he appeared to be a very good CEO getting the nomination but he could not put together an effective team as President. I cannot comment on Trump’s team but he will have difficulty following fact supported advice and so I am still searching for the Napoleonic figure and awaiting the whiff of grapeshot (on the other hand given the 1990’s Republican Congress performance maybe well have gridlock save the country).

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      Trump pays at most casual attention to facts when trying to persuade, but when trying to actually do business or negotiate, it’s virtually certain that his approach is quite different.

      As for the suffering of minorities, look at the unmarried birth statistics; those seem to me to be a reasonably close fit with respect to outcomes.

      You want your kids to have a better life? Wait having them until you can afford to get married, and until you’ve found a partner that will stick around. You don’t care if your kids have a better life? Don’t have kids.

      1. Robert The Addled says:

        Facts are loose in his whole life. Prime example: Denying ever meeting people he’s in photos with; denying climate change publicly, but citing it while trying to build a sea wall for his golf course in Ireland.

    2. RRRea says:

      Of course, your argument is completely invalid on it’s face as Hillary Clinton lost simply because of the Electoral College. Period. End of all of your points. The popular vote was in her favor, in fact, more in her favor than it has been in over 50 years of presidential elections in which the Electoral College has decided over the popular vote (4 if you’re counting… Clinton, Gore, Nixon, Kennedy). And the gap seems to be widening.

      If your arguments were true, then the disaffected workers and the leadership in Trump’s transition team (not to say Trump himself) would be stepping up to denounce the slew of racist/sexist/homophobic/islamophobic attacks that have occurred since the election by Trump voters “empowered” to express themselves after their ur-victory.

      In fact, the Democrats lost this “Hillary is so baaaaaad” and “Trump got the white vote because white people weren’t treated well enough by the Democrats during the election” is almost laughable. It’s fundamentally misogynist as her “bad acts” pale in comparison to what is considered acceptable in a similarly situated male politician. And exploiting that has been the first party of the Republican Party for over 8 years to prepare for this moment, as determined by the same think tanks that have created the splitter issues, etc. Effectively, most of the otherwise liberal or moderate “Hillary-haters’ let the RNC into their brains and reorganize their mental furniture and see it as them being “discerning observers” instead of “easily programmable tools”.

      In addition this whole “disaffected workers” meme is fundamentally a privilege issue. What created the win? How about voter suppression in North Carolina and Wisconsin (where there was an injunction against it, which was ignored by the Republican leadership of the state) and the effect of 3rd party voting, largely motivated by the dislike of Hillary carefully nurtured by the Republican Party. Again in WI, there were more votes for Jill Stein than the gap between Hillary’s numbers and Trump’s.

      In essence, I would be laughing at seeing this same set of arguments trotted out again and again as determinative, if it wasn’t so exhausting. Did these issues make a difference? Sure. Were they as important as they are made out to be? Not at all. In fact, making them primary is effectively shifting the argument over to the same issues Trump used to divide and conquer. Once again, it’s all about white people and how they feel.

      If the DNC is guilty of anything, really, it’s in not learning from Gore’s “defeat” and working to change or eliminate the Electoral College. If that had happened NONE OF THIS would be being discussed at all.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        The ideology of the left is always fundamentally ignorant or evil. Read the Constitution, especially the 10th Amendment, and understand that there is NO LEGITIMATE role for them in federal government, period. The ONLY legitimate political orientations are those (such as libertarian or conservative, which have enough differences between them to provide for alternatives) that recognize that the federal government is supposed to be limited and NOT supposed to attempt to meet every need or guarantee outcomes.

        People have a right to be fools in a private capacity; but everyone in federal office that advocates unconstitutional policies (any federal power not specified or implied by the Constitution) has committed perjury on their oath of office.

        Individual states are free to engage in idiocy; but look at how much trouble California has balancing its budget for an example of why that’s a big fat mistake.

        Neither racism (nor it’s counterpart on the other side, race-baiting), nor other -isms or -“phobias” (whether real or fictional), are necessary to despise the ideology, philosophy, and policies of the left. Nor does that imply hatred of any individual, although it may imply a degree of contempt for their _conduct_.

        1. Chris says:

          Leaving your argument that the “ideology of the left is always fundamentally ignorant or evil” alone for now, but felt I had to point out that California addressed their imbalance and has had a budget surplus for the past three years. Contrary to what many conservatives said would happen the high-income earners in the state didn’t flee, and we have seen a net population increase for those same earners. While that has been going on Kansas decided to follow the conservative piper and massively cut taxes on the theory that the saved income would trickle down to the masses, increase overall spending, and thus balance the state budget. Instead they’ve had a massive hole in their budget for the past three years.

      2. Scot says:

        The founding father set up the electoral college for a reason. That reason was so that a few states with large populations would not control every election. The Dems. could not change it as that would have taken amending the Constitution which had 0% chance of happening.

  3. Daze says:

    You have to add misogyny to the racism – what would the chances be of a woman who had 5 children with three different partners getting near this?

  4. darcherd says:

    Joe is right in that the recent election was an unpopularity contest, and also correct in that Trump won the election (though, apparently, not the popular vote) because the other side failed to motivate enough supporters. I also hope that Joe realizes that by throwing his vote away on a no-hope minority candidate it was effectively another vote for Trump.

    I am disappointed in the outcome, and concerned that it once again shows the limitations of the Electoral College system our founding fathers – who did not really trust democracy – built in. The current system gives disproportionate weight to sparsely-populated rural states. As my mother, who lives in California, noted, “I resent that my vote doesn’t count nearly as much as someone’s who lives in Nebraska.”

    There were a large number of factors in the outcome. No, racism and misogyny don’t explain it all (though it’s also fair to say that the vast majority of racists and misogynists were Trump supporters), nor does “white rage”. There were a surprising number of racial minorities who voted for Trump for reasons as varied a they are.

    From where I sit, it seems to have been a large number of Americans wishing to send a message that they are fed up with politics-as-normal and sending a great, big F**K YOU to the entire U.S. Government.

    And as with most such gestures, it is likely to do more damage to the sender than the receiver.

    1. Joe says:

      Joe is delighted to have had 3 votes.

      One for Jill Stein who he supported.

      One for Trump, since he “threw his vote away on a no-hope minority candidate it was effectively another vote for Trump”, say Clinton supporters.

      One for Clinton, since he “threw his vote away on a no-hope minority candidate it was effectively another vote for Clinton”, say Trump supporters.

      Not only that, but he lives in a rural state that gives him a 3x multiplier over Californians. That make Joe worth 9 Californians.

      High Score!

      Sarcasm aside, noting the fact that I already explained why he did not support either Clinton or Trump, I note that Obama had complete control over the Senate, the Congress and the Presidency for the first 2 years of his mandate, but failed to fix the Electoral College. He also failed to close Guantanamo, failed to shut down mass surveillance, failed to stop targeted assassinations, and failed to restore Habeas Corpus. Now Trump can enjoy these Presidential prerogatives.

      To address the anti-vaxxer comment above, the notion that Jill Stein, a Harvard educated doctor graduating cum laude, is anti-science should be surprising to any critical mind, and thus require a high bar for evidence.

      In fact, it’s a false meme as pointed out by snopes.

      Since Science is not a religion, questioning whether a particular vaccine is of benefit would not anyway be heresy. The fact that this “anti-vaxxer” story had such long legs suggests to me it was propagated, not out of genuine concern, but for political gain.

      1. Matt says:

        I said she pandered to anti-vaxxers. Should I explain the difference between pandering to something and being that thing?

        I was seriously considering supporting her until I read several articles from real news agencies where she painted vaccines in a “It was a great thing, but now…” light, which is pandering to the anti-vaxxer movement. I’m what could be called “anti-anti-vaxxer” and I have both immunocompromised friends and friends who can’t take vaccines, so anything that even has a whiff of being anti-vaxxer friendly, I’m not fond of.

        BTW, Snopes and politifact are both relatively biased. It’s not incredibly strong, but it’s obvious, if you look for it and I’m on the left side of the fence.

        1. Joe says:

          Thanks for your answer Matt. I shall double check on Snopes. Perhaps you’ll find this interview with her on the topic interesting (You need to click “go here” and it’s about 10:30 minutes in).

  5. Nathan says:

    Voting for Trump doesn’t necessarily mean you’re racist and/or sexist yourself, but it means you came to one of the following conclusions:

    1) You support Trump’s bigotry.
    2) You have deluded yourself into believing that he is not a bigot.
    3) You believe the bigoted statements he made during the campaign were just an effort to win votes.
    4) You don’t necessarily support the bigotry, but you concluded that other factors were more important.

    1 through 3 are just varying degrees of ignorance and racism, while 4, the “best” option, was that you simply didn’t care, or at least judged it less important than other concerns.

    If Maszlow had a heirarchy of abrogation of one’s duty as a citizen of a Republic, it might not be as high as “actively attempting to oppress minority groups”, but “willingly aligning myself with actual Nazis if it means my preferred tax policy gets enacted” is definitely on the list.

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      A case of your (4) is that someone might believe that Trump was at the very least massively the lesser of two evils.

      Being non-PC to the point of being offensive to many does NOT necessarily correlate with actual conduct (although regarding females, how many powerful males actually behave well?).

      1. R. Evans says:

        “although regarding females, how many powerful males actually behave well?”

        Probably the majority.

        I’d like to point out the logical fallacy you’re using here. There’s a lot of “behaving well” middle ground between behaving like Mr. Rogers and behaving like a Bill Clinton or Donald Trump. It’s not a fine line, it’s a 16-lane superhighway.

        And both Clinton and Trump beat out murder-rapists in “behaving well” terms, but this doesn’t mean their behavior should be positively compared to that of a murder-rapist.

  6. Tim says:

    Maybe I am missing something here in the UK, but from what I have read above, I cannot see anything to indicate why Hillary Clinton should have won.

    Othis side of the Atlantic, the EU have convened a special meeting of foreign ministers to discuss Donald Trump’s victory. As if that was necesssary given there is a scheduled meeting a few days later. I am glad to say the UK foreign minister decided that democracy had decided the outcome and declined to attend.

    We are still struggling with democratic process in the UK where MPs are now marshalling to try to block the referendum decision. At least we have not had riots yet, though that may happen of course as we live in changing times.

    1. Are you speaking in technical terms, i.e., as to whether Clinton did enough to get enough votes to win both popular and Electoral College votes, or in terms of who would have been a “better” President?

  7. Tim says:

    The latter. The electoral college system is similar to the ‘first last the post’ system in the UK, and in the US has worked effectively for over 200 years I believe.

    If the popular vote is considered a better solution then either you have to adopt proportional representation or reapportion the number of candidates allocated to each state base don population. The UK is shortly to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and will recognise new population densities. This means that Scotland, for example, will no longer have a disproportionate number of MPs at Westminster.

    A recent BBC Radio 4 programme which seemed to universally condemn the recent US election result was adamant that the rules were wrong on determining
    who should win. What worries me is that changing the rules to suit one’s personal preference is dangerous.

    Ie. You need to take the rough with the smooth.

    1. R. Evans says:

      “and in the US has worked effectively for over 200 years I believe.”

      There’s no way to measure the effectiveness of the electoral college, because there is no real measure of its effectiveness.

      Except for the one case when no candidate had a majority of electors and the election went to Congress. That could be called an obvious failure.

      The preference of the majority of citizens leaning to either major party has been in favor of eliminating the electoral college for decades. There has even been enough impetus behind this to encourage 11 states to pass a “National Popular Vote” law, and for many more states to pass such bills through certain branches of the legislatures, though not all the way to the Governor’s desk.

      Our electors are not apportioned based on the number of members of the lower house, but of both houses. A European-style proportional system wouldn’t remedy this. Though a significant increase in the number of Representatives might.

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