Donald Trump Is a White People Problem

A Trump rally in Reno, Nevada. Photo by Darron Birgenheier (Creative Commons).

Let’s be clear: Donald Trump is a white people problem. The post-election triage that political reporters are doing right now elucidates the reality that Trump won the presidency thanks to the unexpectedly strong support of both working-class and wealthy white people in key states like Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

The electorate in 2016 was the most racially diverse it has ever been in the history of the United States. But white Trump voters overwhelmed the record turnout among Latino voters and Asian American voters. Across the country, 58 percent of white voters turned out for Trump—the only racial demographic whose majority voted for him. It’s those votes that secured his victory.

Of course, Trump is also a patriarchal problem. But let’s also be clear that it wasn’t just white men who voted him into office. While women overall favored Hillary Clinton, the majority of white women voted for Trump. White women split 53 percent for Trump and 43 percent for Clinton.

Voting breakdown chart from the New York Times. 

It’s not surprising that white Americans are willing to vote a racist and misogynistic man into office. It’s just shocking that they’re more willing to vote for a racist and misogynistic man than they confessed to pollsters.

Trump’s victory among white people has deep roots. For those voters, his declaration that he would ban Muslim immigrants, his ardent defense of stop-and-frisk as a way to solve police violence, and—most of all—his promise to build a wall along the southern border are a way to defend the privilege we have as white people. Those ideas hinge on the racist and Islamophobic idea that Black people, Latinos, and Muslims are dangerous—they must be kept out of the country and policed vigilantly if they’re already here. They reek of isolationism and fear. They are fueled by entitlement, by a desperate worry that a more racially equal and diverse country will take something away from white people. They are built on America’s history of white supremacy, of white people being in power and taking personal offense to the idea of change. Those ideas are the core of Trump’s platform, and therefore the core of his support.

Susan Faludi, writing in the New York Times last weekend about the decades-long demonization of Hillary Clinton, noted that “The G.O.P.’s gender grudge feeds on its own defeat. As the culture moves further away from the conservative ideal—as women gain freedoms, minorities assert rights, same-sex marriage proves commonplace—the monster’s howls grow louder. But the howls say nothing new. This election is the decisive battle in a Thirty Years’ War.” That battle didn’t turn out the way I hoped it would. But it doesn’t mean anything new. The country is just as racist and misogynistic as it was a week ago. We can just see it more clearly now. We can quantify it in the 59,427,652 people who voted for Donald Trump.

That this country cast its votes for a Trump presidency—and, let’s not forget, a Pence vice-presidency—feels devastating. It fills me with doubt that our country will ever get better, with doubt that our culture of fear and resistance to progression can ever change. But it is completely irresponsible to stop trying. We can’t refuse to face bigotry in our own communities and in ourselves. A huge part of the privilege of being white is to not have to think about racism, to be safer than others when we interact with the police or simply when we walk down the street. Too often, we refuse to recognize racism and we’re silent about its impacts. That silence has devastating effects; that silence is what let millions of white people cast their votes for Trump’s policies of exclusion, profiling, and wall-building. While most of me wants to curl up into a ball and never leave the house again, it’s on us to turn out. It’s on us to reach out to our families, our friends, our acquaintances, our communities and have those hard conversations. White supremacy got us into this mess, and it’s on us, on white people, to help get us out.

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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4 Comments Have Been Posted

Are you aware that the

Are you aware that the graphic and the commentary are completely at odds with each other?

CNN Exit Poll

You remarked in one sentence that D. Trump is "also a patriarchal problem." On the contrary, Donald Trump is first and foremost a patriarchal problem. White supremacy is the whelp of patriarchy, not the other way around! This reticence on naming patriarchy as the fundamental issue certainly is not only evident in this article but in the rest of Bitch Media's Nov. 9 articles.
Why is Bitch Media not calling out PATRIARCHY? I don't understand.
Also, looking at the CNN exit poll data, it appears clear that Republican white voters overwhelmingly voted Republican and thus for Donald Trump. Democratic white voters overwhelmingly voted Democrat and for Hillary Clinton. I wish you had made that point in your article.

Re: Whites

Uh, it was the same demographic that put Obama in office the first time.

Donald Trump is a white people problem

Regards Selena's comment @ the picture.. Well, it shows his supporters, (the 'silent majority' indeed, it seems) who are mentioned in the article, but yes, they're clearly not the ones feeling like Trump is a problem!

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