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.
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.