Some Trump voters are undoubtedly racist. But racism is a popular and bipartisan endeavor. A much touted Reuters/Ipsos poll from 2016 showed that over 30 percent of Trump voters think blacks are less “intelligent” than whites, while 40 percent think we’re “lazy.” But the fact that 20 percent of Clinton voters agree went underreported. That number is especially troubling when you consider that without the 22 percent of Clinton voters who are black, there might not be much daylight between white voters regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.
The prevalence of racism means that most accusations of racism are accurate — if only by broad definitions that include implicit bias, or structural systems in which most Americans are complicit. But as common as it is, few people see themselves as racist, and that fact neuters the efficacy of accusations of racism. The accused often react defensively and become even more resistant to change. “Telling people they’re racist, sexist, and xenophobic is going to get you exactly nowhere,” says Alana Conner, executive director of Stanford University’s Social Psychological Answers to Real-world Questions Center. “It’s such a threatening message. One of the things we know from social psychology is when people feel threatened, they can’t change, they can’t listen.” As I’ve ;argued before, shaming, though cathartic, just doesn’t work.
The inability to recognize that Democratic white racists are simultaneously racist and voting in spite of and in opposition to their racism, along with the unwillingness to attempt to understand why they vote Democratic could be very costly to the very groups the pseudo-woke are trying to protect:
Like it or not, the opinions of white voters matter, and politicians have to balance the validation that marginalized communities deserve against the anxieties of white voters. As Cheney-Rice noted, it’s frustrating that white voters’ sensitivity about being called racist often becomes a more central part of the national conversation than the actual consequences of experiencing racism.
But the consequences of not considering white voters in one’s political messaging strategy are more than just frustrating. To millions of black and brown people, LGBTQ Americans, women, immigrants, and differently abled people, they are existential. In just the last two years, voting protections have been bulldozed, transgender rights stripped, and the deficit exploded on a tax giveaway to the rich — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If Democrats can’t win in 2020, things will only get worse.
As some asshole with a blog put it:
To flip around Teixeira and Griffin, 26 percent of people who are pretty racist (those people will take all the money) vote Democratic. They do so, because while they might be bigoted, racism is not enough of an organizing principle for their lives such that they are unwilling to accept other explanations. Democrats need to figure out what motivates them–and “Voters’ anger was directed primarily at corporations, so willing to send jobs offshore, rather than at minorities” seems like a good start–and do more of that if we want to win in places that are heavily white. While most Trump supporters won’t change, a few might. More importantly, there are plenty of people who stayed at home that could be tempted to turn out and vote Democratic. Like it or not, thanks to our archaic system of government, we do have to reach enough of these voters to win elections.
Just as no one likes to conceive of themselves as racist, too many Democrats are being unrealistic about some white Democrats. Depressingly, too many are either bigoted or willing to be ‘adjacent’ to bigotry (bigotry isn’t a deal breaker). Unfortunately, you win elections with the electorate you have, not the electorate you wish you had.