How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Trump’s economic populist nationalist message resonates with white voters

As I look back at the 2016 presidential campaign, I keep asking myself over and over again how did a six time bankrupted charlatan, who was totally unprepared to serve as the leader of the free world, emerge as a major party’s candidate for the presidency and how did he win the election? The answer is race.

Donald Trump was elected President because of the overwhelming demographic support he received from white voters, not just from anxious white voters who lost their jobs due to a variety of factors in the “Rust Belt.” While Hillary’s use of the term “deplorables” to these folks was neither empathic nor astute, it was not the reason for her defeat. The reason she lost was not because a small segment of working-class voters in a few states bought into Trump’s message of bringing back jobs to America. Trump won because whites across class lines voted for him in droves and he continues to have their support.

It would be far more comforting to think of Trump’s victory as the result of the venting of a small cadre of angry uneducated white working-class voters. Unfortunately, the data indicates that is not the case. As Ta-Nehisi Coats points out in an excellent article entitled “The First White President” in The Atlantic, “Trump’s dominance among whites across class lines is of a piece with his larger dominance across nearly every white demographic. Trump won white women (+9) and white men (+31). He won white people with college degrees (+3) and white people without them (+37). He won whites ages 18-29 (+4), 30-44 (+17), 43-64 (+28), and 65 and older (+19). Trump won whites in Midwestern Illinois (+11), and whites in mid-Atlantic New Jersey (+12).”

That’s correct; right here in blue New Jersey Trump trounced Hillary among white voters. That blows my mind when you consider that New Jersey is the nation’s fourth wealthiest state based on median income and is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse states in the nation (a majority of New Jersey’s children under the age of one belong to racial or ethnic minority groups, meaning that they had at least one parent who was not non-Hispanic white).

The more you dig in and look at the 2016 presidential vote, the more it becomes clear that Trump’s white support cuts across all demographics ─ income, religion and race. Trump won among white Catholics (+7), Protestants/other Christians (+19), whites making less than $50,000 (+20), whites making $50,000 to $99,999 (+28) and whites making more than $100,000 (+14). Trump also did much better than any recent Republican presidential candidate among ultra-Orthodox Jewish voters.

The Trump victory was not confined to Joe the Plumber, Joe Riveter and Joe Arpaio, the long-time sheriff of Arizona, who Trump pardoned in spite of his targeting and harassing Latin immigrants throughout his time as sheriff. Trump support also includes Joe the FIREman (composed of executives from the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate fields). Trump’s white support is broad and deep. If only whites voted in our elections, instead of a narrow victory in the Electoral College, Donald Trump would have trounced Hillary based on the popular votes he garnered among white voters.

Everything that Donald Trump does and continues to do is designed to reinforce his support among white Americans by exploiting their attitudes about race, immigration, sexism, and L.G.B.T. issues.

From the get-go his early support of the racist conspiracy theory known as birtherism, his declaring an “America First” culture war in his Inaugural Address, his labeling Mexicans “rapists,” his wall, his instituting a travel ban and selective immigration quotas, his opposition to transgender folks serving in the military, his support of Klan sympathizers before his run for the president, and his tepid response to the Klan and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, are part of comprehensive effort to appeal to white American either implicitly or explicitly through racism and xenophobia. In the next phase, I expect to see a frontal attack against affirmative action that will play to white America’s feeling that the American Dream is evaporating because the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of minorities at the expense of their children.

Make no mistake about it, Donald Trump is willing to do whatever it takes including, as David Remnick wrote in The New Yorker, “Imperil the civil peace and the social fabric of his country simply to satisfy his narcissism and to excite the worst inclinations of his core followers.”

As we approach the 2020 election, I expect to see Donald Trump embrace an increasingly racist xenophobic and economic nationalistic populist message under the rubric of putting America First. It is a message that has appeal to 35%-40% of the vote based on Trump’s polling numbers. Given America’s population trends, I look for President Trump to turn-up and increasingly target his rhetoric toward our nation’s aging white population with the message that 2020 is the last hurrah for decent red-blooded Americans to prevent our nation from becoming a dystopian society ruled by progressives and socialists who are taking advantage of them and are taking over our country.