False Narratives: There wasn’t an Awakening of the White Middle Class.

Posted on December 9, 2016 by


The accepted narrative that I continue to see becoming propagated during the post-election cycle is this phenomenon that Donald Trump succeeded by awakening a movement of white, rural, “less-educated voters.” This narrative is completely false. The notion that white voters – across all backgrounds and classifications – rallied behind this ideology in mass, is false.

According to Domenico Montanaro of NPR: Donald J. Trump received roughly the same voter turnout in 2016 (60.5 million) as Mitt Romney did in 2012 (60.9 million.) While black voter turnout among the national electorate was only down slightly, Hillary Clinton not winning the presidential nomination was based on her inability to overcome the lack of support from minority voters in key swing states and counties that president Barak Obama carried in both 2008 and 2012. In places like Wayne County, Michigan, home to Detroit, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Clinton was significantly off from Obama’s vote total in 2012. In fact, had she met Obama’s vote total, it would have  been more than enough to make up the statewide differences in both states – which kills the notion that white, rural populations, outside of these cities turned out in mass propelling Trump to victory. Obama in 2012 received five hundred and ninety-five thousand (595,000) votes in Wayne County; Clinton in 2016 only received five hundred and seventeen thousand votes (517,000.) That’s a seventy-eight thousand (78,000) voter drop off in comparison to president Barak Obama. As exit polls continue to show: Hillary Clinton’s loss in Michigan wasn’t due to Donald J. Trump capturing newfound voter’s, the loss is due to the lack of support from minority voting base in places such as Wayne County.

The question I continue to ask myself is why does this false narrative continuing to be pushed? Why do so many well-known and reputable figures in politics, business, and media continue to use this false narrative to essentially give Donald Trump a faux-mandate, even though Hillary Clinton as of Friday, December 9, 2016, is more than 2 million votes ahead in the popular vote? This (false) narrative being pushed is tied to the re-centering of the white middle class both in political conversations and in the Democratic party. Targeting these white working class voters is simply (indirectly/directly) a path towards a more conservative Democratic Party. The white working class used to be Democrats when the Democratic Party was the party of Jim Crow in the south. As the Democratic Party shifted to be inclusive and support of minority interests, the white working class gradually left for the GOP. These working class voters simply want to “maintain America’s [white-hegimoinic] cultural values.” Two-thirds of Trump voters believed that Trump was “America’s last chance.” What this response to by these voters is a more inclusive America that has been on display for the past decade, and a two-term Black president. What’s implied by this statement is that Trump was America’s last hope to maintain the racial hierarchal system(s), that keeps white interests as the default.

Centering the white working class would be very problematic to the success the Democratic party has had this past decade. Centering the white working class would mean a more conservative Democratic Party, one that is friendly with the NRA, anti women’s rights, against same-sex marriage, “strong” on national security, crime, and against “illegal” immigration. It means placing minorities within a subservient role and negating our class, race, and gendered interest. Democrats shouldn’t be focused on recapturing the heartland – which has seemingly been gone for generations. The Democratic party should be focused on finding candidates who can recapture voter enthusiasm; who can speak to millennial and minority based voters, and proposing progressive legislation and agendas that minority based demographics can rally behind in mass. The Democratic party doesn’t need to remove itself from its supposed core values of inclusiveness and diversity in order to become the GOP-lite; while seemingly sacrificing minorities autonomy and agency to do so.

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