Non-College Educated White Males
Identity Politics at Work
THE WAY IT IS
Remember the movie Network? The Cronkite-like news anchor publicly venting, fed up with the same old lies and manipulations politicians employ regularly to mask self-interest and disregard for public needs and expectations.
In a perfect display of visual analogy, he yanks open windows and screams this phrase again and again…and in the end gives himself a heart attack just as windows all over America are being opened to follow his lead.
Donald Trump, a TV pitchman for Donald Trump, did it better and became President of the United States.
He called the political class liars and stupid, interested only in themselves and not in the public they were supposed to serve. His rant was bipartisan…first slamming and shaming his Republican rivals and then mercilessly attacking his Democratic rival…a super-qualified woman who had substance, in-depth information and answers to so many problems but the two she needed most: what America is like today – and how to win!
Unlike the Democrat super-star Bernie Sanders, who ‘got it’ about America and proposed attractive, people-oriented policy ideas while admitting he didn’t know how to make them work, Trump took the easy route…he said he would make changes for those who needed them – jobs and walls and deportations – and that was all he needed to know and say.
Remember Elia Kazan’s movie “A Face in the Crowd” where homespun Andy Griffith played a wild, loud and outspoken hill-billy radio broadcaster telling all the wanna-bees what they needed to hear. Suddenly he found himself in politics heading to the very top, until his bad-boy antics involved an underage girl and stopped him cold. That ‘straight-talkin’ cowboy was saying all the right things to all those people who felt ‘less’ in America…when this country promises you will always feel ‘great’.
Like that fictional character, Mr. Trump understood so well that ‘making America great again’ had nothing to do with America but with all those people in it who no longer felt great but felt diminished, ignored, forgotten. He understood so well that what he lacked in experience and knowledge in government, policies or foreign affairs didn’t matter to his audience at all. He knew what was wrong and was going to fix it. That’s what he said and two-thirds of white America without college degrees didn’t ask how and voted for him.
Just enough of those Americans who believed whatever he said went to the polls and gave him the numbers he needed to win the game of electoral votes.
IDENTITY POLITICS AND FEAR
The Working poor.
And now after a Presidential election which has left half of America in fear, comes a new identity to consider…two-thirds of those white males who have not had a college education but made Donald Trump President-elect.
If America has become an identity-based nation, where a person’s status or color, or ethnicity or religion or gender has become far more important than it has ever been, why should a new ‘category’ be disturbing?
An analysis of the Hillary Clinton campaign reveals that as she traveled in a certain geographical loop within those battleground states that have become what our Presidential elections are all about, she rarely focused her attention on those people who needed jobs that no longer existed, on those millennials who rejected her candidacy in favor of Bernie Sanders’ promises, on people in the white working class and those with strong religious convictions.
Instead she spent her time speaking to segments of the population she felt were her natural constituency…African-Americans, Latinos, members of the LGBT community and women of a certain age and educational level.
In Pennsylvania for instance, she went back to Philadelphia again and again, in the last days with President Obama, who pleaded for votes for her from those who wanted to continue his legacy. How often did she visit Pittsburgh and the areas in Pennsylvania where working men once prospered? Not much.
When it was all over the people she ignored in those significant industrial states were those who voted for Trump. It’s true that Hillary gained a numerical edge in the popular vote, the largest such difference in our history…but that is not how we elect a President and moral victories rarely count even in the quiet nights in Chappaqua.
So then the surprise election of Trump is quantifiable. We know what he said. We know what Clinton did. A Presidential election happens every four years. Why then has this one produced fear in so many millions of Americans?
Fear is not what we feel after an election. Anger or joy, disappointment or delight maybe but not fear.
The fear comes from two sources…both will be with us for quite sometime.
Mr. Trump in his total fixation on winning at all costs, accepted the help and support of organizations and individuals who leave a huge portion of America uneasy…very uneasy about the future.
Whether Trump’s chief aide, Steven Bannon, former Editor of the white nationalist news agency Breitbart or white nationalist groups like the little known one run by Richard Spencer who made national news by leading 200 followers in hailing America, Trump and victory with Nazi-like salutes, the clear message is that white Americans need to take back their country as true Europeans from the people of color who now get all the attention from the government…including their own President.
This essentially racist talk, although they refuse to admit it, has been supported by open anti-semitic rants on that haven for free speech, the Internet. Here Jewish writers, academicians, thought leaders and others have been attacked. Pictures of their families shown dead in coffins have circulated. For the first time we read of ‘fake news’ using the Internet to disseminate information that seems factual even though it is pure fantasy, pure lie.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports 867 hate crimes across the country since Election Day targeting African-Americans, Muslims, Jews and the LGBT community.
The internet remains the great platform for this new variety of hater because anything goes on the Internet. People will fight to make certain that this platform of information remains free of any regulation in the name of free speech. Which means that anything can be said in the name of free speech.
‘Free speech’ is what the Supreme Court used as an excuse for permitting unlimited amounts of campaign money from any source in the Citizens United decision.
Well not all speech is free. When someone stands up in a crowded theater and screams fire when no such fire exists, that is a crime. What happens on the internet is often a crime and what these white nationalist organizations are preaching is dangerous and obviously so. There must soon be a day of reckoning about what kind of hate can be spread among a nation whose public education system is heading to the bottom.
The New York Times continues to treat this element in our society with a politeness and respect that is not deserved. Their distinguished founders did not understand what was happening in Germany even after Kristallnacht. Hopefully what is left of America’s great news organizations will face up to their responsibility before they too are lost to the informational swamp of the Internet.
Where does liberalism fit into this new era spurred by New York’s man on the escalator, Donald Trump? Has liberalism’s humanity and concern for human rights and equal opportunity for all, led to an identity politics that has fed the triumph of Mr. Trump and his very suspicious supporters?
Pundits say yes.
We’ll answer that next.
AN UNEDUCATED PRESIDENT
Never in America’s history has it elected a President so very far removed from government in all its avenues; a President so totally uneducated in so many areas of policy and program; a President so deeply involved in business arrangements around the world; a President so unfamiliar with the office and so disrespectful of the system he must lead.
Never has America elected a President who has made distinct campaign promises and so easily and quickly disavowed them by word and deed (his cabinet appointments) even before officially assuming the office.
If you add all of these “nevers” up, why wouldn’t there be a fear of the future?