Moving Beyond Liberal Narratives for What Motivates Trump Voters

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

In an earlier post, “Political Misfortune: Anatomy of Democratic Party Failure in Clinton’s Campaign 2016” (parts one and two) I looked why Clinton lost (summarized by two political cliches: “It’s the economy, stupid” and “change vs. more of the same”, with Clinton representing “more of the same,” as in “America is already great”). I should write a post on how Trump won, but I’m not yet ready to tackle that yet (exit polls here). My goal in this short post is far more modest: I want to introduce the idea that Trump voters took their votes seriously, and that their motivations were — dare I say it — more nuanced and complex than typical liberal narratives suggest (Jamelle Bouie’s “There’s No Such Thing as a Good Trump Voter” is a classic of the genre[1]). To do this, I’ll look at things Trump voters actually said, using some material from Democracy Corps (“Macomb County in the Age of Trump”)[2] on Obama voters who flipped to Trump, and more material from Chris Arnade. Both sources can be said to be reasonably representative, given that Democracy Corps used a focus group methodology[3], and Chris Arnade was been traveling through the flyover states for two years, talking to people and taking photographs. I’m going to throw what Trump voters said into three buckets: Concrete material benefits, inequity aversion, and volatility voting.[4]

Concrete Material Benefits

One concrete material benefit is no more war and a peace dividend. Arnade:

I found a similar viewpoint in communities such as West Cleveland: Donna Weaver, 52, is a waitress, and has spent her entire life in her community. “I was born and raised here. I am not happy. Middle class is getting killed; we work for everything and get nothing. I hate both of the candidates, but I would vote for Trump because the Iraq war was a disaster. Why we got to keep invading countries. Time to take care of ourselves first.”

A second concrete material benefit is jobs. Democracy Corps:

“Bring the jobs back, bring the jobs back to the States.” “He’s trying to create jobs, trying to keep jobs in the United States.” “I just like the talk about bringing the jobs back.” “To me, it’s going to get us our jobs back, he’s going to boost our economy, boost their economic growth for families, to bring our future generations up.”

A third — and the most important — concrete material benefit is Democracy Corps:

10. [Trump will fix health care. The cost of health care dominated the discussion in these focus groups. They say Trump “promised within the first hundred days to get rid of Obamacare” and fixing the health care system is one of their great hopes for his presidency. They speak of the impossibly high costs and hope Trump will bring “affordable healthcare” which will “help [us] raise our families and make us be prosperous.”

The experience of Trump voters is our health care system is similar to the experiences of many commenters here. Democracy Corps:

“My insurance for the last three years went up, went up, went up. Started out for a family of four, I was paying $117 a week out of my paycheck. Three years later I’m paying $152 a week out of my paycheck. I don’t even go to the doctor for one. I don’t take medicine.”

Such a deal. And here’s a lovely Catch-22:

“They cut my insurance at work…My doctor, because my back is bad, said, ‘Well, cut your hours. You can only work so many hours.’ Now I have to work more hours, take more pain pills, to get my insurance back, and now they’re telling me I can’t get it back for another year.”

Inequity Aversion

Here’s a description of “inequity aversion” from the New Yorker, as shown in the famous experiment from Sarah Brosnan and Frans de Waal with female capuchin monkeys:

[T]hey found that monkeys hate being disadvantaged. A monkey in isolation is happy to eat either a grape or a slice of cucumber. But a monkey who sees that she’s received a cucumber while her partner has gotten a grape reacts with anger: she might hurl her cucumber from her cage. Some primates, Brosnan and de Waal concluded, “dislike inequity.” They hate getting the short end of the stick. Psychologists have a technical term for this reaction: they call it “disadvantageous-inequity aversion.” This instinctual aversion to getting less than others has been found in chimpanzees and dogs, and it occurs, of course, in people, in whom it seems to develop from a young age.

So who’s getting the short end of the stick? One perceived inequity is immigration in the context of scarcity[5]. Democracy Corps:

“Well I mean we’re all talking about illegals, I made a straight up post that in America we have hungry, we have veterans, we have mental illness, we have so many problems in our own country that we at this point in time just can’t be concerned with, I feel bad but…our country’s in dire straits financially.” “I mean we need to take care of home first. We need to take care of the veterans, we need to take care of the elderly, we need to take care of the mentally ill, we need to take care everyone instead of us worrying about other people in other countries, we need to take care of our house first. Get our house in order then you know what, you need this and this and then we’ll help you.”

A second perceived inequity is bailouts for bankers and not for the rest of us. Democracy Corps:

[Obama] brought the country to a macro recovery by the end of his term, but not a single person in these groups mentioned any economic improvements under his presidency, even after the president closed the 2016 campaign in Detroit making the case for building on his economic progress. They have strong feelings about him, but in the written comments only one mentioned anything about the economy in positive impressions – specifically that he saved GM and Chrysler from bankruptcy – and just five mentioned anything economic when elaborating their doubts. Some described him as a steward for the status quo: “I think he just maintained. He didn’t really do much for the country. And he let a lot of jobs go.” Some did recall the bailout of the banks even though the crisis “affected millions or people,” leading them to think he favored the elites – “the wealthy,” “the richer people,” “the big wigs,” and “the lobbyists.” They know he “didn’t help the lower class, he didn’t help the middle class” people like them, they insisted over and over.


Taking on the reckless banks told them who you are really for. Some said they were “really irritated about the reckless banks” and “protecting consumers from Wall Street and reckless banks… was very important.” They recalled that “we lost our home because of that” and “with the bailout all the money went to the banks and it affected millions of people. And, then, a short time later, the banks were back to these huge bonuses” and “there’s never really punishment for them.”

Volatility Voting

The concept of volatility voting was invented by former Wall Street trader Chris Arnade. From “Why Trump voters are not “complete idiots'”:

Trump voters may not vote the way I want them to, but after having spent the last five years working in (and having grown up in) parts of the US few visit, they are not dumb. They are doing whatever any other voter does: Trying to use their vote to better their particular situation (however they define that)….. Frustrated with broken promises, they gave up on the knowable and went with the unknowable. They chose Trump, because he comes with a very high distribution. A high volatility.

As any trader will tell you, if you are stuck lower, you want volatility, uncertainty. No matter how it comes. Put another way. Your downside is flat, your upside isn’t. Break the system.

The elites loathe volatility. Because, the upside is limited, but the downside isn’t. In option language, they are in the money.

Or more vividly from an earlier post in the Guardian:

People don’t make reckless decisions because things are going well. They make them because they have reached a breaking point. They are desperate enough to trying anything new. Especially if it offers escape, or a glimmer of hope. Even false hope.

That might mean drugs. Politically that might mean breaking the system. Especially if you think the system is not working for you. And viewed from much of the America the system doesn’t work. The factories are gone. Families are falling apart. Social networks are frayed.

And Arnade gives an example:

Lori Ayers, 47, works in the gas station. She was blunt when I asked her about her life. “Clarington is a shithole. Jobs all left. There is nothing here anymore. When Ormet Aluminum factory closed, jobs all disappeared.” She is also blunt about the pain in her life. “I have five kids and two have addictions. There is nothing else for kids to do here but drugs. No jobs. No place to play.” She stopped and added: “I voted for Obama the first time, not the second. Now I am voting for Trump. We just got to change things.”

Democracy Corps also gives examples:

“I felt like it was – it’s time for a change, not just a suit to change, it’s time for everything to change. Status quo’s not good enough anymore.” “Just a lot of change, no more politics as usual. Maybe something can be changed.” “I was tired of politics as usual, and I thought if we had somebody in there that wasn’t a Clinton or wasn’t a Bush that would shake things up, which he obviously has, and maybe get rid of the people who are just milking the office and not doing their job. I’m hoping that he’s going to hold people more accountable for the job that they’re doing for us.”


The Democracy Corps pollsters conclude — and I should say I’m quite open to the idea that they were trying to sell the Democrat Party on a strategy the party was ultimately not willing to adopt, as shown (for example) by the Ellison defenestration — as follows:

Democrats don’t have a white working class problem, as so many have suggested. They have a working class problem that includes working people in their own base. We can learn an immense amount from listening and talking to the white working class independent and Democratic Trump voters, particularly those who previously supported Obama or failed to turnout in past presidential contests.

Clearly, I agree with this conclusion. It’s also clear that a Democratic Party that had come out for #MedicareForAll, wasn’t openly thirsting for war, and was willing to bring the finance sector to heel would win a respectful hearing from these voters. (At this point, it’s worth noting that the Democrats, as a party, are even less popular than Trump and Pence. So I guess focusing like a laser beam on gaslighting a war with Russia is working great.) Whether today’s Democrat party is capable of seizing this opportunity is at the very best an open question; the dominant liberal framing of Trump voters as Others who are motivated solely by immutable and essentially personal failings and frailties — racism; stupidity — would argue that the answer is no.


[1] This is not so say that no Trump voter was motivated by racism (or sexism). However, that is a second post I’m not ready to tackle, in part because I find the presumption that liberal Democrats pushing that line are not racist (“İ cried when they shot Medgar Evers”) at the very least open to question, in part because the assumption seems to be that racism is an immutably fixed personal essence (in essence, sinful), which ignores the role of liberal Democrats in constructing the profoundly racist carceral state (“super-predators”). However, this passage from a Democracy Corps focus group gives one hope:

But despite all that, Macomb has changed. Immigrants and religion were central to the deep feelings about how America was changing, but black-white relations were just barely part of the discussion. Detroit was once a flash point for the discussion of racial conflict, black political leaders and government spending. Today, Detroit did not come up in conversation until we introduced it and Macomb residents see a city “turning around for the good” and “on an upswing” and many say they like to visit downtown. Even the majority African American city of Flint provokes only sympathetic responses. They describe the area as “downscale” and “poor” and lament the water crisis and the suffering it caused.

[2] Macomb County was one of the counties whose Obama voters flipped the election to Trump.

[3] “Democracy Corps conducted focus groups with white non-college educated (anything less than a four-year college degree) men and women from Macomb County, Michigan on February 15 and 16, 2017 in partnership with the Roosevelt Institute. All of the participants were Trump voters who identified as independents, Democratic-leaning independents, or Democrats and who voted for Obama in 2008, 2012 or both. Two groups were among women, one 40-65 and one 30-60 years old. Two groups were among men, one 35-45 and one 40-60 years old.” Stephen King has an interview with a panel of fictional Trump voters. They sound quite different from the voters of Macomb county, and I don’t think the difference is entirely accounted for by geography, much as I respect Stephen King, who has done great things for the state.

[4] A fourth possibility is that Trump voters were engaging in altruistic punishment, where people “punish non-cooperators even at cost to themselves.” (Personally shushing a cellphone user in the Quiet Car instead of calling in the conductor is a trivial example.) Altruistic punishment would provide an account for why Trump voters (supposedly) don’t vote “in their own interests,” but I couldn’t find examples in the sources I looked at.

[5] Democracy Corps puts legal immigration, illegal immigration, and refugees in the same bucket as, to be fair, some voters seem to. I think they are three different use cases. In my personal view, we need to accept refugees, particularly those from wars we ourselves started. For legal and illegal immigration, the United States should put United States citizens first. I would love to emigrate to Canada to work there and take advantage of its single payer system, or to any of a number of countries where the cost of living is half our own. However, if I travel and overstay my visa, even as an “economic refugee,” I would expect to pay a fine and be forced to leave. I don’t see why my case is any different from any other illegal immigrant in this country. Canada does not have an open border. Nor need we (except to the extent our goal is beating down wages, especially in the working class, of course).

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Enquiring Mind

    Trump voters that I know well said the following:

    The system is broken, and at least Trump is saying something about it. Whether he actually does anything about it is anyone’s guess given his unpredictability, but at least he acknowledges what is so plainly obvious to so many.

    I am neither racist nor sexist, and do not appreciate being called that. My staff was 30% black, over half female and everyone got along. Don’t penalize or demonize me for trying to do the right thing, and then expect me to vote for your platform.

    Anyone but Hillary as she is the anti-Christ with corruption, debt, war and entrenched bureaucracies bent on their own sick agendas. I know Trump is crazy, but less than alternatives.

    You get the gist of it.

    1. oho

      “Anyone but Hillary as she is the anti-Christ”

      it didn’t help that Hillary has an atypical fondness for Mao suits–making her look like she wandered off a dystopian sci-fi movie set.

      do any of you know anyone, M or F, who makes Dr. Evil/Mao suits a staple of their wardrobe?

      1. grayslady

        Regarding “Mao suits”, the Nina McLemore collection, which is very expensive, is popular among wealthy professional women, including women in Congress. All the jackets have stand-up collars (some open, some button-up), and reek of military influence, even if they are produced in more feminine fabrics.

        1. Carolinian

          How interesting–annihilate the feminine and dress more like Stalin. Would it be sexist for this male to suggest that some of us might be more inclined to vote for a woman candidate if they exhibited the more traditional traits of sympathy and nurturing? Our elite classes seem to be suffering from testosterone poisoning as it is.

          My view is that the warmongering thing was Hillary’s big mistake. The elites don’t seem to realize how sick of it all we are.

          1. jsn

            Well, you’re obviously not getting rich off of it or you’d see how important it is!

            The insularity of our oligarchy is its most self destructive tendency, I can never decide if I should resist it or encourage it when I encounter it in someone I know.

          2. Moneta

            If a woman dresses more feminine, she will be attacked for other reasons.

            She might be seen as more compassionate but unable to negotiate good deals.

          3. mejimenez

            The Iron Lady never wore pant suits and never exhibited the traits of sympathy and nurturing.

      2. Angie Neer

        Cheap shots against her wardrobe are not very helpful when the standard narrative is “the only explanation for voting against Hillary is misogyny.”

        1. Rojo

          Yes, thank you.

          Men can just don a dark suit and be done with it. There’s no equivalent for women.

          Lots of problems with Hillary, her pantsuits aren’t one.

          1. Gen Dou

            But what Hillary’s expensive suits projected was, “I represent the kind of people who demand Armani, and we all have extraordinary taste. And don’t you forget it.” Warren didn’t wear Armani outfits. If Hillary had dressed in a more middle-class way she probably could have looked more like “one of us” and gotten more votes, deserved or not. To her, Armani evidently seems ordinary, and many people surely noticed her attitude. Clothes are in-your-face signs of class.

              1. FluffytheObeseCat

                Average suits seem to work well for Warren. Of course she has the advantage of height.

                Hillary’s outfits were always slightly starchy, and visibly expensive. Her infamous mauve tweed coat was likely only one of many multi-thousand dollar garments she wore on the campaign trail.

                The Trump bevy was much more overgroomed, however. In every appearance the family women were clad in tens of thousands of dollars worth of artfully tailored, demure pastels. Their beautiful clothes highlighted the contrast between their physical delicacy…….. and the solid ‘strength’ of the much less carefully adorned, more powerful men around them.

                The main, eye-catching figures on both candidate’s teams were thoroughly overdressed and over-staged.

        2. Carolinian

          Pantsuits are one thing but when the clothing is intended to convey a message–and in Hillary’s case it often was–then perhaps it’s worth talking about. Or not. I do think it’s interesting.

        3. Marina Bart

          She chose to wear extremely unusual clothing that was incredibly unflattering by just about every possible metric, that signaled that she was not a regular person, to be held to normal standards. Al Gore’s clothing choices on the campaign trail were also attacked. This is not an issue of misogyny.

          For more on this, see my commenting history here.

          To assist you in this process, and to help you learn more about the role of clothing and attire throughout history, my previous handle here was “aab.”

          1. Yves Smith

            Yes and remember the row about Tom Edward’s $400 haircuts?

            If you don’t think men don’t notice the status signaling with their suits, ties, shirts, and shoes, you are smoking something very strong. The fact that it is more subtle than with women does not make it any less real.

            1. craazyman

              No real man cares about that. A real man wears a Joseph A. Bank suit and gets his hair cut for $15 at a barber shop.

              Only a foo-foo man cares about a $400 haircut and expensive suits. That’s a man who probably gets lost driving without a GPS and can’t fix his own car.

              you can always tell a real man by the suit. It’s either Joseph A. Bank or it’s Men’s Warehouse. And by the haircut. high and tight for under $20. That’s the manly cut. No comb or shampoo neeeded.

              Shoes are less definitive. If a real man likes shoees made in England for example, that’s his right as a real man,to wear fine shoes made by say Edward Green. He might also decide in a manly way to acquire a Savville Row suit, but only because he wants to not because he wants to impress anybody. if he wants to impress another man it’s joseph A. Bank, becauser that says “I’m not a foo foo man. I’m a no nonsense manly man.”

              If he wants to wear a Saville Row suit, fine English shoes and bespoke custom overcoat, for example, he certainly can. No man would argue with that, but it’s a matter of free choice and other men would wonder maybe if he was foo foo. But. If he’s a real man he doesn’t caree.

              if he wears a powdered wig and pantaloons he’s definitely a wacko. But even that’s OK if he’s a real man, because his manliness will shine through it all — espeecially if he converses about sports topics in a laid back way.

              1. S M Tenneshaw

                I haven’t paid $15 for a haircut in decades. It’s Great Clips all the way for me. Yee haw!

    2. sgt_doom

      Anyone but Hillary is something I can at least accept, since anyone with a brain in America realizes that the Clintons (and that’s the entire family, for the ignoramuses out there) gave EVERYTHING to the banksters, period!

      And while I greatly appreciate this article, it is really so bloody obvious by 2016, that only the dumbest, most ignorant and mentally lazy among us cannot grasp the simple arithmetic of waaay over 100,000 factories and production facilities offshored, of all the imported foreign visa replacement workers (i.e., scabs), etc., etc., etc. Plus add to that the offshore creation of jobs by American companies and corporations, instead of inshore job creation!

      1. Doc Grif

        I hear your frustration, but why take that out on the democratic candidate? All of your gripes should be directed at the 1%. The moneyed oligarchs, like the Koch brothers, that have used their money to buy politicians and shape policy to suite their needs. They are ones that hire immigrants with H1Bs, they are ones that dictate wages. They took away healthcare coverage and pensions. They choose to close factories and open up in China and Mexico. Why did we vote for elected officials for the last 40 years that passed legislation to allow this?

        Again, why do people reward Republicans with the presidency, both houses of congress, and state legislatures when the republicans, starting with Regan, busted unions and fought for deregulation, free trade, and globalization. These things happen under Republicans and Democrats.

        America is a capitalist society. Private business exists to make profits. Why an American $40 an hour for a job that can be done in China for $4? What can government do to stop that? Would the people really vote for the policies needed to achieve that? Show me one politician office that is willing to return to a Regan era tax structure.

        We only have ourselves to blame for the mess we are in because we continue to vote for people that support corporate interests over those of the people. Then again, that is how American was founded. Only land owners (read: rich white men) were able to participate in American democracy at is founding. Not much has changed now that money is speech.

            1. Anonymous

              Depends on what you mean by ‘early’.


              Squanto and twenty other Indians were kidnapped by Thomas Hunt and sold as slaves in Spain in 1614. He somehow escaped and made his way to England and then back to New England. This is how he learned English well enough to translate for the Pilgrims in 1620. The first documented delivery of African slaves to the Massachusetts Bay Colony was in 1638, eight years after the Colony’s formation. [All my info above comes from ‘New England Bound’.]

              There had been slavery directed by Europeans in the Caribbean for a hundred years prior to the European settlement of New England. Columbus’s first words upon seeing the natives of Hispaniola were: ‘They will make fine slaves’.

        1. Marina Bart

          The Democratic candidate was the candidate selected by and for the 1%. So was the LAST Democratic candidate. The Democratic party is how the 1% makes sure the citizens cannot get their needs met peacefully. They are therefore the ones to blame. Not “us.” Definitely not me. I voted for Bernie. Twice.

      2. redleg

        Ending Glass-Stegall, “reforming” welfare, deregulation derivatives, the Telecommunication Act of 1996, etc.
        I’m sure there’s more.

  2. WheresOurTeddy

    forwarded far and wide with prefix “For those interested in why actual people actually do things, who aren’t placated with comforting thoughts that all those who disagree with them are irredeemable racist know-nothings.”

    “Democrats don’t have a white working class problem, as so many have suggested. They have a working class problem that includes working people in their own base.”

    Well put. Still haven’t received anything other than a flummoxed look from any Clinton apologists when I asked if *all* the 2012 Obama voters that went Trump are racists.

    1. steelhead23r

      I see the U.S. political duopoly as a Juggernaut. The tea party, a grass-roots movement toward the common man, was subsumed by the Kochs into an battering ram to destroy moderate Republicans and those not hopelessly bought-off. The Occupy Movement, which I credit with paving the way for Bernie, simply ran into the Democratic Establishment Wall. No to single-payer, yes to ACA. No to federal tuition assistance, yes to student loans. No to deficit spending to improve the economy, yes to austerity. And, heaven forbid we tax the wealthy, or run a socialist (gasp) for president. We came close to defeating that wall in 2016. We can’t stop now.

  3. MLS

    I’ll put another twist on it:

    so much of flyover country is comprised of single-issue voters. Not all, of course, but I would rank the prevalence of those issues as 1) abortion 2) gun rights. I believe #1 here dominated the thinking of Trump voters. There was no chance in hell they were going to let Hillary Clinton have a shot at nominating SC justices over the next 4 years.

    Sure there’s a few racists in the group (there almost always are) but by and large I think Trump voters pulled the lever in spite of his hysterical rantings on the topic, not because of them.

    1. cm

      You’re missing the point of this article. Counties that had twice voted for Obama voted for Trump. If these counties are “single-issue” voters dedicated to abortion & gun rights, then why did they twice vote for Obama?

      1. MLS

        without knowing the nuances of the counties in question, my hypothesis would be that turnout was lower for Clinton-voting democrats as compared to Obama-voters in those counties while Republican voters was the same or perhaps a bit higher. I think it’s pretty reasonable to assume that single-issue voters aren’t voting for the Democratic candidate in any national election and I interpret your point as to suggest that they switched their votes ( voted Obama in 2008 and 2012 but Trump in 2016).

        I’m not saying this is the only reason, just that IMO it’s a vastly under-appreciated one.

        1. jsn

          Did you read this article?

          It’s expressly about why Trump voters say they voted for Trump: your “single-issue” hobby horse isn’t in evidence.

          You do, however, raise an interesting question: in these swing counties I’ll try to find the time to look at how much of the swing came from collapsing turn out rather than actual Obama to Trump votes.

          I personally know at least three people who voted Obama and then Trump and none are “single-issue”, all I would put in Lambert’s/Arnade’s “volatility voters” class.

          But I’ll grant that’s not a meaningful polling set.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            I would bet that 90% (or more) of Trump’s 63 million voters were voters who always vote R (just as 90% or more of HRC voters were voters who always vote D). I think Lambert is focused on the rest (whose motivations may not be all that different from the others, but could be).

          2. wilroncanada

            To jsn and many or most others on these threads:

            Maybe I’m beating a dead horse here, and it may even be off-topic because Lambert’s theme is the reason for Clinton losing the election. You say you know at least three who switched from Obama to Trump. Why did they, or any of you on stream who voted that way do so? Limited choices? Was that because too many of you have been too busy, or too complacent, to pay attention to your limited choices as a result of a corrupted political system for at least a couple of generations? If you have noticed, what have you done about it?

            Is it constructive just to now be stone throwers (in the biblical sense) or to hold the cloaks of the stone hurlers in response to Lambert’s effort at analysis, whether in support or in opposition? More to the point: what are you doing now to change that system?

            1. Marina Bart

              You’re conflating a lot of issues there.

              I know a bunch of people who were Bernie supporters who voted for Trump. And they voted for Trump because at least he was change and he wasn’t insulting them. Some of them have now gone all in on Trumpian conservatism because they are recoiling from the murderous hypocrisy of the corporate Democrats, so they’re giving “the other side” a chance. It saddens me, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I understand that standing the wilderness of the real left pushing for change is daunting.

              The Middle Eastern small business owner who went all-in for Trump and hugged me sympathetically for being a Bernie supporter had a point of view yet to be disproved. “Your guy is the better man. He would have given us better policies. But they were never going to let him win. Trump can win, and perhaps clear out the viper’s nest so that someone decent can win in the future.”

              Lots of the people who sat out 2016 rather than vote for Clinton will probably continue to sit out for Booker/Harris/Clinton (shudder) — whatever neoliberal gets coughed up. They aren’t going to become activists. They’re too exhausted, disgusted or drugged.

              It has nothing to do with complacency. Activists have been pushing for decades for better choices. If we had had our way, Bernie Sanders would now be president, busily browbeating Chuck Schumer into passing his free college bill, having already shoved Improved Medicare for All through the Congress.

              Lambert was very clear, and you don’t seem to be disputing his evidence. The Democrats lost their voters because they killed, jailed, starved and immiserated their voters. Democrats stole their homes, pensions and jobs. Democrats said they were deplorable and showed they thought they were disposable. Enough of their voters understood their self-interest well enough not to vote for their oppressors, whether they came out for Trump or just stayed home. That is how Clinton lost and Trump won.

  4. Altandmain

    Like it or not, the Democratic Party betrayed the left, betrayed the New Deal, and became a second pro-war, pro-Wall Street Party.

    Trump, despite being widely disliked at least was offering the economically devastated an opportunity potentially to improve their lives. That was assuming that he kept his promises. Most people voted for him out of despair knowing that even if he did not keep his promises, they would have lost nothing since Clinton would not have either.

    As for the wealthy Democrats? They wanted the bottom 90% to preserve their “upper class” and “upper middle class privilege”. That’s what this is about. They want the people making less than 30,000 a year to vote the same way as big city Liberals making more than 130,000 a year.

    I think that this is what identity politics is about. Had Clinton won, she would not have done much for the minorities. Maybe she would have called them superpredators again. Same with the constant Bernie Bashing. They desperately wanted to shut down Bernie Sanders because he called out, if only briefly, what a terrible candidate Clinton was. She would have suppressed the left aggressively.

    Clinton did make some gains among wealthy GOP voters. It wasn’t enough to turn the election, but that’s what they tried.

    Bernie Sanders’s style of class politics — and his program of mild social-democratic redistribution — did not gain much favor in New Canaan, Connecticut (where he won 27 percent of the vote) or Northfield, Illinois (39 percent). For some suburban Democrats, Sanders’s throttling in these plush districts virtually disqualified him from office: “A guy who got 36 percent of the Democrats in Fairfax County,” an ebullient Michael Tomasky wrote after the Virginia primary, “isn’t going to be president.”

    Clinton was their candidate. By holding off Sanders’s populist challenge — and declining to concede fundamental ground on economic issues — the former secretary of state proved she could be trusted to protect the vital interests of voters in Newton, Eden Prairie, and Falls Church. They, more than any other group in America, were enthusiastically #WithHer.

    To some extent, Clinton’s appeal even carried over to wealthy red-state suburbs. In Forysth County outside Atlanta, and Williamson County outside Nashville — the richest counties in Georgia and Tennessee — Clinton lost big but improved significantly on Obama’s performance in 2012.

    But wealthy, educated suburbanites were never going to push the Democrats over the top all by themselves. Despite Clinton’s incremental gains, in the end, most rich white Republicans remained rich white Republicans: hardly the sturdiest foundation for an anti-Trump majority.

    The numbers show it.

    As for the Liberals freaking out, they can be split into a few categories:

    1. The ones who profited economically from the status quo, like the professional 10%ers. They don’t want someone who is going to rock the boat. The Fairfax County Jacobin article captures them brilliantly. They hated Bernie Sanders.
    2. The SJWs, intersectionalists, second generation feminists, and other identity politics groups. They are not all wealthy, but unifying them is their identity politics ideology.
    3. The hardcore Democratic partisans who “vote blue no matter who”.

    The Liberals want to pretend like it was racism or sexism or Russia that prevented their “chosen one” from winning. In reality it was economics and the fact that people could see what Clinton really was. For all the talk of the most progressive platform ever, Clinton was really the anti-thesis of Bernie Sanders.

    Did they really think their identity politics was going to fool anyone? We saw upper middle class well off people lecturing less well off Bernie Sanders supporters this election to check their “white privilege”, even though the Sanders supporters were often poor and had their future destroyed by the economic policies that neoliberal politicians like Hillary Clinton advocated for.

    I think it is because they don’t want to appeal to working class people, because if they did, they would have to serve them.

    This election has been a real eye-opener as to who our allies and opponents are in this class struggle. I think that in the coming years we will see a Liberal Left split of sorts. The best possible outcome is a third party or even better the Democrats going the way of the Whigs.

    Maybe Jimmy Dore and Nick Brana have the right ideas:

    But building a third party would have huge barriers too. The US is more like a soft authoritarian nation:

    The question is, how to build such a party? There is clearly the votes. Bernie showed that and the left might even find some common ground with Trump voters. Keep in mind they are paleoconservatives who are anti-war, want manufacturing and good benefits. By contrast the Clintons are pro war and economically have more in common with the GOP Establishment than the Trump “economic despair base”.

    Clearly there may be opportunities.

    1. jerry

      Excellent comment thank you, I agree the opportunity is there.. the question of how to mobilize seems to be the problem. Trump is a total unknown, and who knows what the midterms will bring. The fact the bernie got as many votes as he did as an old, socialist, by no means charismatic jew gives a lot of hope for the future, as well as the demographic that voted for him (mostly young).

      These paradigm shifts are generational and take a lot of time, and for some reason that remains unclear it still seems like Trump is necessary right now. Perhaps some internal political destruction is needed before we can get a clear handle on the path forward.

      1. J Thom

        This Trump voter liked and listened to Sanders early on. But as his profile and possibilities rocketed, he abandoned his anti immigration platform.

        Immigrants from anywhere — yes anywhere – in a zero sum economy don’t benefit the working middle class. It’s not racist, but realistic. Someone had “the talk” with Bernie and his speeches became more and more party line.

        And his voters should have jumped to Trump, but for the hysteria from institutional DC insiders in both parties. Trump is no knuckle dragging Cheney Goper.

        He’s fighting the bad guys on both fronts. With no help from natural allies too afraid to bolt the herd and call out the enemies of the middle class.

        Even the phony baloney “Russians Are Coming” meme should be challenged by voters on the right and left. Putin is a more valuable ally than Merkel. He’s a Russian nationalist. A populist. Globalists like Pelosi, Graham, Obama and McCain use dog whistles on their respective demographics to thwart Trump’s efforts to make Americans first in fevered, corrupt swamps of DC and NY.

        All Americans should be rallying around the first president to shake up the party identity. Bernie had his chance and caved to party insiders. He is no hero.

        I decided to judge Trump by his enemies left and right. Hollywood hates him, not because of his human rights record but because he killed TPP. Without international copyright protections hidden deep in that well, the studios are bankrupt.

        Meryl Streep is a huckster, a fraud, and a tool of the same people we all hate.

    2. Will S.

      I enjoyed your comment thoroughly, thanks for the links.

      I’ve come to really dislike the term “white privilege” for two reasons: 1) Because it makes it easy for deflectors, disingenuously or no, to, well, deflect with “But look at this poor white person. He/she makes a pittance, has creditors breathing down his/her neck, and his/her son/daughter/entire damn family just died of an Oxy OD.” and then the argument becomes about whether or not poor white person X, Y, or Z is “privileged” rather than the actual inequities in the system; and 2) Because it makes it easier for X, Y, or Z to buy in to the notion that they’re under attack in some way by people seeking to address those inequities. The concrete, material benefits of racism by and large go to the 1%; in contrast, the “privileges” enjoyed by the majority of white, nonrich people are negative liberties, i.e. not feeling under threat by any and all law enforcement at all times.

      Racism is a construct of the 1% to keep the masses divided against each other and the poor whites feeling like they weren’t as bad off as they felt (since at least the n*****s are doing worse), but I don’t think it’s as invincible as people give it credit for. Growing up in an affluent Central Californian university town, most of the racists I knew were of the self-styled “meritocratic” kind you see in the Democrat Party*, but there were a few of the kind of poor white with a negative view of black and “Mexican”*** people that makes up the caricature of “racists” in media. These ones typically responded well to arguments against those who hire “Mexicans” when discussing immigration because it’s the loss of jobs that they’re concerned about. Same with my girlfriend’s family, who can most succinctly be described as “Washington trailer trash.” Their reasoning for lack of empathy toward black/brown people is basically, “I’m suffering too much to care about someone far away and different from me.” But when you frame things in their own self interest—that is, the interest of the exploited masses vs. the wealthy exploiters—they’re not opposed to the notion of allying with the black/brown people.

      *Who could probably be convinced that a Nigerian could measure up but otherwise assume that whites, East Asians (not SE**), and North Indians (but not South Indians and DEFINITELY not Pakistanis) are inherently smarter and more industrious than other people—who would protest if accused of racism but whose assumptions were on display in their actions (visible discomfort when someone you might describe as an “urban” black person was in town, patronizing attitude toward “Mexicans”***)

      **My generation was one of the first with a substantial population of SE Asians, primarily Vietnamese and Thai, growing up in the town; I knew some Han Chinese kids whose parents didn’t like the idea of them hanging out with “A Vietnamese.”

      ***Regardless of the nationality of the person in question, many of whom were Honduran, Salvadorian, Nicaraguan, etc.

      1. JTFaraday

        Well, when you’re contesting their identity politics, you’re still doing their identity politics, enrolling ever more categories in their oppression Olympics. The only way to get out of that battle no one ever wins is by changing the subject.

        There was never any need for the Bernie Bros to contest the concerns of woman and black people by telling them that their own deracinated economic discourse was more important than those concerns. That was a dumb move. Any working class black person can and will try to trump that rhetorical move.

        This was at least as dumb as the when the pundit class went all in complaining about the racist voters in PA and OH who weren’t going to vote for Obama in 2008. And I think the Bernie Bros have yet to come to terms with this mistake.

        But it was a mistake and they’re not going to get anywhere until they fix it.

        1. JTFaraday

          Frankly, if any lefter than thou candidate crawls out from under a rock in 2018 or 2020 with a substantially anti-identity politics campaign, they will not get my vote either.

        2. redleg

          Bernie Bros. was a Clinton campaign construct.
          Please feel free to use this term in lieu of an official DNC mea culpa. We understand this is a difficult time. Us Bros., many of us not white, half not male, will be over here on the left waiting for you to finish resisting and start building.

          1. different clue

            Clintonite filth of #TheResistance will never join you in building anything. They can either be submitted to or they can be crushed.

    3. oh

      I like your analysis. Maybe we should also point out (again) how the DNC fixed the primary voting structure to favor Hellary and how they spread malicious lies against Sandrers.

  5. aidawedo

    I am not satisfied with this whole “white innocence” subtext with respect to Trump voters, whatever economic class they fall into. It ignores the discursive nature of racist attitudes and beliefs and how easily they can transmute into a self-justifying politics and a readily deployable culture of resentment against poor non whites, Muslims, Mexicans, the undeserving, etc.

    Besides, shouldn’t one ask these voters why Trump’s racist dogwhistle pronouncements and explicitly sexist actions caused little or no offense to them? Did I miss that somewhere?

    So what should does call these ways of thinking if not racist and/or sexist?

    1. jinbaltimore

      So what does one call these ways of thinking if not racist and/or sexist?

      “Economically anxious.”
      Even when said ways of thinking come from the richer Trump voters because…not sure on the because there, but that’s the preferred terminology just the same.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m sorry you’re not satisfied I didn’t write another post, rather like the reviewer who gave a book a thumbs down because they wished the book to be about ostriches, when in fact it was about penguins.

      Perhaps you can find what you seek elsewhere on the internet. Before you go, see note [1], sentence 2 in the intro, and the final sentence of the conclusion. Where you get a subtext of white innocence from that — if indeed you’re talking about this post, since your reference isn’t clear — is hard for me to see. If I were having a bad day, I’d go so far as to say you constructed a straw person.

      1. aidawedo

        Perhaps you can find what you seek elsewhere on the internet.

        Well, no. This is a somewhat weak response, akin to “go google it”. I came to this blog for intelligent and impersonal commentary on your article, and, unconvinced by its premise, I asked some questions.

        And judging from all of the defensive and reactionary responses from the commenting sycophants, I seem to have struck a nerve.

        Perhaps using race and or gender as a theoretical lens to critique sociological notions like “economic anxiety” is not your thing. Or perhaps the idea of “white innocence” is an intolerable concept for you and your readers.

        Unfortunately I cannot take credit for the phrase, as it first arises in critical legal studies scholarship. Go google it.

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          I don’t know – speaking purely for myself, my reaction to your original comment wasn’t “OMG, how dare you say such shocking things?”

          On your argument that the responses prove that you “hit a nerve,” that’s one way to look at it. If you had posted on the genetic inferiority of certain races of people, you would also have received a large number of responses, some rather annoyed. You could then characterize the responders as “defensive and reactionary;” would that prove you were right?

          There are in fact barely any arguments in your “rebuttal” – neither ones that address the arguments made in the original post, nor ones responding to the substantive counterarguments made in comments. Besides the “hit a nerve” remarks, you simply (a) accuse commenters of being opposed to thinking about race and gender and (b) flaunt the academic background of the phrase “white innocence.”

          Ignoring (b), argument (a) sounds like: “If you don’t ritually condemn the people I want to condemn, then be careful, because that might indicate that you deserve to be condemned in their stead.”

          1. witters

            The tell is when instead of “racist attitudes and beliefs,” you find “the discursive nature of racist attitudes and beliefs”.

          2. Cujo359

            This reminds me of the arguments Zionists use to deflect criticism about Israel’s actions towards its neighbors – as in “That’s just the sort of thing people who hate Jews would say. Why do you hate Jews? Oh, wait, you’re Jewish? Well, obviously, then, you’re a self-hating Jew”.

            The answer always is that the other side is all about the hate, even if they clearly don’t hate the people they’re accused of hating, because what they’re saying is “discursive”, and, you know, sooner or later it will be hate, because people just can’t help themselves…

            1. Ian

              I actually got called a self hating Jew when I identified myself of Jewish descent and backed MintPress News in an argument that she was having with a Pro Isreal person. It utterly killed and undermined his position me doing that and he just turned on and attacked me.

              1. Cujo359

                I’m neither Muslim nor Jewish (self-hating or otherwise), but back in the ’60s and early ’70s I was generally supportive of Israel. The idea that only Jews could criticize Israel without being accused of hating Jews bugged me, and then the meme of the “self-hating Jew” really made it obvious what the game was. Just another ad hom argument, dressed up in the respectable clothing of religious tolerance.

                And this idea that Trump voters need to justify their votes, while HRC voters (or Stein or Johnson voters?) don’t, is pretty much the same. Don’t mind those people, they’re just hateful bigots until proven otherwise. Nothing to see here, move along.

    3. sgt_doom

      Racism, racism, racism, sexism, sexism, sexism, transgenderism, transgenderism, transgenderism — this commenter is the perfect example of the purely ignorant American today (assuming she/he/it is an American) — everything robotically repeating the Identity Political meme, no thinking or independent thought allowed.

      Nope, you just don’t want to ever address the plight of the American worker, now do ya????

      Of course not . . . .

      1. Eureka Springs

        Admittedly, Not a Trump fan, I don’t have television or listen to radio in the car. But every time I heard cries of racism and I could find/read actual transcripts rather than just believe ‘reports’ I was not alarmed, at least no more and probably less than Demo/Clinton policy for decades running. But then, just being against more immigration with 320 million people already here doesn’t make one automatically a racist.

        Trump’s going to have to work real hard to out deport Obama who has by far the record in that department.

        1. animalogic

          Many people are simply sick & tired of the smug self righteousness of “Identity” politicians.
          Sick of their belief that the mere suggestion that one is sexist/racist will cause a knee jerk retreat from any debate.
          The Identity crowd has been playing this nasty little game for decades now & it has WORN THIN….

    4. PhilM

      One does not “call these ways of thinking” anything, especially not words that are so overused as to have lost all meaning except as a kind of profane slur. Rather, one characterizes ways of thinking in all their complexity and examines their origins and likely political outcomes and affiliations, as Lambert has done. One describes them and tries to see if they are justified in the context of the lives as lived by their thinkers; how they are adaptive, and how they are maladaptive—not judging ex cathedra, based on utterly inadequate information, not to mention an almost complete moral imbecility, whether they are “orthodox” or “heretical” according to the schema of rainbow righteousness, and then categorizing them with what has now deteriorated into a grade-school epithet, rather than the damned ideology it once connoted.

      1. jrs

        Yea I think many of them may not be justified though, but may be based on the world view of the voters. In other words it may be what they believe is true even it isn’t.

        For example they might think they are all losing their job to immigrants and in a few cases this might be true, but I don’t think statistics bear this out as a major source of job loss compared to say outsourcing. So if they think the reason the job market is so bad is because of immigrants that’s not necessarily racist per se but it may be inaccurate.

    5. Dave

      “So what should does call these ways of thinking if not racist and/or sexist?”

      You should call them: “Nobody cares about racism and sexism, because banksters, insurance companies, defense companies and other crony capitalists use tools like you to distract from their robbing the public blind.”

      You are part of the problem, so I don’t care about you. FU.

      1. JTFaraday

        Well, in any case, neither Trump nor Steve Bannon thought those concerns were important enough to base an entire campaign upon them because they most certainly did not do so.

        So who is more right? Them or you?

        Let’s not go rewriting history because you don’t like what you see.

    6. TK421

      Whom should they have voted for to strike against bigotry? Hillary “bring black criminals to heel”/against gay marriage until 2013/”the future is female” Clinton?

    7. Dhyerwolf

      “Besides, shouldn’t one ask these voters why Trump’s racist dogwhistle pronouncements and explicitly sexist actions caused little or no offense to them? Did I miss that somewhere?”

      Why did Hillary voters ignore her explicitly racist, corporatist, corrupt, war-mongering ways? Why did all the blood on her hands (from Libya, Honduras, Iraq…etc) cause little or no offense to them?

      1. MoiAussie

        Perhaps because she was what many of them aspired to be: a member of the 1%, a shining success, a winner whose failures, lies, betrayals and foul deeds were easy to ignore if you had swallowed the vile, anti-human propaganda of neoliberalism.

    8. hemeantwell

      I am not satisfied with this whole “white innocence” subtext

      The subtext is there for you to impute. It seems like the only way you can be convinced that it is not there is for the interviewees to be explicitly condemned as racist because they voted for a racist. You and others who hold your stance overlook the fact that there were only two candidates, not several, including Trump’s non-racist twin, to vote for, and so you have to deal with truly awful tradeoffs. Should I assume you are an imperialist because you voted for someone who helped install a military regime in Honduras??

    9. different clue

      Would you consider yourself a “social justice warrior”? Your comment certainly reads as if a “social justice warrior” could have written it.

      Are you a Race Card Identyan? The Race Card has been played so often it is wearing out. In fact, it has worn all the way out for many people. The intended targets of this guilt-inducement gambit may no longer feel the guilt you seek to induce. And where there is no more guilt, there will be no more obedience. And where does that leave you?

      You sound like a typical Clinton-Brock Democrat. Today’s Mainstream Democratic Party would be a good fit for you. If you aren’t already in it, you might consider joining it.

      1. jinbaltimore

        Would you consider yourself a “mens rights advocate?” Your comment certainly reads as if an MRA could have written it.

        1. Marina Bart

          That’s silly. Have you never read an MRA argument? It’s nothing like what different clue wrote.

          In fact, the only reason I can think of for you saying that is that you don’t understand anything about the left, and are so poorly informed you have bought all the ludicrous propaganda pumped out by the Democratic Party and its media outlets.

          If you have a less embarrassing reason, I’d love to hear it.

          1. jinbaltimore

            Yes. yes, I have, which is why I commented as I did. Thanks for your feedback, though, misguided as it was. Have a nice day.

            1. Outis Philalithopoulos

              jinbaltimore, if you make claims and other people ask for evidence, then either defend your claims or drop the argument. This is particularly true when making claims about the mindset of other commenters.

              If you continue to respond along these lines, you will jeopardize your commenting privileges.

              1. jinbaltimore

                Sorry, I thought it was obvious to the entire world by now that the term Social Justice Warrior and an accusation of playing The Race Card (uppercased even) come directly from the MRA handbook.

                Also, I notice you make no such request for evidence to different clue or to Marina Bart, to whom I responded, and whose comments consisted solely of ad hominem attacks.

                Interesting how that works.

                1. Outis Philalithopoulos

                  The term “social justice warrior” is used by a great variety of people. The entire right uses it. There are plenty of liberals and left-oriented people who use it. Some people self-describe as social justice warriors. Class-oriented leftist Will Shetterly wrote a whole book on why he considers himself a “social justice worker” and not a “social justice warrior.”

                  Similarly, “playing the race card” is not a particularly unusual phrase.

                  Finding the above links took approximately 5 minutes.

                  When you claim that using either of these phrases is a clear indicator that a person is an MRA, you are about as wrong as it is possible for a person to be.

                  When you then complain about mistreatment on the grounds that your (specious) assertion should have been “obvious to the entire world” – I’m really at a loss as to how to respond.

                    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

                      You did not respond to my arguments and your link proves nothing.

                      I showed that many other people, not just MRAs, use the term. You now come back with a link showing that not only do many other people refer to SJWs, MRAs do, too. Your point is what, exactly?

                      If the logic you seem to be driving at here is valid, then arguments like the following are also valid:

                      “Communists are generally opposed to US military interventions. You also seem skeptical of most US military interventions. Hmmm, interesting, isn’t it? Are you, or have you ever been, a communist? Because what you’re saying certainly sounds like the sort of thing that a communist would say.”

                    2. jinbaltimore

                      Both links to SJW’s you provided show folks reclaiming the phrase, just as LGBTQ’s reclaimed queer long ago. If you think either of the commenters I responded to meant it in that sense, I don’t know what to tell you.

                      As for playing the Race Card, I guess I should have specified the racist intent in that is not solely owned by MRA’s but racists generally. Am unfamiliar, however, with forward thinkers (do people still trust “progressive” these days?) using it.

                    3. Outis Philalithopoulos

                      False on “both links,” one link could maybe be seen as “reclaiming the phrase,” but the Shetterly book is a criticism of the phrase and the behavior it represents, from someone who identifies wholeheartedly with what he sees as the goal of “social justice.”

                      The term SJW was originally not meant critically; it only started to be used with frequent negative connotations in 2011.

                      Your stance seems to be that another commenter used “SJW” with negative overtones, and therefore you were justified in flinging any negative word back; “MRA” happened to be the first thing that came to mind.

        2. different clue

          Dear @jinbaltimore,

          Would you consider yourself a Clinton operative? Your comment certainly reads as if a flying Brock-monkey Clinton operative could have written it.

    10. flora

      Politics has been fractal for the past 30-35 years. Same old input-output on an ever expanding iterative footprint. It’s old. It’s tired. It’d not serving most voters. It’s economically hurting most voters. Bernie and Trump showed promise of breaking the fractal iteration and replacing it with something new. Maybe better. That’s what people voted for, imo.

    11. a different chris

      Oh no no no no.. you do not get away with crap like “shouldn’t one ask these voters why Trump’s racist dogwhistle pronouncements and explicitly sexist actions caused little or no offense to them”.

      Show me one that said Trump’s stuff wasn’t offensive. And your phrasing is either deliberately or just stupidly messed up. “[C]aused little or no offense to them”. I’m a white male, saying bad things about black females will get me near about ready throttle you but it “caused little or no offense to” me because that would be insanely presumptuous on my part. I have a heartache about how people are put upon due to race and or sex but that oppression sure isn’t something I can claim as mine.

      >ignores the discursive nature of racist attitudes and beliefs and how easily they can transmute into a self-justifying politics

      Do these people have money? No. Do their kids have job prospects? No. I think that is enough to legitimatize what they are saying, I don’t care if their very next breath is “them n-words get all the stuff”. They are far from perfect, but it is just *so* funny how the most, tell you to your face racist will then say “oh but Jim down at work is OK”. They are just people, plenty of warts. Get off your high horse, bet you have a number of warts of your own.

      >So what should does call these ways of thinking

      Nice to give us your ideal question, not biting.

    12. joe defiant

      a similar argument could be made for those who voted democrat ignoring their racist actions all around the world murdering, dropping bombs, and economically exploiting black and brown people.

  6. casino implosion

    This Bernie Bro voted for Trump out of sheer hatred for the “Listen Liberal” crowd of sanctimonious meritocrats and desire to see their playhouse pulled down. Not real nuanced, but glad I did it.

    1. Code Name D

      Odd that you would attack the “Listen Liberal crowd,” given that Thomus Frank was mostly critical of the Democrats. I am not attacking, just want to learn more about your perspective.

      1. Vatch

        I’m just guessing, but I think that casino implosion is referring to his distaste for the people that Frank discusses in that book, not his distaste for people like Frank.

      2. different clue

        @Code Name D,

        I don’t know who/what casino implosion meant to address herm’s comment to, but I will just guess that by “Listen Liberal” crowd, heeshee meant the crowd about/against/to whom “Listen Liberal” was written.

  7. Code Name D

    Turns out Trump Voters are Human
    Here, looking into the myths behind “Trump voters” might be constructive. The biggest myth is that they are tust political troles. In the course of deconverting from Catholism to Atheism, abserveed that many of our political beleifes are formed under the same structures as one’s religous beleifes. Thoughts about the “free market” are heald just as strongly as stronly as devotion to Jesus.

    Even those who deconvert from their religion, often bring their political belifes with them into the Athiest community. Often without having them challanged.

    And this is the point. One deconverts from a religion because it is challanged by science. But political beleifes are rarly chalanged.

    One exception was in 2007, when the economey colapsed. Many peoples convictions in the “free market” were directly challanged by reality. And on the political stage they saw McCain talking about freee markets as if nothing had happend. Conservatives were confused and looking for answers. They thoght Obama had them.

    But Obama also dubbled down on the free market narative. This was a huge mistake because part of that narative is that all Liberals are socialists. And socialism is evil. So yay, Trump is Obama’s legacy.

    Trump voters are human. This means they are far smarter than people give them credit, even without a GED. They vote acording to the information and evidence they hae been presented with. But we live in a world where that narative has been carfuly mananged and tended too. Democrats, rather than chalanging that system, felt they could simply build their own and construct their own naraive. Hence we get “Russia Russia Russia!” And this is not convicing to conservative votes who already know the one “true” narrative,

  8. Teleportnow

    I live in Macomb County. My precinct, my neighbors, voted for Trump. They hate NAFTA. They hate free trade with China. They hate H1B visas. These are people to whom $100,000 plus a year union factory job was nothing. We all knew people who had them. Those jobs built this county. Period. So Clinton never stood a chance here.

    They were willing to give Trump a chance. And what’s one of the very first things he did? Appointed a fast food CEO to head up the labor department. A real indicator that the plight of the working class in America keeps him up at night.

    1. hunkerdown

      The other option available to us was the fast coffee CEO as Labor Secretary. McJobs were more or less baked into the Establishment lineup on “both” sides. It’s almost as if the real decisions were made long before the election and concealed from us, and elections are held to manufacture the image of just consent to the proto-feudal system.

    2. wilroncanada

      To Teleportnow:
      And from this distance, even I could see that nothing, other than PR, was going to be done about any of them by either R or D candidate. There I go again, flogging the same dead horse.

  9. Vatch

    And what’s one of the very first things he did? Appointed a fast food CEO to head up the labor department. A real indicator that the plight of the working class in America keeps him up at night.

    We’re fortunate that Puzder’s nomination was withdrawn. It’s a pity that the same didn’t happen to Pruitt’s nomination (Trump supporters are just as vulnerable to pesticides, lead, mercury, and other poisons as other people), or Mnuchin’s nomination (many Trump supporters have been abused by corrupt bankers or mortgage processors like Mnuchin and his recently divested OneWest Bank).

    You are absolutely correct about Trump’s lack of concern for the plight of the American working class. Not that Obama or Clinton care much about them, either.

    1. jsn

      Obama’s betrayals of his core voters were disguised in the smoke of financial collapse where systemic effects were years in expressing themselves, brutal though they proved to be. They were as smooth and subtle as the man who envisioned them.

      Trump’s betrayals are, like him, blunt, flagrant and outrageous.

      That the Democrats have achieved even lower approval ratings(CBS) than the Donald (Gallup) is the strongest legitimizing force in his thus far execrable presidency.

    2. jrs

      Unlke Reagan he might actually be a good actor :). Or he can give a speech like he feels working class pain and hit all the right notes, but policy so far is horrible.

    3. dontknowitall

      “And what’s one of the very first things he did? Appointed a fast food CEO to head up the labor department. A real indicator that the plight of the working class in America keeps him up at night.”

      Trump’s appointments have been unfortunate, but remember every establishment bigwig had been lining up to announce she would never serve in this administration, all of them too good and pure for Trump. So what is he supposed to do if he couldn’t even convince a couple of second rate rock and roll bands to gyrate at his inauguration. Of course he appointed friends and friends-of-friends and relatives. The establishment brought this on themselves. I couldn’t care less as long as he keeps torpedoing the dearest plans of the slave owners. And by the way the first thing he did was he castrated TPP and that cannot be said enough times.

      In other good news, Today the SIlicon Valley H1B exploiters got raided by ICE and about time. You know what? Maybe the plight of his base really does keep him up at night…

      1. Vatch

        Today the SIlicon Valley H1B exploiters got raided by ICE and about time.

        Could you please provide a link? Or are you being metaphorical about an announcement that the government will enforce some of the rules for a change?

        I couldn’t care less as long as he keeps torpedoing the dearest plans of the slave owners.

        He and Mnuchin have announced plans to lower taxes on the very rich. I don’t think that will offend the slave owners at all.

    4. different clue

      This is part of the collateral damage I knew I was risking when I voted for Trump in order to make my vote against Clinton as effective as possible. And we have kept Clinton out of the office for at least this time around.

      If/when we are able to crush, smash and destroy the rolling Slow Coup against the 2016 Presidential Election Outcome by the IC, the Wall Street Elite, and the Mainstream Democratic Party . . . . then we will be free to try preventing Trump’s damage, mitigating the Trump damage already achieved, and begin growing culture-and-politics-based Economic Combat movements devoted to targeting the purchasing and consumption choices of a hundred million people against certain Black Hat Industries which support Trump to advance their own sinister agendas.

      We could start doing that now, if we didn’t have to spend energy on countering the Remove Trump conspiracy first.

  10. Politician

    1. The Dem Party is in a tough position. Where do they go from here?

    On the one hand, it’ll be tough to wean from the big givers on Wall St and Silicon valley. Cultivating the small givers and unions will take a lot of time and work.

    Also the Dems seem to have little use for Bernie. They seem to wish that he would just go just go away and leave the Party alone. Bernie, however, could be the Dem’s savior.

    I don’t see the Dem Party choosing a feasible direction. Maybe it will take a few more years for the Party to sort it out and find a point man.

    2. I’m not surprised there is racism, misogyny, and chauvinism among many voters, including Trumpeters. I suspect that in times of economic “stress” pointing fingers feels natural, even desirable. Judging from the press, there’s a lot of economic “stress” around.

    So better economics might reduce these hatreds.

    1. different clue

      The Bernies could begin by invading and conquering those regional and local Democratic Party areas which seem least pro-Clinton. Those could be First Landing Beachheads. Once those were secured, the Berniecrats could work on building strength within them, eliminating every Clintonite ” Left-Behind” type person remaining to try destroying the Berniecrats from within, and then working to break out of their Secured Beachheads to conquer and decontaminate more Democratic Party territory.

    2. Vatch

      Bernie, however, could be the Dem’s savior.

      Very true! Let’s hope the establishment Dems don’t crucify him.

      1. different clue

        Let’s hope the Bitter Berners can exterminate the Democratic Party from existence and wipe the Democratic Party off the face of the earth . . . . if the Democratic Party even tries it.

  11. sharonsj

    I’m a life-long Democrat and I despise my party. But I’m not stupid. That Trump was a con man was evident from the beginning but, like most voters, both candidates made me want to vomit. (James Howard Kunstler called them “human hairballs.” )

    Unfortunately, all those Trump voters who are worried about jobs, the economy, health care, etc., will soon discover that Trump doesn’t give a fuck about them. He likes their adulation, since it feeds his ego, but he and every one of his execrable appointments will just make their lives worse.

    1. different clue

      The problem is that Clinton would have made their lives more worserer, and they knew it. So they perhaps hoped for better.

      1. animalogic

        Yes, you can’t blame people who cast their vote in “hope” of … something better.
        In the case of Trump, their inevitable disappointment will be that much sadder & acute.

        1. different clue

          We can thank the DLC Clintocrats for leaving people no other means to even hope for escape than . . . Trump.

  12. Ellie

    I want to know the extent to which the Faux Noise network is responsible for shaping the views of Trump voters. It is by far the favored mainstream TV station for news in red-state America. A steady diet of a certain skewed viewpoint for years upon years has to have a significant effect on one’s thought processes. I can’t believe that millions of people spontaneously rose up and decided to throw off the shackles of business as usual without some major groundwork being done to get them all riled up. Years of being told that Hillary was corrupt, the devil incarnate etc etc by right-wing talking heads has to be a factor.

    1. Yves Smith

      Sorry, this does not work as an argument.

      Obama was demonized by Fox News too, yet the reason for the Trump win was that the Trump vote (in numbers) was essentially the same as the Romney vote, but the Dem vote was down v. 2012, and that was due to lower turnout, notably of people of color.

      Lambert has also repeatedly pointed out that the swing state wins were due to Rust Belt counties that went for Obama going for Trump. And it has been documented repeatedly that propensity to vote for Trump correlated strongly with opioid related deaths in the area, regardless of the voter’s income level.

    2. TK421

      Look up when FoxNews first went on the air, then look at the political history of the several years prior to that. You might find it informative.

      1. Ellie

        You might provide a bit of enlightenment regarding your actual point without requiring someone else to do all the work.

  13. Pookah Harvey

    Economic insecurity is the driving factor. The more insecure people become the more tribal their behavior. People want economic change more than anything else and if they see that the government is doing something to provide them a better life then other social changes are possible..

    A paralyzed Congress is great for the elite as the status quo is beneficial to them as they have successfully rigged the system. People want to see legislative action.

    Ryan stated ” “Moving from an opposition party to a governing party comes with some growing pains,” The problem is that Republicans were never an opposition party, they were an obstructionist party that only knew how to say “NO”.

    The establishment Democrats are setting themselves up to become the exact same obstructionists.. This will not help them in 2018. Now is the time to try to force votes on measures that are obviously what the people want.even if they are sure to fail. Let the Republicans stay the obstructionists.

    People don’t want resistance they want help.

  14. Ed Miller

    I am a bit disappointed to not see a reference to Jeremy Grantham’s quarterly letter at GMO regarding the narrarives that motivated people to vote for Trump. I have posted about this several times before. His letter runs on pages 9-15 of this link:

    The Road to Trumpsville: The Long, Long Mistreatment of the American Working Class

    JG presents a lot of compelling information regarding the decline of labor vs. capital in compensation, the exploding income of the top 0.1% vs. everyone else, income inequality and the breakdown of social cohesion – both in words and charts. His Post Script summary is classic in my humble opinion, especially this line about what the voters across Red state are desperately seeking from Washington:

    “Save me, oh leaders, from the rich and powerful!” Personally I would edit that to “the rich and powerfully corrupt”.

  15. james wordsworth

    Of course there are issues, and of course Hillary was a horrible candidate, but voting for trump was an insane way to make a point. He will clearly do more to damage the lower and middle classes than any president in the last 100 years. He will be able to fix NOTHING. More war (jobs?). More tax breaks for the rich. Less money for anyone without money. A simple tried and true capitalist asshole approach. He will not survive term 1, and then pence comes in … lovely, not.

    1. Marina Bart

      Please. He stopped Clinton, which at least slowed down TPP and the Russian War. Trump doesn’t even seem interested in killing Social Security. He yanked Ryan’s health care “plan”; Hillary said she was looking forward to working with Ryan. Trump’s going to do horrible things, but so far, his election is far better for American workers than if Clinton had been installed. If nothing else, it slows down Washington’s neoliberal horror show, and the pain of people in the midwest was at least briefly covered in the corporate press, as opposed to being completely hidden under Obama, which would have continued under Clinton. Voting for Trump was saner than voting for Clinton. (I voted for neither. I also live in California.)

      The only way we get Pence is if the Democrats and the CIA succeed in their coup. So let’s all try to get them to cut it out.

      1. IDontKnow


        IMBW, but it seems Trump was smart enough to let Ryan fall on his face first, so that he removed that maybe/might have been from the table. Now he just has to let Obamacare continue to fall apart til enough of the body politic is ready to get behind his replacement.

        Trump actually has something to gain from a working single payer plan, as he could off-load all of his healthcare expenses onto it. Running the show, he can insure little of the tax burden falls on his organization.

    2. redleg

      I view Trump as chemotherapy. The disease (Clinton neoliberalism) is fatal. The chemo might be fatal too, is certainly quite painful, but it might cure the disease.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Do consider reading the post. The volatility voters section answers the point (the “clearly” covers the question-begging, because no, it isn’t.)

      It never ceases to amaze me that liberals categorize people who don’t vote for their preferred candidates as “stupid” or, in your case, “insane.” It’s Clinton’s “irredeemables” all over again.

      The ideological outcome can only be an assault on universal benefits, since giving “my tax dollars” (wrong, but liberals buy into it) is not only politically useless (as the Bluesecessionists agree) but morally wrong (usual liberal emphasis on means-testing and gatekeeping to make sure that only the deserving receive benefits).

  16. witters

    James’ Progessivist humanism: “You voted Trump? You are insane!” (& why doesn’t IdPol stretch to the insane?)

  17. VietnamVet

    This post is absolutely correct and important. The financialization of the economy which has led to inequality, skyrocketing debt, and early death in Mid-America must be addressed. Corporate Media and the Democrats ignore it and are scapegoating Russia to continue getting their paybacks from Wall Street. This post highlights the coming tragedy. Clearly Disruptive Capitalism destroys governments and society. Under stress people revert to their tribal roots. By ignoring the base causes; war, infinite growth on a finite planet and exploitation by the Elite, the West is being ripped apart.

    1. Musicismath

      It’s not just the West. The Global South, largely unseen and unreported on and very much at the sharp end of extractive neo-colonialism, isn’t in great shape either. Voters in Western Europe express “legitimate concerns” about economic and climate migrants from Africa and the ME, but often don’t stop to think about the dire conditions and political strife that are driving that migration flow.

      Thousands of people are drowning every year in the Mediterranean and that’s the visible tip of the iceberg. It’s just unimaginable what’s currently happening.

  18. Genghis

    So, Dems ran a terrible status quo candidate that had been a long time target of Faux News in a “change” election. Most Trump voters in rural Kentucky told me they were voting against H rather than for T. Oh, and abortion, guns, bathrooms.

    Dems have ignored rural communities they didn’t already hold for several election cycles. No prominent national Democratic politician has ventured outside of the cities of Louisville and Lexington if they visit Kentucky at all. Spend a little time in rural communities and you begin to see how bleak the picture is for them – I asked everyone I could what they would do if they were King of Kentucky with an unlimited budget. There were very few soloutions offered.

    (IMO Kentucky is Ground Zero. A border state since the Civil War that used to be Democratic – what better place for Dems to start to rebuild and appeal to Rural America?)

    Dems also could have chosen to include and even woo independent voters. Instead, they took a “who else are you gonna vote for” attitude and pivoted right. Yes, Vice President Sanders would have been a pita but that would have been a significantly better result.

    Still no house cleaning in the Democratic Party, Clintons and Wassermans and Brazilles still circling. Grrr.

    Pardon the rant.

  19. b1daly

    oof, sorry about the wonky link formatting. I tried to use the “link” button in the editor, and got this weird result. I tried to edit twice, now can’t edit.

  20. IdontKnow

    IMBW, but have an edit suggestion

    A third — and the most important — concrete material benefit is Democracy Corps:

    The object after “is” probably isn’t suppose to be the polling source. It probably should read something like

    A third — and the most important — concrete material benefit is replace corrupt tax farming / private medical insurance (with equitable tax based medicare?)Democracy Corps:

    Tax Farming

  21. Colin Spenncer

    So what is going to happen when Trump voters realize at the end of four years that their choice has not delivered for them? Unfortunately they will not be able to realize that he never intended to deliver anything for them. However, the same problems or worse will remain. Lets project the current situation out into the future with the understanding that there is no credible agent or desire for real meaningful change and improvement from those presently in power. What I see does not look good, and perhaps I will have the good fortune not to be around to see it.

    1. jrs

      likely not much on the delivery, likely things continue to get worse for the white working class, for the working class. And it becomes harder after having voted for someone to admit that they suck (cognitive dissonance). Of course maybe a bit easier if one believes that both choices suck, so there never was a good choice. And so there are ways he can fail to deliver and probably still get reelected.

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