Thursday, October 27, 2016

Why Don't The Whites Vote For Democrats Any More?

Much has been written about this phenomenon over the years but a lot is being written about it now in an attempt to explain the rise of Donald Trump. Most takes on it have white working class voters abandoning the Democrats because they are racist, and/or stupid, i.e. too dumb to know what their economic interests are. Because they feel threatened by the rising numbers of other groups in the country.

It's not all whites. Dems get a lot of votes from among the "professional" classes, and along with the votes they get from women, African Americans and Latinos, and anyone who identifies with identity politics, they can (sometimes) cobble together a majority in a presidential election (but not in most congressional, senate, governorship and state house elections.) It's those older, non college educated white males who abandoned the Democrats for Ronald Reagan and the Bushes and are showing up at Donald Trump's rallies. Those are supposedly the uneducated racists who vote Republican.

Connor Kilpatrick, managing editor at Jacobin magazine, has another take on it. To get at this question, though, first you have to ask the question; When America is richer than ever, why are Democrats telling working class voters they have to settle for less? Why are incomes stagnant? Why has college gotten so expensive? Why are health care and other benefits going away? Why are all the income gains and productivity gains going to the 1 percent? Why have the all wealth gains during the current recovery gone to the 1 percent?

White males used to get a share of that, but no more. In that sense it may have something to do with their race, but that's not racism. Those same white working class males voted for Jimmy Carter and a lot of them voted for Barak Obama, especially the first time.

And why is it that most people don't even vote at all?

Democrats say, just wait. They think they have the demographic wind at their back. Just wait til Latinos become the majority.

But why, I'd ask, wouldn't Latinos eventually abandon the Democrats, too, for the same reasons white voters are abandoning them now?

Kilpatrick's article on this is the most interesting I've read in a long time. It has serious implications not only for understanding the problem but for how to unite the working class, which is sorely divided now in oh so many ways. I recommend it. Again, it's here. Jacobin has become an interesting magazine under his management. Keep tabs on it.


  1. The NYT had an interesting analyses on this subject today. Why the two parties are completing a reversal of supporters.

  2. You state that "White males used to get a share of that, but no more"

    White males used to get the great majority, really if you used percentages they used to get almost all. The shift, any shift, that has occurred in others sharing "that" was bound to cause trouble. Folks who were used to getting almost all now saw others sharing the wealth. The wealth is finite, regardless of the hoopla, thus sharing did cause a reduction for the majority that was used to getting it all.

    This shift started after WWII and gathered steam after Korea and Vietnam. The men coming back were not content to be shedding blood and coming hope and being denied jobs, union memberships, club memberships, access to schools especially colleges and universities, access to medical care, etc., etc.

    It was bound to cause problems, having to share the country's wealth was not something that was going to happen, without those who were used to having almost all, not feeling the pinch.

    The reaction was predicted, known of and understood. It was also anticipated.

    1. Good points, NM. I don't disagree with any of that but I didn't make my point well enough, which is that no one in the working class has gotten a share of all this increased wealth that's been created of late and that has the markets at record highs. Like you say, the white working class used to get a bigger share of it, but even they are being denied that share now. All of the wealth and income gains are now going to the 1 percent.

      It's a hard case to make, what with the media and the general culture being so immersed in racial politics, but there's a case to be made that economics trumps everything (no pun intended.) Yes, working class whites gladly took the bigger share for a long time and didn't care much about the discrimination and looked the other way, but it's not so much racism as it is economic insecurity that makes people act like this.

      Look at it this way. In situations where the power and economic relations are reversed, the people who are minorities here in the US, when they are on top, act the same way. Look at the ethnic cleansing in Spain of Jews, or at the way Indians are treated in Mexico and the way light skinned Mexicans discriminate against dark skinned. Look at how, in Rwanda, one group of Blacks slaughtered another group of Blacks. At the base of all of this is economics. Economic insecurity does make us act in vile ways. Just look at the lumpen proletariat in Albuquerque. There's some low down people, of all ethnic groups, roaming the streets and downtrodden neighborhoods here.

      When we are at the edge of survival or even when we feel that tinge of insecurity it can make us band together according to our own tribes and groups. You can call it racism, and it is racism, but at its heart I'd argue is simply a human trait for survival, which, if we are really equal, we all have equally.

      In our current era, countries with majority white populations happened to have the industrial revolution, i.e. Capitalism, reach them first and so they go rich first and the technological advantages, which translated to warfare advantages also, allowed them to colonize a lot of the world, so they are still on top in a lot of places right now, and there was a lot of racism that came with that, but at its heart colonization was economic project. In times past, Ghengis Kahn wiped out a lot of Europe, the Moors wiped out a lot of Europe, and so forth. If they were still on top today they'd be acting the same way whites do and pass out the goodies and befits to their own group first. For the rich it's a protection racket and they keep their loyalty that way and are protected, too, economically and in terms of survival.

      You of course don't see this analysis in the mainstream media, which Capitalists own. The owners are quite content to push racial politics, and the umbrella of identity politics, which divides us into ever smaller and smaller groups and puts class solidarity, economic class, further away. They've got us running around like mice pointing fingers at each other while they hang out together, irrespective of race or ethnicity or gender or anything, on their private islands.