Or, why it’s time for white men to start sending out some thank you cards
Non-white non-males got it right away.
Donald Trump is dangerous. At first, he’s dangerous the way every boss who leans in too close and stares way too long is dangerous. Then when you’re alone with him, he only gets worse.
There’s a bittersweet gift to lacking institutional power. It makes you understand that a powerful man who chooses to scapegoat the least powerful people he can find will turn on you next. His being a birther, who got famous calling for the execution of innocent black teenagers and parading scantily clad teenage girls around sniffling old men, just clarified things.
Black people were never going to vote for Trump. Latinos never bought the “And some, I assume, are good people” cop out that was supposed to excuse him smearing millions of their friends and family as “criminals” and “rapists.” And women would likely have rejected by historic margins, even if his opponent weren’t making history for their gender.
But white men can be stubborn. I know. I have to look one in the mirror every day and try to convince him to shave.
Perhaps being a non-practicing Jew put Martin Niemöller’s poem into my head a little quicker, especially when antisemitism became as common online as all the other old hatreds. My college degree helped. Statistically, it made me far less likely to back Trump. But white men have proven very reluctant to step off that unfortunate metaphor of a Trump Train.
That may be changing, Bloomberg Politics finds in its latest national poll:
Support for Trump among critical groups of voters, including men and the less educated, has weakened in the campaign’s closing days, a trajectory that could translate into a landslide loss for Republicans in the Electoral College and setbacks in down-ballot races that will determine control of the House and Senate.
What could it be?
Was it Trump’s admission he didn’t pay taxes? The leak of a tape where he all but admitted he believes he should have first rights with every bride in America? A series of accusations of sexual assault, at least one corroborated by six people?
Yeah, it’s all of that.
The fiction that Trump is on your side, that he may be greedy and corrupt but now he wants to be greedy and corrupt for you, is collapsing. This is all about him. He’s been telling us that for a while. “I alone” and bullshit like that.
And his fixation on his own plight — his own conspiracies of being so important that the world is rigged against him despite enjoying ever privilege life can possibly offer — does little to reassure anyone that he’s thinking about anything but his own ego.
And his increasingly embarrassing attempts to humiliate Hillary Clinton may please AM radio hosts and Breitbart’s commenter Hall of Fame, but they also reveal a cruelty that even white men increasingly see could be focused, eventually, on them.
There are many, tens of millions, who will ride that train till it goes off a cliff and Trump tries to tell them not to look down. They hate Clinton or Democrats enough to endure anything. And they obviously see something in Trump I never will. But that number will now, barring some shock, be less — at least in percentage — than any presidential candidate has received in at least 20 years, which is a very good thing.
So we’re left trying to understand why white males were so ready to be taken for this ride.
There has already been a great deal of effort made to try to understand mostly white, mostly male Trump voters, mostly to discern how much of their grievances are fed by race and culture and what share of it might be legitimate angst at the left.
I, myself, have empathized with the plight of those caught in the “Trump Trap” of being faced with an economy — due to globalization, the collapse of labor unions and other conservative victories — that will likely leave their kids stuck at a lower rung of the economic ladder than they reached. Mostly it’s a good faith exercise in questioning biases, combined with a convenient way to cast shade on whoever you blame for the attrition of the middle class.
But in addition to excusing Trump voters for being so vulnerable to a message that so-often fixated on scapegoating the powerless, we should spend a lot more time figuring out how non-white non-males got so damn perceptive.
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