In her concession speech the morning after Donald Trump was declared the stunning victor of the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton urged her supporters to accept the election results and give Trump a chance, stating, “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”
President Obama further echoed this call for unity in his speech at the White House on Wednesday.
“Because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” Obama said of President-elect Trump. “That’s what the country needs — a sense of unity, a sense of inclusion, a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law, and respect for each other.”
And in the days that followed, pundits, political figures, and even talk show hosts stressed that our nation unify and empathize with America’s ostracized Trump supporters.
The prevailing narrative since Trump’s win on Nov. 8 has been one centered on the concerns of the white working class who have felt abandoned by both parties and left hopeless over their economic futures — the Rust Belt voters inspired by Trump’s promise to bring back American jobs. Yet this empathetic understanding negates the very real fears of those Trump launched his campaign against, and quite frankly remains an inaccurate assumption of the future president’s political reality.
"I fear what might happen to me and my family if an ethno-nationalist movement seizes power."— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) November 2, 2016
"Why can't you have more empathy?"
Despite what the media and politicians preach, Trump’s victory was not a “working class revolt” as so presumed.
In actuality, Trump supporters are far from the engrossing image of the laid-off factory worker the press is so obsessed with spotlighting. Rather, Trump voters are better associated with the bourgeois class than the downtrodden.
14. This was not a “working class revolt,” as was first reported. The data shows it clearly. This was a white revolt, and a male revolt.— Ken Tremendous (@KenTremendous) November 9, 2016
According to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of GOP primary exit polls Trump voters have a median household income of $72,000. This number is significantly higher than the $56,000 national average, and still notably better than the $62,000 median household income of non-Hispanic whites in the United States. Collectively, these analyses indicate Trump supporters are much better off economically than Bernie Sanders or even Hillary Clinton fans.
And while the narrative endures that Trump supporters are made up of the proletariat, a Gallup study disproved that premise.
Gallup found Trump supporters tended to have higher — not lower — incomes across the whole population, including white folks. And even more, areas with more manufacturing work were less inclined to favor Trump.
Those enamored with Trump are actually less likely to be drawn to his promise for jobs, but more captivated by his xenophobic and sexist ideals.
Polling has indicated that a significant amount of Trump’s core supporter base holds hostile views of Islam, immigrants, African-Americans, and women.
In fact, previously homogeneous counties that have quickly diversified since the turn of the century’s influx of immigrants were more likely to vote for Trump. These areas experienced less unemployment than the entire country, signifying this support stems from racial attitudes rather than economic woes.
Since Trump’s election on Tuesday, hate crimes and hate speech have skyrocketed. Women have had their hijabs ripped off, swastikas have been tagged on public property, and students have chanted “build the wall” and called their black peers "cotton pickers". Trump’s rhetoric has incited racism and hatred, normalizing white supremacy and Ku Klux Klan beliefs. Victimhood has often been the foundation of any racist utopian vision. Nazis believed they were weakened and humiliated by the Jews and the main theme of the Confederate was that blacks were determined to steal their land and rape white women. This same sentiment of victimizing is clearly demonstrated in the scapegoating of immigrants and minorities by Trump supporters. Yet somehow we are asked to have empathy for these notions, while Trump supporters are not asked to understand the plight of those they are seemingly against.
So while liberal elites are scolding progressives for lambasting and shaming Trump supporters for their decision, it should be duly noted this was not a movement ignited by economic anxiety, but rather one fueled by bigotry and xenophobia. We are not rejecting economic inequalities by protesting the 45th president. We are rejecting racism.
Yet now in the wake of a Trump presidency, we are asked to tolerate the intolerant, stand complacent, conciliatory, and compassionate to those waving Confederate flags and screaming at immigrants “This isn’t your country anymore!” America has elected its first neo-fascist tyrant who is accused of raping a 13-year-old girl, bragged about sexual assault, and whose political career was launched as the biggest proponent of birthism. He is not just “uniquely unqualified,” he is an authoritarian demagogue void of human decency and determined to strip America’s already disenfranchised of their basic rights and needs. This wasn’t a working class revolt, this was a revolt against America’s first black president and our country’s changing demographic.
But all this has been said before and no one listened, no one batted an eye. Pundits just shrugged their shoulders and denied that America would choose racism and sexism over the best darn presidential resume the country has ever received.
We are told to unify, accept, and come together, and maybe that’s true, but not to the extent of finding common ground with the hard-lined alternative right regime Trump is assembling in his cabinet and the GOP establishment that now has control over every facet of our national government. Unification with that sect feels ludicrously hypocritical when conservatives staunchly obstructed Obama’s every policy initiative. No, now is not the time for unity across the political divide, now is the time for progressives to join together to resist, to fight, and to uphold that visionary left Senator Sanders so aptly articulated. California legislative leaders responded to the grim call of Trumpism with a defiant assertion to not allow our country to revert backwards into an anachronistic abyss.
“We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity, scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global responsibility,” the statement read.
“We will be reaching out to federal, state and local officials to evaluate how a Trump Presidency will potentially impact federal funding of ongoing state programs, job-creating investments reliant on foreign trade, and federal enforcement of laws affecting the rights of people living in our state. We will maximize the time during the presidential transition to defend our accomplishments using every tool at our disposal.
While Donald Trump may have won the presidency, he hasn’t changed our values. America is greater than any one man or party. We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.”
We must heed this pledge as well. We should not wait and give Trump a chance, his divisive campaign that opened the floodgates of white supremacy does not deserve such polite submission. Requesting that sort of unity is tantamount to political dissent of the left. We need to organize, mobilize, and strategize to protect civil rights and ensure our country’s progress, rather than watch it rapidly and radically deteriorate.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Susan Sarandon said that Trump might help bring the revolution to the resounding cry of jeers and condemnation. Well, Trump is our president now; the revolution cannot wait.
Banner image credit: Reuters