Who Cares about Trump Voters?

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Pete Buttigieg

The Democratic candidate in 2020 does not need Trump voters.

Lots of people are jumping onto the Buttigieg bandwagon, even though jumping onto bandwagons is almost always a bad idea. No reports on whether Buttigieg is a keto guy, to mention the other bandwagon sweeping the mindless nation.

No one in our history has ever made the leap from mayor to president in one jump, but anything is possible. We currently have our first “reality TV” president, so who knows. It would not be fair to say that the Democrats went from one of the most highly qualified candidates in the history of the republic to one of the least qualified, since Mayor Pete, while far less qualified than Hillary Clinton was, is still vastly more qualified than the incumbent.

But Buttigieg is engaging in one of the worst habits of Democrats. It is a characteristic failing of liberals and a classic example of a particular quality being at once someone’s greatest strength and greatest weakness at the same time.

The Democrats want to appeal to everyone. They have to these days because, with their strong history of enacting civil rights legislation, they have attracted the loyalty of most African American voters, as well as most other ethnic minority voters, most feminist voters, most LGBT voters, anyone who has ever felt like an outcast relative to the hegemonic, white, Christian culture of the United States, which is a majority of the population now.

One group Democrats should not bother trying to appeal to now, however, is Trump voters, or loyal Trump voters. It seems reasonable to surmise that some people voted for Trump in 2016 because they had swallowed the Kool aid and liked the taste — they believed we need a wall at the southern border and a ban on allowing people from majority Muslim nations into the country (one wonders if they noticed that Trump carefully excluded countries he does business with from his ban).

But some significant number of votes must have voted for Trump more because they are Republicans and so vote for the Republican candidate, maybe thinking that they would give Trump a chance. Some of those people, maybe a lot of them, can see what an embarrassing disaster Trump is as president and will not vote for him again. These people may be persuadable and are perhaps the Trump voters Mayor Pete and other, more conciliatory, candidates, want to court.

The problems with this approach are many. First, anyone who was willing to vote for Trump at all was willing to vote for an overtly racist candidate, and the Democratic nominee needs to be very solid on race and in opposing racism in all its forms. Making nice with racists is not a good look for a Democrat. It is still the case that the lingering “white supremacist” impulse among voters in the United States manifests as outrage at anyone who brings up race and racism, as professional football player Colin Kaepernick knows too well. The Democratic candidate in 2020 needs to be willing to speak loudly to race and racism and forego the votes of anyone who takes offense.

We know from 2008 and 2012 that the Democrat can win, even when he is a walking anti-racist poster child, literally. The “white supremacists” will try to discredit him with such paltry drivel as claiming that he was born outside the United States, but that will not stop the candidate from winning. The Democratic candidate in 2016 still won the popular vote. She did not become President only because of the out dated, no longer functional electoral college.

The practical considerations of winning all point towards not worrying about Trump voters. But also, where does all of this solicitude for alienated white people come from? They are citizens. Unlike Trump, any Democrat will strive to represent the entire country, even those who claim to repudiate them as a Democratic President. Whether they knew it or not, even the “white supremacists” benefited from the end of racial segregation. The New Deal undoubtedly helped the entire country. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped reduce the amount we spend overall on healthcare, which benefits everyone.

The perception among white people that the federal government is leaving them out is nonsense. That is a function of their opposition to any policy that helps African Americans, which the ACA does disproportionately because African Americans, as a class, still fall out at the bottom of every metric of social well being. That is, as a group, they are at the bottom, and some white people complain when they try to climb up, or when the federal government tries to help them.

African Americans are the most loyal constituency of the Democratic Party. Only eight percent of them voted for Trump, less than any other group. That is, apart from the practical question of whether the Democratic candidate in 2020 needs Trump voters, there is the equally important question: why should the Democratic candidate bother chasing people who are disinclined to vote for her/him when s/he could direct energy to pursuing voters who are already loyal to the Party and who deserve the attention and help?

Ignoring Trump voters is the right thing to do practically and ethically.

Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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