I was going to write this post whether Clinton won or not, because even before the election it was clear that Trump was going to clean up among working class whites. Right now, exit polling has Clinton at 53% of those who make $30,000 a year or less, down from Obama’s 63% in 2012. The people who voted for Obama in past years and who voted for Trump this year determined the way the election went. Why did people vote that way? Because they’ve seen no benefits from voting Democratic.
American wages have been in freefall since 2000. This is the greatest drop in income since the Great Depression. Working class white people voted for Bush, realized he couldn’t change stuff, voted for Obama, realized he couldn’t change things, and were going to stay home until they saw somebody speaking to their concerns. They came out heavily for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primaries, but not quite enough to put him over the top against a vast well-oiled party machinery, and they came out for Donald Trump, who at least made mention of the troubles working class people have but who more importantly positioned himself as the anti-Obama anti-Bush candidate. Clinton ran on 4 more years of Obama, without even being as well-liked as Obama. She didn’t even want to campaign on single payer healthcare, feeling too worried that she might alienate the billionaires overwhelmingly backing her. Her opinions on trade agreements seemed contrived, and nobody believed she’d regulate the banking sector in any way. She failed to oppose the cops that kill black people on the street every day, giving her absolutely no appeal for black people as a voting choice except as a perceived defensive measure. No wonder black working class turnout was down so much. Part of the appeal that Trump had to the white working class was based on the media simply giving in and portraying him as he wished to be portrayed, rather than actually challenging his ostensible pro-working class credentials. A significant part of it was racism, certainly. But it wasn’t racism that put him over the top, it was his ability to convince people that he might change their desperate circumstances. He can’t, of course. Wages will continue to decline during his time in office because his party is wedded to those economic policies that cause wages to decline. There will be a crackup, and we can take advantage of that by stridently opposing him from day 1. We should recognize though that we’re fighting to defend the working class, not to blame it.