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How sexism and bigotry won Donald Trump the presidency

This election is already being spun as ‘voter backlash’ for the last eight years. It was far darker than that.


 
People sit outside the Jacob Javits Center waiting for election results following a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in New York Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

People sit outside the Jacob Javits Center waiting for election results following a rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in New York Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

In November 2000, I stood outside a courthouse in Palm Beach County, awaiting a decision on whether democracy would function as intended. The outcome of that year’s presidential election hinged on just over 1,700 votes, and scores of partisans stood outside in anticipation of a recount process that dragged into infinity. I was there with family members, if only to bear quiet witness, but there was no blending into a crowd that was, on both sides, old and loud and white. As my cousin and I moved through the crowd, a stout man with a Bush/Cheney shirt took notice of us and whirled around to put us to the question.

“Who did you vote for?” he asked.

“That’s my business,” my cousin answered.

“Just remember who freed the slaves,” the man responded.

And before either of us could mount an argument about the Dixiecrats, the Southern Strategy, or the war on drugs, the man turned his back and resumed chanting with the crowd. There was no conversation intended, no understanding to be found. There was no intent in acknowledging us, other than putting us in our place, before putting our existence out of his mind.

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I tell this story because this seems to be the sentiment behind the ascendance of Donald Trump, which almost every political pundit worth their salt had spent the last year either mocking or dismissing altogether. There is no coherent ideology behind Trump, no coalition that binds his surrogates and supporters other than anger and a will to reassert their dominance. Theirs is to Make America Great Again, and the time has finally come for liberals to sit down and shut up while they wind back the clock.

In the aftermath of this election, there will be plenty of blame to apportion for this result that, only a year ago, seemed like an exercise in speculative fiction. There was the endless fascination of media outlets with Donald Trump, and the normalization of his brazenly xenophobic politics, obscenely sexist attitudes, and fascist policies. There was the Republican establishment’s endless flirtations with populist white nationalism, which enabled the uneducated and the aggrieved to eat the party alive. And there was Democratic National Committee’s brazen favouritism toward Clinton—the one Democratic candidate whose name alone inspired a kind of hatred in the opposition normally reserved for tyrants and turncoats.

But assigning blame seems a pointless task when, at the end of it all, this election marked the death of conventional political wisdom. Donald Trump lied early and often, and though his lies fertilized a cottage industry of fact-checkers, none of it made a dent in his popular support. He demonized, insulted, and ostracized almost every group of Americans that don’t identify as white and male, yet he managed to win not only states that Barack Obama won in 2008 and 2012, but amass an even higher percentage of Latino voters than even Mitt Romney managed. On the other end of the spectrum, despite Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party’s roughly $1.3-billion campaign spend, and voters showing up in unprecedented numbers, it seems most of those voters showed up to put Donald Trump in the White House.

To those who believe in America’s better angels, its political system seems twisted to the point of being recognizable. But this is not out of step with American history; this is the country that answered the Civil War with the segregation era, fought for freedom in Europe only to give itself over to anti-communist paranoia, and has worked to undo every accomplishment in civil and reproductive rights through the school-to-prison pipeline, dismantling the Voting Rights Act, and systematically legislating women’s health clinics out of existence.

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This election is already being spun as “voter backlash,” as if the most widely touted legislative policies and court decisions over the last eight years–the Affordable Care Act, same-sex marriage, the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell–don’t say something about the people who wish to reverse them. There will soon be conversations about the transformation of the American electoral landscape which dance around the deliberate naming of sexism and bigotry as the proximate cause for nearly causing president-elect Donald Trump. All of this misses the point unless that darker urge in American politics is finally identified and examined.

That urge to halt progress, to let people who traditionally have not held power know their proper place in the hierarchy, is a familiar one. That a man as unpopular, temperamental, and inexperienced as Donald Trump could pull this off speaks not only to the inevitability of this cycle, but to the fact that even the worst possible candidate can be the best possible president when the mood is right.

God help us all.

Andray Domise is a Toronto writer, activist and co-founder of txdl.ca, a mentorship and development program.


 

How sexism and bigotry won Donald Trump the presidency

  1. If the Democrats put a halfway decent candidate out there, they would have won. Christ, if they put any warm body out there they would have won, but no it had to be Hillary didn’t it. She’s always felt like she was owed something by the American people, well she found out last night that she wasn’t.

    As far as racism being the main factor, I don’t think so. Although I’m sure there were plenty of mouth-breathing racist white dumbasses who voted for Trump, I think that actual racists or hateful people make up a small minority of his support. I think it boils down to pushback against the left more than anything. See, the left basically won the culture wars, and overall I would say that’s a good thing. But just like we teach our kids not be sore losers, we also teach them not to be poor winners, and that’s exactly what the left has been for a while now. A lot of the people who voted Trump were normal people, hard-working people who had voted for Obama, but are sick of being branded racists and privileged cis-gendered oppressors just for the colour of their skin. This was a push back against all that crap, just like how Brexit was.

    • … and let’s hope that Trudeau is contemplating about the next Canadian election, because he must realize why he became our P.M., and it had nothing to do with hypothetical multiculturalism.

      • I think we could definitely see a similar dynamic play out here, although obviously not with someone as openly scummy as Trump. If the economy tanks under Justin while the left continues to use words like “racist” and “Islamophobe” as weapons, the conditions could be ripe for it. Maybe Jordan Peterson will be our next PM lol.

  2. If you investigate this “Toronto writer, activist” website you can certainly see why they are in such a tizzy about Donald Trump, I imagine they would be equally hysterical about anyone who would threaten their livelihood (Rob Ford et al) . Working with ‘the disadvantaged’ on some ludicrous quest to become ‘game designers’ sounds like the kind of grant-seeking nonsense that requires ‘good’ fuzzy witted people to sign off on.

    • This article purports to give us some insight into the election but it comes off as more of ‘the 60 million people who voted for Trump are just racist’ propaganda. People want a strong leader who will stand up for them and bring back jobs back to America.
      It’s also worth pointing out that by rejecting Hilary Clinton, Americans were rejecting the influence of foreign dictators and corporations that she brought when she was Secretary of State.

  3. it is sad that you chose to put your head into the sand and Write that Trumps Victory was about race & sexism. The truth is it was about regular Americans fed up with Big DC politics deciding to speak up and VOTE. BTW he got more black votes, Hispanic votes than Mitt. Give the man a chance I bet he will surprise both you and the rest of the ignorant members of what ever tribe you subscribe to. Liberal wackadoo’s I assume.

  4. If you are totally surprised by a Trump presidency and can’t fathom why Clinton lost so badly….you need to diversify your news sources since you are likely caught in an echo chamber.

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