The Blog

Stop Making Excuses For The Racists Who Voted Trump


History repeats itself. The day after the Brexit referendum, left-leaning publications rushed to justify the vote as an anti-establishment revolt by the "victims and malcontents of the 21st century's callous model of capitalism". As soon as @realdonaldtrump was declared president, the very same publications explained Clinton's defeat as the "repudiation of the American power structure" that no longer met the needs of the working class. If we lived somewhere in the outer space and only had these sources to go on, we would indeed believe that both Brexit and Trump were progressive milestones of proletarian emancipation from Capitalist oppression.

This is simply not the case. Let's look at the statistics - 88% of Black Americans and 67% of Latinos voted for Hillary. Now, nobody in their right mind would deny that these are the people [on the whole] at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. Somehow they didn't vote for Trump. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that no person with the slightest regard for gender and race quality, the LGBT community and simple human decency could have voted for him. Especially, since the man changes his mind about policies on a daily basis. From banning all Muslims from the US to repealing Obamacare and putting Hillary Clinton in jail, he has backtracked on most claims since November 9th - just like Vote Leave did on June 24th.

What's more white working class people are still better off than most ethnic minorities in the US, without even mentioning native communities. The key difference is - the cultural capital of ethnic and other minorities has grown continuously since the 1960s, culminating in Obama as president and the US Supreme Court ruling on Marriage Equality. We are no longer anthropological curiosities or shock-therapy patients, but people just as capable of defending our rights and shaping policy as Trump's average American.

Many white Americans have become angry with social change that directly contradicts their beliefs. More importantly they are angry that this change is being made by people they see as unpatriotic, un-American and non-White. To use the words of David Attenborough - "it's very easy, as we all know, to be very tolerant of minorities until they become majorities and you find yourself a minority." This is precisely the mentality that explains the rise of Trump.

And unlike the liberal press, his supporters are not shy to tell us what is the true motivation behind their vote. As one put it - "Conservative laws...because I'm against abortion." Do they want an education system free from religious bias in line with the 1st Amendment? - No, says a mother from Tennessee. Nor did they hesitate to turn their words into actions as soon as Trump's victory was declared, just like their friends Brexiteers. To paraphrase their leader himself, they are ready to grab us by the pussy - banning abortions and harassing women in Hijabs seems like a good start.

When journalists try to excuse these people, they are not only guilty of complicity in the neo-liberal reduction of all political processes to the economy, they are actively helping the New Right to normalise their bigoted views and behaviour. The only good news is that 55% of my generation voted for Clinton and now it is up to us to push against the intolerance and xenophobia both Trump and Brexit represent.

Even if it was true that these votes are just an expression of pent-up frustration with Capitalism, the likes of Corbyn and Owen Jones are missing a crucial point. Those who have been hit the hardest by neo-liberalism are also those who will be hit the hardest by Brexit and Trump - incidentally they aren't the traditional white working class. We should think about the Lithuanian farmer working seasonal jobs in the north of England and the Mexican immigrant living under the constant threat of eviction. These are the people left-wing media is meant to defend, not some racist old bigot in Wales or Montana.

When Theresa May repeats her claim that immigration pushes down wages, we should remember the real sacrifices these people make to edge out some form of living away from their families. We should also remember that we do not choose the country we are born in and in many cases, 'economic migrants' come from places that have been betrayed repeatedly by the West. No American can be justified in saying "we will keep them out" about Syrian refugees, as long as American bombs keep falling on Syrian cities. Every time we hear someone talk about Polish vermin we should remind them that Churchill and Roosevelt handed Poland over to Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945, stunting its economic development for the next 50 years.

What we should not do is try to excuse the intolerance of bigots. Whilst we still live in "democracies" that guarantee us the right to freedom of speech and peaceful protest, we need to express our anger. Obama in his role as president was obliged to congratulate Trump, even if for the first time in his career he "did not seem to believe the words he was speaking to the American public". We as young people have the obligation to reject Trump in order to ensure that this year was indeed the bigots' "last stand".