As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”
As the author notes, this analysis is at best incomplete. It is a misdirect. At worst, it’s simply wrong. President Trump received more votes from African-Americans and from Latinos than anyone expected him to receive, and he received more votes from them than any other candidate from his party (McCain or Romney) had received in decades.
Among many questions, one is this: Why did so many Blacks and Hispanics vote for Trump, especially when they were being told that Trump wasn’t their candidate?
Conversely, why did so many African-Americans and Latinos decide to vote against Hillary Clinton?
While it is true, in the words of the anonymous author, that there are “East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America,” that’s not the whole story. The larger narrative cuts across racial, regional, or class groups.
Voters of various demographic groups simply had a hard time believing that Hillary Clinton had their best interests at heart. Donald Trump spoke about revitalizing the national economy and creating jobs. He spoke of the United States as something respectable, and that, in a community of nations, the United States deserves respect.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton’s message to Blacks and Hispanics was that they should vote for her because they owed allegiance and loyalty to her and to her party. She demanded, expected, and assumed that they would vote for her. They responded by doing the opposite.
The argument that the Democratic Party ‘failed to understand’ the voters is incomplete. In certain situations, Hillary Clinton’s organization may have understood the voters, but either ignored them, or expected party loyalty to overcome the hardships which they were enduring.
Under the Obama administration, African-American incomes and employment reached all-time lows. African-American unemployment reached all-time highs. Hillary Clinton gave no indication that her policies would diverge from Obama’s policies.
During the first year of the Trump administration, Black employment and incomes reached all-time highs, and Black unemployment reached all-time lows. Likewise Latino unemployment reached record lows, and Latino incomes and employment reached all-time highs.
Perhaps Hillary forgot her own slogan: “It’s the economy.” Economic freedom and personal liberty do not know race, religion, region, or culture.
Trump’s simple slogans connected with a sentiment among the voters: the notion that they were tired of sacrificing their personal incomes, their net worths, and their standards of living for some vague globalist ideals promoted jointly by Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Voters were tired of being told to endure shrinking personal freedoms for the sake of some ambiguous hope or fear. The Obama-Clinton message was that the citizens should make sacrifices, not to defend the nation against some existential threat like an attacking military force, but rather to fuel dubious causes.
Trump’s uncomplicated message was that he would simply do what’s best for the nation. Trump said that he would make calculations based on measures like employment, income levels, and economic growth levels.
Although the United States has had a number of presidents who graduated from Ivy League universities, Trump is the first one to have studied economics at an Ivy League university. Perhaps some of Trump’s policies, and their successes, can be traced to the fact that he is, at heart, an economist.