Throughout 2016, Americans were told that Donald Trump’s supporters were a bunch of mouth-breathing losers who were mindlessly following an orange-faced xenophobe. It was impossible for Trump to win because the only reason people might vote for him was to Make America Racist Again, so Hillary Clinton would totally win in a landslide, or so we were told.
Then Election Day came, Trump won by a significant electoral margin, and the media melted down. Everyone was shocked — shocked! — by the billionaire’s win because they hadn’t even attempted to understand the forces that compelled 60 million Americans to cast a vote in his favor.
As Federalist editor Mollie Hemingway pointed out on Sunday, this would be a good time for some humility and self-reflection among the media. Instead, many are now doubling down and insisting that Trump’s support can be attributed to nothing more than a “whitelash.” Others go even further and say his supporters don’t deserve to be listened to because they voted for someone icky.
One such example is a piece by Jamelle Bouie, who made an intellectually lazy case for why all of Trump’s supporters are a bunch of racist knuckle-draggers in a piece entitled “There’s No Such Thing As A Good Trump Voter.” He writes:
Donald Trump ran a campaign of racist demagoguery against Muslim Americans, Hispanic immigrants, and black protesters. He indulged the worst instincts of the American psyche and winked to the stream of white nationalists and anti-Semites who backed his bid for the White House. Millions of Americans voted for this campaign, thus elevating white nationalism and white reaction to the Oval Office.
[. . . ]
To face those facts and then demand empathy for the people who made them a reality—who backed racist demagoguery, whatever their reasons—is to declare Trump’s victims less worthy of attention than his enablers. To insist Trump’s backers are good people is to treat their inner lives with more weight than the actual lives on the line under a Trump administration. At best, it’s myopic and solipsistic. At worst, it’s morally grotesque.
I’m not going to spend much time attacking the premise of his article — that Trump voters should be put into a corner and ignored because they are all bad. As Federalist publisher Ben Domenech pointed out last week, this kind of talk is what caused the media to end up with egg on their face on election night. Their decision to double down on the “America is racist” narrative will only drive a wedge between media elites and citizens who have legitimate concerns about the direction of this country, rendering their predictions and reporting ultimately useless.
I want to draw attention to something I observed while reading Bouie’s piece. I recently wrote about a group of students at the University of Michigan who are joining nationwide campus walk-outs in protest against Trump’s electoral victory by demanding separate campus facilities for students of color. The group hosting the campus-wide class walkout at the University of Michigan describes themselves as “a group of students who organize to target inequities
Here’s what they have to say about Trump (emphasis added):
Trump is a product of white supremacy. White supremacy is responsible. . . We reject this white supremacist, this rapist, this xenophobic, Islamophobic, classist, misogynistic, queerphobic, and racist system to have authority over our lives. Trump is a symbol for larger structures of oppression that gave birth to him.
I see little, if any, rhetorical difference between what these student protestors are saying and what Bouie is espousing, which can be summed up as: Trump and his supporters are icky racists.
The purpose of the walk-out and subsequent march is to draw attention to the students’ list of demands, which includes separate facilities for black students to keep them safe from all the white, racist Trump supporters. They’re also calling for special security forces to protect only African-American students, because the Trump-endorsing police can’t be trusted.
“The University of Michigan must provide funding and paid staffing positions for a Black space on campus specifically designed as a recreational and safe space for Black people at the University,” their list states. “Resources for protecting Black students cannot be channeled to University police. The police, as a union, has endorsed Trump. Placing us in the police’s care is an act of anti-Black violence.”
So this is where we are now: campus protestors are demanding black students be segregated from white students to protect them from the Trump supporters who lie in their midst. And liberal media elites, who share more blame for Trump’s path to the White House than they would like to admit, are saying that all of his supporters are irredeemable, racist pieces of trash who deserve to be ignored.
If one thing drove Trump supporters to the polls, it’s that they were ignored and slandered by pundits like Bouie. What’s more, the protests and cry-ins taking place on campuses across the country in response to Trump’s victory suggest that Trump’s supporters will continue to be ignored by the next generation of diploma-holding elites.
The divisions between black and white, haves and have-nots, will continue to get worse if we choose to plug our ears and shout at the 60 million “deplorables” who voted for the president-elect. Media types and social justice warriors must be willing to eat a little humble pie, and stop demanding they be separated from the rest of America, or risk becoming even more out-of-touch and irrelevant than they already are.