Cognitive Psychology

Election 2020: What the Fuck is Wrong with White Voters?


Just what the fuck is wrong with white people in America?

If we take voting for Trump as a proxy for racist, misogynist, xenophobic, regressive, authoritarianism, then we’ve got to wonder why 57% — up TWO FUCKING PERCENTAGE POINTS from 2016 — of white people voted for the racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, regressive, authoritarian candidate? There is definitely something wrong with white voters that they’d vote for four more fucking years of Trump.

You Broke It; You Bought It

As I stated in 2017, if you vote for a racist, you’re a racist. If you voted for a misogynist, you’re a misogynist. You voted for the candidate, you own the candidate’s policies and the outcomes of those policies. You voted for the Ol’ Pussy Grabber, you’re responsible for his failed reprehensible #COVID19 response, the misery of 13.5 million+ infected people and the deaths of 270,000+ dead.

So, how do we explain the white vote? We have to start by unpacking the issues that drive the white vote: anti-choice, anti-gun reform, anti-LGBTQ+ rights, anti-tax increases for the rich and powerful, anti-social safety net, anti-healthcare. Did I miss one? If I did, please do put it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Correlates of Racism

This is how the good folk over at Vox explained it:

[T]there may be Trump voters who disagree with Trump’s racist rhetoric but don’t care enough to be dissuaded from backing him because they are pro-life or in favor of gun rights or oppose tax increases on the wealthy

Election results: White people make up the majority of Trump voters in 2020 – Vox

All these single issues of the single-issue voter correlate with each other and one other trait: racism. Not the racism of my uncle who famously proclaimed that he would never return to his church if a Black person even so much as put one foot into it. What? That didn’t make any sense to my eight year-old self when I heard it, and it don’t make sense now.

But the racism of the rural conservative Christian white voter isn’t that racism. While there has been a rise in the racist rant and Karens in the United Fucking States of Fucking Stupid during the Trump years, there’s the silent majority of white people who know better than to use overtly racist language or take overtly racist acts. They are fine with PoC as long as they aren’t too close to them.

Harvard’s Project Implicit

These are the people who should they take the Harvard Project Implicit association tests that address race, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity would complain bitterly that the test is wrong. They are NOT biased. Why they once rode a bus with a black person once back in the day. There was a whole Latinx family living in their home town after they moved out. They had read a book once that said slaves were happy. How can you call them biased? Liberal libel!

The Discomfort of PC Culture

How about this one? What do you make of it?

Ultimately, many white voters are simply attached to what Trump represents. “These voters are very much about the idea that the status quo isn’t a problem and that we should make America great again back when we didn’t have to worry about PC culture,” Laird said. “Because when you’re in power, why would you give it up?”

Election results: White people make up the majority of Trump voters in 2020 – Vox

Many liberals don’t realize it, but PC culture is the requirement that we confront our covert racist, sexist, ableist, homophobic attitudes. Recently, #DiaperDon began trending on Twitter and liberals were all proud. Then several do-gooders popped up and said, we really shouldn’t shame incontinence. Man, the blow back on that was severe.

It is why it is so unpopular. It makes people uncomfortable to have their cultural assumptions called out. Recently, I’ve been re-watching Will and Grace. The disparagement humor aimed at Jews, women, the LGBTQ+ community is startling. Not to mention the promotion of alcohol and drug abuse. I’ve also been re-watching Psych and the homophobia in it is alarming. It’s last seasons were in 2013 and 2014 in California for god’s sake!

It is that discomfort that so precisely screams white privilege. We don’t hafta look at ourselves and feel all uncomfortable because of your feelings because we are the majority — get over it.

The Roots of Racism in White Culture

The roots of racism and sexism run deep into white culture. Let’s take a brief look at how it works:

The Great Paradox and the Deep Story

Arlie Russell Hochschild, UC Berkeley sociologist, wrote Strangers In Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right explaining her research into white culture in southern Louisiana. She lived in southern Louisiana on and off for FIVE years getting to know various people who lived there. She explains the great paradox of their tendency to vote against their best interests using something she calls their deep story: A person’s deep story is the story that our feelings tell about how we perceive the trappings of our lives. It is the narrative that describes our point-of-view, motivations, and deep emotional reactions.

Way back in January of 2017, Ye Olde Blogge published a post based on her book. She found that rural conservative Christian white voters feel that the American dream has passed them by because liberals are constantly pushing the needs of the Other ahead of theirs. They are being asked to feel sorry for Blacks, Latinx, Native Americans, Muslims, women, and everybody else, and no one feels sorry for them! They are being blamed for the problems that everybody else is experiencing and no one cares about their problems. Worse, liberal coastal elites tell them that they are bad, stupid, misogynistic — like that’s even a word — racist rednecks! It hurts their feelings.

In many ways this dynamic is encapsulated by the Defund the Police phenomenon that many moderate Democrats say is the reason we lost seats in the House.

“…Reform the police would have been a better choice of words because people around here thought defund meant eliminating the police, and that was too far to the left for people.”

He made a connection’: how did Trump manage to boost his support among rural Americans? The Guardian

If you take the Harvard Project Implict Race IAT, you’ll see a connection between black and crime being uncovered. It runs through our culture across ethnic and racial communities. That racism root that equates black men with crime runs deep in the white psyche. Defund the Police tapped it and the Repubes cynically exploited it.

The rural conservative Christian white voter is angry about the changes in America over the past sixty years that no one asked them about making. The Ol’ Pussy Grabber is angry, too. He channels their inner racist. He can dog whistle and gradually lowering the frequency until he can claim that Cory Booker is going to build housing projects in white suburban neighborhoods and gain 2% more support from white women!

As the demographics change in America, the Repubes have to do three things to maintain their electoral prowess: (1) Keep the senate, electoral college, and gerrymandered districts exactly as they are so that their advantage with rural conservative Christian white voters is baked into the Senate, House, and Presidency allowing them to win all three with a minority of the vote. (2) Keep appealing to the seething anger of white people as they perceive the changes in the country due to growing numbers of PoC. And (3) appeal to PoC to vote Repube because of their conservative social value. The same social issues of being anti-choice, anti-gun reform, anti-tax increases for the rich appealed to many men of color in this last election. You saw increases in the percentages of Black and Latinx voters for Trump!

We all live in a world that is our own version of reality. We all distort facts and experiences to suit our own needs, but the rural conservative Christian white voter lives in a particularly twisted version of reality, and it only got worse under Trump. Here’s a run down of stuff that white people believe that ain’t quite true from the post on Hochschild’s book:

  1. The government spends A LOT of money on welfare. It doesn’t. Only 8% of the 2014 US budget was devoted to “welfare” for the poor as we conceive of it.
  2. Welfare rolls are up and people on welfare don’t work. Enrollment on welfare rolls has fallen by 20% since 1996, although rising again in the Great Recession peaking in 2013.
  3. Everyone who is poor gets a handout. According to the 2012 Census 26.2% of people eligible for “welfare” don’t receive it. In Louisiana, four poor people receive TANF benefits for every 100 who are eligible! While half of the tax benefits doled out by the US government goes to the richest 20%.
  4. Black women have a lot more children than white women. Fertility rates as of 2013 for black women was 1.88 children over their life time and 1.75 for white women.
  5. Forty percent of the American work force work for either the state or federal government. In 2012 there were approximately 143 million people in the American work force. Seventeen percent worked for local, state, or federal government. This includes education, medical, police and fire, and military.
  6. Public sector workers are way overpaid. When education, experience, sex, race, ethnicity, and other demographic factors are held constant, private sector employees earned about 12% more than the public sector.
  7. The more environmental regulations, the fewer jobs. A 1993 study suggests that over a twenty year period, stronger environmental standards did not correlate with slower economic growth. A 2008 study found a net positive effect on employment from investments in environmental protection.
  8. State subsidies to industry help increase the number of jobs. Gov. Jindal gave away about $1.1 BILLION per year in state revenue as incentives for industry to relocate to or expand in Louisiana. For example, Valero received $10 million to expand a plant. It created 43 new jobs. That is about $250,000 per job. Oil and natural gas drilling varies based on the prices of oil and natural gas, not on state subsidies and incentives.

Most of this derp pre-dates the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s rise to power and began with Birchers in the 60’s and really took off under Reagan in the 80’s and Gingrich in the 90’s. It has just been rolling downhill picking up steam ever since especially now that we are living in the heyday of weaponized political lie and our meme-based political discourse on social media.

Once again, we’ve demonstrated that something is definitely wrong with white America when 57% of us vote for the incompetent racist misogynistic xenophobic homophobic genocidal narcissist. The real problem is how do we get white America to quit racism before it destroys America because it almost did and still might.

Image Attribution

“white america” by nevermindtheend is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

9 replies »

  1. Another mistaken belief of those voters seems to be that their taxes are going to the evil, wicked, dirty, crime ridden, elitist, big cities in Blue states. The fact is that the urban-dominant Blue states pay more Federal taxes than they get back, and the rural-dominant Red states get back more than they put in.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So the 43% of white people who voted for Biden don’t count? We don’t count at all?

    The 43% of us who can not stand Trump & in fact have never been GOP in our lives do not count?

    Who may have wanted a much more progressive candidate than Biden but we took what we had because that’s how it works?

    We don’t count?

    So now it’s all white people? ALL white people are culpable? Really?

    FUCK THAT NOISE.

    That’s as bad as the racist who says that all N— are the same. Get real already.

    You pissed me right off this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Silver!

      I’m sorry that you feel this way. I’m also sorry to have hurt your feelings. Of course, what you’re saying is correct. 43% of white people voted for #BidenHarris. But, a majority, a large majority of us voted for four more years of Trump. His percentage of the white vote increased. His percentage of the white female vote increased. There is something wrong with white America when that is the case.

      In the post, I frequently refer to rural conservative Christian white voters. I didn’t in the title, though. In part, I didn’t because we so often think of other ethnic groups as being monolithic voting blocks and as stereotypes. I know you don’t. I know many of the 43% of #BidenHarris voters don’t. But, it seems to me that there is some value in experiencing the world as PoC experience, not that I am telling you what you have or haven’t experienced. I cannot possible interact with blog-post readers as individuals through the post. We can interact in the comments as individuals. However, in the larger world, the discomfort of being painted wrongly with an assumption based on your skin color is a lesson many white people need to learn.

      I’m happy to continue this discussion with you.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Just what the fuck is wrong with white people in America?

    This is an EXCELLENT question Jack. And I have at least ONE answer for you over the last 40-50 years.

    I have a very dear close friend with an African-American of 23+ years. He is like a brother to me. No matter how much he and I have “effed” up in life—some minor, a few major—we stick with each other no matter what. I have learned A TON from him about what many/most black Americans deal with in this country. He has told me once or twice in no uncertain terms that I cannot possibly understand COMPLETELY what his race deals with on a regular basis in this country, especially in the South/Southwest (Texas). HOWEVER, he does say that I am way ahead of most Caucasians in “relating” to their socioeconomic and political condition. For several reasons I won’t go into right now (unless you ask me Jack) I think he is quite accurate. It sums up very well the answer to your question above.

    Also, just last year I watched an exceptional Netflix documentary, Hello, Privilege. It’s Me, Chelsea, that cemented my ignorance about “WTF is wrong with white people in America.” Chelsea Handler shows in this show many reasons why many white people just DON’T GET IT and perhaps can NEVER GET IT… unless they get OUT OF THEIR (privileged) BUBBLES in society. Those bubbles are residential, occupational, recreational, and political. Here’s the trailer for her documentary:

    Many, many white people might THINK they are not prejudiced, or racists, and that might be fine. HOWEVER, just because you’re silent or indifferent, and standby without defending and promoting FULL EQUALITY for ALL Americans, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, all ethnicities that are not caucasian… then you are still not doing enough (nothing at all) for the true spirit of our Constitutional democracy, liberties, equal rights, and fighting inequality! And therefore whites still do not fully understand, appreciate, or empathize with just how hard/difficult it is in this country for everyone EXCEPT whites.

    To be perfectly clear, ask any white person in America: “Are you prepared to step-in, SPEAK UP, and stop an unfair, prejudiced, possibly violent attack on a black person—or any ethnic race other than caucasian—or a black family, kids, etc, receiving unfair, unjust treatment!? Or do you just standby and do nothing, say nothing? There’s a big, BIG difference in the two and therefore a further litmus test of whether you are truly NOT prejudiced or a passive, silent Accessory to a crime or gross injustice or negligence. Think about that!

    Below is another video about how white people just don’t get it. Please watch it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Professor!

      One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned living abroad for the past 20-odd years is what it is like to be the minority and never sure why something is happening to you. Is it because I’m a minority or would it be happening to someone in the majority, too? That kind of uncertainty can really eat away at your soul. Then, when you confront real racism, it has a corrosive soul killing effect.

      And, the truth is that white people created systemic racism, which isn’t always easily seen, so only white people can end it. We end it by recognizing the racist attitudes that we internalized. When we stumble upon them, we have to recognize the triggers, reactions, and take steps to avoid acting upon it. And, then we, as individuals, and a group must make amends.

      One of the problems is that white people don’t want to appear to be racist. We are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. When I first realized this, I didn’t quite believe it, but some people seem genuinely confused about what is racist and what isn’t. Remember when people were sending images of Michelle Obama’s face superimposed on a gorillas body? They seemed genuinely confused as to why people might think that was a racist image. If we can’t figure that out, then we are pretty hopeless as a group.

      This is a much longer conversation, my friend. I’m happy to have it with you. Let me watch those videos, though.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

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