Does Donald Trump own the “white working class”?

UMA 1989 from People's World

West Virginia miners on strike against Pittston Coal in 1989. | Scott Marshall / PW

Source: People’s World

Author: Roberta Wood

Emphasis Mine

Defeating the Trump agenda is going to require winning a section of working class voters who supported him – mostly white – undoubtedly influenced by racism. To get there, it’s going to take more than just rejecting that divisive influence; it’s going to take strengthening working class identity.

The election made me remember back to 1989. My husband Scott and I decided to make that year’s family vacation a trip to the mountains of West Virginia, to Camp Solidarity set up by 2,000 striking coal miners. Their employer, the Pittston Company, had eliminated health benefits for retirees and widows, blaming decreasing coal prices. The miners were occupying the mine’s tipple, its coal-loading platform. Camp Solidarity rallied supporters and donations from around the country and around the world. We wanted our kids to see for themselves what solidarity looked like.

As our old van made its way to the top of the mountain, I was struck by how different this work location was from the urban factories and mills Scott and I spent our work lives in. The giant Freeway Flyer buses with New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania license plates that kept passing us looked out of place on a switch-backed, two-lane road. At Camp Solidarity, we found a well-organized operation directing traffic and parking.

“Welcome folks,” said a tall, wiry, middle-aged miner. He leaned into the open driver’s side window and introduced himself as Jim. Taking note of our license plate, he went on, “I see you folks have come a long way, from Illinois. I used to live near there, near Burns Harbor in Indiana. Know it?”

Seeing a connection, I jumped in, “Did you work at Bethlehem Steel?”

“Yup, seven years!” Then why did you leave, we asked. “Well, I came back here when they began to move in, all these…” He paused; nearby hundreds of stiff-kneed travelers were tumbling out of the buses: AFSCME, SEIU, steelworkers, mostly African American. He looked at us; he knew we knew what he had been getting ready to say. “But,” he drew himself up and a little pride entered his voice, “I don’t feel that way anymore.”

picket line in 1989

On the picket line against Pittston Coal in West Virginia, 1989. | Scott Marshall / PW

I wondered about Jim after the Donald Trump election. Did he remember the experience of solidarity? Or was his vote motivated by fear and hate?

Why Trump?

We know that a majority of white voters – in all categories – voted for Trump. Men, women, young, old, and yes, working class. Who are these folks and why did they vote for a conniving billionaire?

Well, it’s undeniable that there is a consistent, hardcore right-wing racist movement with a deep historical base in our country. The liars. The bullies. These haters made up the core of the Trump supporters; they were the rally-goers.  But these hardcore supporters were only a fraction of the Trump voters.

So what about the others? The ones who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. The ones who really take to heart their Sunday school lessons, “Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight.” The ones who want their daughters to have full equality. The ones who will be warmly welcoming the LGBTQ members of their families at their tables this holiday. The ones who remember their own grandparents were themselves immigrants.

Racial isolation

Statistics show the white voters who supported Trump are concentrated in racially-isolated zip codes. They don’t have day-to-day contact with black people, with immigrants, with people from the Middle East.

They don’t listen to NPR either. Instead, they’re inundated with Fox News, hateful talk radio, and fake online news. “Black Lives Matter thugs attack homeless veteran in Charlotte” was the headline of one such fake “news” video that got over a million views. In it, an elderly white man is kicked by a group of black teens. The footage had nothing to do with BLM; it was years old, filmed in London. But to those who viewed it, those made vulnerable by a culture of racial stereotypes, this horrible image became a fact that influenced their choices.

These Trump voters live in areas where there is little social structure that supports progressive thinking. Churches, with a few heroic exceptions, by and large don’t play a positive role. Often the moral guidance from right-wing evangelical churches is limited to one issue when it comes to voting: abortion. When candidate Trump evoked the mental image of babies being ripped out of their mothers’ wombs, it resonated.

Unions don’t have much of a presence in these racially isolated areas. Nor do other social movements like the Fight for $15. People here – whether in factories or fast food restaurants or call centers – don’t work side-by-side with immigrants or people of other races. Yet the people there face the same anxieties all American families face. What kind of jobs are their kids going to get? The drug scourge. Their health, their retirement. They care about the climate too, and their kids’ education.

A tolerance for the intolerable

Millions made a bad, ill-informed choice in this election. We have to deal forthrightly with the fact that a significant percentage of our working class voted for Donald Trump despite his hateful rhetoric toward African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and women. Trump got more votes than Romney did in 2012, roughly proportional to the increase in the overall number of voters. This is disturbing, given Trump’s much more extreme, direct, racist, anti-immigrant, and misogynist appeal. The increased vote for Trump is evidence of a troubling tolerance of what should be intolerable.

(N.B.: it has bee observed that education was a bigger factor than income, and in general those with college degrees are less like likely to be prejudice… see

We are repelled by the failure to reject hate, but we can only reverse the Trump agenda by reaching out to these same voters in racially-isolated communities. There’s not four years or even two years to wait.

When the shit hits the fan with Social Security, Medicare, and VA privatization, lost health care, and declining standards of living, the same lying manipulators who worked the media for Trump in the 2016 election will attempt to direct folks’ anger toward the same scapegoats: African Americans, Muslims, and immigrants. They will use the same narrative to take the Trump agenda out of the line of fire. More on that in a bit.

Half a million missing votes

Trump won the electoral college vote in five Midwest (N.B.: these are actually Great Lakes states, which includes Western PA) battleground states – Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. A combined total of one million voters who had previously voted Democratic, for Pres. Obama, did not vote Democratic for Hillary Clinton. Half of them added their votes to the Trump total this time. But what about the other half? What did that half million do?

Countless Midwestern (Great Lakes) voters – it’s hard to say how many – who were Democratic voters in 2012 were knocked off the rolls by a methodical GOP suppression campaign in these battleground states.

Of the remainder, there were others too who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump but didn’t come out for Clinton either. Some of the former Democratic voters chose third party candidates – either Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein. They chose not to vote for Clinton, but nevertheless these former Democratic votes cannot be counted as a vote for racism or xenophobia.

Some may have been driven away by the venom of the campaign and not voted at all. No exit polls are taken of people who don’t vote. It’s important not to exaggerate the Trump vote, especially among the working class.


And I find no evidence of a phenomenon cited by other commentators, that Trump’s appeal was primarily based on a backlash to a black president or an increasingly multi-cultural society.

Our challenge is to win the unity of the working class. How do we reach out to these people?

I think first, we have to know that ALL of us, like our coal miner friend Jim, are of two minds about many things. People like him believe in humanity, in being generous, in the brotherhood of man and woman, in peace, in neighborliness. (N.B.: biconceptuals, as Lakoff maintains).

Many embrace the beautiful image of the Statue of Liberty welcoming refugees from poverty and oppression. They are troubled by news reports and videos of unarmed black youth shot in the back by out-of-control police or vigilantes. But they are also influenced by the awful stereotypes they’re inundated with – Islamic terrorists, crime-ridden “inner cities,” dangerous immigrants.

Only working class consciousness – embracing one’s primary identity as a member of that 99 percent majority of Americans who own nothing but their ability to work – fully addresses this challenge. This means identifying with a working class that covers diversity from one end of the beautiful rainbow of humanity to the other.

This is the only foundation that can fundamentally challenge the influence of racism and other ideological influences that undermine working class unity. This kind of consciousness is the protective vaccine needed to resist the poisons of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.

Lessons from what worked

The working class movement in the U.S. is not starting from scratch in taking on the duality in thinking on matters of class and race. In fact, alongside being the source of the sharpest racist ideology, our country also has a heritage of developing a fight against racism, one that includes winning white Americans, especially white workers, away from that poisonous and suicidal ideology. We also have a long history of fighting for the rights of immigrants and for women’s equality.

There are lessons from our people’s struggle, be it against the 19th century slavocracy or the 20th century Jim Crow, that held the key not only to equality, but to improving of condition of white workers:

  1.  Resist. Don’t sit back and wait to see what happens.
  1.  Defend all targets. Every hate crime and act that goes unchallenged strengthens the base for fascism. On the other hand, engaging folks in the democratic and humanistic struggles against this disunity changes the thinking of the people themselves. Just as a person who has walked a picket line is never the same, a person who has signed a petition, gone to a public hearing, or spoken out against injustice is changed.

Let’s look at the case of the nine African American youth who were being railroaded to a death on a fake rape charge in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931. Our predecessors, up to their necks in building the CIO industrial unions of steel, auto, and packing house also spent the decade of the 1930s making the case to their co-workers that unionization could not succeed without unity – and their banners read: “Black and white unite and fight.” In the same demonstrations, white and black workers carried placards calling for freedom for the “Scottsboro boys.” For those white workers, fighting racism against the Scottsboro youth helped cement the unity of those workers.

  1.  We need to pay special attention to mass movements that can resonate in racially-isolated areas. For example, the Fight for $15. The majority of those who make less than $15 per hour are white workers. They are fast food workers, Walmart workers, nursing home and, yes, factory workers in towns, suburbs, and rural America. Planned Parenthood has a loyal following and is represented in every state and D.C. Public education is under assault everywhere. There is a basis for national unity there.
  1.  We have to take the initiative in the fights to defend Social Security and Medicare – and Obamacare – to the communities in these areas that are politically vulnerable.
  1. We can’t wait for elections. During elections, tactics demand that efforts be concentrated on getting votes where they are most plentiful, so little door-knocking is done in more challenging areas. Working America has done pioneering work in initiating year-round doorstep conversations.

This is not an easy fight, but look what’s at stake. It’s not enough to analyze and reject the racism, xenophobia, and misogyny of members of our class. Our job is to figure out how to turn it around. But there is no path to unity that doesn’t go through that process. We need all the Jims of the world on our side.


An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America

In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king.


Author:Forsetti’s Justice / AlterNet

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: at the end of the day, belief in a White Christian God is the problem…)

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.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete bullshit. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to throw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t east coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural, Christian, white America. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area in the country that has a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded in this culture. I religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian services. I worked off and on, on their rural farms. I dated their calico skirted daughters. I camped, hunted, and fished with their sons. I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop. I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets that were said more out of ignorance than animosity. I have also watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure turn into a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes, and a broken down infrastructure over the past 30 years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people. The problem is they don’t understand themselves, the reasons for their anger/frustrations, and don’t seem to care to know why.

In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism is what has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, change. When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t “coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans.” The problem is rural America doesn’t understand itself and will NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views are automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the possibility it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.

At some point during the discussion, “That’s your education talking,” will be said, derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts. The fundamentalists I grew up around aren’t anti-education. They want their kids to know how to read and write. They are anti-quality, in-depth, broad, specialized education. Learning is only valued up to the certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you learn contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist arguments, it becomes dangerous. I watched a lot of my fellow students who were smart, stop their education the day they graduated high school. For most of the young ladies, getting married and having kids was more important than continuing their learning. For many of the young men, getting a college education was seen as unnecessary and a waste of time. For the few who did go to college, what they learned was still filtered through their fundamentalist belief system. If something they were taught didn’t support a preconception, it would be ignored and forgotten the second it was no longer needed to pass an exam.

Knowing this about their belief system and their view of outside information that doesn’t support it, telling me that the problem is coastal elites not understanding them completely misses the point.

Another problem with rural, Christian, white Americans is they are racists. I’m not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists (though some are). I’m talking about people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white God made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed and cursed.

The religion in which I was raised taught this. Even though they’ve backtracked on some of their more racist declarations, many still believe the original claims. Non-whites are the color they are because of their sins, or at least the sins of their ancestors. Blacks don’t have dark skin because of where they lived and evolution; they have dark skin because they are cursed. God cursed them for a reason. If God cursed them, treating them as equals would be going against God’s will. It is really easy to justify treating people differently if they are cursed by God and will never be as good as you no matter what they do because of some predetermined status.

Once you have this view, it is easy to lower the outside group’s standing and acceptable level of treatment. Again, there are varying levels of racism at play in rural, Christian, white America. I know people who are ardent racists. I know a lot more whose racism is much more subtle but nonetheless racist. It wouldn’t take sodium pentothal to get most of these people to admit they believe they are fundamentally better and superior to minorities. They are white supremacists who dress up in white dress shirts, ties, and gingham dresses. They carry a Bible and tell you, “everyone’s a child of God” but forget to mention that some of God’s children are more favored than others and skin tone is the criterion by which we know who is and who isn’t at the top of God’s list of most favored children.

For us “coastal elites” who understand evolution, genetics, science…nothing we say to those in fly-over country is going to be listened to because not only are we fighting against an anti-education belief system, we are arguing against God. You aren’t winning a battle of beliefs with these people if you are on one side of the argument and God is on the other. No degree of understanding this is going to suddenly make them less racist, more open to reason and facts. Telling “urban elites” they need to understand rural Americans isn’t going to lead to a damn thing because it misses the causes of the problem.

Because rural, Christian, white Americans will not listen to educated arguments, supported by facts that go against their fundamentalist belief systems from “outsiders,” any change must come from within. Internal change in these systems does happen, but it happens infrequently and it always lags far behind reality. This is why they fear change so much. They aren’t used to it. Of course, it really doesn’t matter whether they like it or not, it, like the evolution and climate change even though they don’t believe it, it is going to happen whether they believe in it or not.

Another major problem with closed-off, fundamentalist belief systems is they are very susceptible to propaganda. All belief systems are to some extent, but fundamentalist systems even more so because there are no checks and balances. If bad information gets in, it doesn’t get out and because there are no internal mechanisms to guard against it, it usually ends up very damaging to the whole. A closed-off belief system is like your spinal fluid—it is great as long as nothing infectious gets into it. If bacteria gets into your spinal fluid, it causes unbelievable damage because there are no white blood cells in it whose job is to fend off invaders and protect the system. This is why things like meningitis are so horrible. Without the protective services of white blood cells in the spinal column, meningitis spreads like wildfire once it’s in and does significant damage in a very short period of time. Once inside the closed-off spinal system, bacteria are free to destroy whatever they want.

The very same is true with closed-off belief systems. Without built-in protective functions like critical analysis, self-reflection, openness to counter-evidence, willingness to re-evaluate any and all beliefs, etc., bad information in a closed-off system ends up doing massive damage in short period of time. What has happened to too many fundamentalist belief systems is damaging information has been allowed in from people who have been granted “expert status.” If someone is allowed into a closed-off system and their information is deemed acceptable, anything they say will readily be accepted and become gospel.

Rural, Christian, white Americans have let in anti-intellectual, anti-science, bigoted, racists into their system as experts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, any of the blonde Stepford Wives on Fox, every evangelical preacher on television because they tell them what they want to hear and because they sell themselves as being “one of them.” The truth is none of these people give a rat’s ass about rural, Christian, white Americans except how can they exploit them for attention and money. None of them have anything in common with the people who have let them into their belief systems with the exception they are white and they “speak the same language” of white superiority, God’s will must be obeyed, and how, even though they are the Chosen Ones, they are the ones being screwed by all the people and groups they believe they are superior to.

Gays being allowed to marry are a threat. Blacks protesting the killing of their unarmed friends and family are a threat. Hispanics doing the cheap labor on their farms are somehow viewed a threat. The black president is a threat. Two billion Muslims are a threat. The Chinese are a threat. Women wanting to be autonomous are a threat. The college educated are a threat. Godless scientists are a threat. Everyone who isn’t just like them has been sold to them as a threat and they’ve bought it hook, line, and grifting sinker. Since there are no self-regulating mechanisms in their belief systems, these threats only grow over time. Since facts and reality don’t matter, nothing you say to them will alter their beliefs. “President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to take away their guns.” I feel ridiculous even writing this, it is so absurd, but it is gospel across large swaths of rural America. Are rural, Christian, white Americans scared? You’re damn right they are. Are their fears rational and justified? Hell no. The problem isn’t understanding their fears. The problem is how to assuage fears based on lies in closed-off fundamentalist belief systems that don’t have the necessary tools for properly evaluating the fears.

I don’t have a good answer to this question. When a child has an irrational fear, you can deal with it because they trust you and are open to possibilities. When someone doesn’t trust you and isn’t open to anything not already accepted as true in their belief system, there really isn’t much, if anything you can do. This is why I think the whole, “Democrats have to understand and find common ground with rural America,” is misguided and a complete waste of time. When a 3,000-year-old book that was written by uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times, edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous, self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct mistakes, no amount of understanding, no amount of respect, no amount of evidence is going to change their minds, assuage their fears.

Do you know what does change the beliefs of fundamentalists, sometimes? When something becomes personal. Many a fundamentalist has changed his mind about the LGBT community once his loved ones started coming out of the closet. Many have not. But those who did, did so because their personal experience came in direct conflict with what they believe. My own father is a good example of this. For years I had long, sometimes heated discussions with him about gay rights. Being the good religious fundamentalist he is, he could not even entertain the possibility he was wrong. The Church said it was wrong, so therefore it was wrong. No questions asked. No analysis needed. This changed when one of his adored stepchildren came out of the closet. He didn’t do a complete 180. He has a view that tries to accept gay rights while at the same time viewing being gay as a mortal sin because his need to have his belief system be right outweighs everything else.

This isn’t uncommon. Deeply held beliefs are usually only altered, replaced under catastrophic circumstances that are personal. This belief system alteration works both ways. I know die-hard, open-minded progressives who became ardent fundamentalists due to a traumatic event in their lives.

A really good example of this is the comedian Dennis Miller. I’ve seen Miller in concert four different times during the 1990s. His humor was complex, riddled with references, and leaned pretty left on almost all issues. Then 9/11 happened. For whatever reasons, the trauma of 9/11 caused a seismic shift in Miller’s belief system. Now he is a mainstay on conservative talk radio. His humor was replaced with anger and frustration. 9/11 changed his belief system because it was a catastrophic event that was personal to him.

The catastrophe of the Great Depression along with the progressive remedies by FDR helped create a generation of Democrats from previously die-hard Republicans. People who had, up until that point, deeply believed the government couldn’t help the economy only the free market could change their minds when the brutal reality of the Great Depression affected them directly, personally.

I thought the financial crisis in 2008 would have a similar, though lesser, impact on many Republicans. It didn’t. The systems that were put in place after the Great Recession to deal with economic crises, the quick, smart response by Congress and the administration helped make what could have been a catastrophic event into merely a really bad one. People suffered, but they didn’t suffer enough to where they were open to questioning their deeply held beliefs. Because this questioning didn’t take place, the Great Recession didn’t lead to any meaningful political shift away from poorly regulated markets, supply side economics, or how to respond to a financial crisis. This is why, even though rural Christian white Americans were hit hard by the Great Recession, they not only didn’t blame the political party they’ve aligned themselves with for years, they rewarded them two years later by voting them into a record number of state legislatures and taking over the U.S. House.

Of course, it didn’t help matters there were scapegoats available they could direct their fears, anger, and white supremacy towards. A significant number of rural Americans believe President Obama was in charge when the financial crisis started. An even higher number believe the mortgage crisis was the result of the government forcing banks to give loans to unqualified minorities. It doesn’t matter how untrue both of these are, they are gospel in rural America. Why reevaluate your beliefs and voting patterns when scapegoats are available?

How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only God can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by God’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening personal to people who don’t live around and never interact with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for these for decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic yet a large swath of the South believed and still believes they were right, had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.

“Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the dots. “Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as “too upsetting,” “too mean,” “too arrogant,” “too elite,” “too snobbish.” Pointing out Aunt Bee’s views of Mexicans, blacks, gays…is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about the views Aunt Bee has. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling me a racist,” ploy. Or, as it is more commonly known, “I know you are but what am I?”

I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bee and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about “the gays,” “the blacks,” “illegals,”…and do so without calling her a bigot or a racist. But, this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist and if I’m asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. No one with cancer wants to be told they have cancer, but just because no one uses the word, “cancer,” it doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Just because the media, pundits on all sides, some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many rural, Christian, white Americans, “racist/bigoted” doesn’t make them not so.

Avoiding the obvious only prolongs getting the necessary treatment. America has always had a race problem. It was built on racism and bigotry. This didn’t miraculously go away in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It didn’t go away with the election of Barack Obama. If anything, these events pulled back the curtain exposing the dark, racist underbelly of America that white America likes to pretend doesn’t exist because we are the reason it exists. From the white nationalists to the white, suburban soccer moms who voted for Donald Trump, to the far left progressives who didn’t vote at all, racism exists and has once again been legitimized and normalized by white America.

The honest truths that rural, Christian, white Americans don’t want to accept and until they do nothing is going to change, are:

-Their economic situation is largely the result of voting for supply-side economic policies that have been the largest redistribution of wealth from the bottom/middle to the top in U.S. history.

Immigrants haven’t taken their jobs. If all immigrants, legal or otherwise, were removed from the U.S., our economy would come to a screeching halt and prices on food would soar.

Immigrants are not responsible for companies moving their plants overseas. Almost exclusively white business owners are the ones responsible because they care more about their share holders who are also mostly white than they do American workers.

No one is coming for their guns. All that has been proposed during the entire Obama administration is having better background checks.

Gay people getting married is not a threat to their freedom to believe in whatever white God you want to. No one is going to make their church marry gays, make gays your pastor, accept gays for membership.

Women having access to birth control doesn’t affect their life either, especially women who they complain about being teenage, single mothers.

-Blacks are not “lazy moochers living off their hard earned tax dollars” anymore than many of your fellow rural neighbors. People in need are people in need. People who can’t find jobs because of their circumstances, a changing economy, outsourcing overseas, etc. belong to all races.

They get a tremendous amount of help from the government they complain does nothing for them. From the roads and utility grids they use to the farm subsidies, crop insurance, commodities protections…they benefit greatly from government assistance. The Farm Bill is one of the largest financial expenditures by the U.S. government. Without government assistance, their lives would be considerably worse.

-They get the largest share of Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

-They complain about globalization but line up like everyone else to get the latest Apple product. They have no problem buying foreign-made guns, scopes, and hunting equipment. They don’t think twice about driving trucks whose engine was made in Canada, tires made in Japan, radio made in Korea, computer parts made in Malaysia.

-They use illicit drugs as much as any other group. But, when other people do it is a “moral failing” and they should be severely punished, legally. When they do it, it is a “health crisis” that needs sympathy and attention.

-When jobs dry up for whatever reasons, they refuse to relocate but lecture the poor in places like Flint for staying in towns that are failing.

-They are quick to judge minorities for being “welfare moochers” but don’t think twice about cashing their welfare check every month.

-They complain about coastal liberals, but the taxes from California and New York are what covers their farm subsidies, helps maintain their highways, and keeps their hospitals in their sparsely populated areas open for business.

-They complain about “the little man being run out of business” then turn around and shop at big box stores.

-They make sure outsiders are not welcome, deny businesses permits to build, then complain about businesses, plants opening up in less rural areas.

Government has not done enough to help them in many cases but their local and state governments are almost completely Republican and so too are their representatives and senators. Instead of holding them accountable, they vote them in over and over and over again.

All the economic policies and ideas that could help rural America belong to the Democratic Party: raising the minimum wage, strengthening unions, infrastructure spending, reusable energy growth, slowing down the damage done by climate change, healthcare reform…all of these and more would really help a lot of rural Americans.

What I understand is that rural, Christian, white Americans are entrenched in fundamentalist belief systems; don’t trust people outside their tribe; have been force-fed a diet of misinformation and lies for decades; are unwilling to understand their own situations; and truly believe whites are superior to all races. No amount of understanding is going to change these things or what they believe. No amount of niceties will get them to be introspective. No economic policy put forth by someone outside their tribe is going to be listened to no matter how beneficial it would be for them. I understand rural, Christian, white America all too well. I understand their fears are based on myths and lies. I understand they feel left behind by a world they don’t understand and don’t really care to. They are willing to vote against their own interest if they can be convinced it will make sure minorities are harmed more. Their Christian beliefs and morals are truly only extended to fellow white Christians. They are the problem with progress and always will be, because their belief systems are constructed against it.

The problem isn’t a lack of understanding by coastal elites. The problem is a lack of understanding of why rural, Christian, white America believes, votes, behaves the ways it does by rural, Christian, white America.


Education, Not Income, Predicted Who Would Vote For Trump

Source: 538

Author: Nate Silver

Emphasis Mine

Sometimes statistical analysis is tricky, and sometimes a finding just jumps off the page. Here’s one example of the latter.

I took a list of all 981 U.S. counties1 with 50,000 or more people2 and sorted it by the share of the population3 that had completed at least a four-year college degree. Hillary Clinton improved on President Obama’s 2012 performance in 48 of the country’s 50 most-well-educated counties. And on average, she improved on Obama’s margin of victory in these countries by almost 9 percentage points, even though Obama had done pretty well in them to begin with.

Average 51.4% $77,768k +17.3 +25.9 +8.5
Arlington, VA 72.0 105,120 +39.8 +60.1 +20.3
Alexandria, VA 61.5 87,319 +43.5 +59.0 +15.5
Howard, MD 60.4 110,133 +22.0 +33.5 +11.5
New York, NY 59.3 71,656 +68.8 +77.2 +8.4
Fairfax, VA 59.2 112,102 +20.5 +36.2 +15.7
Boulder, CO 58.2 69,407 +41.8 +48.7 +6.9
Loudoun, VA 58.0 123,966 +4.5 +16.8 +12.3
Montgomery, MD 57.4 98,704 +43.9 +55.6 +11.7
Orange, NC 56.2 57,261 +42.2 +51.0 +8.8
Douglas, CO 55.9 102,626 -25.8 -18.1 +7.7
Hamilton, IN 55.6 84,635 -34.3 -19.6 +14.7
Marin, CA 54.8 91,529 +51.3 +62.8 +11.5
Williamson, TN 54.1 91,743 -46.5 -35.5 +11.0
District of Columbia 53.4 69,235 +83.6 +88.7 +5.1
San Francisco, CA 52.9 78,378 +70.5 +75.7 +5.2
Johnson, KS 52.1 75,017 -17.4 -2.7 +14.7
Albemarle, VA 52.1 67,958 +12.0 +25.0 +13.0
Somerset, NJ 52.0 100,903 +5.6 +12.5 +6.9
Washtenaw, MI 51.8 60,805 +35.9 +41.5 +5.6
Johnson, IA 51.7 54,985 +35.5 +38.2 +2.7
Benton, OR 51.4 49,338 +28.5 +33.8 +5.3
Middlesex, MA 51.3 83,488 +27.1 +38.9 +11.8
Delaware, OH 51.1 91,936 -23.2 -16.1 +7.1
Morris, NJ 50.6 99,142 -10.8 -4.4 +6.4
Tompkins, NY 50.3 52,836 +40.6 +42.1 +1.5
Norfolk, MA 49.9 86,469 +15.2 +31.6 +16.4
Broomfield, CO 49.5 80,430 +6.0 +14.1 +8.1
Douglas, KS 49.4 50,732 +24.6 +32.7 +8.1
Collin, TX 49.4 84,233 -31.5 -17.0 +14.5
Chester, PA 48.8 86,093 -0.2 +9.3 +9.5
Fulton, GA 48.6 56,642 +29.8 +42.1 +12.3
Story, IA 48.5 51,270 +13.8 +12.2 -1.6
Hunterdon, NJ 48.3 106,519 -17.8 -13.8 +4.0
Wake, NC 48.3 66,579 +11.4 +20.5 +9.1
Chittenden, VT 48.0 64,243 +41.6 +47.4 +5.8
Boone, MO 47.7 49,059 +3.1 +5.9 +2.8
Dane, WI 47.6 62,303 +43.5 +48.0 +4.5
Santa Clara, CA 47.3 93,854 +42.9 +52.3 +9.4
Eagle, CO 47.3 73,774 +14.9 +19.9 +5.0
King, WA 47.1 73,035 +40.6 +50.5 +9.9
DuPage, IL 46.7 79,016 +1.1 +14.1 +13.0
Gallatin, MT 46.7 54,298 -5.0 +1.0 +6.0
Ozaukee, WI 46.4 75,643 -30.3 -19.3 +11.0
Hennepin, MN 46.4 65,033 +27.0 +35.3 +8.3
Madison, MS 46.3 63,156 -15.7 -16.0 -0.3
Montgomery, PA 46.2 79,926 +14.3 +21.1 +6.8
James City, VA 46.1 76,705 -12.0 -5.1 +6.9
Bergen, NJ 46.1 83,686 +11.3 +12.0 +0.7
Westchester, NY 46.0 83,422 +25.1 +32.8 +7.7
Durham, NC 45.6 52,038 +52.8 +60.4 +7.6
Clinton’s margin surged in the 50 most-educated counties

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

Although they all have highly educated populations, these counties are otherwise reasonably diverse. The list includes major cities, like San Francisco, and counties that host college towns, like Washtenaw, Michigan, where the University of Michigan is located. It also includes some upper-middle-class, professional counties such as Johnson County, Kansas, which is in the western suburbs of Kansas City. It includes counties in states where Clinton did poorly: She improved over Obama in Delaware County, Ohio, for example — a traditionally Republican stronghold outside Columbus — despite her numbers crashing in Ohio overall. It includes extremely white counties like Chittenden County, Vermont (90 percent non-Hispanic white), and more diverse ones like Fulton County, Georgia, where African-Americans form the plurality of the population. If a county had high education levels, Clinton was almost certain to improve there regardless of the area’s other characteristics.

Now here’s the opposite list: The 50 counties (minimum population of 50,000) where the smallest share of the population has bachelor’s degrees:

Average 13.3% $41,108 -19.3 -30.5 -11.3
Liberty, TX 8.8 47,722 -53.3 -58.0 -4.7
Starr, TX 9.6 25,906 +73.3 +60.1 -13.2
Acadia, LA 9.9 37,684 -49.8 -56.7 -6.9
Apache, AZ 10.1 32,396 +34.3 +36.9 +2.6
Duplin, NC 10.4 34,787 -11.6 -19.2 -7.6
Walker, AL 10.7 36,712 -52.8 -67.5 -14.7
Edgecombe, NC 10.7 33,892 +36.2 +32.2 -4.0
St. Mary, LA 11.1 41,956 -18.8 -27.6 -8.8
DeKalb, AL 11.3 37,977 -54.7 -69.4 -14.7
Anderson, TX 11.3 42,511 -52.1 -58.1 -6.0
McKinley, NM 11.4 29,812 +46.9 +39.5 -7.4
Henry, VA 11.5 34,344 -14.7 -29.2 -14.5
Putnam, FL 11.6 32,714 -24.5 -36.6 -12.2
Darke, OH 11.6 43,323 -44.4 -61.2 -16.8
Halifax, NC 11.9 32,834 +32.3 +26.9 -5.4
Laurel, KY 11.9 35,746 -63.6 -69.1 -5.5
Sampson, NC 12.1 35,731 -10.9 -16.7 -5.8
Maverick, TX 12.1 32,536 +58.1 +55.8 -2.3
Mohave, AZ 12.2 38,456 -42.1 -51.5 -9.4
Blount, AL 12.3 44,409 -73.9 -81.4 -7.5
Robeson, NC 12.4 30,581 +17.4 -4.8 -22.2
Kings, CA 12.5 47,341 -14.9 -17.4 -2.5
Talladega, AL 12.5 35,896 -16.0 -25.5 -9.5
Pike, KY 12.5 32,571 -50.5 -62.7 -12.2
Marion, OH 12.5 42,904 -6.4 -34.4 -28.0
Lea, NM 12.6 55,248 -49.8 -48.3 +1.5
Columbus, NC 12.7 34,597 -7.8 -22.1 -14.3
Terrebonne, LA 12.9 49,932 -41.2 -48.4 -7.2
Wilkes, NC 12.9 32,157 -42.4 -55.2 -12.8
Jackson, AL 12.9 36,874 -41.8 -62.5 -20.7
Le Flore, OK 12.9 35,970 -41.1 -58.7 -17.6
Merced, CA 13.0 43,066 +8.7 +7.9 -0.8
Hawkins, TN 13.0 37,432 -46.9 -63.4 -16.5
Vermilion, LA 13.0 47,344 -52.8 -59.6 -6.8
St. Landry, LA 13.1 33,928 -4.3 -11.9 -7.6
Rockingham, NC 13.1 38,946 -21.1 -30.0 -8.9
Huron, OH 13.1 49,315 -8.3 -36.4 -28.1
Clearfield, PA 13.2 41,510 -28.9 -49.5 -20.6
Tulare, CA 13.3 42,863 -15.0 -16.2 -1.2
Rusk, TX 13.3 46,924 -51.1 -56.6 -5.5
Ashtabula, OH 13.4 40,304 +12.8 -19.0 -31.8
Imperial, CA 13.4 41,772 +32.0 +41.8 +9.7
Bullitt, KY 13.4 56,199 -35.7 -49.8 -14.1
Caldwell, NC 13.4 34,853 -35.5 -50.6 -15.1
Montcalm, MI 13.4 40,739 -8.6 -34.0 -25.4
Madera, CA 13.5 45,490 -17.1 -17.3 -0.2
Dickson, TN 13.5 45,056 -28.4 -45.7 -17.3
Tuscola, MI 13.5 44,017 -10.8 -38.0 -27.2
Pearl River, MS 13.5 40,997 -59.3 -66.7 -7.4
Columbiana, OH 13.6 43,707 -11.8 -41.6 -29.8
Clinton collapsed in the 50 least-educated counties

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News, Alaska Division of Elections

These results are every bit as striking: Clinton lost ground relative to Obama in 47 of the 50 counties — she did an average of 11 percentage points worse, in fact. These are really the places that won Donald Trump the presidency, especially given that a fair number of them are in swing states such as Ohio and North Carolina. He improved on Mitt Romney’s margin by more than 30 points (!) in Ashtabula County, Ohio, for example, an industrial county along Lake Erie that hadn’t voted Republican since 1984.

And this is also a reasonably diverse list of counties. While some of them are poor, a few others — such as Bullitt County, Kentucky, and Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana — have average incomes. There’s also some racial diversity on the list: Starr County, Texas, is 96 percent Hispanic, for example, and Clinton underperformed Obama there (although she still won it by a large margin). Edgecombe County, North Carolina, is 57 percent black and saw a shift toward Trump.

How do we know that education levels drove changes in support — as opposed to income levels, for example? It’s tricky because there’s a fairly strong correlation between income and education.4 Nonetheless, with the whole country to pick from, we can find some places where education levels are high but incomes are average or below average. If education is the key driver of changes in the electorate, we’d expect Clinton to hold steady or gain in these counties. If income matters more, we might see her numbers decline.

As it happens, I grew up in one of these places: Ingham County, Michigan, which is home to Michigan State University and the state capital of Lansing, along with a lot of auto manufacturing jobs (though fewer than there used to be). The university and government jobs attract an educated workforce, but there aren’t a lot of rich people in Ingham County. How did Clinton do there? Just fine. She won it by 28 percentage points, the same as Obama did four years ago, despite her overall decline in Michigan.

And in most places that fit this description, Clinton improved on Obama’s performance. I identified 22 counties5 where at least 35 percent of the population has bachelor’s degrees but the median household income is less than $50,0006 and at least 50 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white (we’ll look at what happened with majority-minority counties in a moment, so hang tight). Clinton improved on Obama’s performance in 18 of the 22 counties, by an average of about 4 percentage points:

Average 40.2% $43,862 +4.8 +8.8 +4.0
Brazos, TX 38.3 39,060 -35.3 -23.6 +11.7
Champaign, IL 42.5 46,680 +7.0 +18.4 +11.4
Clarke, GA 39.3 33,430 +28.8 +38.0 +9.2
Harrisonburg, VA 35.6 38,807 +13.4 +21.9 +8.5
Fayette, KY 40.2 48,667 +1.0 +9.4 +8.4
Riley, KS 45.5 44,522 -12.0 -4.5 +7.5
Davidson, TN 36.5 47,434 +18.6 +26.0 +7.4
Benton, OR 51.4 49,338 +28.5 +33.8 +5.3
Alachua, FL 40.8 42,045 +17.4 +22.6 +5.2
Watauga, NC 38.0 35,491 -3.1 +1.5 +4.6
Monroe, IN 44.2 41,857 +19.1 +23.7 +4.6
Boone, MO 47.7 49,059 +3.1 +5.9 +2.8
Buncombe, NC 35.1 45,642 +12.5 +14.6 +2.1
Montgomery, VA 44.3 44,810 -0.3 +1.3 +1.6
Leon, FL 44.3 46,620 +23.6 +25.1 +1.5
Lafayette, MS 36.9 41,343 -15.3 -14.8 +0.5
New Hanover, NC 37.2 49,582 -4.6 -4.1 +0.5
Payne, OK 36.4 37,637 -28.4 -28.3 +0.1
Ingham, MI 36.5 45,278 +27.8 +27.7 -0.1
Monongalia, WV 38.8 46,166 -9.5 -10.4 -0.9
Tippecanoe, IN 35.2 44,474 -3.6 -5.7 -2.1
Missoula, MT 40.2 47,029 +17.8 +15.7 -2.1
High-education, medium-income white counties shifted to Clinton

Counties shown have a population of at least 50,000. At least 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites, at least 35 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median household income is below $50,000.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

Are these so-called “white working-class” counties? You could argue for it: They’re mostly white, and they have average or below-average incomes. But, of course, “class” is a slippery term, and definitions vary. It is worth noting that many of the counties on the list are home to major colleges or universities, although there are some exceptions. Clinton made substantial gains in Nashville, Tennessee (Davidson County), and modest gains in Asheville, North Carolina (Buncombe County), for instance, and both places have reputations as intellectual and cultural havens but aren’t really college towns.7

There are also some counties where incomes are high but residents aren’t particularly well-educated. Take Suffolk County, New York, for instance, which comprises the eastern three-quarters of Long Island. The median household income there is around $88,000, but only about a third of the population has college degrees (as compared to a national average of around 30 percent). Suffolk County turned into Trump Territory, voting for him by 8 percentage points after Obama had won it by 4 points in 2012. Trump made even larger gains in Staten Island, New York (Richmond County), winning it by 17 points after Obama won it by 3 points in 2012.

Long Island and Staten Island might be peculiar cases because voters there may have a cultural affinity with Trump, who grew up in Queens. Even so, they reveal something about how cultural and educational fault lines can mean more than economic circumstances. Clinton improved over Obama’s performance in suburban Westchester County, New York, for instance, which has broadly similar income levels to Long Island and Staten Island but higher education levels and a different mix of occupations.8 (Staten Island is famous for its large population of police and firefighters, but you’ll meet a lot more journalists who have homes in Westchester.9)

Trump improved on Romney’s performance in 23 of 30 counties where median incomes are $70,000 or higher but less than 35 percent of the population have college degrees and the majority of the population is white. For example, Trump won by a much larger margin than Romney in Calvert County, Maryland, which has some commonalities with Long Island.10 And he substantially improved on Romney’s performance in Chisago County, Sherburne County and Wright County in the Minneapolis exurbs, even though Clinton made major gains in Minneapolis’ Hennepin County. There’s probably some degree of cultural self-sorting at play here. These communities have plenty of nice homes and good schools — they’re not cheap to live in — but they have fewer cultural amenities or pretensions (think big-box retail as opposed to boutiques) than you usually find in nearer-in suburbs and small towns such as those in Westchester County.

Average 30.4% $76,701 -11.0 -15.8 -4.8
Richmond, NY 30.6 74,043 +2.6 -16.8 -19.4
Chisago, MN 21.5 70,223 -12.6 -30.6 -18.0
Sherburne, MN 26.2 73,621 -22.0 -37.1 -15.1
Litchfield, CT 33.7 72,068 -3.6 -16.0 -12.3
Orange, NY 28.6 70,794 +5.7 -6.4 -12.1
Suffolk, NY 33.5 88,323 +3.7 -8.2 -11.9
Wright, MN 27.4 73,085 -21.7 -33.2 -11.5
Gloucester, NJ 28.7 76,213 +10.8 -0.5 -11.3
Calvert, MD 29.3 95,425 -7.5 -18.4 -10.9
Warren, NJ 29.5 70,934 -15.5 -25.6 -10.1
St. Mary’s, MD 29.8 88,190 -14.8 -24.6 -9.8
Sussex, NJ 33.1 87,397 -21.4 -30.2 -8.8
Dutchess, NY 33.4 72,471 +7.5 -1.1 -8.6
Anoka, MN 27.3 70,464 -2.6 -9.7 -7.1
Livingston, MI 33.0 73,694 -23.3 -29.6 -6.3
St. Croix, WI 32.4 70,313 -12.1 -18.4 -6.3
Harford, MD 33.4 81,016 -18.4 -24.5 -6.1
Spotsylvania, VA 28.3 78,505 -11.5 -16.8 -5.3
Fauquier, VA 34.3 92,078 -19.9 -24.7 -4.8
Carroll, MD 32.7 85,532 -32.9 -36.9 -4.0
Chesapeake, VA 29.4 70,176 +1.0 -1.3 -2.3
Ascension, LA 25.8 70,207 -34.3 -36.0 -1.7
Elko, NV 17.5 72,280 -53.2 -54.7 -1.5
Will, IL 32.6 76,142 +5.5 +5.6 +0.1
McHenry, IL 32.2 76,345 -8.8 -8.0 +0.8
Kendall, IL 34.3 83,844 -3.3 -1.5 +1.8
Plymouth, MA 34.0 75,816 +4.2 +10.1 +5.9
Napa, CA 31.9 70,925 +28.7 +35.3 +6.6
Kane, IL 31.8 70,514 +1.1 +9.0 +7.9
Davis, UT 34.6 70,388 -61.9 -22.9 +39.0
High-income, medium-education white counties shifted to Trump

Counties shown have a population of at least 50,000. At least 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites, less than 35 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median household income is above $70,000.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

Education levels are also increasingly dividing majority-minority communities from one another. For example, let’s look at a set of counties that were a sweet spot for the Obama coalition — those that are both diverse and highly educated. In particular, there are 24 counties (minimum population 50,000) in the U.S. where at least 35 percent of the population has college degrees and less than half the population is non-Hispanic white. Obama did really well in these counties in 2012, winning them by an average of 41 percentage points. But Clinton did even better, winning them by 47 points, on average. The only two such counties that Obama had lost, Clinton won: Fort Bend County, Texas, in suburban Houston, which voted for a Democrat for the first time since 1964, and Orange County, California, which hadn’t voted Democratic since 1936.

Average 42.9% 41.9% +41.2 +47.5 +6.3
Fort Bend, TX 42.3 35.5 -6.8 +6.6 +13.4
Fulton, GA 48.6 40.6 +29.8 +42.1 +12.3
Montgomery, MD 57.4 47.4 +43.9 +55.6 +11.7
Orange, CA 37.3 42.9 -6.2 +5.2 +11.4
San Mateo, CA 45.0 41.2 +46.7 +57.2 +10.5
San Diego, CA 35.1 47.5 +7.6 +17.1 +9.5
Santa Clara, CA 47.3 34.1 +42.9 +52.3 +9.4
New York, NY 59.3 47.4 +68.8 +77.2 +8.4
Yolo, CA 38.3 48.8 +34.0 +42.1 +8.1
DeKalb, GA 40.3 29.7 +56.8 +64.7 +7.9
Suffolk, MA 41.0 47.1 +56.7 +64.6 +7.9
Contra Costa, CA 39.4 46.6 +35.2 +42.9 +7.7
Durham, NC 45.6 42.1 +52.8 +60.4 +7.6
Mecklenburg, NC 41.5 49.6 +22.4 +29.9 +7.5
Richmond, VA 35.4 39.7 +57.3 +63.8 +6.5
San Francisco, CA 52.9 41.4 +70.5 +75.7 +5.2
District of Columbia 53.4 35.4 +83.6 +88.7 +5.1
Prince William, VA 38.1 47.0 +16.0 +20.1 +4.1
Alameda, CA 42.1 33.3 +60.7 +64.4 +3.7
Cook, IL 35.3 43.4 +49.4 +53.0 +3.6
Richland, SC 36.2 44.6 +32.0 +32.9 +0.9
Santa Fe, NM 39.9 43.4 +51.1 +50.8 -0.3
Hudson, NJ 36.8 29.6 +56.1 +51.9 -4.2
Middlesex, NJ 40.7 47.0 +27.6 +19.7 -7.9
Highly educated majority-minority counties shifted toward Clinton

Counties on this list have a population of at least 50,000. Less than 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites and at least 35 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

By contrast, Clinton struggled (relatively speaking) in majority-minority communities with lower education levels. Among the 19 majority-minority countries where 15 percent or less of the population has a bachelor’s degree, she won by an average of only 7 percentage points, less than Obama’s 10-point average margin of victory in 2012. We need to be slightly careful here because of the potential ecological fallacy — it’s not clear if minority voters shifted away from Clinton in these counties or if the white voters who live there did. Still, Trump probably gained overall among Latino and black voters compared to Romney, and it’s worth investigating divisions within those communities instead of treating their votes as monolithic.

Average 12.8% 30.3% +10.1 +7.0 -3.1
Robeson, NC 12.4 26.7 +17.4 -4.8 -22.2
Cumberland, NJ 13.8 49.0 +24.2 +5.3 -18.9
Starr, TX 9.6 3.4 +73.3 +60.1 -13.2
McKinley, NM 11.4 10.1 +46.9 +39.5 -7.4
Crittenden, AR 14.6 44.7 +14.9 +8.9 -6.0
Halifax, NC 11.9 39.3 32.3 26.9 -5.4
Edgecombe, NC 10.7 37.2 +36.2 +32.2 -4.0
San Patricio, TX 14.8 41.0 -20.7 -24.0 -3.3
Kings, CA 12.5 34.5 -14.9 -17.4 -2.5
Maverick, TX 12.1 3.1 +58.1 +55.8 -2.3
Tulare, CA 13.3 31.3 -15.0 -16.2 -1.2
Merced, CA 13.0 30.5 +8.7 +7.9 -0.8
Madera, CA 13.5 36.8 -17.1 -17.3 -0.2
Navajo, AZ 14.5 43.0 -7.8 -7.9 -0.1
Lea County, NM 12.6 40.6 -49.8 -48.3 +1.5
Apache, AZ 10.1 19.6 +34.3 +36.9 +2.6
Yuma, AZ 14.0 34.0 -12.6 -5.5 7.1
Ector, TX 14.3 38.3 -48.9 -40.6 +8.3
Imperial, CA 13.4 13.0 +32.0 +41.8 +9.7
Low-education majority-minority counties shifted toward Trump

Counties shown have a population of at least 50,000. Less than 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites and less than 15 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

In short, it appears as though educational levels are the critical factor in predicting shifts in the vote between 2012 and 2016. You can come to that conclusion with a relatively simple analysis, like the one I’ve conducted above, or by using fancier methods. In a regression analysis at the county level, for instance, lower-income counties were no more likely to shift to Trump once you control for education levels.11 And although there’s more work to be done, these conclusions also appear to hold if you examine the data at a more granular level, like by precinct or among individual voters in panel surveys.

But although this finding is clear in a statistical sense, that doesn’t mean the interpretation of it is straightforward. It seems to me that there a number of competing hypotheses that are compatible with this evidence, some of which will be favored by conservatives and some by liberals:

  • Education levels may be a proxy for cultural hegemony. Academia, the news media and the arts and entertainment sectors are increasingly dominated by people with a liberal, multicultural worldview, and jobs in these sectors also almost always require college degrees. Trump’s campaign may have represented a backlash against these cultural elites.
  • Educational attainment may be a better indicator of long-term economic well-being than household incomes. Unionized jobs in the auto industry often pay reasonably well even if they don’t require college degrees, for instance, but they’re also potentially at risk of being shipped overseas or automated.
  • Education levels probably have some relationship with racial resentment, although the causality isn’t clear. The act of having attended college itself may be important, insofar as colleges and universities are often more diverse places than students’ hometowns. There’s more research to be done on how exposure to racial minorities affected white voters. For instance, did white voters who live in counties with large Hispanic populations shift toward Clinton or toward Trump?
  • Education levels have strong relationships with media-consumption habits, which may have been instrumental in deciding people’s votes, especially given the overall decline in trust in the news media.
  • Trump’s approach to the campaign — relying on emotional appeals while glossing over policy details — may have resonated more among people with lower education levels as compared with Clinton’s wonkier and more cerebral approach.

So data like this is really just a starting point for further research into the campaign. Nonetheless, the education gap is carving up the American electorate and toppling political coalitions that had been in place for many years.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.


Why Bernie’s Revolution Has Just Begun

With each primary victory—and each close call—Sanders has shown us our own strength.

Source: AlterNet

Author: D.D. Guttenplan/The Nation

Emphasis Mine

Well, we’ll always have Michigan….

A week after Bernie Sanders stunned pollsters with a victory that nobody predicted, lifting his campaign—and his supporters’ expectations—those hopes came crashing down to earth yesterday with defeats in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, and North Carolina. Hillary Clinton’s late-breaking win in Missouri gives her a clean sweep on a night that was meant to mark the turn in the tide for Sanders, who poured time and money into Ohio, where Clinton took every big city on her way to a convincing 14-point victory, and Illinois, where Sanders hoped to profit from dissatisfaction with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a longtime Clinton ally. Though voters did punish Cook County prosecutor Anita Alvarez for her handling of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, favoring challenger Kim Foxx by a margin of 2 to 1, Clinton carried Cook County by a comfortable 8 points.

Yes, it’s true that the rest of the primary calendar is more favorable to Sanderswho has won more states, garnered many more votes, and has a larger share of the delegates than any of the Republicans challenging Donald Trump. Whose presumptive grasp on his party’s nomination is denied almost daily by the same media who have been burying Sanders—when they could be bothered to write about him—from Iowa onward. We never said this was going to be easy—or a fair fight.

Hillary Clinton has always been the favored candidate of the party establishment. And unlike 2008, when the powerful Cook County portion of that establishment broke for Obama, a favorite son, this time the establishment remains unified in the face of the Sanders insurgency. Which would be reason enough for Sanders to carry on his fight all the way to Philadelphia, even if it really were mathematically impossible for him to win the nomination—a point we are still unlikely to reach before California votes on June 7. The strength of Sanders’s challenge, and the enthusiasm of his supporters, have already pulled Hillary Clinton off dead center on police violence, trade policy, access to education, and making the wealthy pay their share of taxes. 

As long as he stays in the race, and stays true to his beliefs, Sanders will keep winning those arguments, even if Clinton’s willingness to steal her opponent’s best ideas—and even some of his best lines—help her to win voters who will be crucial in defeating Trump in November. Turnout remains the Democrats’ Achilles’ heel: In Ohio, where Trump came second, he still got more votes than either Democrat. Clinton herself seems to get this, and yesterday declined to endorse calls for Sanders to drop out. Any other course would leave Trump in sole possession of the media for the next four months.

Speaking of the Donald, it also seems odd that while his impact on the Republican party is endlessly analyzed, almost nothing has been said about the way Trump’s likely nomination has influenced Democratic primary voters. My own guess is that fear of Trump probably carried Clinton over the line in Illinois and Missouri.

Keeping Clinton from reverting to a neoliberal default isn’t the only reason for Sanders to stay in the race—or the most important. As Sanders has always said, his aim is “a political revolution.” Winning the nomination would be nice, but is neither necessary nor sufficient to bring that about. Building a nationwide, durable network of mobilized, active supporters prepared to keep working for universal healthcare, a living wage, ending Wall Street welfare and America’s endless wars—including the drug wars—in numbers great enough to Occupy the Democratic Party and take it back from its corporate funders is absolutely crucial. So, too, is the difficult work of stitching together movements like #BlackLivesMatter, Fight for 15, immigrant rights, climate justice, and voting rights into a coalition prepared to march together, vote together, and transform our politics—and our country. Yet that is the task we face.

Are the odds against us? Of course. That’s what it means to live inside a rigged system. But remember where we were only a few months ago. With each primary victory—and each close call—Sanders shows us our own strength. With each packed rally we see the claim that socialism is un-American exposed as a lie, that a world where no one starves, healthcare is not rationed by wealth, and energy companies aren’t allowed to rape the earth for profit and leave the rest of us to take the consequences is not only possible but popular.

Why cut off that momentum? Especially when, as Daniel Cantor of the Working Families Party points out, Sanders actually keeps getting stronger: “Bernie’s North Carolina performance was 15 points better than his South Carolina performance last month, and 5 points better than his Virginia performance two weeks ago. Meanwhile, the margin in Cook County, Illinois, is half of that in Wayne County, Michigan.”

So we fight on—to July, November, and beyond. For the nomination, so long as that remains a possibility. For our country—which may in November face as stark a choice as any in our lifetimes. And for our future, which is far too precious a prize to abandon for the sake of a few thousand votes.


Conservative Economists Agree Trump’s Tax Plan Would Cost $12 Trillion, Bankrupt America

Author:Jessie Rappaport

Emphasis Mine

Although Donald Trump’s experience in government is non-existent, the Republican front-runner prides himself on his alleged business savvy. But a report from the Tax Foundation shows that Trump’s newly-unveiled tax plan would increase the national debt by more than $10 trillion over the next decade, by lowering taxes for the super-rich.

Trump revealed his plans for tax reform on Monday. The plans include massive tax cuts, which he claims will be off-set by closing loopholes for wealthy corporations. But those who have analyzed the plan have found that the numbers just don’t add up. An analyst from the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan think tank, said of the proposal:

“The much lower top marginal rate of 25 percent will mean a large cut for the top, even with the limitation on itemized deductions… Trump is claiming a tax increase on wealthy individuals, but I do not believe this will be the case.”

According to NBC News, the new report shows that Trump’s economic “vision” would in fact end up costing the country $12 trillion in total. In addition to increasing the debt by over $10 trillion from individual tax reform, Trump’s corporate tax cuts would add $1.54 trillion, and eliminating the estate tax would mean another $238 billion.

Given Trump’s dubious financial history, the depressing reality of his tax plan should come as no surprise. Trump’s businesses have filed for bankruptcy four times, making Trump the “top filer” of bankruptcy in recent decades. Trump has proudly stated his abuse of bankruptcy laws as showing good business sense, but while it may be a good strategy for lining the pockets of rich CEOs, it’s no way to run a country.

Despite threatening to drive the country into bankruptcy, just like his business ventures, Trump is living up to the Republican tradition of increasing the national debt with tax cuts for the wealthy. The Tax Foundation has shown that Trump’s competitors’ tax proposals would also drive the country further into debt. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul all offer plans that would cost $3 trillion or more. In a recent interview, Bush was dumbstruck when asked to explain the projected deficit increase.

Trump has claimed his tax plan would be a “rocket ship” for the economy, but real economic analysis shows that it would only blow up on the launchpad. This once again proves that the image that Trump tries to project does not correspond to reality. It’s important to keep these facts in mind as the Republicans attempt to strike fear into the public about the cost of expanding necessary social programs such as education and healthcare. The fact is, the Republicans want to reduce such programs, but their plans leave us more and more in debt, while reducing taxes for the super-rich. Trump’s plan would increase their incomes by 21.6%, while leaving millions of Americans to wallow in poverty. It looks like Trump has finally picked up a few ideas from the Republican establishment he fights against so hard.


Why the Racist History of the Charter School Movement Is Never Discussed

Touted as the cure for what ails public education, charter schools have historical roots that are rarely discussed.

From: AlterNet

By:Christopher Bonastia

“As a parent I find it easy to understand the appeal of charter schools, especially for parents and students who feel that traditional public schools have failed them. As a historical sociologist who studies race and politics, however, I am disturbed both by the significant challenges that plague the contemporary charter school movement, and by the ugly history of segregationist tactics that link past educational practices to the troubling present.

The now-popular idea of offering public education dollars to private entrepreneurs has historical roots in white resistance to school desegregation after Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The desired outcome was few or, better yet, no black students in white schools. In Prince Edward County, Virginia, one of the five cases decided in Brown, segregationist whites sought to outwit integration by directing taxpayer funds to segregated private schools.

Two years before a federal court set a final desegregation deadline for fall 1959, local newspaper publisher J. Barrye Wall shared white county leaders’ strategy of resistance with Congressman Watkins Abbitt: “We are working [on] a scheme in which we will abandon public schools, sell the buildings to our corporation, reopen as privately operated schools with tuition grants from [Virginia] and P.E. county as the basic financial program,” he wrote. “Those wishing to go to integrated schools can take their tuition grants and operate their own schools. To hell with ’em.”

Though the county ultimately refused to sell the public school buildings, public education in Prince Edward County was nevertheless abandoned for five years (1959-1964), as taxpayer dollars were funneled to the segregated white academies, which were housed in privately owned facilities such as churches and the local Moose Lodge. Federal courts struck down this use of taxpayer funds after a year. Still, whites won and blacks lost. Because there were no local taxes assessed to operate public schools during those years, whites could invest in private schools for their children, while blacks in the county—unable and unwilling to finance their own private, segregated schools—were left to fend for themselves, with many black children shut out of school for multiple years.

Meanwhile, in less blatant attempts to avoid desegregation, states and localities also enacted “freedom of choice” plans that typically allowed white students to transfer out of desegregated schools, but forced black students to clear numerous administrative hurdles and, not infrequently, withstand harassment from teachers and students if they entered formerly all-white schools. When some segregationists began to acknowledge that separate black and white schools were no longer viable legally, they sought other means to eliminate “undesirables.”

Attorney David Mays, who advised high-ranking Virginia politicians on school strategy, reasoned, “Negroes could be let in [to white schools] and then chased out by setting high academic standards they could not maintain, by hazing if necessary, by economic pressures in some cases, etc. This should leave few Negroes in the white schools. The federal courts can easily force Negroes into our white schools, but they can’t possibly administer them and listen to the merits of thousands of bellyaches.” (Mays vastly underestimated the determination of individual black families and federal officials.)

These nefarious motives may seem a far cry from the desire of many charter school operators to “reinvent” public education for students whom traditional public schools have failed. In theory, these committed bands of reformers come with good intentions: they purport to bring in dedicated teachers who have not been pummeled into complacency; energize their students by creating by a caring, rigorous school environment; and build a parent body that is inspired (in some cases compelled) to become more involved in their children’s education both inside and outside the school. And in some cases, charter schools deliver what they promise. In others, however, this sparkling veneer masks less attractive realities that are too often dismissed, or ignored, as the complaints of reactionaries with a vested interest in propping up our failed system of public education.

The driving assumption for the pro-charter side, of course, is that market competition in education will be like that for toothpaste — providing an array of appealing options. But education, like healthcare, is not a typical consumer market. Providers in these fields have a disincentive to accept or retain “clients” who require intensive interventions to maintain desired outcomes—in the case of education, high standardized test scores that will allow charters to stay in business. The result? A segmented marketplace in which providers compete for the “good risks,” while the undesirables get triage. By design, markets produce winners, losers and unintended or hidden consequences.

Charter school operators (like health insurers who exclude potentially costly applicants) have developed methods to screen out applicants who are likely to depress overall test scores. Sifting mechanisms may include interviews with parents (since parents of low-performing students are less likely to show up for the interview), essays by students, letters of recommendation and scrutiny of attendance records. Low-achieving students enrolled in charters can, for example, be recommended for special education programs that the school lacks, thus forcing their transfer to a traditional public school. (More brazenly, some schools have experienced, and perhaps even encouraged, rampant cheating on standardized tests.)

Operators have clear motives to avoid students who require special services (i.e., English-language learners, “special needs” children and so on) and those who are unlikely to produce the high achievement test scores that form the basis of school evaluations. Whether intended or otherwise, these sifting mechanisms have the ultimate effect of reinscribing racial and economic segregation among the students they educate — as the research on this topic is increasingly bearing out.

A 2010 report by the UCLA-based Civil Rights Project, “Choice without Equity: Charter School Segregation and the Need for Civil Rights Standards,” uncovers some troublesome facts in this regard. “While segregation for blacks among all public schools has been increasing for nearly two decades, black students in charter schools are far more likely than their traditional public school counterparts to be educated in intensely segregated settings. At the national level, 70 percent of black charter school students attend intensely segregated minority charter schools (which enroll 90-100 percent of students from under-represented minority backgrounds), or twice as many as the share of intensely segregated black students in traditional public schools.”

In the first decade of the 2000s, charter school enrollment nearly tripled; today around 2.5 percent of public school students are enrolled in charters. Blacks are overrepresented in charter schools (32 percent vs. 16 percent in the entire public-school population), whites are underrepresented (39 percent versus 56 percent), and Latinos, Asians and American Indians are enrolled in roughly equal proportions in charters and traditional public schools. These snapshots mask considerable variation. In the West and some areas of the South, it appears that charter schools “serve as havens for white flight from public schools,” according to the Civil Rights Project.

There are also preliminary indications that some charter schools under-enroll students qualifying for free lunch and English-language learners, thereby reducing the enrollment of low-income and Latino students, but data is limited in these areas, as it is on non-test-related factors such as graduation rates and college enrollment. How can we compare the performance of charters versus traditional public schools if we don’t know whether they are enrolling the same types of students? At the national and state levels, policymakers are pushing for the rapid expansion of charter schools on the basis of hope rather than evidence.

This points to a larger historical issue. The widespread enthusiasm for and rapid proliferation of charter schools also appears to mirror a persistent issue in American education: expanding new programs before we know if they work, and how successes might be replicated on a larger scale. As the historian Charles M. Payne observed, “Perhaps the safest generalization one can make about urban schools or school districts is that most of them are trying to do too much too fast, initiating programs on the basis of what’s needed rather than on the basis of what they are capable of.” As charter schools face the uncertainty of contract renewal (which occurs typically at the three- to five-year mark), they may be tempted to overlay a multitude of seemingly innovative instructional strategies without sufficient monitoring of effectiveness.

Some schools do adopt approaches that seem to help students make demonstrable gains in achievement tests. (There are ongoing debates about the extent to which increases in test scores reflect authentic hikes in skills and knowledge, as opposed to a mastery of test-taking techniques.) But even when we identify charter schools that appear to improve performance in relation to students with similar characteristics in the public schools, the question becomes one of scaling up. The concept of charter schools is that they will all be distinctive, with different mixes of students, teaching philosophies, school environments and so on. In theory, other schools—traditional public and other charters—will learn what works, and replicate these innovations.

This has proven terribly difficult to do with successful public schools; doing so with a small, idiosyncratic charter school geared toward students who love the cello poses even greater hurdles.  When researchers from the RAND Corporation studied charter schools in Philadelphia, they noted that “with so many interventions under way simultaneously…there is no way to determine exactly which components of the reform plan are responsible for [any] improvement”—though ultimately they found that privately operated schools produced no more successful outcomes than their traditional public counterparts.

As important as applying successful techniques to other schools is an issue at the other end of the spectrum: when to conclude that a charter has failed. Policymakers such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who have sold charters as the route to educational salvation may be reluctant to pull the plug on failures. The Big Apple has closed roughly 4 percent of charters since its first one opened in 1999, well below the national closing rate of 15 percent. The appropriate rate of charter revocation is anyone’s guess.

By all appearances, charters will remain on the educational landscape for the foreseeable future. While charter skeptics can’t merely wish them away, they can push for greater accountability—after all, isn’t this the whole point of charters? Anyone who blindly accepts that competition will improve education for students in charters and traditional public schools alike should remember that other articles of faith about the market—like cutting taxes on the rich will make all of our yachts and rafts rise—have proven illusory.

The market is not a self-regulating mechanism: players need rules to guide their behavior. Educational history offers some valuable lessons to keep in mind. First, when public schools have great influence in selecting their student body, this can either lead to greater diversity and opportunity while retaining choice (as in some magnet schools), or it can exacerbate persistent problems of racial and economic segregation. Businesspeople respond to incentives, and the impetus for charter-school operators is to “skim the cream” and avoid undesirables. Tangible rewards for charter schools to offer free transportation and lunches, and to craft racially and economically diverse student bodies, could be a step in the right direction.

Educational history also teaches us to be wary of the deep and authentic desire to find the “secret sauce” that produces hard-working, high-achieving students and committed teachers.  It is not easy to identify the factors that make a school great, and it is even harder to disseminate these reforms widely. If, for example, we discover that Charter School X produces exemplary outcomes because of exceptionally talented, committed teachers and unusually industrious students, how do we go about replicating that — and at what cost? Are all teachers and students capable of reaching these heights, or is there a limited pool? It would be nice to think the former, but evidence for such optimism is scarce.

There is no magic elixir that will fix our educational system. Of course, we should continue to be open to fresh ideas about improving school organization, teaching and learning. But if we continue to ignore important historical lessons about the dangerous consequences of educational privatization and fail to harness our desire to plunge headlong into unproven reform initiatives, we may discover that the cure we so lovingly embraced has made the patient sicker.

Christopher Bonastia is associate professor of sociology at Lehman College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of “Southern Stalemate: Five Years without Public Education in Prince Edward County, Virginia” (University of Chicago Press, 2012).

Emphasis Mine


Let’s value Education and Health Care

In a recent NY Times Article, Paul Krugman writes:

“So maybe I was wrong. I used to consider health care our greatest national shame, considering that we spend twice as much on medical care as many European nations, yet American children are twice as likely to die before the age of 5 as Czech children — and American women are 11 times as likely to die in childbirth as Irish women.”

Chilling reality.

“Yet I’m coming to think that our No. 1 priority actually must be education. That makes the new fiscal stimulus package a landmark, for it takes a few wobbly steps toward reform and allocates more than $100 billion toward education.”

Thank you Mr. Krugman: the last time we valued education was in the ‘post sputnik panic’, our national reaction after the Soviets launched the first earth satellite in Oct of 1957.  “How could those  godless communists have succeeded? ”