Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 3: Beachfront Trumpers

Writing

Introduction

The Establishment has forcefully pushed the explanation that Clinton lost due the fact that “working class whites” voted for Trump because they are racist. I was surprised to hear this theory, because as a poor white person, I know that the rich always vote for Republicans and the poor have very consistently voted for Democrats. This holds in exit poll data back into 1984 (we’ll talk about the income data and exit polls in general in a separate post, but that data can be found here). This year, Clinton only won those making 50,000 a year, while losing the other income groups.

exitpolldata

Some have noticed that Trump won more uneducated voters, and called these people working class. This seems strange for two reasons

  1. Trump also won the educated white vote.
  2. Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and BA’s are no guarantee of social status in a country where there is limited social mobility

More detailed contextual information is here. After seeing these arguments, it was suggested that Clinton won the cities, where the poor are assumed to be nonwhite (there are in fact, poor whites in urban areas, I used to be one), while Trump won rural, white voters living in poverty. This theory will be deconstructed by looking at the precinct by precinct data. That data, which goes beyond exit polls to actual vote totals,  can be found using this link. Please subscribe to the LA Times money for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

Lessons from the Coast: A Close Look at Oxnard, California

oxnard

Where the Trump Supporters are

Today we will be talking about beautiful Oxnard, California. Oxnard is on the coast of Southern California. Oxnard is about 77 percent white, and has actually increased in the percentage of white people since 2010. The BA rate fits the national average (3o percent) and the median income is 53,482.

Here is a map of how the City of Oxnard Voted

 

Oxnardmap.PNG

A sea of Clinton lovers surrounding those isolated Trump supporters

You’ll notice that Clinton won Oxnard. It is a sea of blue except for one tiny section that happens to be beach front property. Average home costs in Oxnard are 442,000, according to Zillow. Except for that little red patch where they are selling for 1.5 million and up. Sort of hard to call those Trump supporters, and he won in that strip by 60 percent of the vote, “working class” even if they are so profoundly white.

Tomorrow we’ll be comparing Rio Linda, known as the home of the largest KKK in California and Del Paso Heights, which is also a neighborhood in Sacramento with similar racial demographics. We will also take a look at who voted for Trump in Los Angeles. Then we will discuss how the turnout data in exit polls has changed for class overtime. Next week, I’ll be sharing a breakdown of votes in Wisconsin and some interesting correlations between the health data and voting.

 

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Blame Trump on the Rich Part 2: Those Poor, White Mountain Towns

Writing

Introduction

The Establishment has forcefully pushed the explanation that Clinton lost due the fact that “working class whites” voted for Trump because they are racist. I was surprised to hear this theory, because as a poor white person, I know that the rich always vote for Republicans and the poor have very consistently voted for Democrats. This holds in exit poll data back into 1984 (we’ll talk about the income data and exit polls in general in a separate post, but that data can be found here). This year, Clinton only won those making 50,000 a year, while losing the other income groups.

exitpolldata

Some have noticed that Trump won more uneducated voters, and called these people working class. This seems strange for two reasons

  1. Trump also won the educated white vote.
  2. Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and BA’s are no guarantee of social status in a country where there is limited social mobility

More detailed contextual information is here. After seeing these arguments, it was suggested that Clinton won the cities, where the poor are assumed to be nonwhite (there are in fact, poor whites in urban areas, I used to be one), while Trump won rural, white voters living in poverty. This theory will be deconstructed by looking at the precinct by precinct data. That data, which goes beyond exit polls to actual vote totals,  can be found using this link. Please send the LA Times money for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

nevadacitygrassvalley

Rural, White, Poor and Voting in Mass for Clinton: Two Quiet Mountain Towns

Today we will be talking about two white mountain towns in the Sierra Nevadas of California. Much of my extended family lives in Grass Valley, California, so I spent some time in my youth with my white and mixed race cousins running around the beautiful forests. It is remote, rural and deeply poor. Nevada City could be its mirror, except it lies closer to the even more socially conservative territories in Northwest Nevada.

Let’s talk about Grass Valley first. Please note that all of my data for income and race comes from the census, which you can find here. Grass Valley is 89.4 percent white. It has a BA rate well below the national average at 23.4 percent. The median family income is 33, 325 and almost a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. Based on this data, who do you think won Grass Valley?

 Clinton won Grass Valley with 68 percent of the vote.

grassvalleymainstreet

Grass Valley, Main Street

When I saw this, I thought perhaps it was a fluke, and I had selected a city I knew well as part of a cognitive bias. So then I started looking at the rest of the map in that region, and even further up North in what has usually been a known socially conservative area of the state. To look closely at just one example, we’ll be looking at Nevada City.

Nevada City is 94.7 percent white. Which is five percentage points higher than the white population in Grass Valley, which was already nearly 90 percent white. It is more rural than Grass Valley as well, with a smaller population and significantly smaller density per-capita. It is also poorer than Grass Valley, with a median income of 23, 705. So to summarize, it is whiter, more rural, poorer, and in more notoriously socially conservative territory.

Clinton won Nevada City with 79 percent of the vote.

Clinton won the poorer, whiter, more rural, less educated city with almost ten percentage points. 

nevadacitychurch

Those damn evangelicals voting for Clinton (Church in Nevada City)

Tomorrow, we’ll be talking about an interesting neighborhood comparison on the coast of California, with a high education and middle class population. It is also majority white. Later we’ll be discussing some of the data in Sacramento, as well as exit polls over time and the fascinating correlations with health and the voting patterns of the poor.

Blame Trump on the Rich Part 1: Gridley and the Two Sides of the Tracks

Writing

The Establishment has forcefully pushed the explanation that Clinton lost due the fact that “working class whites” voted for Trump because they are racist. I was surprised to hear this theory, because as a poor white person, I know that the rich always vote for Republicans and the poor have very consistently voted for Democrats. This holds in exit poll data back into 1984 (we’ll talk about the income data and exit polls in general in a separate post, but that data can be found here). This year, Clinton only won those making 50,000 a year, while losing the other income groups.

exitpolldata

 

Some have noticed that Trump won more uneducated voters, and called these people working class. This seems strange for two reasons

  1. Trump also won the educated white vote.
  2. Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and BA’s are no guarantee of social status in a country where there is limited social mobility

More detailed contextual information is here. After seeing these arguments, it was suggested that Clinton won the cities, where the poor are assumed to be nonwhite (there are in fact, poor whites in urban areas, I used to be one), while Trump won rural, white voters living in poverty. This theory will be deconstructed by looking at the precinct by precinct data. That data, which goes beyond exit polls to actual vote totals,  can be found using this link. Please send the LA Times money for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

We’ll be looking at few case studies that will demonstrate that the majority of poor whites continued to vote Democrat, as they have for decades, while the turnout and share of voters from the upper classes increased over time. Over several days, we will explore examples that demonstrate that it was, in fact, the rich who voted for Trump.

Today we will be talking about the town of Gridley. Gridley is a town in the NorthEast portion of the state, north of Sacramento. It has one of those cute founding stories that many of these former Gold Rush towns have. The population of Gridley is about 6,584. This makes it a small town that is mostly rural. Indeed, there is no real urban area in Gridley. As you would imagine, this town, like most of the towns that surround it, is white. In fact, it is 65 percent white. There are two sides to Gridley. Gridley and East Gridley. A set of railroad tracks divides the two. The median family income in Gridley is 29,957 and over 20 percent of the county is living in poverty. Houses in Gridley sell for $180,000, but right across the tracks in East Gridley they sell for 650,000.

Clinton won Gridley with 56% of the vote, but lost in East Gridley. In East Gridley, which is the “right” side of the tracks with the substantially higher housing costs, Trump won with 54% of the vote. You can also compare turnout numbers. The residents of the wrong side of the tracks only had 272 voters, whereas the haves in East Gridley had 506 votes. This conforms with the national data that demonstrates that the poor barely voted at all. 

The bottom line here is that in a town that is both rural and white there is a clear difference in voting patterns. The poorer portion voted for the Democrat, the haves in the East voted for the Republican. This is consistent with voting patterns in American presidential elections going back to 1984.

The working class white hypothesis, continues to be the only one being put forward in mainstream media. Given the paucity of data to support that and the abundant and growing data to support the fact that Trump was elected by the upper class, it seems like strange behavior for a society to claims to love empiricism so much. I’ll let you make up your own mind for now about why they seem to be clinging to this narrative so much. In the next several posts, we’ll be exploring exit poll income data changes over time, the representative cases of Sacramento, Grass Valley, Oxnard, Nevada City, and some interesting correlations with recent data about the health of poor whites.

Calm Down, No One Thinks Class is More Important than Race 

Writing

I’ve been in the community organizing and activism game for a long time. I was an activist in junior high, which is when I got a teacher fired for being both incompetent and bigoted by circulating and organizing a petition. I’ve been doing that work ever since. In high school, myself and other community leaders ended the racial violence that permeated our poor, but diverse campus. I helped bring the first Black History Month rally to our campus. I also intervened to get access to advanced classes for my friends, among many other fun stories I’ll save for another time.

When I got to college, I wanted to study and not be involved. But unfortunately, as one of only 12 percent of the Stanford campus that was poor and one of the 3 percent that was both poor and white, I sort of realized quickly that I didn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter. Among my many acts on campus, I was instrumental in creating the first group for poor and first generation college students at an elite institution. I also forced Stanford to adopt class as part of their Acts  of Intolerance protocol and participated in creating and advocating for training for staff members who were dealing with poor and traumatized students. One of my last acts was to speak at a rally against Arizona’s “show me your papers law” as a working class person who implored others to fight alongside my immigrant neighbors and to fight racial injustice. As a teacher, my curriculum included the teaching of every single movement in the 60s and my signature unit was on the Black Freedom Struggle where I featured the Black Panthers. I also closed the achievement gap between my nonwhite and white students and poor and rich students in my first semester of classroom teaching. So now that I’ve stated my credentials, I hope you can hear what I am about to say to you. Race is a profoundly salient and destructive construct, whose systematic oppression has brought hell on earth for far too many. I will fight it, always. I would happily die for the cause of fighting it.

But if you think that my talking about class or my talking about being poor and white is somehow taking away from that fight or demonstrates that I think class is more important, you are being an unhelpful dick and I have to question your motives.

Do you know how many universities in this country even have researchers studying class as a category of analysis? I do. And it’s very fucking few. There is very little research that has been done and this is partially why I am not in a doctoral program. I was rejected from several schools because I studied class, even though my work also involves the study of race.

Here’s how little we understand about class in this country: several of you require that I regularly provide evidence that I grew up poor. All the time. Everyday. Every fucking day for ten years, I have had to prove that poverty was a problem for me to self proclaimed socialists and Marxists.

Only one editor on the entire Stanford campus would accept my writing on class and I’m married to him. When I got to Stanford they wouldn’t even use the word “low income” because of the “stigma” involved. It took four years just to get them to do that. I hate interacting with most of the people who claim to be my ally because say things like, “those people are poor because they don’t work hard enough.” I spent four years just fighting to be able to say the truth, and most of my opposition came from people who claim to be helping the oppressed.

And I get this. There are limited resources and people of color have suffered a lot and it feels like and has historically been the case that we’ve pitted these two against each other. I understand why that concerns people. I understand why  people assumed things and silenced me. That fear is real.

But… I also think we are ALL adults who can do things differently and talk about both at the same time. And I also think that dividing us up, such that we don’t work together is exactly what the oppressors want. We can support each other at the same time. I can ride hard for people of color and also get justice for the poor. I can even do it with my white passing skin.

How do I know?

I’ve been doing it my whole life.

Why?

Because I’ve never lived anywhere where I was in the racial majority and my family is mixed and I’m also mixed. And this is true for literally every poor white person I know, including the bikers. And we don’t let people we love be oppressed without at least trying to do something about it. We see it as a communal struggle, regardless of how we personally identify.

I am not asking to take anything anyway from anyone. I am simply asking, rather nicely, for a fucking seat at the table. Need me to do something to fight racial injustice? I will happily show up anytime. So if you could stop misrepresenting my position that would be great.

I’ll never forget the last night of the monologue show I put together my senior year while three of my relatives died due to substandard healthcare. We called it Wealth of Words and it was a  series of monologues where people simply spoke about what it was like to be poor at Stanford. During the Q&A, a very prominent activist for the Asian American community asked me if we “were engaging in class warfare?”

It’s funny how they only call it class warfare when it’s the poor fighting the rich, isn’t it?

You want to tell people to check their privilege? Then check yours first. Y’all have been talking a big game about socialist uprisings, now is the time to see if you mean it. Because here’s what I know, the people that will be paying for the left’s failures to stop Trump are mine. The college kids at Yale are protected and sheltered. It’s my people who will pay the cost of this in their blood. I have played nice up until now, but if it’s the difference between hurting your feelings or having all of you hate me and preventing the deaths of my own folks, you might as well start hating me now. This is the last time I’ll be asking.

How Mobilizing the Poor Might Have Changed the Election

Writing

The left is trying to figure out how we lost this election to Trump, and it is a worthy and important question. The most common reason that has been proposed is that working class whites voted for Trump because they are racist, but there are several problems with that argument, and it’s reflective of the way we struggle to talk about class in this country. Often when we want to talk about class it is kind of hard to find the raw data because we very rarely study class in this country, and there are lots of reasons for this, including representation in academia and funding issues. Which is to say, that it isn’t anyone’s fault that people are unaware of this but fortunately we have the data now to truly analyze this.

Determining Who Voted for Whom by Social Class

As in previous years, the rich were more likely to vote for the Republican and this is consistent with just about every election in modern history, the rich are more likely to vote Republican. Here are the turnout rates by class for 2012. You are free and welcome to look at previous years, but it won’t change. The Republicans have carried the rich vote for the last 30 years.

turnoutbyclass2012

Image 1: Turnout Rates by Class 2012

Now, here is the exit poll data by class for 2016. As you will see, the ONLY class groups Clinton carried were the poor.

 

exitpolldata

Image 2: Voting Rates by Class 2016

In 2016, the Democrats carried the working classes, and the Republicans carried the middle and upper classes.

Why Education is NOT a proxy for class

Now, many people have noted that more uneducated whites voted for Trump, and have designated these people “working class.” This is strange for two reasons

  1. The majority of educated whites also voted for Trump.
  2. No other country uses education levels as a proxy for class, and education is not determinative of class in this country.

Only 30 percent of the country has a BA and even attending an Ivy League school doesn’t have an impact on your class UNLESS you are poor. America is in a period of a historic lack of social mobility. In fact, the numbers are so low that economists have been confused by it for years. People who are rich remain rich and the poor remains poor, no amount of education is really successful at changing that. A possible exception is the TINY amount of folks like me that attended an Ivy League school, we do tend to rise up after getting over our handicaps in our 20s, but then we also have worse health outcomes than the people we left behind. And actually most of us don’t rise up at all.   For the poor, college has not been a source of upward mobility. So using education as a proxy for class only makes sense if you have absolutely no understanding of the definition of class AND you weren’t aware of the lack of social mobility. It is fine to admit that you are ignorant of these things, it is not ok to continue to push them after you become aware.

Democratic Turnout is a Better Explanation for What Happened

Now, as far as why the Democrats lost this year, let’s take a look at turnout numbers. Here are the numbers for 2012, when Obama won the Rust Belt

turnoutratesbyyear

Image 3: Turnout Rates by Year

As you can see, turnout in 2012 was 57.5 percent. Here are the numbers for 2016.

turnoutrates2016

Image 4: Turnout rates for 2016

As you can see, turnout in 2012 was 55%, which is more than 2 percentage points lower than in 2012. That 2 percent is enough to make up the difference of what Clinton lost, without converting any Stein supporters at all. In fact, the Democratic party was short 6 million votes in total from 2012. Many of those votes went to third parties, and the poor were the most likely group to vote third party, but she didn’t need all 6 million to throw her over the edge because she lost by a small amount of votes in key states. In 2016, there was a marked decrease in turnout.

Why Turnout was Lower

So now the question is, why didn’t people vote and who was most unlikely to vote. This data has turnout rates by class.

actualturnoutratesbyclass

Image 5: Turnout Rates by Class

As you can see from the data, turnout rates are lower for the poor than they are for other groups. This has pretty much always been true and though I could list the reasons, I’ll let the data speak for itself. Here are the reasons people gave for not voting.

turnoutbyclass

Image 6: Reasons people didn’t vote

The top three reasons are reasons that disproportionately affect the poor. Much of the poor don’t vote for logistical reasons, like their work schedule or their health. Some don’t vote because they either don’t know how or have given up on voting meaning anything. Voter suppression is much more likely to happen to poor people, so many have faced barriers and have subsequently just given up.  We know voter suppression was a major issue this year. In fact, voter suppression was also an issue during the primaries, so those people had been recently disenfranchised.

Note that this is only for REGISTERED VOTERS, most of the poor isn’t even registered at all. It’s been noted that Trump won areas with poor health, and as you can see, poor health was a substantial barrier to the poor voting. Poor whites also have a declining mortality, which goes against the trends for other groups.

In fact, poor whites have lost almost ten years of their life in the last 20. The verdict is still out on all the causes, but the bottom line is that many of these people simply didn’t vote for legitimate reasons.

Enthusiasm Gap for Clinton

Hillary also experienced an enthusiasm gap in 2016. Here is the percentage of registered voters who intended to actually vote in 2016 vs. 2012, and as we can see from image 6, the fourth most common reason for not voting was a distaste for the candidates.

enthusiamgapbetweenregisteredvoters

Image 7: Registered voters intention to vote 2012 v. 2016

That’s a pretty significant decline and considering that Sanders carried many of the areas Hilary lost in the primary, it suggests that the people might have turned out for a candidate they believed in. Which is to say that the same people that elites have been blaming and calling racists were more likely to turn out for a Socialist from a working class background.

Conclusions and Some Preliminary Thoughts

Taken all together, it seems pretty clear that the Democrats lost because they failed to mobilize the poor to vote. A slightly higher turnout might have saved us, and the reasons people had for not voting were preventable barriers that the elites could have worked and mobilized around but they didn’t.

In fact, working class whites, seem to have voted mostly like other minority groups. This despite the fact that the left made no efforts to reach them and have been mocking them for years. This demonstrates that there is a strong possibility for the working class whites to associate themselves with the struggle of the rest of the poor. Many of them have an identity based on their class background and have been working actively against racism. They live near more minorities, interracially marry more often, and can identify with the rest of the poor. This means there is amazing potential to turn these people into active and empowered members of the left.

I get why the folks on the right keep pushing this narrative. The only time the elites have been in danger of revolt in this country was during the beginning of this nation when all of the working classes got together and transcended race during Shay’s Rebellion. It scared them so much that they rewrote many laws to ensure that poor whites, first peoples and free and enslaved blacks didn’t work together. This is where anti-miscegenation laws come from. They want to continue to push this narrative to divide and conquer and ensure that we never work together or never try to really change the economic structure of society. It’s important to remember that the segregationists worst fear was that if we all went to school together, we would fall in love with each other. Rebellion in this country, looks a lot like love.

It only works to our advantage to fold poor whites into our movement and they are primed for that co-option. We can do it AND still talk about race without taking away anything from any other group. There is a huge tradition among activists in the United States who have attempted to do just that. In fact, it was part of Martin Luther King’s last campaign before he died. Howard Zinn was talking about this during the 60s, and in what eventually became his book, A People’s History of the United States. If you consider yourself progressive or revolutionary, you’ve been pushing this narrative because you are ignorant and simply didn’t know, which is absolutely fine! We all have to learn. Our school systems, media, and social segregation make it hard to uncover this information.

But if you are really want to scare the elites, you’ll break up this narrative as quickly as you can and start mobilizing the working classes.

Coal Miner’s Refrain

Writing

Let’s play a fun game. I’m going to post two images and you try to guess which members of the political spectrum posted them.

Some context, I was on Facebook yesterday and both of these images appeared in my feed at roughly the same time. Both people in question are life-long educators. Both of them represent one side of the political spectrum on a very consistent basis.

Here’s image 1

bitchyclassism

Image 1: Fuck those dumb coal miners

 

Here’s Image 2

trumpersclassism

Image 2- A generally positive statement about the poor

Let’s deconstruct the images a bit before we make any guesses. That’ll make the game easier. The first one is saying that coal miners, in their insistence on having jobs, are dumb because coal is outdated and no longer relevant and these stupid idiots want to keep their jobs. Of course, none of that considers a few things

  1. We still use coal
  2. No one is a coal miner because it is fun
  3. These people d0n’t have alternative jobs or the education to get new jobs.

Now, my guess is that the person who posted this is a perfectly nice person. I’ve known them to be a good person, and my guess is that they didn’t know these statements or didn’t think about the implications of what they were saying. Also, they must never have met any coal miners. But I’m here to let you in on a secret, people with power and privilege don’t decide to be coal miners. And the people who are still living in West Virginia in coal mining areas, didn’t move there for the summers. They moved there because mining has always been one of those shit jobs we pretend no one has to do. It’s dangerous, brutal and poorly paid. The people still living in these areas don’t have access to education or anywhere to go. It’s damn hard and costs a lot of money to just move, especially when there is no guarantee of a job when you move.

I could go on and on about how hard this life is, but I’ll let you experience it through music. When you are done crying, you can move on

Coal Miner’s Refrain

Anyway, the point is that the people who post this meme clearly know very little about coal miners, about the life they are living and about their struggle.

Now let’s talk about image 2. Image two suggests that there are morals and values that come from poverty. Image 2 puts the elites to task for their immoral behavior. It assigns agency to the poor and is a subversive critique of the rich.

Wanna guess which person posted 1 and which one posted 2?

 

 

 

Did you guess it was my Trump supporter, white male, old former teacher who posted the pro-poor message? Did you guess that it was a Hispanic educator with a PhD in education and a female who posted the first image about what IDIOTS the coal miners are?

Ok, because that’s what actually happened. Yes, that’s right folks, I woke up to classism yesterday from the left and support from the right.

Still confused as to why people don’t vote for the left? I’m gonna give you some time to get there yourself.

But what I will say is that is wasn’t always like this. There’s a reason the old rust belt was blue until recently. I’m a lifelong Democrat from a family of lifelong Democrats. We used to offer solutions to these people. We used to say, “hey, we are going to help you find better jobs than coal mining” or “we are going to give education and training to find a new job.” We used to honor their struggle and their work. We used to talk about how we were going to help them and how noble that struggle was, and its the same struggle that makes it possible for us to post memes to Facebook. This country still runs on coal.

This country is still built on the backs of poor coal miners, and poor fieldworkers, and poor service workers. The poor is so fucking racially diverse and we all have histories of exploitation. WITHIN LIVING MEMORY, my family was a group of sharecroppers. My great grandmother was repeatedly raped by her boss, had her children taken from her by the state, one was sold, and two of her sisters sterilized. My great grandmother isn’t some distant relation, I knew her in my childhood. My great grandfather was a poor half-Indian sharecropper who stole passage on trains at the age of 15, lied about his age so he could join the army and serve in three foreign wars. He did it because he was starving. And I knew this man, he had a big influence on me. He was alive until my senior year of college.

This is the problem with the kind of identity politics we’ve been playing. It let’s people off the hook for what they believe. It allows us to say, “oh, hey, my background says I’m not responsible for this, because I’m so woke and I’ve experienced oppression.” So let, let you in on a secret we need to get in on now. WE ARE ALL FUCKING RESPONSIBLE FOR OPPRESSION.

Good. Are we done whining now about how it’s not our fault? Glad we could all be adults about that.

If you think you are woke because you read Angela Davis and because your people have historically been oppressed, then maybe you are. But let me tell you something, if you think its ok to mock the poor for their lot in life, then you aren’t as woke as you thought.

So now, can we stop with the self-righteous diatribes about how superior we are to the Trump supporters? We need to start doing the real work of analyzing our own bullshit and changing our tactics and attitude.

And everyday we waste not doing that, is another day that someone else is going to be oppressed.

You want to stop Trump? Give these people a viable alternative.

 

 

 

 

Why the Working Classes Hate the Left

Writing

I’m conducting a funeral tomorrow. Another poor white person who died sooner than they should have. Don’t send me any condolences or words of praise for what a good friend I am for doing this. It’s my best friend’s dad and she didn’t know him. She describes learning how much she looked like him, she just now saw a picture. No condolences are needed because this is old hat for me by now. It’s not the first time I’ve conducted this service, though it will be the first time in an AA trailer in Arizona, but I can’t imagine it’ll be much different from a Hof Brau in Sacramento. The working classes are funny like that. Seems like no matter the time or place we all hold some things in common. A resignation towards death binds us together.

 

When you want to say you love someone you don’t say you’ll die for them, you say you’d kill for them. Death is ever present, and we’ve stared it in the face before. Because we know what violence feels like, we also understand how violence maims your soul and makes you less human. We understand the sacrifice to your soul and honor. When you are poor all you have is your soul and honor. For that we will fight fiercely.

But do you know what we fight most fiercely for? Each other. I will happily tolerate abuse perpetrated against me, but come for someone I love and you won’t survive the encounter. I’m ruthless and brutal for the people. I’ve been fighting against monsters for as long as I know. What can they threaten me with that I haven’t already endured? Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. So I wasn’t scared when Trump got elected. I did the same thing my people have done throughout history and I woke up the next morning and got to work.

Trump is nothing new to us. We’ve been going to work with racist, sexist, classist bosses since the dawn of time. The next time someone tells me they shouldn’t have to talk to those people, I really hope they are organizing a waitressing union, because unless they are, it all sounds sort of ridiculous. Going to school and hearing hurtful stuff is not new to me. I had elementary school teachers call me trash and keep me out of advanced classes. I’ve watched other colleagues do that. I’ve healed the children you all failed to protect. Kids like my middle schoolers who weren’t terrified when they saw the images of Emmett Till. “It’s cool Ms. C., I saw my uncle get shot.” This is what we’ve been putting 11 years old through. And they’ve endured things you can’t even imagine. They endured it and still maintain joy. My working class friends laugh more than my rich friends. I can’t tell sometimes whether it is madness or not, but goddamn it is a beautiful madness.

I carry the hatred of both sides that I’ve inherited from a lifetime of oppression. I know that the same leftists now that point the finger at working class whites are the same ones that told me I shouldn’t be upset about my cousin’s death because as a poor person, his life wasn’t worth much. And the folks on the right? You think we haven’t seen men like Trump before? Did you think that 13 year old he raped and who had been trafficked was rich? So, much of the hysteria seems sort of ridiculous to me. You didn’t know this country had problems before this election? What kind of magical fantasy land are you living in and why aren’t you sharing? I’m seeing so many people talk about how they shouldn’t have to talk to anyone they disagree with. I didn’t know we had the option. I thought we were just supposed to say “yes, sir” to the boss while secretly plotting over dinner. The left is scrabbling right now to understand what has gone wrong. They can’t figure out why so many people stayed home and didn’t want to vote for them. They don’t think they’ve done anything wrong with their messaging and besides that, everyone who challenges them is just dumb.

I think about their reluctance to deal with dissent when I think about the millions of people that died during Mao’s Great Leap Forward because no one wanted to deviate from the party line and explain that the poor were dying in mass. Worst famine in human history. My aversion to that rhetoric comes from knowing history, but it also comes from knowing that I can’t doing anything alone. That this country is at its best when we all stand together for the common good. You learn about the common good when you are poor. If you are unwilling to engage with your community, you literally starve.

I had to go to Ross to buy a plain black dress for this funeral. I’ve shopped there my whole life. For those who have not had the pleasure, Ross is a department store for the working classes. I looked around at how diverse the store was. The Russian family in front of us, my gay Asian checkout clerk, the Hispanic man running security. Shoppers across the rainbow. But I knew this about the working classes, the ways we’ve always defied the norms and intermarried. I remember how shocked I was when I got to Stanford and saw so few interracial couples. I don’t have enough space to list all the times my family members have married someone who isn’t the same color or ethnicity as us. But many of us don’t identify by colors, many of us identify with a class struggle that we’ve felt in on together.

My high school used to have race riots. Together, with the leaders of the black community, we prevented that from happening in my four years there. I did it while spending holidays talking to my conservative grandmother and finding common ground with her beliefs. I grew up thinking this was completely normal. I lean so heavily on those skills when I speak, and I know it’s that skill that we need most.

It seems funny to me that I saw people saying they can’t be expected to engage with the Trump folks because they are still experiencing grief. I think about how I conducted my grandmother’s funeral and went back to Stanford and took my midterms without anyone close to me even knowing I was gone. I didn’t have the luxury of not going to work after death and neither does the rest of the working classes. The poor have never had a President that came from their roots and continued to love them while in power, so waking up to a President that hates us as much as Trump does, feels the same way waking up in this country every other day does. Except we know that if his power goes unchecked that it is us he will come for. All those kids at Ivy League institutions who didn’t go to class the next morning are completely safe because of who their parents are, and every time they fail to acknowledge that and fail to take that power and privilege and use it for the working classes is a time they are continuing to corroborate in our oppression. And that folks, is why the working classes hates the left so much. We hate the right too, but appreciate that “at least they are honest.” The explanation for why the movement in the 60s was ground to halt that I was raised with, is that the college students started spitting on soldiers. They started demonizing the working classes. That’s how you get Nixon’s. That’s how you get Trump’s.

And so now we enter another cycle, one which I have warned was coming. One which, as I wrote in my last final for Stanford, “as in all things in history, it’s the peasants who get screwed.”

I see so many people pointing the fingers outside themselves, calling everyone but themselves racists. But I have to let you in on a real secret, I know very few people from Stanford that I don’t consider at least closet bigots. And I also know from experience and the exit poll data that it was my rich friend’s parents that actually elected Trump. I know how easy it is for them to talk the talk. I’ve watched them change their minds with the times, and I’m sure many of them will have a conservative reawakening soon as it becomes socially acceptable to do so.

I think I speak for the working classes everywhere when I say we’ve had enough of talk. The only thing I’m interested in now is action. The only people I trust now are the people who have been down for the people the entire time. The only people I want fighting alongside me are the ones I know won’t waver in the face of danger.

Because I know who they are coming to oppress. It’ll be us.

So, before you put us on the front line, please have the decency to think about your message. Love us enough to plan appropriately. Take on the leadership to protect your own people. Good leaders don’t put their vulnerable people in harm’s way over their feels. Good leaders volunteer for things that aren’t their responsibility. Good leaders have no idea why people keep telling them they are a good person for doing the right thing because they know that it is just what is has to be done.

You are right that you shouldn’t have to do this. You are right that you shouldn’t have to engage people you find hateful. You are right that we shouldn’t have to demand or ask for our rights. You are right that we shouldn’t have to turn the other cheek. You are right that a lot of people in this country believe some incredibly dangerous stuff.

But I don’t want to be right anymore. I want to win.

I have to win.

I have to win because if I don’t, I know the consequences for our loss will fall on the shoulders of people I love.

And that is the only cause I’ve ever been willing to kill for. People will fight more fiercely out of love than they ever could over hate. I know this too, from years and years of taking on fights that weren’t my own. You don’t know pain and leadership until the day you volunteer to take the blows that were designed for someone else. You don’t know love until the day you realize watching people get beat is more painful than taking the beating yourself.

I must have been four.

About Those “Working Class Whites”

Writing

Note: all of the data I cite is coming from exit polls that you can find here: http://www.cnn.com/election/results/exit-polls. Now you can go do your own homework. You’re welcome

Trump was elected President, which was no surprise to me because I haven’t lived in a magical fantasyland full of non-sexist and non-racist people and I’m also not delusional. But for those of you who did face a painful shock, you now are looking for an explanation and someone to blame. Many of you have decided to blame “working class whites.” Or rather, the media assigned these people responsibility and you all keep perpetuating it despite all evidence to the contrary.

Whites did vote for Trump. 70 percent of men and 49 percent of women voted for Trump. Now, some have noticed that people without college degrees were more likely to vote for Trump, and this is true, even though whites with college degrees ALSO voted for Trump. Some have taken this information and labeled these people “working class.” This is a really fun twisting of data that has no basis in reality.

When only 30 percent of the country has a BA, it doesn’t make sense to call the 70 percent “working class.” Those without college educations have incomes that span all three classes. One can be very rich and not go to college and one can be very poor and also have gone to college. I have TWO degrees from Stanford and until I got married, I was very poor. Like edge and fringe of society, nutritional deficiency poor. And I have been my whole life. I’m also white.

Fortunately for us, pollsters weren’t fooled by this conflation of education and class and they broke the numbers down by income too. When you do that, you find that the poor voted for Clinton. In fact, its the only income group that Clinton won. This is true even in mostly white swing states like Wisconsin. Now, this is just for the poor whites who got to vote, most poor people never vote at all and to make matters worse, the DNC suppressed the most politically active poor whites when they suppressed Sanders voters.

Trump didn’t win the white working class. He won the white middle and upper class. And now I’m witnessing a whole lot of upper and middle class people say that Trump won because of the ignorance and racism of the “white working class,” which seems a little convenient, don’t you think? They don’t have the data to support that and yet this is the one group that the media has repeatedly tried to blame for this outcome. It’s a pretty convenient cover for the middle and upper class to continue pretending as if they aren’t racist and part of the problem and the left has bought into it and is now using it as an excuse to scapegoat and oppress an already marginalized group. Which is, unfortunately, not a new experience for me and the rest of the trailer trash, even though all the other trailer trash I know is a group of radical socialists who have also been fighting for other causes the whole time.

There are lots of proposed explanations for why the “white working class” voted for Trump. Because of the economy. Because of racism. Because of isolation. And those might be good explanations IF the working class whites were responsible but they are not. Now some have challenged me by saying that because whites in rural areas voted for him, that disproves my statements, but unfortunately for them rural does not equal poor or working class. The fact is, that even in relatively rural states we see the same percentages. M0st poor whites didn’t vote at all and when they did, they voted for Clinton.

Understanding this even explains the phenomenon of counties that voted for Obama but went for Trump this time. Let me explain.

The main reason the Democrats lost was turnout. Republicans basically had similar numbers to previous years with some crossover, but the Democrats had a good 6 million voters that voted in 2012 but didn’t vote in 2016. The counties that Obama won then, had a decreased turnout and it was mostly working class whites who were suppressed in those areas. Therefore, because of lack of turnout among the folks Sanders carried during the primaries, the Republicans won those areas with their normal turnout.

Now,  before you blame Sanders, keep in mind that during the primaries, the Democratic party engaged in the same kind of voter suppression the Republicans do. Voter suppression pretty much only happens to poor people. Since those people had such a hard time voting in the primaries, they didn’t vote in the general. Or they couldn’t vote in the general because they had work. Or they were too disgusted with the way Sanders was treated to vote. There were no attempts by the Democrats to mobilize working class whites to vote for them.  In fact, Hilary Clinton and her surrogates spent a considerable portion of their time during the election belittling working class whites in general. And still…. even with all of that, most did not vote for Trump. Many stayed home, but Clinton still won the working class vote, even in states where the working class is almost entirely white.

So where do we go from here? The first thing we need to do is understand that you can’t determine what people believe based on what they look like. Lots of people that didn’t look like the media stereotype of a Trump supporter voted for Trump and lots of people that did look like that stereotype didn’t. The data shows he carried middle and upper class whites and then some percentage of men from all groups. In fact, Trump got more minority votes than any Republican of the last few decades. This is, of course, not those voters’ fault. It is not the fault of Black people or Mexican people who felt disconnected from the Democratic party and Hilary Clinton. It is not the fault of people who feel like the Democrats have been screwing them over. And it’s not ok to blame any oppressed group for feeling like the status quo was bad enough that they voted for the oppressor who was at least honest about his intentions over the one that has repeatedly lied to them and sold them out. The responsibility lies with the DNC and it lies with the left, who has apparently done such a poor job of addressing the needs of the people that lots of people didn’t feel like they would be better off with Clinton than they would be with Trump. Many supporters of Trump are racist and sexist, but many others thought they were protesting against the status quo and for a while now, the status quo has been a strictly enforced leftist orthodoxy. It’s interesting to watch people get fired now for speaking out against Trump, when just a few months ago, the left was calling for people to be fired if they supported Trump.

I belong to the left and I take some responsibility for this. But I also speak to the experience of many who didn’t feel that Clinton represented them. The left has treated me extremely poorly over the years, and other working class people have watched that happen. I’ve been kicked out of groups, mocked, demeaned, told I don’t deserve access to resources, and silenced all because my whole existence as a poor white person ran counter to the ideology of college leftists. I dropped out of my PhD program, in part, because I was told that I didn’t have a right to study school segregation because I’m white, even though I went to an economically segregated school. And if I had a nickle for every time some “liberal” across all racial lines said something classist to me, I’d be independently wealthy right now.

So those of you who are heaping this blame on the shoulders of working class whites are not only unsupported BY YOUR OWN data but are continuing the perpetuate oppression for a group of people that is just as a likely to suffer under Trump’s regime as the rest of the poor. In fact, if you look at the numbers and the fact that higher incomes voted for him, this looks a lot more like the upper classes voting to oppress the poor than it does like “working class whites” leading some revolt.

And it’s not just working class whites, it’s all working class people. The left has done a particularly poor job listening to their needs for a long time.  Seriously, turn on your tv right now and ask yourself who is butt of our nation’s jokes. You’ll find it’s the poor. You shut down freeways working class people needed to use to get to work and then are surprised when they can’t be bothered to show up for you at the polls? Those decisions, which I warned would backfire only to be purged by other leftists, are on us. It matters how we talk to the masses and how we interact with people. Mao won China with 15,000 highly disciplined foot soldiers BECAUSE he was so good at talking to the people and making his case that the people should support them. Instead of working on supporting the people, we’ve been yelling at them about what awful people they are because they don’t talk the way we want them to.

We don’t have to keep doing this. We could start talking about the complex reality of race and class in this country. We could talk about, for example, the fact that the voice you are hearing is the voice of a working class white girl who grew up in a racially diverse, but still technically rural area in a blue state and who comes from a racially diverse family. My experience isn’t representative of all working class whites, but its one part of the experience and its one that’s been hidden. And it has been hidden because I was silenced, not because I never tried to share it. If the way I’ve been treated by the left is any indication, we really owe the working classes a huge apology.

So what can you do? Stop perpetuating this myth and start talking to middle and upper class people. Start learning how to speak to the masses and start thinking and talking about what the left has to offer all working class people. Mobilize these people again. Educate them, take them in and give them positions of leadership within groups. Tell them what YOU plan to DO FOR THEM. It’s been a pretty long time since any of us thought about that.

Looking for a scapegoat helps no one right now, especially because you can’t determine who voted for Trump by what they look like. If you want this country to get better, start dealing with life outside the echo chamber and take some responsibility for educating and connecting others. No one can make you talk to people who are different from you and you are welcome to stay in your “safe space” if you choose to do so, but there are consequences to that decision and now we are facing them.

The left lost, and we lost big. In fact, we got our asses handed to us. And if it weren’t for the fact that I know its the people that didn’t vote for Trump and who are innocent and marginalized that will suffer, I would say we got exactly what we deserved. The days when we could purge people for lack of ideological purity, when we could dismiss anyone or demean anyone who disagrees with us, when we had the kind of power to guilt people by shouting at them, are OVER. GONE. FINISHED. Mourn them and then get your ass to work. We need all hands on deck. We need good people everywhere. We need clear eyes and open hearts to pull us out of this mess.

And the only way out of this is mess is to start being good to each other. To everyone. To people who you don’t know or don’t understand. To people you see who don’t make sense to you or who scare you. That’s hard fucking work. Not everyone will be able or willing to do it. But if you are, and you are down for the whole fucking team, no matter what, you know how to find me.