Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 6: The Boiling Frog

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 for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

What the Exit Polls Show

The trick to getting people to accept oppression is to do it slowly over time. It works like boiling a frog, if you throw a live frog into a boiling pot, it’ll jump right out. If you put the frog in the water and then boil it, the frog won’t notice what has happened until it is too late. Today we are going to talk about the evidence and factors that suggest this has been happening to the poor in our electoral system. Now, much has been written about the declining middle class and that is real and important, but people much better qualified than I am have already tackled that in a lot of detail, so today I won’t be talking about that. It’s not personal, I just can’t do everything. I do suggest though, that middle class people start asking some tough questions about what the rich has been doing to them and the poor, because as we will see, the real beneficiaries are the rich. This might explain why so many MIDDLE CLASS people felt the need to vote for someone new, like Trump, and I hope someone will take that discussion on, or perhaps the theory that these people believe they can one day become rich and vote against their interests holds for the middle class. It definitely doesn’t hold for the working class, who have continued to vote for the Democrats for a very long time.

I’ve already proven based on the exit poll data and precinct by precinct numbers that the poor didn’t actually vote for Trump.  You can see the neighborhood data here which shows that even in California, you can see neighborhoods broken up by income next to each other where the rich clearly voted for Trump while the poor went overwhelmingly to Clinton. California is not an anomaly, their poor aren’t less poor and the only area that seems especially liberal is the Bay Area, which has a larger number of immigrants, members of the queer community, Jewish people and Millenials in their upper classes. This pattern, where the rich vote for Republicans and the poor vote for Democrats holds as far back as I can trace it back, except for the Reagan anomaly in 1980, though it is worth noting that Reagan won by a landslide and the MOST poor group was the only group the Democrats won. Even in extremely white neighborhoods the trend holds. This holds even in the areas we think of as liberal, and even in urban areas.

So what explanation explains why the Democrats lost, if its not the Rust Belt Revolt? We know that turnout was lower this year for the Democrats. It however, wasn’t universally lower turnout for all income groups.

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This data comes from the Roper Center at Cornell, but it could be cross referenced with other data.  Broadly, the data shows that the number of poor people who make up the electorate has declined, while the rich have increased. Now, in case you don’t want to go through that data and want an easier way to see the visual change over time, I’ve made a chart.

voteshareovertime

This is the percent of vote share (so what percentage they made of the electorate over time). The poor have a dramatic decrease, while the rich have a dramatic increase. In 2016, they very nearly intersect. I defined class by income and adjusted for inflation.

In 2016, 26 percent of voters made more 100,000 dollars a year. That’s the upper 20 percent, but they represent 26 percent of votes. In 2016, half the country was making less than 30,000, but those making UNDER 50,000 only represent 41 percent of the votes. The rich were actually over-represented while the poor were under represented, and this is true even when we allow 50,000,  to be the marker instead of 30,000 (I wanted to account for high cost of living locations). You’ll notice that the exit polls stop breaking down the working class numbers into discrete categories in 2012, this isn’t because people aren’t making less than 50,000. It might because the lowest numbers of the income status weren’t statistically significant enough to separate out anymore. This is not because of inflation, things haven’t changed THAT much since the 80s.

In case you don’t believe this, here’s the median income numbers over time.

 

incomeovertime

The poor have increased, but the rich show a pretty dramatic convergence.

Frankly, 1980 isn’t even far enough to adjust for inflation because things haven’t changed that much in terms of median income. What has changed is the number of the rich. This might explain while those making 100,000 claim to be “middle class” because in comparison to the rest of the upper class, they do make much less.

So we know the rich voted for Trump. We know that they made up a greater share of voters. We also know that the share of poor voters has decreased over time, even though there are now more poor people than there were in 1980, and even though we have a higher threshold for “working class” than what HALF the country makes.

What could have caused this outcome?

1) Voter Suppression

When I first started looking at this data, I thought there was no way those in power could have gotten better at voter suppression since Nixon to such a significant degree to explain the gap. But voter suppression was a major factor this year. Voter suppression disproportionately impacts the poor and is very targeted at them. Many of the same tactics the Republicans used in the general were used in the primaries, which may have contributed to Sanders losing the primary despite having broad working class support in places like Kansas.

Now, lets take a look at the people who didn’t vote, which again, was the poor. Here are their reasons.

reasonspeopledidntvote

2) Health

A large percentage of people say they don’t vote because they are too sick to do so. Mortality has increased over the same amount of time that this shift in vote share has occurred, but it has only happened for one group. And that group is very specifically poor whites. We also know that Trump won counties with poorer health, AND that turnout was lower in those areas. This means that the establishment has been blaming people who either were dying or too sick to vote. They’ve been doing it while mocking them too.   I don’t know how everyone else’s moral code work, but I happen to think this is pretty monstrous behavior for the people that claim the moral high ground.

3) Working Conditions

You’ll notice that another top reason is scheduling issues or work conflicts. Work has changed dramatically for the poor in that time. Contrary to popular belief most of the poor are actually working but that work has changed. It is more fractured, during more irregular hours, and people are also working more hours. People are also working multiple jobs and families need at least two incomes to survive. 

Election Day is not a national holiday and businesses aren’t really required to accommodate the poor with voting, many of whom couldn’t make it even if they did because of the hours they are working or because of family commitments.

4) Decline of the unions and Civic Organizations

Unions and civic organizations like churches used to be a BIG part of the voter drives that increased the turnout of Democrats. As the share of voters from the poor has decreased, it has happened at the same time as the decline of the unions. At the same time we’ve seen a decline in poor white participation in civic organizations like churches. This matters because they are lacking in organizational structures that used to increase turnout, but it also takes away an important support structure for those that are struggling. This decline has been implicated in the health crisis as well.

 

5) The lack of mobility

Many people also cited transportation as an issue. It is a common misconception that the urban areas are the poorest. This was true before gentrification, but the trend of poor people being pushed out of the cities starts at the same time the share of voters who are poor decreases. Much of the poor is now living in isolated areas in the country just outside the cities. Being poor in the suburbs has it’s own set of challenges, there are food deserts, lack of public transportation, and lack of options for school attendance. It also is nearly impossible to travel around without a car. On the bus, it used to take me an hour and a half just to get out of my neighborhood and a minimum of two hours to get downtown where the better schools and resources were located. If you have to work, and you don’t have transport, just getting to the polling station on time is nightmare. And that’s assuming you don’t need a babysitter to do it or that it is within walking distance.

 

6) Increased hopelessness

Feelings are a little harder to quantify, but if we look at the exit poll data, and the reasons people didn’t vote, it seems that many people feel disaffected and disenfranchised. This is why the poor were more likely to vote third party and also why many didn’t vote because they liked neither candidate. A large portion of Sanders voters were white and working class, those voters felt marginalized by the Democratic party this year after the primaries. In fact, we know most of the poor falls into the category of “hard-pressed skeptic” which simply means that their oppression has made them distrustful of all government figures.  We also know that more poor whites are dying from drug related deaths. We can assume that they reasons they might do those drugs are similar to the reasons other poor communities do drugs. It is a coping mechanism. However, I believe it is significant that people are falling to opiod deaths, in my experience most opiod addicts start out as chronic pain patients or people who were in industrial accidents and had to recover. This might explain why we’ve seen a rise in disability claims too and it helps contribute to the  mortality increase. We also know suicide is on the rise for this group as well. 

 

Now, if people want to talk about WHY the rich voted for Trump, I have some speculation on that. I figure they voted for him because he was the guy looking out for their interests, and it is in their interests to suppress the poor. Now, obviously not all of the rich think like that, but if you are rich and also have been blaming poor whites and consider yourself a leftist, you need to think deeply about your behavior. Much of this information has gone under the radar, they’ve been boiling us so gradually that we haven’t been able to get out of the pot on time. Taken all together the answer to why Trump won and why the poor didn’t vote seems clear, doesn’t it? Oppression had a hand in oppressing people. It’s ok that you didn’t know this until now, it is also ok that you and the rest of the Establishment has been ignoring this data for weeks now and continue to propagate the narrative that the poor are responsible. Maybe you didn’t have the data, maybe it didn’t fit into your worldview, perhaps you’ve been busy mourning. It is ok, I am here to help you. I learned at Stanford that the rich only believe you when you have empirical data, so even though I KNEW all of this and have known for sometime, I have bowed to your request for empiricism. Now lets see if you really mean that.

You can’t kill people and then blame them for what your neighbors did to them. That is cruel and evil. The Left has got to stop demonizing these people and excluding them from our agenda. If we claim to fight oppression, we should fight it everywhere. I fight for racial injustice, and yet, too many of you have dismissed my concerns about the fact that my people are literally dying. It is NOT NORMAL for a group to have increasing mortality in the modern era, that is a sign that something has gone desperately wrong. We are in this struggle together or they will divide us up and conquer us, like they just did. That’s why Trump is president right now, that and the fact that the left has disgusted the poor so much that they didn’t want to risk taking time off work or away from their kids to vote for a candidate that has been actively disdainful of them. I know who you guys think the deplorables are because you keep claiming it was deplorables that voted for him AND that it was poor whites who caused him to take office. Who are the real deplorables here?

Now is the time to find out if you are redeemable.

If you are reading this and wondering why I’m not in a doctoral program, then you are on the right track. Here’s the answer. If there is even a shred of moral decency among you, you will start working on income inequality and you will stop mocking the poor. All of the poor. I’m not going to let you oppress people without a fight, just as I have fought for racial injustice over the last ten years. If you are down for the team, get down for the team.

 

got

Other pieces of this series can be found here:

How Mobilizing the Poor Might Have Changed the Election

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

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

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 3: Beachfront Trumpers

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 4: The KKK and the two Neighborhoods Adjacent 

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 5: Los Angeles, the City of Angels and Very Fashionable Devils

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Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 5: Los Angeles, the City of Angels and Very Fashionable Devils

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 for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.

Los Angeles, The City of Angels and Very Fashionable Devils

I’ve been very fortunate to have been offered the opportunity to teach a group of wonderful freshman to see what consultants apparently can’t see. I’ll be teaching at a small school in Downtown Los Angeles. The class I’m teaching is majority English Language Learner and mostly low income. I’ll share more information about the school after I reflect on the lesson, but let’s take a look at their precinct and the communities that voted for Trump in Los Angeles.

Here’s what the map looks like for the regions close to the school I’ll be working at.

losangelesmap2

Gee, you think that’s a trailor park in the Hollywood Hills? MUST BE!


Now, as you can see, the area I’ll be teaching in went deep Clinton. This is no surprise given the diversity and poverty of that area. It’s 85 percent Latino, and has the one of the lowest educational attainment records in the city. It is also disproportionately young and poor.

But what might surprise some, is that out in the Hollywood Hills, there is a little enclave of Trump supporters who are apparently very angry about manufacturing or something. I’m not really sure, they still haven’t been able to accurately capture the anger of poor white people in any publication, so I guess we’ll never know.

I’m just kidding, of course. Let’s take a look at that map a little closer.

countryclubtrumpers

Yeah, it’s the houses next to the Country Club. A satirist couldn’t make this funnier

Hm… that’s odd, do you think they allow trailor parks next to Country Clubs? Let’s see what houses sell for there. I’ll save you the time, it’s 23 million. How much did Trump win by there? 54 percent of the vote, with a larger turnout than the poor section too. For more information about this area, check out this lovely tourist information. It’s ok, you aren’t the only one who was surprised by how much the rich love the oppressor. Except, they did kind of tell you. Don’t worry, I won’t hold too much of a grudge if you guys start acting like you really do believe in empiricism.

notworkingclass

Trumpettes are white, but they sure as hell aren’t working class.

But maybe that was an isolated incident, let’s take a look at some of the other areas in Los Angeles that voted for Trump.

morecoastaltrumpers

Those special liberal coasts….

 

For those of you not familiar with Los Angeles real estate, the houses on the beach are extremely expensive.No, there are not million dollar trailor parks.  By the way, that little strip had higher RAW NUMBER turnout than the more densely populated, poor area I started this post with in Pico Union.

trumpersnotinthehood

How much do you think the houses sell for here? Just kidding, it’s the same amount as the other rich ones. I’d just like to point out that Trump won the rich neighborhoods with a higher turnout from the rich in EVERY case, as well as a higher percentage than  the middle class KKK neighborhood we talked about yesterday. I think I’ve made my point here.

Next week, I’ll be looking at how exit poll data has changed for income over time and we’ll start talking about the findings in the swing state of Wisconsin. Ultimately, we will also discuss the strange health correlations and what has been happening to poor white neighborhoods.

Read all of the other parts of this series here:

How Mobilizing the Poor Might Have Changed the Election

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

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

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 3: Beachfront Trumpers

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 4: The KKK and the two Neighborhoods Adjacent 

 

Blame Trump on the Rich, Part 4: The KKK and the two Neighborhoods Adjacent 

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 for being kind enough to make big data accessible to everyone.


The Largest KKK and the two neighborhoods adjacent

I remember my first week of Stanford like it was yesterday. I wish I could say they were positive memories but they certainly were instructive. During one of those getting to know you exercises, we talked about our backgrounds. I hadn’t been around rich people long enough to be self conscious yet, so I was honest about my experience around the other white kids who lived in very white bubbles.

“Well, I guess I can’t say I lived in a bubble. I’m proud to say I’m from Sacramento, which is one of the most diverse areas of the country! It’s great, I’ve always had diverse friends. I feel so lucky.”

After I wrapped up a characteristically eager defense of my ‘hood another girl spoke.

She decided to share with the group that she “had grown up in a different part of Sacramento than Heather and it was all white.” She wanted to make sure they didn’t make the mistake of associating us together and I never spoke to her again.


And I am so damn proud of my hood, y’all. I’m straight up North Highlands. You know how I know North Highlands is legit as fuck? Because when I used to tell my kids in East Palo Alto that I grew up in North Highlands, their response was “damn Ms. C is hella legit” and “that explains some things.” Being that I’m a poor white person from the hood, I was very curious to see if North Highlands had lived up to the stereotype that working class whites had voted for Trump. So I matched the voting numbers, and unsurprisingly to me, Clinton had won my hood.

I wanted to compare this to the red area of the map next to it in Rio Linda, but then I started looking at demographics and it turns out that I, yoga pants wearing, Stanford educated and green eyed, had actually grown up in a predominantly black neighborhood. And the truly funny part is I tried then to do the same thing in the projects I grew up in in Suisun, and it turns out that was also mostly black. Now, I had suspected this for years but the left kept calling me a liar or delusional every time I tried to explain why I talk and dance the way I do. Fortunately we can now close the book on that debate, we now know from data (since y’all don’t trust my lived experience), that poor whites live in black neighborhoods and that I’m apparently the only person accurately seeing things.

Small town America, with a side of the KKK

But after this fun little journey of self discovery, I still wanted to understand that little red part of the map better. I knew it well, it’s called Rio Linda. Rio Linda is the home of the largest KKK population in California. Rio Linda also has a reputation for being incredibly white trash. Now, I couldn’t compare North Highlands to Rio Linda because that could be explained by the minority numbers in North Highlands. So instead, I had to find a predominantly white community that went for Clinton. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look that far, because it turns out that the neighborhood my Black/Indonesian/Mexican/White sister in law is from is predominantly white. We call it Foothill Farms.

What happens when you type Foothill Farms, CA into Google images

 

Rio Linda had the good high school in the district, while Highlands (the one I went to) and Foothill often competed for most terrifying acts of violence and fewest numbers of books.

Rio Linda is about 77% white. Foothill Farms is 65% white, which you can compare to my neighborhood, which is just over the overpass and tracks from Foothill Farms and is only 20% white. North Highlands, which is where I grew up, has a poverty rate of 38.4 percent, which compares to the state average of 22% (California has the highest poverty rate in the country). Rio Linda is actually below the state average at 20 percent. Foothill Farms has a poverty rate of 25 percent. The Median Income in Foothill Farms is 38,000, while in Rio Linda the median income is 45,000.

So how did the poorer, but also white neighborhood with the shittier school do? Well, they voted for Clinton with 76 percent of the vote. Granted, the turnout was appalling, but the fact is that when people voted they voted for Clinton. Rio Linda has the reputation for being “working class” because it is more “rural” than North Highlands and Foothill Farms, but Rio Linda IS BETTER OFF relatively to the communities that surround it. Rural doesn’t mean poor, and it turns out that middle class people seemed to be concerned enough about their standing that they voted for a candidate who has promised to oppress their neighbors. Considering that the only time in my childhood that I remember seeing state sanctioned racism (instead of classism) directed at my friends was the one day I spent on the Rio Linda high school campus for summer school, I’ll let you draw some conclusions.

But I will leave you with this, it’s hard to feel racial resentment when

  1. You need your neighbors to survive and your neighbors look differently than you
  2. You don’t have anything to lose to begin with
  3. Your poverty and experience with your community helps you to understand that if you spend one more minute watching people being racist to people you love, you will burn the whole thing to the ground and therefore the way to stay out of jail is to just wait to take Driver’s Ed as an additional class so you can’t commit arson.

I was tryin’ to get out of there, not end up in lock up, but boy did they almost have me.

Tomorrow we will be talking about who voted for Trump in Los Angeles. We will talk about changes in exit polls,Wisconsin, and the curious health related correlations next week.

What do you know about da Highlands? For a taste of what I call home, check out this theme song.

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.

 

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.

Fine, You’re ALL “Irredeemable.”

Writing

Oh Hilary.

I voted for her during the primaries in 2012 (and happily switched my vote to Obama when the time came). At the time I didn’t think her’s and Obama’s platform were that different and I thought she had a better shot of being effective. I was wrong. So when I got the chance to vote for a real democratic socialist (I’m not a Marxist you guys, at best I’m a moderate European style socialist, so Sanders was the closest I’ve gotten to vote for my ideals ever) I took it, expecting him to lose and to be working for the party, as I have for every election since I was 18, in the fall. I was ready to happily support Clinton. Then our shit show of a primary happened, the party disenfranchised and demobilized their own people and now I’m stuck trying to defend and support someone whose best claim to the office is just that she’s not Hitler. And I’ve been doing that job because I know that it’s innocent people who will be hurt by his presidency and not the rich party establishment. But some of Clinton’s supporters aren’t making my job any easier, so I’m asking you to help me, help you.
The most efficient way to start that would be for you guys to get some message discipline together and stop alienating people with your self righteousness and bigotry.

Which means you have to stop talking about “coal people.”

No more comments about how irredeemable half the country is.

No more alienating the left and telling them they can’t criticize her (if she can’t be criticized, she’s the fascist).

You don’t put an establishment candidate with a bad track record up against Hitler. You put a Saint up against him. And we had one and not only was he dismissed and treated poorly by the media, but his supporters were demobilized, suppressed, mocked and ridiculed. So now she has a situation where she has to earn people back who were voting for Sanders because of how good a person he is and she’s running around talking about how half of her opponents’ supporters (quarter of the country is how people heard that, btw) are irredeemable.

It’s her job to be the good guy this election and she’s gotten away with being pretty far from perfect. Frankly, if she weren’t up against Trump she’d have already been disqualified from several things she’s done this election, including the party’s suppression of their own people’s votes. And I say this as someone who is helping to register voters for her. I’m not Bernie or Bust but we can’t really afford these mistakes right now. We can’t afford to have her alienating people like this if she plans to be president, and if she can’t muster message discipline then she doesn’t deserve to be president anymore than he does.

But I also have a bigger issue with this  comment and I’ll explain why.

If half of Trump supporters are irredeemable because they are racist and sexist than more than half this country and some percentage of Hilary Clinton supporters (half? A quarter? You don’t want to know my estimate) are also irredeemable. Just because they say things in academic language doesn’t change the nature of what they say. A Black Democrat told me people like me didn’t need to go to college and it was Bill Clinton that instituted and carried most of the tough on crime polices that are leading to over incarceration and police brutality.

Who’s the bigger racist?

1) the old man sitting in a trailer park watching Fox News all day waiting to die on his meager Social Security payout while watching his children die from drug ods and poverty who says stuff like, “I hate n——” in that trailer.

OR

2) the real estate agent in the Bay Area who didn’t sell houses to black people in Palo Alto and who I’m sure was an incredibly nice person and usually a democrat who said things like, “oh, they just aren’t comfortable living next to black people.”

I think they are both about equally racist and equally disturbing and equally in need of education but one has more power to carry their racism out than other. And that’s how systemic racism works and frankly systemic racism, classism and sexism have all done far more damage to me and the kids I grew up with than the racists in Rio Linda. Those people we could just laugh at and ignore, not the case when it’s your principal who calls you trash and keeps you locked out of AP classes.

KKK violent level racists are rare and we all think they are abhorrent but “half” of Trump supporters don’t fall into that category anymore than the tech dudes who don’t hire black people but who won’t vote for Trump do. And even if they did, I’m about a hundred percent certain that with the right resources we could reform even the most virulently racist asshole in the bunch, but I can’t do that work and the rest of the anti-racists can’t do that work if we tell these people that they are “irredeemable.” Irredeemable means unteachable and inhumane and its just NOT acceptable for the next president of the United States to call half of her own citizens irredeemable in any context, but it’s especially not acceptable to scapegoat them for racism when she hasn’t exactly been and her supporters haven’t exactly been anti-racist champions. If they had the perfect high ground on that one then maybe it’d be ok but even then I’d tell them to stop because this is an election year and we can’t afford those kinds of mistakes when our opponent is Hitler. If it’s going to alienate a huge percentage of Americans and we don’t stand to benefit from doing it then I don’t know why we are doing it. It’s important to remember that most of these Trump supporters are somebody’s grandma or Dad. So even if you think their beliefs are truly abhorrent, there’s really no good reason to refer them as “irredeemable.”

There’s no room for error right now and she’s been given more room than just about any past candidate in living memory because frankly, she’s had enough scandals that would have taken out previous candidates. I mean, Gary Heart got disqualified for a picture of his mistress on his lap. I’ve had to push down my personal bar for candidates so far, I’m not even sure where it is anymore. We aren’t exactly a forgiving people about election scandals and she’s had a lot. And I suppose it’s better for society that we have been forgiving about that because our other option is Trump but it’s not something I’d point out to the average American if you want their help.

This is her job and this is also America where you get fired if you don’t do her job so I don’t want to (and no other working class person does either) wants to hear about how hard her job is. Obama, FDR, Carter, none of these people ever complained about having to do their job and they had pretty serious circumstances to work through. Real leaders don’t make excuses, they just do what has to be done. Real leaders educate.

Dealing with these people and educating the masses is part of her job, and if she can’t do it then I suggest they bring on someone to the campaign who can because they keep alienating working people with the stuff they say and we don’t have time for this.

The Democratic Party Needs to get it’s Act Together

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If you want people to vote for Clinton in the general, I have some suggestions.
1) No more “mistakes”, “shenangians”, “accidents” or whatever you want to call voter suppression. I don’t think Clinton needs people to keep “helping” her with this stuff and if she does then she doesn’t deserve to be president. If she can’t stop it herself, she needs to come out and vocally condemn it.
2) Sanders supporters are NOT just idealistic hipsters, they are a pretty diverse bunch and they are LEGITIMATELY ANGRY about LEGITIMATE PROBLEMS, when you are dismissive of that anger or those problems you aren’t helping the Democratic Party
3) I want to hear the positive things about Clinton, not just how she’s not Trump or how Sanders can’t win so I might as well give in. What has she done? How has she done it? What kind of person is she? What are some positive things about her? I’ll bet you anything that I can actually make a more effective list than any list anyone has given me this election because I know her record like I know the back of my hand. But that’s not my job during the primary, it’s her campaign’s job. Voters don’t have to cater to her. She has to cater to them. That’s how representative democracy works.
4) I want her to really adopt some aspects of the progressive platform that a majority of her party supports. At minimum, I want to see her push harder for a higher minimum wage, for paid leave, and for reforming some aspects of the political system and Wall Street. I also want her to explain to me how she’s going to fix the aspects that were gutted in the Voting Rights Act and how she’s going to increase Democratic voter turn out. Other people might have a different list. There are of course, other things I want, but coming out strongly in favor of these things would be a good start.
We NEED the Bernie supporters to vote this fall. We need them to stop Trump and threatening them with Trump isn’t working. Bullying them into it isn’t working. Being dismissive isn’t working. Being elitist isn’t working. What has happened with Hilary during this election is symptomatic of a larger problem with the party, which is that they’ve been out of touch with the people they serve for decades. I used to harp on this rhetoric when we were undergrads, do any of you remember the lectures you used to get when you asked me why poor white people vote Republican? There’s nothing wrong with Kansas. There is something wrong with our party and we need to fix it before the fall.

Solutions to the Voting Problems

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I’m so unbelievably sick of arguing with people about who is responsible for the voting problems during this election season. You know who is responsible? All of us. All of the adults are responsible. I didn’t say all of the adults created the mess; I just said that all of us are responsible for standing up and fixing it. I don’t care who started it. I don’t care about how it makes you feel that people want to blame you. All I care about IS THAT OUR CITIZENS GET THE RIGHTS AFFORDED TO THEM BY THEIR CITIZENSHIP IN THE SOCIAL CONTRACT KNOWN AS THE CONSTITUTION. So there, do you feel better now? It’s not your fault. It is your responsibility and there are some things can be done about it.

 

  • Please for the love of God, report irregularities.
    1. First step to solving a problem is knowing about it. We need the data to call our the people doing this. Report them to local media and your county voting official. I would also report them to whichever campaign you support.

 

 

  • Make your congressperson restore the voting right’s act
    1. In 2013, our Supreme Court made the egregiously foolish decision to lift the oversight included in the voting right’s act for states that had a “history” of problems with trying to stop minorities from voting. Those states promptly and gleefully voted in voter ID laws. The Supreme Court was right about one thing though and that’s that congress can fix this by restoring new requirements for that oversight. I suggest maybe applying it to ALL the states. Because really none of them have a great track record on this front. Put pressure on your elected officials to fix this problem. Find your rep here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

 

  • Help other people vote
    1. It used to be that real progressive people with resources would help other people without resources vote. You can help by educating people, providing transportation to the polls, and canvassing to get out the vote. Call on your party to do voter registration drives (neither one is really doing this) and support get out the vote organizations and groups.

 

  • Demand better voting equipment
    1. I wrote AN ENTIRE BOOK on my phone and yet, we can’t get voting machines right. It’s disturbing. And techies? Want to be really disruptive? Get. On. That. Shit.

 

  • Volunteer to work elections
    1. It’s actually a massive, human task to run these elections. If you have the means and ability, volunteer to help at elections. Not only will you be helping by putting the work in, you will also help provide the accountability when things like voter intimidation occur.

I’ll Vote However I Want, Thanks

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When I decide who I’m going to vote for, I ask myself a few basic questions.

 

The first one is “will this person make it more likely that kids like me don’t go hungry in the future?”

 

The second is “will this person, to the best of their abilities make life better for working class people?”

 

and

 

On the foreign policy side, “will this person not embarrass us and avoid anything that resembles bombing poor and marginalized people in other countries/sending poor people to die and kill in other countries.”

 

A quick analysis of that list demonstrates where my priorities are; and that is with improving the life for the poor anywhere. That’s how I decide who I’m going to support when I vote. I decide this way because I grew up poor. Until you take care of basic needs like food and shelter, it’s really hard to focus on things like, say, whether the boys are taking me seriously in boardroom debates (spoiler alert: I’m not getting invited to any boardrooms). Working class women rarely have favorable working conditions and they don’t expect to, and the men don’t either. They don’t have paid leave. Childcare. Access to medical care. Any workplace protections against exploitation, including gender based exploitation (this one you can thank the killing of unions for, a process that began in the 80s and which the Clinton’s continued and will likely continue). Up until very recently, I’ve been both food and housing insecure. My concerns in politics continue to be dominated by preventing that both personally and collectively. For the first time in my lifetime, we have a candidate whose central focus is preventing that.

 

We’ve actually grown less progressive on social and economic policies in the last few generations. Under your grandparents, they would have just called Sanders a Democrat. He’s not even anymore progressive, except perhaps on race and gender, than FDR, who was President during the last Depression. Sanders didn’t leave the party, the party left him and the rest of the economic progressives sometime in the 80s. Now we are facing the kind of economic insecurity that ushered in the Progressive policies in the 30s that we now take for granted. Republicans and the rest of the country were not any less bigoted in the 30s. Those policy changes were fought for, people died for them, and it was just as improbable to get FDR’s New Deal passed as it would be today. Fortunately for us, our grandparents had the fortitude to vote with their conscience. Additionally, for millions of Americans this economic situation is equally brutal to the ones facing our grandparents. The jobs report says one thing but the homeless numbers and the hunger numbers don’t lie. People are still struggling. People with jobs are struggling. And our social safety net is weaker than it was for Baby Boomers or Gen Xers. Things have actually gotten worse for the poor in my lifetime. My mom worked my entire life and I still went hungry and there seems to be a contingent of Democrats that is woefully out of touch with that reality. Some of the people who are voting for Sanders are people who see his approach as the most sensible way out of their situation. The only reason his policies aren’t considered mainstream here, unlike how he’d be portrayed in nearly every other industrialized country, is because America drank the neoliberal kool-aid and then forced it on everyone else. There is no doubt in my mind that Clinton has drank the kool-aid, and everyone else with power has too. If you genuinely believe that the neoliberal policies that began in the 80s is the best way to move forward for your community and self then I respect that. I disagree with you and I’d be happy to have a chat about it, but I respect it. But for the left to sit here and pretend like Sanders’ views are somehow outside the purview of the mainstream while not also challenging what that mainstream is and how it got to that point is disingenuous at best and red-baiting at its worse. If you truly believe in progressive policies, you should be rejoicing about return of the word socialist in a positive light. It has been a very long time since we’ve been able to be openly that progressive and it is a radical and significant cultural shift, one which benefits all progressives no matter where they sit on the spectrum.

 

 

Media representation in this election, like all previous elections, has been utter nonsense. Clinton certainly takes some bullets for being a woman but the Clinton campaign has also done everything in its power to ensure that Sanders is marginalized by engaging in Cold War tactics and basically ignoring his candidacy. Many Sanders supporters are frustrated not just with how Fox News treats Sanders and his positions, but also how MSNBC and Salon and Huffington Post have treated Sanders and his positions, from refusing to cover him at all to labeling his supporters in destructive and divisive ways that are going to hurt us if Hilary is the nominee in the general. I can’t even imagine how the media would have treated Warren if she had thrown her hat into the ring; she’s both more progressive and aggressive. And the vast majority of Sanders supporters, including the bros, would have backed her.

 

This election has also been dismissive of working class people in general. We DO vote (and we’d vote even more if you made the elections national or state holidays so we had time off work and if you provided transportation; maybe advocate for those things if you are really concerned with representative democracy). We DO read. And we DO think for ourselves. We have policy positions and we can vote outside narrowly defined demographic categories whose significance were determined and circumscribed on the same liberal campuses we don’t get to attend for a variety of economic and social reasons that only Sanders seems to be aware of. We are NOT all mindless bigots and those of us that are (AND NEWSFLASH: YOU HAVE THEM TOO!) vote for Trump, not Sanders. Many of us have long-standing commitments to a variety of Civil Right’s movements and see the Sanders candidacy as a continuation of that. Talking about the working class as though they are idiots you need to save from thinking, is precisely why the Democrats lose elections, why it is so easy for the Republicans to cipher off those votes, and is also incredibly frustrating to watch and to attempt to defend from my position. I met as many bigots with problematic views towards women, nonwhite people and the poor on the left as I did on the right and the folks on the right at Stanford would usually at least hear my arguments before grabbing the pitch forks or saying something immensely classist.

 

If you are a Hilary supporter and there are lots of reasons to be, that’s great. I still love you. I voted for Hilary in the 2012 primaries because I felt that her and Obama had remarkably similar positions and she was the one with the most experience and ability to actually carry them out. I then voted for Obama in the general, because I agreed with his positions. The difference this time around is that Sanders’ is actually closer to my views than Clinton is, so I’m voting for him. I think they have basically equally poor shots of carrying their positions out, but if their views were the same I’d vote for the one that I thought had better odds of carrying out policy. Their views are not the same and I have the right to vote based on policy position and so does everyone else. Be a Clinton supporter, she’s worked really hard and has been influential to me as a young woman. I get the appeal. I will vote for her if she is the nominee in the general but don’t tear down Sanders’ supporters. Defend her positions, defend her record, make a case for why she is the better candidate that holds her up as equal to the men. Because that’s the thing, Hilary is strong enough and smart enough that she doesn’t need us to qualify her positions or election by her gender, I judge her by precisely the same standards I judge the male politicians.

 

And that’s why lean Sanders.