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What’s up with white voters?

November 5, 2020

Dinner last night with a friend who grew up in North Carolina, but escaped decades ago. I asked her to explain something that’s been bothering me for a long time. Why, when the colour blue is assigned to the right wing party and the colour red assigned to the left (leaning) party in most countries, is the reverse true in the United States? She pretty much rolled her eyes at me before saying “because they swapped positions”. Huh? And then the penny dropped. Oh, right. FDR, a Democrat, might have been the author of the New Deal (decried as “socialism” by the Republicans of his day), but it was the Republicans under Lincoln who were determined to abolish slavery and the Democrats in those days who supported it. The party of Lincoln we hear so much about. The ones who were more progressive and therefore red. Got it.

I laughed when President Wankmaggot, early in his term, said: “Lincoln was a Republican. A lot of people don’t know that.” What an idiot, I thought. Everyone knows Lincoln was a Republican. I felt less inclined to laugh last night after that penny dropped. What, I wondered, would Honest Abe make of what has become of the party – the red party – he once led. The party prepared to go to war with its fellow countrymen to abolish slavery now led by a racist buffoon. I suspect he’d want to find a lawyer and sue for copyright infringement.

And, yes, before anyone rushes to point it out, I do know the Civil War was about more than slavery, but I also know it was primarily Democrats in the south behind the post war efforts to keep the emancipated slaves in their place. And what did those Dixiecrats do after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act into law? Switched allegiance. Most southern states have remained staunchly Republican ever since. Occasionally, when southerners like Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton – a master at playing the Bubba card – were the presidential nominee, they’d vote Democrat, but it didn’t help Al Gore (who lost his own home state) much.

I may not like it – in fact I hate it – but I get it. I get why white voters in the south would vote for the party they now think of as their own.

What I don’t get, have never been able to understand, is why white voters in the rest of the United States are so happy to vote against their own best interests. Why so many voters who might identify normally as Democrats voted for Ronald Reagan not once, but twice, even as his administration was hellbent on setting up trade deals which would kill union jobs throughout the country. Voters who now support the Wankmaggot.

The other night, whilst watching the disheartening election results, I posted this on Facebook: “I’ve never been able to figure out if it’s racism or religious fundamentalism that make white voters in the US south so stupid. Perhaps it’s a toxic combination of both.” I had responses fairly quickly from friends who’ve lived and worked in the States who assured me that (a) it’s racism and (b) that it’s not limited to the south. I still reckon religious fundamentalism – and the sociopathic social conservatism that comes with it – plays a role.

Then a friend shared a link with me to this piece, posing the question “Can America Solve the Problem of the White American Voter?”

It’s a thoroughly depressing read (despite which I very much encourage you to click on the link), not least for its stark revelation (well, it was a revelation to me, perhaps not so much to others) that not once in the past ten elections have a majority of white voters supported the Democratic candidate for president.

The author sums up his thesis thus:

White Americans want America to be a failed state – and that is its fundamental, deep, and long standing problem. That is how America ended up here – more than half a century of white hostility to any kind of social progress whatsoever – which resulted in social collapse, and culminated in Trumpism. White people made America a failed state.”

Sadly, it rings very true.

We all know that there are (what I would consider) sane white Americans who truly believe it possible to achieve that more perfect union where healthcare is a fundamental right, along with education, adequate housing and being free from persecution. But, as the author points out:

“Liberal, sane, thoughtful white Americans often overestimate how many of them there are, how widespread their cause is. The result is that when I say “Americans are…” meaning of course the majority, which is still white, I get a wave of protest. Americans aren’t dumb! Americans aren’t dumb! They’re not violent, stupid racists! They want to live in a modern society! Are they, do they – at least the white majority?”

Sane Americans exist, but it seems there simply aren’t enough of them to put an end to this bullshit. Will there ever be enough of them? I’d like to think so, but it’s growing increasingly difficult to believe.

From → Columns

  1. John Galpin permalink

    Thanks for that! I’ve been struggling to think why Red and Blue are reversed in the USA.

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