US Opinion: What “Taking the Views of Trump’s Voters Seriously” Should Mean


PHOTO: Donald Trump greets supporters after a rally in Mobile, Alabama, August 21, 2015 (Mark Wallheiser/Getty)

Adam Quinn of the University of Birmingham writes for EA:

“The soft bigotry of low expectations.” This phrase of George W. Bush’s, used in an entirely different context, keeps coming back to my mind amid present debates, spurred by Donald Trump’s Presidential victory, about how “intellectuals” and “liberal elites” need to handle the backlash at the ballot box of the white working class.

I think we owe it to Trump’s voters to take their views seriously. I think taking them seriously means accepting that some of their views are, unequivocally and without embarrassment, reactionary when it comes to structural questions of race, national identity, and gender. It also means accepting that policy preferences are often incoherent.

See also EA’s Political WorldView: The “Trump Wins” Special
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Showing them respect means according them the trappings of political adulthood, which include being confronted sometimes with the proposition that what you believe is factually untrue, or that policies you support may be self-destructive.

What’s disrespectful is deciding that people either don’t mean what they say, or that they shouldn’t be expected to handle criticism that’s civil but direct. People say they have been ignored, or forgotten. The opposite of that is not to have others bow to your every demand and prejudice.

It is to be engaged. And with engagement comes criticism. In both directions.

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  1. It’s not rocket science. The Rust Belt elected Trump. The white working class in PA, OH, MI, WI voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012. In 2016 they turned on the democratic party. They felt abandoned so they voted for Trump. Trump visited WI, MI, OH and PA many times. He spoke to the people. He connected with them. A billionaire connected with the white middle class. Hillary didn’t visit WI at all. She connected with the elites………….Wall Street, billionaires, and Hollywood.
    Here’s where it gets interesting……….. in 2020, Trump will just need to win ONLY TWO of the Rust Belt states to be reelected. He won OH by a surprisingly large margin. All he needs to do is hold on to OH and WI to get to 270. He won’t even need PA or MI. Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan, and governor Johnson will most likely give him WI in 2020. If he delivers on his promises for jobs in the Rust Belt he’ll be reelected, easily. Can you handle eight years of Trump?

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