Friday, November 11, 2016

"Trump and the Revolt of the Rust Belt" -- [Plausible Explanation of What Happened by London School of Economics Prof.]



This story can be told repeatedly across the Rust Belt. The electoral shift was highly concentrated in territorial terms and Rust Belt territories were ground zero. Trump flipped a full third of the counties that voted for Obama twice. Clinton flipped 6 of the 2200 counties that didn’t vote for Obama. Many of the counties Trump flipped are Rust Belt communities in the Midwest. And those counties, in turn, flipped the electoral college votes of Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, from Democrat to Republican. Obama’s coalition managed to bridge the dying Rust Belt and the New Economy, but Clinton didn’t and, given her baggage and her policies, could not. Trump snatched the Rust Belt from the Democrats. Trump is president because of a regional revolt.
Many important questions emerge from this. How do voters get from Obama to Trump? What role did racism and misogyny play in flipping people from the Democratic to Republican columns? These are important. But the character of the communities that flipped must be grappled with. These are communities that have been suffering from neglect and decline for decades. Families have gotten poorer and there are few opportunities for people who stay. The people who voted for Trump are very willing to overlook Trump’s abuse of women, Muslims, and people of color, and that is to be condemned. Some percentage of these voters are ideological and practical racists and misogynists. But explaining the electoral shift from someone who stood for the opposite of those things to Trump is impossible without considering the communities where these voters reside and what the candidates offered them. White people generally didn’t deliver the White House to Trump, however much they enabled him; the Rust Belt did. And unless we are attentive to the economic factors involved, as well as the social and attitudinal ones, we leave open the path for future demagogues to exploit the same set of circumstances in the name of securing political power.

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