While many journalists and pundits responded to Donald Trump’s win by unloading steaming piles of self-righteous indignation and despair onto the Internet in story form, others took the time to write thoughtful takes on what led to such a stunning victory.
With that in mind, The Daily Caller News Foundation descended into the bowels of the Internet and bravely sifted through the piles to find some of the best takes on why Trump won, how the media got it so completely wrong, and why some liberals can’t stop crying.
First, the epic media fail. Jim Rutenberg explains in The New York Times that the media failed to perform one of its most basic functions leading up to the election, which is to present readers with a reality-based political scenario.
The news media by and large missed what was happening all around it, and it was the story of a lifetime. The numbers weren’t just a poor guide for election night — they were an off-ramp away from what was actually happening. … The misfire on Tuesday night was about a lot more than a failure in polling. It was a failure to capture the boiling anger of a large portion of the American electorate that feels left behind by a selective recovery, betrayed by trade deals that they see as threats to their jobs and disrespected by establishment Washington, Wall Street and the mainstream media. Journalists didn’t question the polling data when it confirmed their gut feeling that Mr. Trump could never in a million years pull it off. They portrayed Trump supporters who still believed he had a shot as being out of touch with reality. In the end, it was the other way around.
So what actually happened? Robby Soave writes in Reason that it was a voter revolt against the Democrat Party’s obsession with identity politics and political correctness.
My liberal critics rolled their eyes when I complained about political correctness. I hope they see things a little more clearly now. The left sorted everyone into identity groups and then told the people in the poorly-educated-white-male identity group that that’s the only bad one. It mocked the members of this group mercilessly. It punished them for not being woke enough. It called them racists. It said their video games were sexist. It deployed Lena Dunham to tell them how horrible they were. Lena Dunham! I warned that political-correctness-run-amok and liberal overreach would lead to a counter-revolution if unchecked. That counter-revolution just happened.
Picking up that same theme of political overreach, The Daily Caller’s Robert Mariani writes:
They don’t want debate anymore because they don’t need a debate anymore. The victory was total. If you are out of line with LGBT ideology, you are a bigot. If you have reservations about abortion, you are a misogynist. If you don’t want to import a third-world underclass in ever-greater numbers, you are a racist. Nobody can get a word in edgewise and come out unscathed. That’s power. But it’s not despite these facts that Trump won, it’s because of them. Adherents of the ruling ideology called half of Americans retarded yokels and the retarded yokels heard them. Every Slate and Bustle article attacking Trump for being a supposed racist and woman hater was as good as money in his campaign coffers. Lena Dunham might as well have been an RNC operative by marrying her psychotic identity politics to her support of Hillary Clinton. The left overplayed its hand, and what was once power is becoming a liability.
Take the reaction to Donald Trump talking in lewd terms about women on tape, for example. In a massive Pro Publica piece by Alec MacGillis on the forgotten white working class voter, one female Trump voter explains how she responded to the tape.
And she shared an anecdote that reflected how differently Trump’s comments had been received in some places than others. “I’m setting steel for this new gas plant … I’m operating a rough terrain forklift,” she wrote. “So today, I kept thinking about the debate and the audio was released … And I got underneath a load of steel and was moving it … I was laughing and laughing and one of the iron workers asked ‘what are u laughing at.’ I said ‘I grabbed that load right by the pussy’ and laughed some more … And said ‘when you’re an operator you can do that ya know’, laughed all fucking day.
As Krystal Ball sums up in The Huffington Post, it’s still about the economy for many voters: “The arrogance of thinking that somehow we could ignore most of the country and still hold a claim on the nation’s highest office is breathtaking. Demographics are not destiny. Candidates do matter. And it is still the economy, stupid.”
In a particularly striking example of a voter going for Trump because of economic concerns, a Muslim woman explains why she voted for Trump, although she disagrees with him on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and climate change.
After Hillary Clinton called Trump to concede, making him America’s president-elect, a friend on Twitter wrote a message of apology to the world, saying there are millions of Americans who don’t share Trump’s “hatred/division/ignorance.” She ended: “Ashamed of millions that do.” / That would presumably include me — but it doesn’t, and that is where the dismissal of voter concerns about Clinton led to her defeat. I most certainly reject the trifecta of “hatred/division/ignorance.” I support the Democratic Party’s position on abortion, same-sex marriage and climate change. / But I am a single mother who can’t afford health insurance under Obamacare. The president’s mortgage-loan modification program, “HOPE NOW,” didn’t help me. Tuesday, I drove into Virginia from my hometown of Morgantown, W.Va., where I see rural America and ordinary Americans, like me, still struggling to make ends meet, after eight years of the Obama administration.
The idea that all of Donald Trump’s supporters are racist is absurd on so many levels, in part because millions of the people who voted for Trump also supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Sam Kriss fleshes it out on his blog:
Clinton’s media foot-rubbers are presenting this result as a victory for prejudice: Trump won on a platform of racism, sexism, ableism, misogynoir, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia; the American people are hateful beyond reason, and they elected a knight of the kyriarchy to turn their roiling incoherent psychopathologies into government policy. Of course these people are right; it would be incredibly stupid to discount the role of outright bigotry, especially in a country that has fuelled itself on bigotry for three hundred years. But it’s not enough; if the only problem was too many bigots the whole elections collapses into a question of tribes and demographics, and you don’t have to think about why Clinton lost. Trump won among voters who ticked the box for Obama in 2008 and 2012, he won decisively among white women, he picked up a far bigger share of ethnic minority voters than anyone would have reasonably expected, he won because the standard formula of American liberalism – eternal war abroad coupled with rationally administered dispossession at home and an ethics centred on where people should be allowed to piss and shit – is a toxic and unlovable ideology, and his candidacy turned it from an invisible consensus to one option among others.
Another blogger, GB Burford, wonders if perhaps the alternative reality would just be too painful for many liberals to accept.
It makes sense, then, that Narrative A [Trump voters are racist] is so popular among my liberal friends. It also makes sense that they’re so heartbroken at this election; they’ve spent so much time mocking, deriding, belittling… that when they lost… well, how would you feel? How would you feel losing so soundly, on every level of American government, to the people you’d been making fun of for so long? / So. Right away, just going with that Vox piece, I feel like a big part of the distress, and a big part of the reason people want this to be about racists, is because of how horrifying it would be to confront the truth that making fun of people you dislike makes you an asshole. / Easier to feel like you’ve been wronged, like you’ve been hurt, and kind of gloss over the people that you’ve been laughing at and mocking for so long who just thrashed you in an election.
But here’s what happened when one liberal decided to seek out Trump voters and ask them questions instead. A gay Muslim Pakistani-American immigrant shares what he learned in a piece on Glenn Beck’s site.
Here’s what I learned by listening. Listening. Not waiting to speak. Not waiting to disagree or refute. There exists a HUGE population in America who are desperately struggling to feed their families. They feel their needs are not authentically represented within this huge government. They feel their concerns are not being voiced by any major news outlet. They are tired of being called ‘dumb,’ ‘bigoted’ and ‘racist.’ And, based on the shocked expressions of every anchor last night that all their polling data was off, apparently they aren’t even really counted.
Yet many are responding to Trump’s win by writing off half the country as racist, including the press. In a piece aptly titled “The Unbearable Smugness of the Press,” Will Rahn with CBS News observes that much of the press is retreating deeper into failed assumptions rather than seeking to understand what was missed.
when he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time. / And can you blame them? Journalists love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists. We emote on Twitter about how this or that comment or policy makes us feel one way or the other, and yet we reject their feelings as invalid. / That the explainers and data journalists so frequently get things hilariously wrong never invites the soul-searching you’d think it would. Instead, it all just somehow leads us to more smugness, more meanness, more certainty from the reporters and pundits. Faced with defeat, we retreat further into our bubble, assumptions left unchecked. No, it’s the voters who are wrong.
The lack of self-examination on the part of the Democratic Party is similarly striking, especially in comparison to how the Republican Party responded to a crushing defeat in 2012. Glenn Greenwald writes in the Intercept:
One would assume that the operatives and loyalists of such a weak, defeated, and wrecked political party would be eager to engage in some introspection and self-critique, and to produce a frank accounting of what they did wrong so as to alter their plight. In the case of 2016 Democrats, one would be quite mistaken. At least thus far, there is virtually no evidence of any such intention. Quite the contrary, Democrats have spent the last 10 days flailing around blaming everyone except for themselves, constructing a carousel of villains and scapegoats — from Julian Assange, Vladimir Putin, James Comey, the electoral college, “fake news,” and Facebook, to Susan Sarandon, Jill Stein, millennials, Bernie Sanders, Clinton-critical journalists, and, most of all, insubordinate voters themselves — to blame them for failing to fulfill the responsibility that the Democratic Party, and it alone, bears: to elect Democratic candidates.
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