By Roger Annis, Nov 10, 2016
Polls in the U.S. show privileged Caucasians, male and female, were the main backers of Trump, not the claimed ‘working class whites’
Mainstream journalists and other commentators are quick off the mark to make comparisons between the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency and the referendum vote in Britain in June of 2016 to leave the European Union. An example of this is an otherwise interesting and informed commentary on November 9 by the Toronto Star‘s global economics reporter Tanya Talaga (text below).
The venerable Glenn Greenwald sounded the note in a November 9 article citing approvingly a British writer who wrote, “both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for 30 years.”
The comparison is wrong. The vote for Donald Trump was a racist and sexist backlash by privileged, Caucasian Americans (including, by one exit poll, 53 per cent of Caucasian women overall) joined by the votes of discontented working class people being tricked by a right-wing demagogue. The ‘Brexit’ vote in the UK, on the other hand, was a vote against a key institution of capitalist, austerity Europe–the European Union.
That’s the same European Union that is backing a cruel civil war by an extreme-right governing regime in Kyiv against the people of eastern Ukraine and the same EU that has wrecked the economy of Greece and other European countries by imposing austerity policies. No wonder the people of Britain wanted out of such an institution.
Of course, many right-wing xenophobes in Britain animated the vote to leave the EU. But a lot of right-wing xenophobes campaigned equally for ‘Remain’. The principle leaders of ‘Remain’ included the principle leaders of racist, sexist and imperialist Britain.
The polling numbers themselves of the Brexit vote don’t sustain the comparison to Trump’s election.
The higher up the social ladder in Britain, the higher the vote for the status quo, that is, to stay in the EU. By contrast, working class people formed the large bulk of Brexit voters. In the U.S., the most oppressed voters cast their ballots against Trump. Black people voted overwhelmingly against him; a whopping 88 per cent voted in favour of Clinton, according to CNN. Latinos and people of Asian descent voted 71 per cent against Trump (ie mosty for Clinton).
In Britain, Black people voted by 27 per cent for Leave while people of Asian descent voted by 33 per cent. A powerful factor in that vote was the issue of labour mobility and otherwise unhindered travel to the European Union zone. No comparable, tangible economic policy was up for grabs in the U.S. vote (apart from the Green Party campaign, but that was excluded from the ‘official’ campaign, including the televised debates).
Of course, another powerful factor animating the UK vote was the perception widely promulgated in mainstream media that the ‘Leave’ position equaled racism and xenophobia. (Labour mobility to Europe, by the way, was probably the main factor animating popular support for the 2013-14 ‘Maidan’ (pro-European Union) movement in Ukraine, which is one of the poorest countries in Europe.)
A writer at the London School of Economics wrote an analysis examining why so many people of Asian descent supported Brexit. He explained, “Outside London, nearly every constituency with a double-digit South Asian population voted Leave.” (See recommended readings on Brexit, below.)
A new foreign policy under Donald Trump?
There was a lot of discussion during the U.S. election attempting to identify specific policies distinguishing the Democrats and Republicans. The effort was overrated. As Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein correctly argued, the two parties are largely indistinguishable in their main policy planks. (Read Jill Stein’s post-election statement of November 9, 2016 here. “I want to acknowledge the very real pain that so many Americans are feeling….”)
Stein and her party are predictably coming under fierce attack by the Clintonites for ‘splitting the progressive vote’. This is a convenient way for the Clintonites to avoid attention focusing on their miserable, hawk of a candidate and their earlier sabotaging of the Bernie Sanders campaign for the Democratic Party nomination. Sadly, the official Sanders campaign ended with a whimper, backing Clinton.
Many well-intentioned liberals and anti-imperialists, even, are hoping against hope that a new, Trump-led administration in Washington will tone down the militarist and pro-war course of the outgoing Obama administration. That is a vain hope.
Military spending doubled during the Obama years, compared to the preceding George W Bush administration. Drone assassinations have become standard fare. President Obama meets ghoulishly with his military advisors each week to approve the latest ‘assassinate-by-drone’ list. ‘Regime change’ continued as standard operating procedure under Obama, personified by Clinton’s murderous performance in Libya in 2011.
Since 2011, the U.S. has been arming and otherwise supporting extreme-right jihadist forces seeking the overthrow of the Syrian government. Meanwhile in Ukraine, the U.S. has been training, together with Canada and Britain, the killers of the revamped Ukrainian army and extreme-right paramilitaries for the civil war in eastern Ukraine. Across eastern Europe, the U.S. and the EU are playing a threatening game of nuclear roulette against Russia.
Hillary Clinton represented all of this and more. but there is not a single reason to believe that Donald Trump will act any differently.
Ignorance over the Trump war danger is fueled by the likes of reporters at Canada’s state broadcaster, the CBC, all of whom repeat like parrots the lying claim that Russia and its president favored the election of Trump over Clinton. The false claim is made even fouler by lumping President Vladimir Putin’s name in with the (accurate) reporting that Trump’s election is being welcomed by leaders of far-right parties in Europe.
The leaders of the Kremlin would have to be stupid and naïve to believe that NATO’s threats and military posturing against Russia will now lessen as a result of Trump’s election. They are not stupid. They are not naïve. The NATO threats against the Russian people will not diminish.
Militarism and the threat of war and nuclear weapons will not diminish until and unless a powerful antiwar, anti-nuclear movement is once again a factor in the politics of the United States and its allies.
The leaders of Cuba know this. The country is going ahead with five days of military defense exercises, to take place from November 16 to 20.
The military-industrial complex knows where Trump stands. Stock prices of military manufacturers rose following the U.S. election, buoyed by Trump’s election promises to boost military spending.
To understand the election of Trump, look to former Italian PM Sylvio Berlusconi, commentary by Roger Annis, Nov 9, 2016 ( with related readings)
Brexit and building a new politics of the left in Britain, video and report of a left-wing public forum in London on July 8, 2016 discussing the meaning of the June 24, 2016 referendum vote in the UK to leave the EU
(Several essays welcoming the ‘Leave’ result of the Brexit referendum were published also on A Socialist In Canada; find them here and here.)
White ‘Brexit’ voting block comes out to vote for Trump
By Tanya Talaga, Global Economics Reporter, Toronto Star, Nov 9, 2016
A white voter movement came out and staged its own version of Brexit on Tuesday by supporting U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his xenophobic, anti-free trade ways, polling data show.
It wasn’t just the white, disaffected male and female voter without a college degree who voted for Trump. So did the white middle class of both sexes and the wealthy, according to U.S. election exit data compiled by CNN based on 24,537 people leaving 350 voting stations. White voters made up 70 per cent of the total election votes. Of the white support, 58 per cent voted for Trump while 37 per cent went for Hillary Clinton, the data show.
African-Americans made up 12 per cent of the vote and of those 88 per cent supported Clinton and 8 per cent Trump. Of Latin American voters, which made up 11 per cent of the vote — 65 per cent voted Clinton and 29 per cent went Trump.
White, non-college educated support for Trump was expected and so was the support for him among wealthier whites, said Melissa Williams, a University of Toronto political science professor. “But the base, the core of the support is of white, middle income people of both sexes. The extent of which women in that cohort ended up supporting Trump is a bit surprising,” said Williams, who is spending this year as a senior democracy fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Among white men, 63 per cent went for Trump while 31 per cent voted for Clinton. Among the women, 53 per cent went Trump and only 43 per cent voted Clinton.
“It clearly is a white voting block. The demographic profile of Trump supporters is very similar to that of Brexit supporters,” Williams said.
“When the working class is angry, facing a bleak future, it is very easy for elites to mobilize racist sentiments, find a racialized scapegoat and turn that anger away from elites and towards a racialized scapegoat. That is the dynamic we saw in the Brexit and Trump campaigns,” Williams said.
Brexit is the term used to describe the British voters’ decision to leave the European Union. The man who helped lead Britain out of the EU, Nigel Farage, the interim United Kingdom Independence Party Leader, said Trump’s victory is part of this populist wave, currently upturning establishments.
“Brexit was the first brick that was knocked out of the establishment wall. A lot more were knocked out last night,” Farage told Time magazine on Wednesday.
This truly is a transnational phenomenon, agreed Williams. “We have been witnessing the rise of right wing, populist; I call them white wing populist movements across advanced democracies. There is something structural going on here that is common to the U.S. and many European countries, including the U.K.,” she said.
Growing wealth inequality, the growth of the 1 per cent top income earners against the 99 per cent, played a role and Clinton did not appeal to those young, millennial voters who supported Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders. “They trusted Bernie because he has been hammering inequality forever. He was credible,” said Williams, adding Clinton never achieved Sanders’ popularity with youth.
Trump was not the perfect candidate, but his voters accepted that early on and he had the perfect message for his base, agreed Connor Whitworth, a consultant at Navigator. That was a message of fear, anti-immigration, of calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals and of building walls between America and Mexico.
“Voters made up their mind about Trump early on. Yes he was sexist and said terrible things. If they were voting based on what he was going to do for America,” Whitworth said.
Trump supporters railed against globalization. His coalition was formed from a vacuum of deep divisions. Out of this came rural white voters who came out like never before,” Whitworth said.
Trump also won in Pennsylvania and Michigan, rust belt states that he wasn’t expected to win. “Not since 1988 has a Republican won Pennsylvania and Michigan. These are white rural voters. It is not white voters but white rural voters who felt absolutely ignored by Washington,” he said.
Meanwhile, perhaps Clinton’s soft supporters believed the media reports that she was going to win the election and stayed home, neglecting to vote, he added. Clinton, however, did win 94 per cent of the black, female vote while 4 per cent of black females voted Trump.
The US Elections Projects predicted 128.8 million Americans voted, out of 231 million eligible voters, reported Vox, adding this was a low turnout.
Even though Clinton won the popular vote, she still did not gain a majority of the 538 Electoral College votes she needed to become president. Trump won 290 out of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the election. Clinton only won 228.