TPM Reader CM refocuses us on gender …
I agree really strongly with your general take on Trump being an expression of white backlash, but I also wanted to add that I think you’re missing a really important component: GENDER.
A lot of people are talking about the fact that Trump is racist, but hardly anyone is discussing the role his sexism played in the campaign and how much of a factor it still is in our society. And also on the left. Let’s not forget that Bernie’s attacks on “identity politics” have actually very little to do with racism. When Bernie talks about identity politics, he’s talking about WOMEN who vote for WOMEN because they’re WOMEN. I actually can’t think of a single instance when a discussion of race has caused him to slam identity politics. It has always been the result of a discussion of women in politics.
As for Trump, some of his most egregious moments in the campaign were his moments of outright misogyny and yet hardly anyone cares. Obviously, the “Grab ’em by the p__y” moment comes to mind, but he also trotted out all of Bill Clinton’s accusers before one of the debates. That wasn’t about race, it was a gendered attack. The attacks on Hillary’s honesty and nastiness played right into a very typical (yet generally accepted) brand of American sexism that is so entrenched in our culture, we hardly even notice it. Trump’s fundamental nature is being alpha to the point of near absurdity. And the alpha ALWAYS WINS. Most of these people who voted for Trump after voting for Obama were the same people who voted for Bush TWICE. Why? Because Bush was the alpha against Gore and Kerry. Obama was the alpha against McCain and Romney. And Trump was the Alpha compared to Hillary because our society doesn’t allow women to be alpha’s, no matter how experienced, or in command they are.
I’m of the general belief that as racist as this country can be, it’s even MORE sexist. Think about it. Our country is half female, and yet, only 20 percent of our congressional delegation is female. That level of female representation is viewed in other countries as a cause for serious concern, but here in America, we take as business as usual.
I think the thing I keep coming back to is this: if Obama ran for a third term, do you think he would’ve won? I think he probably would have and most statistical evidence indicates that would probably be the case. That says it all right there. At the end of the day, this country has some serious issues with women.
I would add that these two posts were really responding to the Coates’ essay, which is about race. That’s why I focused so squarely on race. But gender was central to this election, not simply because the Democratic candidate was a woman but because in a way that parallels the racial dynamics, feminism and women’s equality was a key target of the backlash.