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White light, white light goin’ messin’ up my mind
White light, and don’t you know its gonna make me go blind
White heat, aww white heat it tickle me down to my toes
White light, ooo have mercy white light have it goodness knows
— Lou Reed, “White Light, White Heat“
Was Hillary Clinton felled by a “whitelash” at the polls? Did a stealth surge of angry white voters fueled by an incendiary racial animus fool pollsters (not to mention Robby Mook, who ran 400,000 simulations of the election) and overwhelm Clinton’s identity politics coalition on election day?
This Whitelash Theory is rapidly becoming the conventional wisdom in Democratic Party circles to rationalize Clinton’s shocking defeat. But is it true?
There’s no doubt Clinton lost the white vote. Lost it big: 58-27. She was even trounced by Trump with white women voters by a stunning 53 to 43% margin. Think about that for a moment. More than half of the white women who bothered to vote preferred a serial sexual predator to Hillary Clinton. (Hillary won the total women’s vote 54 to 42 percent. But that’s one percent less than the 55% Obama got in 2012!)
But did whites vote in such large margins for Trump because they feared blacks, Muslims and Hispanics? Some of them, surely. America is a racist country, has been and will be. But is it any more racist now than it was four years ago, when the Tea Party and what we now call the Alt Right feverishly tried to take down Barack Obama?
There’s no evidence to show that it is and plenty of data to suggest that it is not. For one thing, the voting age population is more diverse now than it was four years ago. This should have been a decisive advantage for Clinton, but it wasn’t. Why?
Let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers. Clinton lost the white vote by almost the exact same margin that Obama did to Romney in 2012. Holding that margin should have been a huge advantage for Clinton because, demographically speaking, the share of white voters is falling and the share of black and Hispanic voters is rising. How could she possibly lose given that dynamic?
The problem, and this should come as a shock to the Whitelash Theorists, is that Trump did 2% better with blacks than Romney did and Hillary performed 5% worse than Obama for a total spread of 7% less than the 2012 margins.
Even more startling, given Trump’s vile Mexican-bashing, is that Trump won a higher percent of Hispanic votes (29%) than Romney (27%) and Hillary won a much smaller share of Hispanic votes (65%) than Obama (71%) for a total decline of 8% from 2012.
Even so, Hillary should have won the election. Why? Because Trump got 1.5 million fewer votes than Romney. There was no great white surge.
The fatal problem is that Hillary got 5.4 million fewer votes than Obama, many of those black and Hispanic voters, and lost 6 states that Obama won twice: Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio. That’s pretty conclusive evidence that Hillary didn’t lose because of racism.
I think Hillary lost because she was on the wrong side of the class war. From the beginning of their political careers, the Clintons have been on the side of the one-percent against the rest of us, regardless of gender or skin color. Her allegiance to Wall Street finally blew up in her face.
But you could also fairly conclude that Hillary was taken down by a blacklash. Black Americans likely did not forget (and how could they?) Hillary’s support for the racist death penalty, the racist war on drugs, the racist crime bill, the racially-motivated welfare reform bill, and global wars against brown and black people across the globe. When someone refers to your son or grandson as a “super-predator” and never speaks an authentic apology, you’re unlikely to trust that person to run the country.
Blacks didn’t vote against Hillary the way so many Hispanics did, who were certainly mindful of Clinton and Obama’s merciless policy of mass deportation. Instead, most eligible black voters simply stayed home and in a kind of elegant negation exacted a stealthy retribution for two decades of political brutality, scapegoating and betrayal.
You Can’t Go Home Again
In 2000, Al Gore famously got blown out in his home state of Tennessee and then tried to blame Nader for costing him the election. This year Hillary got whacked 60-33 in Arkansas, and will no doubt blame the firm of Putin, Assange and Stein for her humiliation. You can’t go home again; they know you too well.
Crash of the Cash-Machine Politicos
HRC didn’t need the entire Obama coalition to win this election. She could have easily defeated Trump by simply holding the Kerry coalition of 2004, which won Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
Trump got 3 million fewer votes than George W. Bush in 2004, when Bush’s popularity was at its nadir. But Clinton’s cash-machine politicos couldn’t even get out that old centrist-liberal Democratic to vote for her.
If the Clintons had any brains they would have hired some people to run the campaign who knew how to win elections without cheating…
Invitation to a Rigging
Though she did everything she could to lose the election, HRC still ended up winning the popular vote nationwide by more than 200,000 votes (a little less than Gore, but still a clear cut win). If Trump had won the popular vote and lost the election, his people would be out on the streets with their blunderbusses, pitchforks and muskets, squealing rightly that the election was rigged and demanding the abolition of the electoral college, an anti-democratic artifact designed to protect the slave-owning states. Barely a peep about this from the Democrats. Why? Because they serve other masters, the political plantation owners on Wall Street and K Street.
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
Alexander Cockburn thought that the Obama Phenomenon was over before it even began, the moment when the freshly-elected senator picked Joe Lieberman to be his senatorial mentor. I was willing to give him more time. (Silly me.) For me it ended the moment he tapped Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State. Obama made his bones on one issue: opposition to the Iraq war and brought on board to run his foreign policy one of the war’s chief cheerleaders. Then he let the Clinton team run the DNC, insuring that they’d back Clintonian neoliberals for every open House and Senate seat for the next 8 years. So now Obama’s legacy, what there is of it, is about to be wiped out because of the failures of the hawk he invited into his own house. Call it justice or call it karma, but it was just bound to happen.
The Confidence Man
According to the Canadian press, the US ambassador to Canada has stated that Obama will push for the TPP to be passed before Trump takes power. (And you thought Obama might use his remaining days to destroy the nuclear launch codes, turn the state of Idaho into a National Monument, pardon Leonard Peltier or something?)
Drowning in a Sea of Love
Almost every Democratic candidate who clung to Hillary’s coattails–even poor Russ Feingold, once the most honorable man in the senate– went down with her, not realizing, I guess, that like Virginia Woolf wading into the River Ouse, there were stones in that coat’s pockets…
The Great Awakening
Protests breaking out coast-to-coast. Great. I support them all. Also so fucking predictable. Now that a Republican has been elected it’s safe to get back out on streets. Where were they when Hillary and Obama destroyed Libya? Or launched wars on 7 other countries?
No doubt your in-box, like mine, has been flooded in the last 24 hours with desperate pleas for money from the Dem NGOs all claiming that they will put your money to use on the frontline of their war against Trump. Really? Why give any of them a dime? They’ve been silent for the last 8 years. Worse, they’ve given cover to every transgression made by Hillary, from the war on Libya to the TPP to groveling before Wall Street to promoting fracking around the world to sabotaging the Sanders campaign. Why would we trust any of them to fight Trump? Fight anyone?
My friend Chris Zinda, a no compromise environmentalist, calls them the “failed collaborators.” That’s exactly right. The emphasis is on the failure. If you’re going to collaborate, you should at least win. But these groups only collaborate because they are weak and cowardly and on the dole. So there’s little chance of them ever really winning, even by selling out.
Give Peace, I Mean Hitler, a Chance
If the Clinton camp really thinks Trump is “our Hitler,” a theme they pushed for months, why would Hillary in her brittle concession speech now encourage the country to “give him a chance to lead?” This is the kind of two-faced bullshit people saw right through…They did attend Trump’s wedding, after all. Not even Neville Chamberlain or Joe Stalin went out on the town for Schnapps and strudel with Adolf and Eva, did they?
Nicholas Kristof (or his Bot) took time out from researching the conditions of brothels of Kuala Lumpur to dictate a column in the New York Times advising his liberal readers to take a deep breath, follow Hillary’s lead and give Trump a chance. Reading Kristof is a uniquely painful experience, like getting a colonoscopy while having a root canal.
Truth or Dare Politics
Elizabeth Warren, who repeatedly called Trump a threat to democracy, is now willing to work with Trump for sake of “democracy.” Did you really want her as Veep? Suddenly, it’s all about preserving the integrity of the System, as if the System had any integrity at all…
I love this little prose poem, Episodes in Recent American History, on how we came to this point by Jeremy Pikser. I’m glad he’s a friend. I’m glad he’s a CounterPuncher. He restores my faith in screenwriters (Reds, Bulworth et al). If he’d been writing in the forties and fifties he’d probably be bound to a chair next to Dalton Trumbo and Abraham Polonsky before HUAC. He may well be bound to a chair before Mike Lee’s Senate Select Committee on Thought Crimes six months from now….
Dept. of Silver Linings
Someone with the SF Greens just reported that: “All the celebrities moving to other countries should help lower Bay Area housing prices.”
Don’t Cry for Me, Kunduz
Edward Snowden has been sending around this gripping photo of weepy Obama staffers overcome at the prospect of Trump’s visit to the White House. Oddly, they never shed tears when of their drones bombed a Yemeni wedding party or their jets blew up a Doctors Without Borders hospital.
HRC won the Wall Street precincts of Manhattan by 23 percentage points (about 90,000 votes) more than Obama in 2012. She’s got to feel good about that result.
On the other hand, less than 48 hours after the humiliating defeat of the Goldman Girl, the Dow Jones soared to record highs. There’s no loyalty on Wall Street. The houses of finance turned their backs on Clinton sans regrets and embraced the protectionist Trump. The party never stops…
Arizona, Why Didn’t You Go My Way?
The Democrats thought Hillary had a good chance to win Arizona. In the end, Trump beat her by more than 4 percentage points. However, Arizona is becoming more progressive on economic issues at least. Voters approved a hike in the minimum wage in the state by a 17 point margin, 21 percent more than Hillary’s vote total. Nobody bought her faux economic populism. No Ralph Lauren pantsuit could disguise the shape of her neoliberalism.
As far as I can tell from her schedule, Hillary didn’t make one visit to Wisconsin since April. She sent Tim Kaine instead, which was like sending a Tsetse Fly to spread sleeping sickness among the faithful. Lost by 1. Who to blame? Jill Stein or Putin?
On the vast victory stage at the glass-ceilinged Javitz Center, Hillary’s advance team made a map of the United States. It included Hawai’i and Alaska. Just one state missing: Michigan.
Madonna promised oral sex for every man who would vote for Clinton. 29.5 million blow jobs in vain. Somewhere Monica Lewinsky is laughing.
Still One Thing to Do
Into my inbox has landed Hillary’s supplicant Michael Moore’s “post-election to-do list.” I stopped reading when item one on his list wasn’t “commit seppuku.” Of course, in Moore’s case I realize this might have required a sword as large as the one swung by Toshiro Mifune in The Seven Samurai.
The Short Happy Life of Paul Krugman
Paul (“Jill Stein cost HRC the election”) Krugman wasn’t good at math. That’s why he became an economist. He wasn’t good at logic either. That’s why he became a New York Times columnist.
Drill Me Baby One More Time
Sarah Palin is being mentioned as one of seven potential candidates to become the secretary of the Interior. James Watt with an Up-Do? (Palin’s the least worst of the contenders.)
No word yet on whether Joe the Plumber is on Trump’s shortlist for Sec. of Housing and Urban Development.
What is to be Done?
One of the juiciest results of the election is the state of operational crisis now confronting Alex Jones and InfoWars. How to lambaste the Jackboot State when your guy is now running the Jackboot State?
The Great Retreat
Three days after becoming President-elect, Trump gives an interview to the Wall Street Journal saying that there are portions of ObamaCare that he “likes very much” and that he is open to amending the law.
You didn’t really think Trump was going to abolish ObamaCare, did you? The Heritage Foundation wrote the law. If he abolished it, insurance company CEO would be taking to the streets…
By next week, the Wall may be transformed into a high-speed tunnel financed by Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs.
Don’t think things could get worse than Tuesday night? The Democrat’s Plan B: Chuck Schumer for minority leader. Keep this up and they’ll lose another 5 senate seats in two years.
I See No Evil
Big Pharma lobbyist and talking nitwit, Dr. Howard Dean is suddenly the leading candidate to head the DNC. He’s the perfect person to lead a party in need of permanent sedation. They could hold first post-election meeting in Oregon, the right to die state.
The Return of Lassie?
Bernie Sanders says he won’t rule out a 2020 campaign. Sheep have four years to run wild before the next big round up.
Goya and the Darkness
How prescient was Goya in his Caprichos? Here we have the Democrats’ animistic representation, the Donkey, feeding off the soul of its poor, unconscious adherent, who the Party abandoned to the darkness, as its leaders enriched themselves at the Golden Trough, while shadowy figures surveilled their every move…
Death of a Ladies’ Man
I first saw Leonard Cohen perform in the mid-70s at the beautiful old Murat Shrine Hall in Indianapolis. I went with my friend Charles the Potter, who was known to spend an entire weekend moulding clay pots while listening to Songs From a Room, over and over again, on an ancient reel-to-reel tape machine. The tickets cost $7.50. I still have the stub in a box somewhere. The last time Cohen toured the Pacific Northwest the cheapest seats in Seattle I could find were $250, far beyond my ability or willingness to pay.
Cohen was a leading member of that mercurial tribe: the singer/songwriter. The songs were better than the voice, but somehow they fit inextricably together. Unlike Dylan, no one could sing a Cohen song with as much conviction as Cohen–they all sound like covers, some better than others, but none better than Cohen himself.
There were many lean years for Cohen from the 1980s to the great renaissance in 2001 with the release of 10 New Songs, which is perhaps the best work of his career. I haven’t talked to Charles in decades, but I bet he’s listening to “Bird on a Wire” and “Tonight will be Fine” today. Me? I’m going to spend the rest of this savage day listening to “A Thousand Kisses Deep,” searching for consolation during a week in which so much has been lost.
Life During Wartime
Confession: I haven’t really slept much since Monday night. This probably shows in the ragged, disjointed nature of these “notes.” The world outside remains the same, even though we are told it has seismically changed. Tell that to the Lakota, in their camps on the cold wind-swept high plains of North Dakota, awaiting another barbarous confrontation with the armored goons of petro-capital. Same as it was, same as it ever was, same as it ever, ever was…
What I’m listening to this week.
Bill Evans: Some Other Time: Lost Sessions From the Black Forest
Lou Reed: Live in Italy
Alejandro Escovado: Burn Something Beautiful
Wes Montgomery: Echoes of Indiana Avenue
The Lafayette Afro Rock Band vs. Ice: Afro Funk Explosion!
What I’m reading this week.
Alain Badiou: Cinema
Stephen Romer (Ed.): French Decadent Tales
Andrea Wulf: The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World
Long Time Dying
Alain Badiou: “The oppressed peoples of the earth are not objects for the exquisite turmoil of European consciences. They are subjects from which to learn how to exercise political intelligence and action. Obviously, colonial arrogance is a long time dying.”