We Can't Keep Examining "White Working Class" Voters Without Calling Out Their Racism

Why is this still a thing? The articles usually start out something like this: These are the people who voted for Trump because they felt left behind. They felt ignored. They felt neglected by the coastal elites and the mainstream political establishment. With their jobs gone, no one was speaking to their needs, so they found a champion in Donald Trump.

An interview is in no way objective or balanced if it doesn’t point out the fact that the people who may have been victimized by elitist neglect or the political status quo, harbor ideals that are damaging to our nation. Actually that is being too politically correct, let’s call it like it is - their racist ideals are damaging to our nation, even more so if they are profiled in an article that lets those ideals go unchallenged!

“The thing that irritates me to no end is this NFL shit,” Schilling told me in her living room. “I’m about ready to go over the top with this shit. We do not watch no NFL now.” They’re Dallas Cowboys fans. “We banned ‘em. We don’t watch it.” Schilling looked at her husband, Dave McCabe, who’s 67 and a retired high school basketball coach. She nodded at me. “Tell him,” she said to McCabe, “what you said the NFL is...” McCabe looked momentarily wary. He laughed a little. “I don’t remember saying that,” he said unconvincingly. Schilling was having none of it. “You’re the one that told me, liar,” she said. She looked at me. The NFL? “Niggers for life,” Schilling said. “For life,” McCabe added. -- Politico. “Johnstown Never Believed Trump Would Help. They Still Love Him Anyway,” by Michael Kruse Nov. 8, 2017

Just because one feels they have been long-forgotten or neglected doesn’t mean that they are. Just because you don’t want to seem like a racist doesn’t mean that you’re not racist. One such example was a Politico article last week that interviewed a number of people in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a town that saw a significant decline in steel, and many felt inspired by the promises Trump made about the industry’s eventual return. Valid perspectives for sure, but the sympathy dissipates when some sinister views are uncloaked as the article ends with derogatory comments about the NFL as referenced above. Not once did the writer of the piece call this racist or even objectionable. People don’t get to deny that label when they freely drop the n-word, and voted for someone who openly promoted racist policies during the campaign, put white supremacists on his senior staff, and appointed them elsewhere throughout his administration. You can’t ignore that wretched legacy of our nation, and it doesn’t justify putting someone so inept into the White House at the expense of everyone else. In turn, this also means the press must stop irresponsibly feeding these delusions before they foment an even more hideous reality, especially when the administration continues to lie and distort the truth.

RACISM: “1. a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race; 2. a. a doctrine or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles, b. a political or social system founded on racism; 3. racial prejudice or discrimination” — Webster’s Dictionary

At it’s core, this electoral resentment was not about economic insecurity, and it never was, at least not to the degree that these many articles assert. Nor does it mean one can hide behind economic hardship for a pass on their racist beliefs. Interview after interview has revealed the contradictions of this brand of the white working class, some rural voters, and those individuals who say they believe in Trump, despite being betrayed by him from the start of his campaign and still thus far into his presidency. It’s not about economics if a year later he has not brought jobs back, has not turned around the coal industry, or when any of the reasons mentioned are wholly refuted. These voters still feel like Trump is doing a good job and pridefully boast they would vote for him again! Recent reports and statistics from the election have shown voting trends that indicate much of the wins for Trump were based on race, and racial views were strong predictors of who cast a ballot for him.

I’m not trying to shame these people. Honestly, with every interview they expose themselves; the shame will be their own when they read their words in print, or see themselves on the nightly news vouching for candidates accused of and admitting to sexual assault and other despicable acts and beliefs, without any logical explanation for such civic betrayal. However, I do find it important to reveal their beliefs in order to understand how they in turn vote and their impact on the broader electorate. What must be noted is the unchallenged interview as some sort of human interest story like they‘re celebrated Olympic athletes is not acceptable. That type of validation does a disservice to the rest of our nation and reporting of that ilk further propels the narrative of fake news with a self-inflicted slap in the face on the front pages of mainstream publications and top-of-the-hour news stories of the respected media outlets that Trump’s animus targets the most.

Stop writing these stories about these people still proud of their vote for Trump when criminal investigations and his inability to adapt to the job make it clear he is one of our worst presidents ever; this is nothing to be proud of or to profile. It is an embarrassing phenomenon linked to our nation’s racist past and present, and doing these puff pieces where they get to proudly drop derogatory terms for laughs is disgusting and gives tacit endorsement to their beliefs.  If you want to interview people, interview all colors of the working class, immigrants, trans people, or those battling to keep their healthcare. Profile people who have been negatively affected or attacked by this administration.  If you do include these Trump voters, balance the profile with other viewpoints, or cover an individual that is trying to adapt and wrestle with the conflict of what Trump has done.  By giving them a voice or a headline, we perpetuate systemic white supremacy, instead of analyzing it objectively, and that irrationality doesn’t deserve such explicit expansion through media attention.

In particular, we can’t allow the excuse of these regressive beliefs to be misdirected as Southern charm or tradition. I grew up in the South, and that’s certainly not what’s charming about Georgia peaches, sweaty sticky humid summers jumping into lakes, chasing lightning bugs, chugging sweet tea, and hearing the warm respectful nuance in the way people greet each other with any number of variations on the phrase “Hi y’all.” Not just a Southern occurrence, this can’t be gilded in some folksy nostalgia of the Midwest or rural America, for some other time driven by a conservatism painting memories when things were only great for some, and not for others. The abandonment of alleged fake news for Trump’s lies leads many to live in an unrealistic existence, a warped reality with Trump unapologetically at its center. They contradict themselves, knowing that Trump will not be back to help them, but they like him. They like what he says, and how he speaks to their anguish. That desperation leads to a disconnect that has them considering candidates who violate collective values, all while being sold empty promises with no practical plans to fix the problems of the populace. It’s problematic because we’re caught in a time loop of regurgitated lies that have mutated into making excuses for candidates who are alleged sexual predators, rapists, and pedophiles running for and in office, current president included.

Apparently, only 2% of people who voted for Trump regret it! Two percent! If only 2% of those who voted for Trump regret doing so, and after a year of think-pieces and interviews trying to understand this phenomenon, despite evidence that should be to the contrary, these aren’t the voters that will lead you to salvation hoping for their change of heart in 2018 and beyond. Empower those voters who have been truly impacted by Trump, and attacked by his policies. Engage voters who didn’t feel the need to come to the election booth and get them out in the next election! Remind them why their vote matters and why it’s important to fight for that change locally and nationally. Write a profile on someone who chooses to run for office because they truly feel the economic anguish and frustrations of being left behind by administrations before, and attacked, embarrassed, or victimzed by the administration we have now. OH, and if you happen to interview a racist, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to call them out (like The Guardian’s Gary Younge did), especially if you end up quoting their use of the n-word.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.