[An very good piece from a very good issue of Insurgent Notes-a.]
1. A majority of voters disliked both candidates. Six of ten thought both were dishonest. Clinton won the popular vote. She received at least 500,000 more votes than Trump, and by the time all the votes from California are calculated she may have as many as 2 million more. To put this into perspective, John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election by just 112,827 votes. Barack Obama won his first election by 10 million votes. Although people obviously know about the Electoral College this is all still pretty notable and for many startling. This is only the fifth time in the 240-year history of the United States as a country that a president won an election without winning the popular vote. Two of those instances came in the last 20 years. The first three times it happened it caused major political crises. In 1876 the crisis was protracted and resulted in the end of Reconstruction in the post–Civil War south with old elements of the defeated slavocracy returning to power. The potential difference between the popular vote and the votes of the winner in this election is unprecedented, yet this is not considered particularly newsworthy by any major publication or media outlet let alone the Democratic Party and its candidates. At most it gets passing mention.
2. Although George W. Bush’s 2000 victory was widely seen as illegitimate since he lost the popular vote by around 550,000, Trump’s victory was quickly announced and congratulated across the board. Newspapers, television stations, Clinton, Obama and even Bernie Sanders fell all over themselves to congratulate Trump for his victory and promise to support and work with him. This despite months of every newspaper, every Democratic politician, major figures in the military and government bureaucracy, and even huge sections of the Republican Party establishment claiming that Trump was unfit for the presidency and would ruin the United States of America. This despite Trump stating time and time again that voting was being rigged, and that he may not accept the outcome of the election. If things would have gone the other way with Clinton winning the election despite Trump winning the popular vote we could expect a major uproar to say the least.
3. Trump won less popular votes than Mitt Romney secured in the 2012 election against Obama. In other words, Trump won an election with less votes than the loser in the last election was able to score. Trump secured the lowest total number of popular votes of any candidate since George W. Bush in 2000, hardly a ringing endorsement or mass mandate.
4. Voter turnout fell drastically in this election. The number of people eligible to vote has increased by millions since Obama was first elected in 2008, yet the total number of people who cast ballots this time around was down by around 10 million. Nearly 100 million of the 218.9 million eligible voters selected neither Clinton nor Trump by voting third party or staying home. With all said and done, Trump will have won the presidency with the votes of only 19 percent of the total population of the United States.
5. Clinton won 2 million fewer votes from women than Obama won in the 2012 election. The push to elect the first female president on the basis of her being a woman and basically nothing else did not motivate women to vote. Nearly half of women eligible to vote decided to stay home instead. Clinton won 3 million fewer votes from black people than Obama won in the 2012 election. She won a nearly identical number of Latino votes as Obama won in that same election even though the number of eligible Latino voters has risen since that time.
6. Trump won the votes of about 27 million white men. In the 2012 election, Mitt Romney won the votes of about 27 million white men. Trump gained at most 1 percent on Romney’s share of votes from white people. Trump won a higher percentage of votes from every other “racial group” in the United States than Mitt Romney did in the 2012 election. Trump won 7 percent more blacks than Romney. He also won 11 percent more Asians and 8 percent more Latinos.
7. In exit polls, more than half of voters said that the main issue for them was “the economy.” Neither race nor gender was given as a reply in enough numbers to be statistically significant. Many voters went out of their way to say it wasn’t. Seven of ten voters said undocumented immigrants should be allowed to apply for legal residency. More voters opposed building a wall on the border with Mexico than favored it.
8. “Due largely to the dramatic movement among whites with no college degree, the gap between college and non-college whites is wider in 2016 than in any past election dating to 1980.” The biggest swings, in terms of income, came from people who make $30,000 a year or less. Trump won 10 percent more of these voters overall than Mitt Romney did last time around. In historically industrial states where hundreds of thousands of jobs have been done away with in recent years the shift was even more dramatic among people making $30,000 a year or less. Trump gained 19 percent from this income bracket in Indiana, 18 percent from this income bracket in Pennsylvania and 17 percent from this income bracket in Wisconsin. These three states helped to cement his win. Trump also gained big in the $30,000–50,000 a year income bracket nationwide, which it would be fair to imagine would contain a lot more workers than shopkeepers, managers and big wigs. Conversely, Clinton made gains among voters making over $50,000 a year. Her most pronounced swings came from voters earning more than $250,000 a year. She gained 11 percent among that affluent income bracket. She mainly promised more of the same “recovery” overseen by Obama, which saw one of the biggest shifts of wealth from the lower to upper classes in US history, the elimination of tens of thousands of jobs, the destruction of pensions of retired workers and the compulsory purchase of overpriced health insurance, and came complete with the vast expansion of the electronic big-brother spy state, drone strikes and assassinations of citizens, and murderous military interventions in foreign lands. There is also the underreported issue of the announcement made just prior to the election that insurance premiums would rise an average of 25 percent across the United States. Pennsylvania was said to be on track for an increase of over 32 percent. This is the legacy Clinton, already hated and despised as a soulless and corrupt apparatchik beholden to Wall Street and the security state apparatus, proclaimed her eagerness to continue.
9. “Whites” between the ages of 24 and 59 have the highest death rates caused by suicide, drugs and alcohol of any “racial group” in America. Some groups of such as middle-aged, low-income white people, have seen death rate surges of up to 25 percent in a handful of years. This has never been seen in a developed country (let alone the richest country in the world) and is comparable to the results of the collapse of the USSR and “Eastern Bloc.”
10. Obviously, other “racial groups,” or more precisely the workers who have been categorized into various racial groupings, have also been hit hard by the financial collapse of 2008 and subsequent devastation. Contrary to the popular narrative, Trump was the only candidate to really address this. He said: “We’re going to rebuild our inner cities because our African American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before.” The White House denied the decline of conditions for black people, saying black people were “better off” under Obama despite all indications to the contrary. Clinton, put forward as a candidate of minorities, but who in the 1990s demonized black men as “superpredators” and helped consigned untold numbers to prison, agreed.
11. With the exception of Bernie Sanders, Trump was the first candidate to go to the industrial heartlands where hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost and specifically say: “We will rebuild the factories” since the collapses and liquidations of 1970s and ’80s. This should not be underestimated in places where whole cities have been destroyed after plant closures, with the people left in them to rot away and die. During the primaries, as the coal industry plummeted, mines scaled down or closed, and courts allowed mine operators to cancel retired miner’s pensions, Clinton said “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right” before making some vague promises about “clean energy” coming in to save them at some point in the future. In actual practice, she planned to continue Obama-era laws that would lower states to consume less coal and shift to things like natural gas. The short-lived natural-gas boom has driven down the price of coal and has combined with shifts in investment and a decline in Chinese consumption to decimate the coal industry which in many places is practically the only industry that exists.
With few exceptions, local politicians, especially of the Democratic variety, have consigned the coal industry to disappearance. When a mine closed in the heart of southwestern Pennsylvania’s coal country last year, the Democratic county commissioner gathered them all together and said: “A lot of you aren’t going to get back to the mines. That’s just the way it’s going to happen.” Coal miners with years underground were told to “be realistic” and “come back to the real world,” which meant retraining for jobs in fields like healthcare that pay less than half of what they made in the mines. Trump, on the other hand, promised to “bring coal back!” When companies announced that they were shutting down plants in the United States and moving them to Mexico, Trump immediately and publicly condemned them by name and blamed it on trade policies of both major parties. He said he would hit the companies with huge tariffs on any products they tried to import back into the United States for sale, and make them beg to reopen their factories. Sanders was able to ride this kind of rhetoric to primary victories over Clinton in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. Trump rode it all the way to the White House. Previous candidates made vague promises about “job retraining” or other benefits and help as they have done for decades. They rarely talked about “the working class” and they never talked about bringing back factory jobs. Obama traveled to Pittsburgh at least twice to praise a supposed “technological boom” going on there without mentioning that it employs none of the thousands of former mill and mine workers who were forced to migrate for work, take on low-paying service industry jobs or go out on disability even though they’re physically fine. In between giving private speeches to Wall Street executives, Clinton went no further than giving the occasional talk about inequality (while wearing a $12,495 designer jacket). Of course factory jobs are not coming back. We know that. A lot of workers probably do too, but they’re desperate. Trump made empty promises as all politicians do. Things will never be the same. Even where some industrial production has trickled back into the United States it has brought little in terms of actual jobs thanks to technology (or the organic composition of capital for you Marx readers). Manufacturing jobs only grew by about 86,000 between 2011 and 2016 while manufacturing output grew by more than 20 percent over the same period. This is what Wall Street and the workings of capitalism demand. Look at the US-based Duraflame company for an example. They manufacture 36 million fire logs every year, accounting for almost half of the total market. How many people do they actually employ? A whopping 201. This doesn’t even get into the matter of wages. Wages for manufacturing workers, when they can still find work, have fallen year after year after year. And communists don’t even want things to be the same with whole towns and generations slaving away in filthy dangerous factories. This is not the point. The point is that Trump actually dared to talk to these people and addressed their conditions which in itself is totally new and would help explain his victory, driven as it was by gains among low income people in states with totally ruined industrial sectors like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. These are, or should be, some of the people communists look to the most, as opposed to the soft left-lite which had all but disappeared the working class before this election in favor of focus groups of ideology-driven students pushing for “safe spaces” on college campuses so they could live in their isolated suburban islands without danger of being potentially offended. None other than AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka (who is the biggest union leader in America for those unaware) raced to the front of the line to congratulate Trump on his victory and pledge to work together with the new commander in chief. Trumka proclaimed “The President-elect made promises in this campaign—on trade, on restoring manufacturing, on reviving our communities. We will work to make many of those promises a reality.” This is the same guy who recently branded Native American anti-pipeline protesters facing down the same private security and police who break union strikes as enemies of workers, saying the protesters “hold union members livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage to endless delay.” United Auto Workers (UAW) president Dennis Williams crowed about Trump too, saying: “I think his position on trade is right on…. I see somebody who made a lot of commitment to workers about fairness and being part of the American dream, rebuilding the American middle class, creating opportunities.” Williams is now trying to sit down with Trump to help implement an immediate tariff against cars made in Mexico. This is the same sort of UAW leadership that pushed anti-Japanese rhetoric to the max in the 1980s and whipped workers up into a violent frenzy that led directly to violent attacks (and even murder) of totally innocent Asian people in Michigan, but wouldn’t dare lift a finger to reach out to Japanese autoworkers for joint activity or challenge the Big Three bosses as they dismantled factories across America. Union officialdom in the United States has been pushing nationalist poison for years and years. Rather than try to organize immigrants and build working class solidarity across international borders to do battle with the multinational corporations that drive working people into the dirt everywhere, Trumka and his ilk push for “partnerships” with the billionaire bosses and blame job and income declines in America on low paid “foreign workers.” Sound familiar? It should; it was the bedrock of Trump’s appeal to the workers in places like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. If you think it had no effect, or that it had less effect than hate spewed by marginal racist grouplets like the KKK or individuals like David Duke which haven’t been able to make any real inroads for four decades, even though the facts and the people who voted themselves tell you otherwise (with more than half saying “the economy is the main issue”), then I don’t know what to tell you. When so-called communists find themselves repeating the arguments of the bourgeois opinion-making media mouthpieces and academics scorning the “racist and backward” members of “the white working class” you may think they would want to reconsider their positions, or at least stop pretending to be on our side. Especially when even the “liberal elite” New York Times is able to see the reality, at least once in a while.