Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 2:57 pm | Fair 66º

 
 
 
 

Mark Shields: Democrats Best Not Blame the Voters Who Are Not Racist

One of the great fringe benefits of working around American politics during the past 10 American presidencies has been the colorful characters I’ve gotten to meet.

Characters do not come more colorful than Dick Tuck. Having just learned that he had lost a California state Senate primary, he was asked by a Los Angeles radio reporter for a statement, and without missing a beat, Tuck offered an original concession: “The people have spoken, the bastards.”

A half-century later, that witty one-liner has been misconstrued by some contemporary Democrats into their rationalization for their party’s 2016 presidential defeat. While conceding that their nominee and her campaign were imperfect, these post-mortems — woefully lacking Tuck’s humor and insight — attribute President Donald Trump’s victory and Hillary Clinton’s defeat to the mental and moral deficiencies of the nation’s voters.

This is the “blame the customer” position often taken after an election by the losing side. It goes like this: When our side wins, the voters are mature, patriotic, thoughtful and wise, but when these same voters mysteriously fall from grace, desert our side and switch to the dreaded opposition, they are now suddenly stupid, selfish, mean-spirited or worse.

Nearly a year after Trump’s win, too many Democrats wrongly insist that the American electorate that made President Barack Obama the only man since President Dwight Eisenhower to win more than 51 percent of the popular vote in successive elections has turned out to be terminally racist.

The percentage of Iowans who are white is about 20 points higher than the percentage of Americans as a whole, and the percentage who are black is about one-fourth of the national percentage, yet the state twice gave Obama a bigger majority than he won nationally.

But in 2016 in Iowa, which has 99 counties, 31 of those counties that had twice strongly supported Obama voted for Trump.

Thanks to Ballotpedia, we learn that nearly one-third of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and half of Maine’s 16 counties, along with 12 Michigan counties, switched from twice backing Obama to backing Trump.

What those switching counties had in common was that they were disproportionately composed of white working-class voters without a college degree who mostly lived in small towns and cities or rural areas.

In their neighborhoods, the recovery from the Great Recession had still not arrived. Here, families often earned just about the nation’s median household income, which, they painfully knew, was less than it had been in 1999.

Wall Street and the big banks had all been bailed out (by a Democratic administration) and were more than thriving. But many of these counties had continued to hemorrhage good jobs, and many of their residents lived with an understandable sense of abandonment.

While the 2016 Democrats and their nominee spoke repeatedly about gender equality and racial justice, missing was the Democratic embrace and advocacy of white working-class voters who did not live in fashionable neighborhoods and never used “summer” as a verb. Trump told these forgotten voters living in these untrendy counties that they mattered and that they had been treated shabbily by the economic and political elites.

Yes, Trump has deliberately and immorally provided comfort to dark, racist forces in our land. But do not dare to tar these voters — who twice voted for an African-American to be their president — with that same brush.

It would not merely be unjust to do so; for Democrats, it would be political suicide.

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >