Saturday, September 10, 2016

Basket of Deplorables

Former Longaberger headquarters in Newark, Ohio. Via Columbus Dispatch.
Clinton was pretty much right, let's just go ahead and assert it. Shemade her rhetorical mistake, I think, in starting with the wrong basket; she should have begun with the Trump voters she feels for, about whom she was almost a little too nice, sounding like David Brooks:
people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.

Of course we know from the Jonathan Rothwell study that the people she's alluding to here aren't really Trump voters at all, but nonvoters; the major sector of Trump voters are fairly well off, small business owners in living in relatively poor districts, financially secure. Nobody in those districts has lost a job to outsourcing, nobody in those districts is threatened by immigrants or members of racial minorities—they're the whitest districts in the country, and they didn't have factory jobs to lose, but never mind that. It's a convenient way of saying, "If you support Trump it doesn't mean you're necessarily a bad person or a racist, though you probably are making a mistake when you vote for him."

And then she could have gone on to that other basket: "But we don't have to understand and empathize with all of them!"
You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric.
"Half" is not such an egregious number, either. A Reuters-Ipsos poll in June found all Trump voters scored far higher than others on certain stereotype views of African Americans, for instance: maybe 32% thought black people were less intelligent than whites (compared to an overall average of 22.5%), and 40% that they were lazier (26.8% overall); but a good 45% of Trump supporters thought black people were "rude", and nearly 50% thought they were "violent" and "criminal". By those measures Trump supporters are patently more racist than supporters of Clinton, Rubio, or Cruz (none of whom showed up as anything like free of racism either, by the way—just markedly less than Trump).

And then as the genial Charles Gaba noted, if you took her completely literally, her "half" of the Trump following would add up only to about 10% of the US population as a whole (yes, it's quite possible that that many people could provide the winning margin in a presidential election), so it's not a slur on the entire nation. We should be so lucky as to have a deplorable population of just 10%.

But in any case when she put the "grossly generalistic" lines first, she effectively buried the "nice" lines, and never got any credit for them, and we got another "scandal". Oh well.

She has, of course, expressed regret, and put it fairly neatly:
"Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that's never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ -- that was wrong," Clinton said in a Saturday afternoon statement.
Like maybe it should have been "two thirds".

Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.

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