I’m back from Seattle. Karen’s service was all it needed to be. Dan had to deal with various bits of paperwork and do training for his job. His daughters had a variety of tasks that needed attention. Because of that I had several days on my own, returning to family in the evenings. During those days I explored Seattle. That included exploring Pikes Place Market, driving around neighborhoods of West Seattle, Beacon Hill, and Mt. Baker (and trying to get onto a highway using a 30 year old street map), visiting the Chihouly Museum at Seattle Center, and roaming through the Seattle Art Museum.
I’m not watching the debate tonight. No need to gnash my teeth over Trump’s antics. Besides, tomorrow I can get a sufficiently detailed summary through the various progressive blogs I read – and that will take a lot less time than 90 minutes. Safer on the teeth too.
With the debate ignored and Trump’s abusive remarks from a couple days ago reverberating in the air, now is a good time to ask why is this race as close as it is?
I’m aware that Clinton is comfortably in the lead (Daily Kos gives her a 93% chance of winning and polls have always shown her ahead of Trump). But with Trump’s record of nasty comments this is should be an Electoral College blowout (such as McGovern getting only 17 electoral votes in 1972 or Mondale getting only 13 in 1984) and it isn’t. Why? I’ve been thinking about that over the last couple days.
I see three categories of support for Trump.
One group is just as much into white supremacy and male dominance as Trump is. They support Trump because they want him to impose their racist, misogynistic, and homophobic views on the rest of the nation.
Another group puts up with Trump’s antics because they agree with his policies or the GOP platform Trump supposedly supports and believe Clinton’s policies will bring ruin to the nation. I heard a conservative on NPR respond to why she will vote for Trump. She firmly replied that the answer is only “I agree with his policies.”
And a third group is voting for Trump because Clinton is a woman.
I’ve heard repeatedly over this campaign season that both Clinton and Trump have historically high disapproval ratings. What is rarely said is that the disapproval comes from two different places. It is not true that both of them have policies that benefit only the rich, not true that both are mean bullies, not true that both are unfit for the presidency. Trump’s disapproval is because he is a mean bully, has vague policies that benefit only the rich (or himself), and is clearly unfit for the job.
Clinton’s disapproval rating comes from two places. (1) She is a woman and (2) conservatives have pushing a smear campaign for 25 years.
Soraya Chemaly, writing for Huffington Post, delves into that first point. Many people, including many who don’t see themselves as sexist, have strong opinions about what men should do and what women should do. Violating those gender roles prompts a strong response described as “moral outrage.” This is bright anger and disgust rooted in moral values. Those who violate moral transgressions are more likely seen as guilty and deserving of brutal punishment (such as the chants of “Lock her up!”).
Chemaly got into her discussion because she noted many news sources are enhancing their fact-checking, a task that is meaningless for many Trump supporters. They have no interest in the veracity of Trump’s facts. There is something more important to them.
It is because Clinton is a woman that Trump’s bullying, lying, and general unfitness are given a pass.
Back to those three groups mentioned above.
Those who are voting for white supremacy and male dominance are doing so out of a desire of power, which is a need of saying I’m better than you are and so I’m for policies that prevent you from challenging my dominance.
Those who are voting for conservative policies are doing so for such things as banning abortion (which prevents women from making decisions for themselves), limited taxation or government (which prevents gov’t from helping certain categories of citizens), or benefiting the rich (which sucks the money out of the rest of us and prevents us from challenging their high position). All of these are a desire for power, a need of saying I’m better than you are.
Those who are voting for Trump because Clinton is a woman are doing so because they believe men should have the power, a need of saying I’m better than you are.
Again, I see that this need for dominance is a potent force in what huge numbers of people say and do.