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We told them they were racist. Why didn’t they listen to us?!

November 12, 2016

My left-liberal friends and I have been ranting and raving. Shock. Horror. Donald Trump? President of the United States? Surely not. The world has gone mad.

Or rather, the world never stopped being mad. We have moved in liberal circles so long, we have forgotten that the strain of anti-immigrant, xenophobic sentiment never left America, Britain or other Western democracies. All that happened is that they were silenced.

The Conservative government of Britain stayed in the economic right, but shuffled socially towards the left; David Cameron was keen to insist that he was all for equality. Donald Trump “speaks for the common man” because he ways what “the elite” very sensibly won’t say, and in this day and age, rarely believe.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t filtered down yet. The prime minister and Obama didn’t have endless time to personally educate unwilling ears – ones that probably never voted for them in the first place. So, their social influence has been arguably minimal.

The fact that Cameron was never a known racist didn’t stop Middle England from remaining so. He influenced their lives from the top down, by making policies which shaped the law; he didn’t come from their reality and he didn’t speak their language.

Nor, I think, did Obama speak the language of America; he made a good speech, but he is genteel in the way that working class white America are not, and do not particularly want to be. Trump talks like your drunk uncle after a few too many drinks. He might be racist but you forgive him because he’s your uncle.

Clinton made a mistake in thinking that reminding voters Trump is racist would change their minds. It didn’t, because they already knew and didn’t care. To them it’s just the way of things – harsh racial commentary is tit-for-tat, partial truth, banter – there are a million excuses you can make for a racist comment, and both white people and non-white people made them for Trump.

Where was the advantage then, in pointing out what was already plain? There’s a delusion in the left that if you remind people that they are being racist, that they will kindly stop right away. This election and Brexit have proved this theory false.

People accused of being racist turn on the accuser in preference to turning on themselves. It’s easier to say that the left are a bunch of pedantic, humourless politically-correct idiots than it is to accept that one’s opinions have been informed by dubious information sources.

Throughout the entire election, Trump’s prejudices held the forefront of coverage and analysis. It shouldn’t have done. All this achieved was confirmation of what the alt-right already think; that the leftist elite care more about political correctness than they do their own citizens.

Though that’s completely untrue, it’s a moot point. The fact is, focusing on Trump’s racism gave this impression and as a result, the moral candidate -far from securing her win – lost the election. Clinton’s campaign team should have foreseen this danger and swiftly changed tack.

People didn’t care that Trump has been racist and sexist because they thought there were bigger issues at stake. So there were, and I don’t remember anyone on my social media feed talking about them.

Anxious about a racist, sexist president, we forgot to discuss the fact that the new Republican government might unravel Obamacare; or that Trump might not take global warming seriously and take appropriate steps.

Climate change deniers are classic anti-establishment people who think it’s all an elaborate lie. You have to fight that preconception with fact – you can’t do this while you’re busy bellowing at people for cheering on a racist candidate. Time could have been better spent reminding people of what they personally stand to lose from a Trump administration.

When people worry about what Trump says and thinks, they may overestimate how much power he wields. To what extent did he change minds, and to what extent did he just wander along at the right time? If a president had the power to make people think their way, Obama should have made the entire country Democrat by now. He didn’t, so we must assume that presidential opinions count for little.

Trump has no more power than any other president to change the opinions of citizens. If liberal people want to change the minds of the alt-right, they should pay less attention to what Trump says and more attention to what their neighbours have been saying for the past few decades.

If social change comes from the top rather than the bottom, people who are not ready for the change perceive that it has been imposed on them. Trump may have won because the liberal-left tried to rush things and left behind all the people who weren’t yet convinced.

Most people can’t be Martin Luther King, changing the world with a well-aimed speech. However many speeches they make, not Obama, nor Michelle Obama, nor Hillary Clinton can single-handedly Make America Sane Again.

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