At this point in our post-election season, our sanity will be best preserved if we can collectively put an end to making scapegoats out of others. Ordinarily, I am a strong proponent of protest and critical analysis of political issues, of drawing the clearest rationale from an amalgam of research to try and establish a clear-cut concept of the direction our country ought to take.
But over the past couple of weeks, we have been bombarded with these very sorts of "research" bits and pieces, most recently in the days leading up to the election appearing in the form of polls, which indicated Hillary Clinton's apparent lead and pathway to success. Much of this information involved overexcited anticipation of our first female commander in chief, predicting her win as supported by ethnic minority groups and of course, ordinary women who presumably saw themselves in Clinton. More specifically, the latter group in question comprised of white women.
We saw her promoted everywhere, her message transmitted from the lips of beautiful white female celebrities left and right. Lady Gaga declared Clinton's supreme nature at an after-hours campaign celebration early last week in Raleigh, clasping the pant-suited politician's hand to the delight of a sleep-deprived crowd. Amy Schumer released a smarmy viral video in the senator's honor, labeling the viewer "garbage" if they opted not to vote (or, presumably, if they chose to vote for Trump.) Taylor Swift and Emma Roberts Instagrammed in clever ways and we crowed our support as though we were surprised. More and more (and then even more) of us took to Facebook, arm in arm with our mothers, sisters, and coworkers to tout the inevitable triumph of this woman risen to power, up against a wholly different candidate who had no choice to bow to her.
And yet we lost. Now, as we have been struggling to make sense of it, we liberals have turned to scapegoating, embodying a technique we have condemned our opponents for using because we do not recognize it as scapegoating. Looking at the aftermath of the supposedly indicative trends in voter polls, many of us have tried to pinpoint the demographic area which failed us. By some folks' reasoning, it was the Hispanic, Latinx and Black voters who did not cast their ballots, because many of us white voters do not recognize that sort of assertion as unnecessary marginalization as we are too distracted by their apparent refusal to help us make history. Other people blamed "the media", that colossal inbred monster that dictates what we learn and believe, arguing that they weighed too heavily in Trump's favor, as though the average American doesn't want their primary televised news sources to be based in entertainment and flashing lights. And if you're Hillary Clinton, you blame FBI director James Comey, as though he was the only one pushing for her investigation.
There is a central point of political abandonment from a solitary demographic group that few of us agreed to focus on, though, and that is white women, whom we took so frequently for granted this election season. Of course white women will vote for Clinton; she is a woman, and she is also white! To quote Trump: "Wrong." According to the Pew Research Center, women overall only supported Clinton over Trump by 54% to 42%. That's just one percentage point higher than women who backed Obama in 2012. And as for white women? CBS News exit polls indicate that just over half of them voted for Trump.
So what does this tell us? It tells us a lot of things, and none of them are particularly reassuring -- nor are they set in stone. I can personally think of a few potential explanations, and each one of them test my patience and faith in humanity in a slightly different way:
1. The spouses of white women everywhere couldn't convince themselves that Clinton was a markedly better candidate than Trump, and their wives in turn became convinced that the democratic candidate was, decidedly, too far gone within the establishment and was, of course, a liar.
2. White women have not been spared by the hyper-masculinity which dominates every avenue of our media-saturated culture. Every one of us sees the cologne and car commercials on T.V. We play or regularly witness the violence-driven trends in video games. We take in the assuming banter and bullying of men on cable news networks, and a part of us comes to expect their demanding nature and automatic supremacy within all the other mundane avenues of our lives. We are not surprised by a person like Trump.
3. White women who had already decided to vote for Hillary didn't think to check around with their female counterparts to see who they were voting for. Instead, we just hoped that the others had the self-respect to condemn a man like Trump, his politics and business know-how aside. Consequently, we became increasingly sarcastic and overzealous in our treatment of all things Trump, further alienating those -- the less educated women, those not bound by city-living constraints -- who might have changed their minds.
Of course, this is all speculation. Perhaps a Trump presidency is what we had coming all along. Perhaps the lessons we will learn in the coming years will turn out to be more revealing and enlightening than we ever could imagine. Perhaps we will suffer. In any case, through any changes in domestic or foreign policy, one thing is for certain: We must learn to listen to one another.