To many of my Democratic friends, and to the "liberal" media, racism was the determining factor in Trump's victory. It was influential, but the real story includes much more than just racism.
After all, literally millions of those who voted for Obama voted for Trump. If racism was the only voter motivation, that switch would have been at least unlikely, if not impossible.
In my view, a more accurate reading of what elected Trump is the same thing that elected Obama: voters' disgust with the outcomes of the previous president's policies. Obama's voters were disgusted with the naked imperialism of the Bush 43 presidency, and the disasterous war on Iraq. Obama won the Democratic nomination largely because Hillary Clinton voted to authorize the Iraqi war and he did not. American voters actually like peace, when given a choice.
But, after giving Obama a try, the American public was again disgusted. Not only did Obama refuse to prosecute the war crimes of Bush / Cheney, he promoted the people who supervised torture and prosecuted the whistleblowers. Thanks to Bill Clinton's collusion with Newt Gingrich's congress to deregulate Wall Street, and Bush's negligence, Obama inherited the subprime/derivatives fiasco—arguably the largest theft in human history.
As long as political discussions fixate on racism as what determines election outcomes, we're bound to lurch from crisis to crisis.
Obama's response to nine million families losing their homes was to let the thieves go with a slap on the wrist. Nobody went to jail; heck, nobody even lost his job. Republican pollster Frank Luntz reports that the first time he witnessed people weep about politics in his focus groups was during the Obama administration as they lamented Wall Street bailouts while Main Street suffered the loss of homes and pensions.
So...why 70 million votes for Trump in the 2020 presidential election? Says Thomas Greene (from Noteworthy): “Trump will not be defeated by educating voters, by exposing his many foibles and inadequacies. Highlighting what’s wrong with him is futile; his supporters didn’t elect him because they mistook him for a competent administrator or a decent man. They’re angry, not stupid.
Trump is an agent of disruption — indeed, of revenge.....Workers now sense that economic justice — a condition in which labor and capital recognize and value each other — is permanently out of reach; the class war is over and it was an absolute rout: insatiable parasites control everything now, and even drain us gratuitously, as if exacting reparations for the money and effort they spent taming us.
The economy itself, and the institutions protecting it, must be attacked, and actually crippled, to get the attention of the smug patricians in charge. Two decades of appealing to justice, proportion, and common decency have yielded nothing."
Disappointed by the conventional parties, Trump voters are willing to take a chance on a "disruptor" who his own party initially rejected. Meanwhile, Republicans are adaptive enough to embrace him as long as he helps them maintain their grip on power.
Don't get me wrong: racism is a part of a very old playbook, too. Harry Anslinger served as the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics during the presidencies of Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy, He criminalized marijuana in hopes of arresting more Mexicans.
So yes, structural racism exists and powerful interests exploite it to distract the population from the failings of the oligarchy. For one thing, Herbert Hoover blamed the Great Depression on the Mexicans—ignoring the actual culprit: Wall Street.
As long as tribal allegiance trumps good sense, Democrats will excuse the likes of Obama and Biden for their cultivation of Wall Street, and Republicans will cultivate racists and nominate the likes of the "anti-Obama" (Trump). Public policy needs to come from something other than team red vs. team blue, or it will never fix the genuine problems.
And as long as political discussions fixate on racism as what determines election outcomes, we're bound to lurch from crisis to crisis, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as the ship of public policy slowly sinks beneath the waves.
If the Democrats don't crack down on the financial sector's corruption and the exploitation of workers, they will be discarded in disgust too.