It turns out that I was delusional, not Donald J. Trump
Ever since, U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump began running for president, I firmly believed he was delusional. He could never win the Republican nomination for president. It was even more impossible that he could beat Sec. Hillary Clinton in a general election.
As the campaign progressed, the evidence against him mounted. He spouted racist lies against Mexicans. In fact, he lied all the time about everything. He was a know-nothing with no coherent ideas or plans. It came out that he was a serial sexual predator who bragged about his crimes. He was a billionaire who cheated on his taxes and stiffed his subcontractors, and then had the gall to claim he would reverse the decline of the American working-class.
I thought that only some alt-right crazies would ever vote for this fool.
Meanwhile, Trump kept telling me (and everyone else) that he would win. He was going to win because he would change the electoral map. He would turn out rust-belt, disillusioned white voters and beat Clinton in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that’s just what he did.
He told me, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that he wasn’t part of the American elite—and that American voters understood that. And he convinced nearly half of American voters this was true.
He told me he would do very well across lines of class and race; the highly educated and the poorly educated loved him; Hispanics loved him; and blacks loved him. And, while he was grossly exaggerating, he had it more correct than I did.
Most importantly, he outperformed Gov. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee, among almost all of these groups. He won people without a college degree 52-47 percent (5 points better than Romney); he lost Latinos 65-29 percent (6 points better than Romney); and lost African Americans 88-8 percent (3 points better than Romney). The sole exception was college-educated people where Trump lost 52-43 percent (Romney did 5 points better than that).
And, of course, in the end, it was white people who elected Trump. We were 70 percent of the voters and supported Trump 58-37 percent; although we liked both Romney, 59 percent, and Obama 39 percent, better.
So how I did I become more delusional than Trump? First off, I didn’t listen to my niece, a social-work professor, who told me that sexism would still deny any woman the presidency (men voted for Trump 53-41 percent). Second, she argued that there were a significant number of Latinos, who were angry about undocumented immigrants. Third, I am so used to my white privilege that I took it for granted. I know white supremacy is still a fact of American life; but I didn’t think plain, old racist appeals to white voters would work anymore.
Finally, while I have spent my entire adult life fighting political, social and economic elites—first as an activist, then as a left-wing alternative journalist—I live in an elitist world. Most of my friends and colleagues are college educated white people; despite living in Seattle, I subscribe to The New York Times and The New Yorker (The Seattle Times, too); every day, I listen to multiple programs on National Public Radio; and in the election season, every day, I visit Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website and watch CNN, MSNBC and FOX news. Nearly everyone around me and every news outlet—even Fox News!—told me Clinton would win.
It’s my own damn fault that I mistook my reality for the reality of the American voters.
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Award winning journalist George Howland Jr has been hired by Seattle Displacement Coalition to write for Outside City Hall about city politics, housing, homelessness and land-use. He works under his own editorial direction. The Displacement Coalition plays no role in choosing his specific subjects or editing his copy.