A date that will live in infamy

The Rust Belt political revolt of 2016 ushers in a GOP sweep, forces a change of mindset in the DNC and liberal electorate as a whole.

Andy Stec, Senior Columnist

“Donald Trump came to the Detroit Economic Club and stood there in front of the Ford Motor executives and said, ‘If you close these factories, as you’re planning to do in Detroit, and build them in Mexico, I’m going to put a 35 percent tariff on those cars when you send them back, and nobody is going to buy them.’ It was an amazing thing to see. No politician, Republican or Democrat had ever said anything like that to these executives. And it was music to the ears of people in Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin…”

“Michael Moore in Trumpland,” the filmmaker’s surprise 2016 feature, set out to explore both candidates of the Presidential Election and what they represented to the American electorate. This monologue toward the end of the film rings eerily now, a little over a week following Trump’s sweeping win of the Electoral College and the Presidency. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin—dubbed ‘Brexit States’ by Moore—all flipped red on Nov. 8. Nate Silver’s “Fivethirtyeight” predicted, the night prior to the election, that Clinton had an 83 percent chance of winning Wisconsin, 78 percent in Michigan, 77 percent in Pennsylvania and 35 percent in Ohio—with an overall 71.4 percent chance of winning the election. The Rust Belt was overwhelmingly expected to vote in favor of Clinton, due in part to how resoundly they had turned out for Obama in 2012. These states made up her “blue wall,” and as such were states she began to take for granted—visiting each of them twice at the most in the entirety of her general election campaign.

So what happened? Perhaps the greatest polling upset in modern American politics. Clinton underperformed on multiple fronts, and that “blue wall” quickly came crumbling down. The Washington Posts’ exit polls suggest she did worse than Obama amongst Independents, Moderates, and Union Households. This last point perhaps stands loudest of all, as the normal Democratic security in Union Households was sorely lacking in the wake of the 2016 election results. ‘Normal’ perhaps isn’t the best word—‘expected’ might be more accurate, as this is one of the reasons Clinton’s bid ended in defeat. The Rust Belt gave Donald Trump this election.

The moment that Trump won the GOP primaries this became an anti-establishment election. White blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt saw a man who spoke to the issues that they viewed both the GOP and DNC ignoring. This was a voting bloc that felt ostracized due to liberal social movements, laughed off as their manufacturing jobs slowly slipped away and strong armed into accepting an Affordable Care Act which sent their monthly payments skyrocketing. They put their vote in a man who they thought would burn the whole of that establishment down—they revolted against the GOP establishment candidates in the primaries and thrust Trump into a general election none expected to find him in, perhaps not even himself. The DNC was not willing to let that go, and as the DNC email leaks have made undeniable, Hillary Clinton was decided as the Democratic Party nominee well before the convention.

The DNC refusing to recognize this as a notably anti-establishment election cost them the presidency and Congress. However the blame cannot be rested entirely on the party, the rest lies squarely on the shoulders of we who have called ourselves liberal. It is an issue of rhetoric and dialogue—indeed on both sides. When you tell a Trump supporter “you and your candidate are racist!” you may not be wrong, but you’re certainly not convincing. Hearing the plight of this white blue-collar class of citizens and writing them off as the dying breaths of a long-gone America has led to this, the election of a professional con man into office. This is inherent in how we go about dialogue and political discourse today—not in any attempt to persuade or reach out to those of a differing opinion, but in an effort to validate and self assure our own beliefs. We surround ourselves in a choir of affirmation and, much like the divisive rhetoric of the president-elect, we violently shut out those who disagree.

Donald Trump assured this class, “I’ll bring your jobs back. I’ll bring your livelihoods back. I’ll make your voices heard.”

Hillary Clinton’s rebuttal was, “He’s a bad person.”

The Rust Belts’ response was a resounding, “Who cares?”