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Truthdig! - March 3, 2020

"The Trump general election campaign relied on “agiant wave of dark money— one that towered over anything in 2016 or even Mitt Romney’s munificently financed 2012 effort — to say nothing of any Russian Facebook experiments.” Along with colossal contributions from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife ($11 million), Sands Casino employees ($20 million) and Silicon Valley executives, Trump garnered a campaign finance torrent from big hedge funds and “large private equity firms, the part of Wall Street which had long championed hostile takeovers.” This critical surge of right-wing cash came after Trump moved to rescue his flagging campaign by handing its direction from the Russia-tainted Paul Manafort to the far more effective white-nationalist Breitbart executive Steve Bannon.Bannon was strongly connectedto the eccentric, right-wing, hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who poured a vast sum – $26 million (making him Trump’s third-largest backer) – into the Trump campaign."

Don’t blame the Trump presidency on the white proletariat. The real responsibility for this epically transgressive administration — headed by an individual Noam Chomsky rightly describes as “the most dangerous criminal in human history” — lies with the billionaire class.

According to a mainstream media myth long believed by intellectuals who ought to know better, Donald Trump rode into the White House on a great upsurge of support from poor, white, working-class voters drawn to the Republican candidate’s populist anti-Wall Street pitch in key deindustrialized battleground states. This conventional Rust Belt rebellion wisdom was proclaimed on the front page of the nation’s newspaper of record, The New York Times, a day after the 2016 election. The Times called Trump’s victory “a decisive demonstration of power by a largely overlooked coalition of mostly blue-collar white and working-class voters.” That same day, Times political writer Nate Cohn wrote that “Donald J. Trump won the presidency by riding an enormous wave of support among working-class whites*.*”

This storyline — repeated ad nauseam and taken for granted in the mainstream media and even in much of the progressive left — is flatly contradicted by credible data. There was no mass white working-class outpouring for Trump in 2016. Slate writers Konstantin Kilibarda and Daria Roithmayr noted weeks after the election: “Donald Trump didn’t flip working-class white voters,” they wrote. “Hillary Clinton lost them. … Relative to the 2012 election, Democratic support in the key Rust Belt states [Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin] collapsed as a huge number of Democrats stayed home or (to a lesser extent) voted for a third party.”

According to the sources cited in Slate’s analysis, the decline in numbers of working-class Democratic voters between 2012 and 2016 was much bigger than the increase of working-class Republican voters in the “Rust Belt Five.” Among those earning less than $50,000 a year in those states, the drop in Democratic voting was 3.5 times greater than the uptick in Republican voting. The party’s long tilt to the corporatist and Wall Street-friendly right, evident under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, explains in part why 45% of the U.S. electorate didn’t bother to vote in 2016. Trump was elected by just a little more than a quarter of the U.S. voting-age population.

Unheeded by leftist and liberal intellectuals who still insist that Trump’s base comprised lower- and working-class white people, Lehigh University political scientist Anthony DiMaggio (an all-too-rare intellectual from the left with a strong grasp of statistics) has been trying for years to tell us that Trump’s 2016 backers weren’t really all that proletarian. While the president’s voters were less formally educated and more likely to work in blue-collar jobs than backers of the arch-corporatist Hillary Clinton, they earned higher household incomes. They were no more likely to face labor market competition through immigration or trade. They were no more likely to be economically disadvantaged and insecure. Areas hit hardest by manufacturing job losses actually were less likely to back Trump. ...
Read full report at Truthdig!