Chances are if CNN’s Fareed Zakaria wasn’t able to accuse conservatives and Republicans falsely of being racists he would have nothing to say. His latest recrimination occurred Monday as he appeared on “New Day.” Having nothing real to add to the conversation, he belched out what passes as the network for “analysis” of the 2016 election.
According to Zakaria those racist older white people ganged up and staged a “class rebellion” to elect Donald Trump as a curative for eight years of a black man in the White House.
Of course, if the CNN firebrand had bothered to compare his own network’s exit polls for 2012 and 2016, he would have realized that Trump did slightly better among blacks and Hispanics than the less-controversial Mitt Romney four years earlier. Is Zakaria implying that those older white men were blacks in disguise?
Zakaria was on the program specifically to promote an hour-long documentary that appeared on CNN later that day. After discussing Trump’s celebrity because of “The Apprentice,” he immediately launched an attack on Trump voters, whom he assailed as angry racists.
FAREED ZAKARIA: …[B]ut then he also starts feeling the currents of America in very much an intuitive way — I don’t think he had any articulated sense — and he began to feel a few things. The anger — the anger against politicians. Remember, he runs on the Reform Party — he tries to run on the Reform Party ticket for a while and then he begins to see the toxic energy on the far right. Remember, his first political moves are birtherism. And he knew that the election of a black president had stirred a kind of ugly racial animus among some people — probably a small subset — but he knew a way to get directly to them. So all of it combined and it was a man who met his moment. At the point at which Donald Trump is elected is literally the low point in trust for politicians in Washington. It’s a 50-year low and that’s when Donald Trump, you know — so he got his timing right, which all great performers need. [Emphasis added]
Zakaria is correct about voter anger against the establishment. So were the thousands of other pundits who pointed out the anger long before Fareed did. That same anger against the establishment was part of the reason that Jeb Bush’s candidacy never took off. But if that anger was derived from the “toxic energy of the Right” then why exactly did that same anger propel Socialist Bernie Sanders to mount an almost successful challenge for the Democratic Party nomination?
Fared turned to another unoriginal thought, the Democratic Party’s tried and true “anyone who disagrees with Barack Obama’s policies is a racist.”
As has been pointed out tediously often, people’s problems with Obama had nothing to do with the color of his skin and everything to do with his programs, which took away people’s rights and in the end didn’t work. Does the CNN commentator think that the average American is so ignorant that he didn’t see the economy stuck in the mud for eight years? Or Obama’s signature program is falling apart? Or that “leading from behind” was a failed foreign policy?”
ZAKARIA: I think the part of it that I was impressed by in doing the research for this is we know about the economics. We know about the hollowed out factories and the — and the coal mines. And what I was struck by was the other two factors. So that’s if you want capitalism. The other factor is culture. A real sense of cultural alienation that the older white, non-college educated Americans have the sense that their country is changing because of immigrants. Because maybe blacks are getting — rising up to a kind of central place in society. Because of, you know, gays being afforded equal rights. Because of, frankly, a lot of working women. You know, everybody is sort muscling in on the territory that if you think about it, the white working man had. And the final one is class — social class. We don’t talk about it a lot but the election of Donald Trump is really a kind of class rebellion against people like us. You know, educated professionals who live in cities who have, you know, cosmopolitan views about a lot of things. And I think there’s a whole part of America that is sick and tired of being told what to do by this, you know, over-educated, professional elite that Hillary Clinton, in many ways, perfectly represented, and that’s why they’re sticking with him. [Emphasis added]
Oh, now I get it: Trump voters were racist, misogynist, uneducated capitalist hicks from rural America who were sick and tired of blacks, women, immigrants, and gays taking their jobs.
Another thing that helped Trump win is something that neither Zakaria nor his CNN compatriots would never discuss. Obama’s attempt to make Americans of faith pay for abortion services drove Catholics and Evangelicals away from Clinton and toward Trump.
JOHN BERMAN: But what shakes that, if anything, Fareed? Does it have to be a different view of what America has become to them or a sense that President Donald Trump has failed to deliver on the things that they were expecting him to deliver on?
ZAKARIA: It’s a great question. I — you know, the research shows that people don’t vote so much on policy issues. I mean, there are — there are studies that show at the end of an election you ask people what party stood for what policies and about more than a third get it wrong. They think the Democrats are for repealing the ACA and the Republicans are in favor. You know, it’s — what they vote for is does this guy get me? Does this person know me? Is he the kind of person — we have David Brooks on the program saying what they ask themselves is this party full of people who look like me? Who are like the people I hung out with in high school and that’s almost like a tribal team loyalty. So I don’t think that — I don’t have a good answer for what will shake it. I think what could change it is if you found a Democratic — now, if the Democrats are all sitting there worrying about what exact economic policy they should have and should they be more, you know, left-wing –I think the key is can you connect, you know. Bill Clinton had very, you know, kind of centrist policies but he connected. A white, working-class voter looked at him and said this guy gets me. And unfortunately, they didn’t feel that way about Hillary Clinton. [Emphasis added]
If Americans didn’t care about issues in 2016, how does Zakaria explain the fact that very few of Clinton’s ads addressed policy? About a quarter of them focused purely on her positions on issues. But this was an election where the American people wanted solutions, and Trump was the lone candidate to offer them.
No, Zakaria is very wrong. People didn’t vote for Trump because the Republican looked like them. Rather it’s because Trump thought like them. He appealed to an America that objected to economic stagnation — an America whose health insurance costs and deductibles had increased exponentially due to Obamacare. He appealed to Americans who were tired of a Supreme Court that legislated from the bench and a president who ignored the constitutionally mandated separation of powers by “ruling” via executive fiat.
Cross posted at The Lid