What radicalized white voters in 2016?

My parents were born in 1954, kids of the 60s generation. My dad hated Vietnam and Richard Nixon and all he stood for. He was greatly traumatized by the nightly death tolls on TV from Nam. He tried to join but was rejected for hypertension; he saw friends come home mentally damaged from the war. He and my hardcore Democratic grandfather would get into fistfights over the war. He tore down my dad’s poster which said something like “war is bad for children and other living things.” He was mistreated and beaten by cops because he had long hair in the 60s and 70s. He cried the day the Gulf War began thinking it was the start of a second Vietnam. He felt it was another phony war that would result in boys dead.

My mother came from an apolitical family as far as she knew; I believe her father was a closet Socialist or left winger. My father voted straight Democratic from his first election in 72 all the way up to Obama in 12. He was somewhat socially conservative in that he was disgusted with B. Clinton’s antics w/ Monica. My mother enthusiastically voted for Clinton in 96, Bush in 00 (which to this day she regrets) and John Kerry in 04. She would watch left wing programs in 03-04 and was a cheerleader against Iraq and Bush to anyone who would listen. Kerry’s loss disheartened her so she never voted again after. My father, who grew up experiencing the end of segregation in the north, forced bussing, cried tears of happiness the night Obama was elected. He was hopeful. Maybe we’d finally all get along.

Then in 2015, suddenly mom turns into, and remains a rabid, really rabid, Trump supporter. She’s seeing all this fake FB crap about Pizzagate and such and believing it. My dad is reeled in too, though less so, saying in 16 that having a businessman as President is a good idea. He now is no longer into politics, but my mom is a diehard Trumpist even now who is all over FB defending the guy. She’s against Mexicans now when she never was before. She’s against this and that, issues she never cared about before. We get into arguments over it. This from a woman who thought Bush was a war criminal and who thought Hugo Chavez was unfairly hounded by Bush.

I’m sure I’m not the only one with this sort of story. What made so many normally moderate to borderline hippie people become Trumpists overnight?

I see a lot of it as a backlash against Obama and his policies, maybe even his attitude and personality, elections seem to usually be a direct reaction to the administration that came before. The answers you get here will probably consist of your parents are virulent racists that hate black and brown people.

Fake news. The Kremlin and Karl Rove really put out a lot of nasty lies during that period.

Also, the rust belt- people wanted to be told lies that their old factory jobs and way of life was gonna come back. (It’s not, and it can’t). Trump was smart enough to see this and tap into it. The Dems just waved vague help programs.

So, basically- *lies. *


Trump has taken advantage of the fact that people are afraid of losing, afraid of being taken advantage of, afraid of being hoaxed, and has stuck labels on various things saying “Be Afraid Of This!!!” People say inside their minds “I knew I was afraid of something, that must be it! He is so right!” - when in fact they were never afraid of those things before and still have no reason to be.

But in fact Trump’s message itself is the hoax. People have been conned by a guy who’s screaming at them to beware of cons.

I have been told two things. Firstly many poor white people felt that they had nothing left to lose. Secondly, many felt that white men are constantly demonised by the left which understandably grated.

White Christians used to be able to believe that the US was “their” country, hence the calls to “take back our country” and return to the '50s. Black president + gay marriage + pot legalization are big cues that their tribe is no longer on top.
Add to that that conservatives tend to have an overactive disgust response and old people tend to have an overactive fear response. That mixes well with xenophobia and fundamentalism, especially if you’re a dim & old in the boondocks. Metropolitan areas have overall improved but small towns in the US have not done well.

I suppose another angle to the question would be: “Why are baby boomers, collectively, such a bunch of jackasses?” which I’ll let someone else answer.

No one was “radicalized” in 2016, so the very premise of the OP is dubious.

Certain people were duped, as explained above, because they’re too civically lazy and ignorant to see what a bullshitter Trump is. He was able to exploit that, and combine their votes with the nationalists and the opportunists, to piece together just enough votes–in just the right places–to squeak by an electoral college win.

And if the OP’s parents were really like that, though, they’re more the exception than the rule.

If you call suckers “radicalized” then you’re just as duped as they were.

Right wing radio was very successful in spreading this false meme. The vast majority of the left, including every liberal and progressive in high office, does not demonize white men in any way at all.

Ding ding.

Or at least more “radicalized” than they have been for a long time now. They were just hungrier for the win while the D side kept litigating the primary and failed to come up with a campaign that really inspired. Maybe some misogyny too.

The result was not a surge in Whites voting for Trump.

Not saying folk like the op’s mom don’t exist. There has been a group of middle class whites, often rural and undereducated, getting hollowed out and moving into positions of economic insecurity. HRC failed to realize that she really should include them as well as among those who “ladders of opportunity” should be extended to, hence Trump was the one appealing to them, with false promises but hey.

But the result was not that more overall voted for him as much as they declined to vote for her.

I think the 2000s were a painful decade for White America. We had 9/11, two major wars without end, and a financial crisis that wiped out trillions in wealth. What struck me was how quickly white voters who had supported Obama turned against him when the tea party started calling him a socialist, fascist dictator. I get the sense that a lot of white voters who voted for Obama were never completely comfortable with their vote, but gave him a chance because they were terrified for the future of the country and saw that McCain and Palin were completely unprepared to deal with the crisis.

I agree that Trump was a reaction to Obama, but the irony is that Obama’s actual policies have remained popular. People like Obamacare, and don’t want to lose it. Hell even Republican governors are in on Medicaid expansion. And people like some of his other policies, too, for example taking advantage of the housing rebates in 2009 and 2010. That’s the thing: many of Obama’s economy policies were actually tax breaks, and contained elements of something that would have been mainstream GOP in the 1980s.

The challenge that Obama faced is the fact that conservative policies have caused dislocation, not just of whites but everyone else. But whites feel like they are losing, and some stats support that suspicion. White longevity is in decline. African Americans have made more significant education gains. Spanish is the fastest growing language in America and Islam is the fastest growing religion. The highest paying fields - engineering, IT, the health sciences - have large numbers of non-whites, many of whom come from other countries. There is a sense among whites that their country is gone. It’s not that all Trump-leaning voters blamed Obama for it, but I get the impression that by voting for Trump, they’re restoring the proper order of things in their view. I don’t think you’ll ever get them to come out and say it, and I’m not even sure they’re aware of their own biases.

From what I’ve read on this board, she’s a horrible racist, sexist and general bigot and probably wants to lynch everyone who’s not a rich white man…you should probably check her house for lynchin’ bits.

Or maybe she just likes Trump, he is fairly upbeat and says a lot of yay America! stuff.

The Internet, demographic change and the completeness trend of identity politics and the fact that we only have two parties. Part of it is that due to demographic changes, both parties no longer have to fight over white working class voters. Republicans still need them and Democrats don’t. Democrats know that their coalition is minorities and the highly educated. They barely pay lip service to white working class people. That pushes them into Republican hands. They feel that Democrats will always prioritize other issues over them. I don’t know that they’re wrong in that assessment. The rise of the Internet has also allowed both sides to see exactly what the most hateful of the other party thinks of them. Look at this thread, mostly it’s liberals posting and so far I’ve seen the adjectives of “dim, lazy, ignorant, jackasses” to describe them. If you were a rural conservative, would you want to ally with people who think of you like this? Why would you trust a politician with that base of support to represent your interests? The reality is that the radicalization has happened on both sides, we just tend to see our side as correct and the other side as loonies.

I saw this most clearly in one of the debates in 2016. The Democratic position of even a decade ago was that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare.” It gave people in the middle somewhere they could land. The last cycle, Clinton went off this talking point and seemed to come down firmly on abortion whenever and wherever. It didn’t seem to even throw the middle a bone. I remember during the debate looking at my wife and saying, “Crap, she just lost a million votes.”

I think that many of these voters aren’t radicalized so much as they feel completely unrepresented, but that the Democrats are actively hostile to them and at least the Repiblicans will pretend to like them.

Trump told a lot of lies and too many people wanted to believe him.

Let me clear that up for you. “They” are wrong.

The Democrats don’t dismiss white people. They tell white people that they’ll get just as much as everyone else.

The Republicans tell white people that they’ll get more than anyone else. Some white people think that’s a better deal.

Of course, the white people who believe this usually end up getting less from the Republicans than they would have gotten from the Democrats.

I don’t think very many people were radicalized. I think a lot of people who had a well of anger / fear / other unpleasant feelings simply had their chance to vote for someone of the same sorry ilk.

About ten years ago I remember meeting a guy - an older white guy - who hated immigrants and wanted mounted machine guns on a border wall. Not an exaggeration, that was his actual idea. It was a bizarre experience very much like the first time I encountered an openly racist person (not sure about this guy’s race ideas, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was similarly odious on that). When he got going he was red in the face and spitting as he ranted. This was a guy who ran a small business and seemed otherwise friendly and mostly sane.

I have no doubt, if he’s still alive, that he would be a Trump voter. And unfortunately, there are others like him.

My feelings about these people are pretty much the same as what I told him at the time when I responded to his machine guns on the wall proposal: “Um… I think we can think of something better than that.”

Trump is an iconoclast, blasting through the status quo like a bull in a china shop and not giving a damn who doesn’t like it. This appeals to those who think we’ve reached the “burn it down and start over” point.

My half-brother who is in his seventies and has been a self-identified liberal all his life was complaining to me that in his opinion the Left has become dominated by a lunatic fringe that has completely alienated the moderate-left.

What else would you expect from the woman who murdered Vince Foster and Seth Rich, and ran a pedophile ring out of a pizza joint?

As a data point, I consider myself part of the moderate left and I don’t see this as having happened. Maybe it’s just hanging out on this message board that makes me consider myself a moderate liberal because there are so many people to the left of me here, but I see hardly any equally-far-liberal politicians in the Democratic leadership as compared to here.

Although it is true that since the early 2000s the policies of the Democratic party have drifted more liberal socially in an absolute sense, they’ve simply kept apace with the actual cultural shift in terms of same sex and transgender rights. So I can see if you’re an old person who has conservative views in those areas it might seem that they’ve drifted to the lunatic fringe because their evolving views that continue to occupy the 50%-75% moderate liberal quartile have drifted away from your static views.

Unfortunately, as any advertiser will tell you, the perception is the reality.

I must disagree with this. From what I recall being told at the time, voters knew he was lieing, but he was lieing openly. They knew he was lieing and he knew that they knew. And they knew that he knew that they knew. This was in stark contrast to Clinton, who was speaking sideways and being deceptive.