The Huffington Post recently published a trending article blasting Donald Trump after his victory in the New Hampshire primary, and their anger toward Trump spilled over onto the Republican voters in New Hampshire who selected him. The article begins rather neutrally stating the facts.
New Hampshire Republican primary voters on Tuesday made official their choice for president of the United States: real estate mogul and reality television star Donald J. Trump.
But the article had already taken a turn before the editor capped it off with this rant:
Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims – 1.6 billion members of an entire religion – from entering the U.S.
What a difference a few paragraphs can make, right? The Huffington Post claims the GOP has some “soul-searching” to do following Trump’s win. The implication is that only sexists, racists, and xenophobes could possibly vote for such a repugnant man as Donald Trump. But I contend that the people at the Huffington Post know very well why Trump is popular: voters think he is politically incorrect and anti-establishment. Is he operating on prejudices to gain popular support? Of course. Does that make him a demagogue? Perhaps.
Though Huffington Post may refuse to see the connection, the same causation would explain Bernie Sanders’ win in New Hampshire. Sanders is surging in the polls for largely the same reason Trump is: he is seen as one who speaks his mind and fights the establishment, especially in light of Clinton’s oft-repeated ties to Wall Street. The Huffington Post wants to reserve the word demagogue for Donald Trump, but if they were honest, they would have to apply that word to Bernie Sanders as well.
What is a demagogue, anyway? It’s “a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.” Hmmm.
Donald Trump wants to do really big, vaguely defined things (build a wall, ban Muslims, make America great again) that will be almost impossible to implement, no matter how much his voters desire it. Bernie Sanders wants to do really big vaguely defined things (lots of free stuff) that will be almost impossible to implement, no matter how much his voters desire it.
Additionally, both Trump and Sanders are very much appealing to the prejudices of their voter base. That those prejudices vastly differ from each other doesn’t change the fact that they remain prejudices. For instance, Sanders makes a caricature of the menace of Wall Street bankers and the greedy rich; Trump makes a caricature of the menace of immigrants and Muslims.Both operate on prejudices. Both represent demagoguery. So in reality, both the Republican and Democratic New Hampshire primaries selected a “demagogue” for the Presidency.
What this makes very clear is that the voters on both sides of the aisle don’t really care about the issues, and they aren’t making rational choices. They distrust politicians generally and they want a candidate who can “get big things done” against “the establishment.”
So we’ve provisionally established that both Trump and Sanders could be called demagogues, but we also need to address this issue of racism and sexism. And here’s where things get very interesting. I don’t know if anyone over at Huffington Post carefully looked at the New Hampshire primary exit polls, but the data contained in them is quite interesting. For one thing, it indicates that the GOP is not anymore unbalanced in gender or race than the DNC.
Among Republican voters in New Hampshire, 96% were white. That explains the racism, right? Not so fast. Among Democrat voters, 93% were white. That looks like basically no difference at all. Weird, right? I thought Democrats were so much more diverse and inclusive. But check out the gender gaps: Democrat voters were 55% women. Republican voters were 48% women. Again—not a huge difference. Also of great interest: Democrat women voters picked Sanders over Hillary Clinton. Did Huffington Post call them sexist? Of course not.
Now, before things get overwhelmingly boring, let me drop one more piece of data, and it’s a doozy. For both Republicans and Democrats, nearly half of all the voters were from exactly one age bracket: baby boomers.
So let’s narrow in on what all this means. For one, the vast super-majority of New Hampshire voters were white. And most of them were also middle-aged. And they settled pretty flatly into gender equal portions. And, just to add to this picture, the majority of all the voters made more than $50,000 a year. In other words, the demographics of New Hampshire primary voters, whether they selected Trump or Sanders, were pretty much identical.
Basically the only people who voted in this primary, according to the exit polls, are people who have benefited from voting in the past. They are not the disenfranchised. They are not the poor. They are not the minority. They are the establishment. On both sides, people. The demographics are basically the same. And the majority on both sides voted for demagogues against all reason.
The people who most need to be engaged in the political process in order to secure its legitimacy into the future—namely, young people—are just not involved. And for all their talk of diversity and equality, the DNC has nothing more to offer than the GOP.
I know it may be hard for Huffington Post to admit this, but I’ll gladly say it: it’s not just the GOP that needs to do some soul-searching. It’s their precious DNC as well. In fact, it’s the entire United States.