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These tweets show why it's wrong to say Hillary Clinton has a "problem" with white men

Hillary Clinton And Tim Kaine Take Campaign Bus Tour Through Pennsylvania And Ohio Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Democratic National Convention last week was a celebration of diversity. Half the delegates and numerous speakers were people of color. The first openly transgender person to speak at a national convention took the stage, and disability rights were featured prominently. The DNC didn’t just nominate the first woman to lead a major party’s presidential ticket; it also celebrated Hillary Clinton’s womanhood and her more feminine leadership styles.

But some pundits saw this diversity as an electoral liability — a sign of why Clinton has a problem with white men in the polls, compared with Donald Trump.

At RealClearPolitics, A.B. Stoddard argued that the DNC, with its "star-studded celebration of diversity, inclusion and social justice" and its "multi-gender bathrooms," was often "a parody of an elitist party far too focused on identity politics and out of touch with the heartland." Along with the cultural gap, Stoddard says, blue-collar white people are suffering economically and feel alienated by the Democrats’ "America is already great" messaging.

There’s at least one glaring problem with Stoddard’s line of argument, though, as the New Yorker’s James Surowiecki explained Sunday evening on Twitter. If you’re arguing that a focus on diversity and inclusion turns off white male voters, you’re also saying something pretty troubling about the prejudices of white male voters — and whether those prejudices deserve to be accommodated:

The clearest theme of the Republican National Convention was the fear of outsiders, not economic anxiety. And as Jamelle Bouie pointed out for Slate, many pundits do indeed conflate the ideas of "working class" with "white working class" when talking about Trump — which ignores both the large number of nonwhite workers who oppose Trump and the mostly middle-class whites who actually make up Trump’s base.

Now, is it possible that the particular way Clinton and other Democrats talk about economic populism doesn’t resonate with white working-class voters? Sure. Stoddard also argued that Clinton "blended talking points about Main Street vs. Wall Street with an appeal to reduce money in politics by overturning the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision — not exactly top of mind to a coal miner in Kentucky watching his industry evaporate."

It does seem true that white working-class Americans are in a much deeper state of despair about the economy than black or Hispanic Americans, according to research by Carol Graham at the Brookings Institution. But this economic despair is also pretty much impossible to untangle from race. "Whites used to have real advantages (some via discrimination) that they no longer have," Graham told the Washington Post. "They are looking at downward mobility or threats of it, while poor blacks and Hispanics are comparing themselves to parents who were worse off than they."

And Clinton’s gender may pose its own, not-just-economic threat to some men. One study found a dramatic 24-point drop in support for Clinton among male voters when they were asked how much money they make compared with their spouse, which primed them to think about gender roles and how they might be disrupted.

Maybe economic despair is one reason some white male voters feel drawn to Trump’s apocalyptic fantasy of America. But racial resentment and gender bias are reasons too. And this suggests that Hillary Clinton’s "white man problem" is about a lot more than Hillary Clinton.


The bad map we see every presidential election

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