1. Why did Donald J. Trump win the Electoral College in the 2016 presidential elections? Fierce battles have been waged, ferocious wars have been launched, all over the "real" reason why Trump triumphed (heh).
Was it white supremacy that motivated his base? Was it pure racism? Fear of the Mexicans invading? Was it the economic despair among those white working class members who dwell without hope but with great bitterness in the Rust Belt ghost towns?
Or was it desire for change with a capital C, from the Tea Party Republican fringe to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party? A fairer income redistribution? An end to the dwindling of the American middle class?
Why the need to choose just one reason, I wonder. The Trump voters (all voters, really) might well have over sixty million different stories, each with its own package of complicated, often poorly reasoned and poorly understood explanations.
Some may have voted their economic anxiety, some their racial resentment or xenophobia, some may have voted for tax cuts, some for the end of all "baby-killing" and so on. This isn't anything new. As I have shown in my previous post, many Republican voters just decided to come back home to Daddy, even though Daddy this year is a pussy-grabbing racist narcissistic member of the international financial elite who cannot leave the slightest insult unanswered.
The intellectual games to tease out the "main" reason for Trump-love are fun, but they are ultimately not very productive, because the real reasons why we vote for a certain candidate are all braided together. They can even influence each other, and some of them are most likely subconscious and thus invisible, even to the voter herself or himself.
Take the economic resentment explanation: How voters view the overall economic situation depends on the administration in power and other political events. Here's an example, a few days after the elections:
After Trump won last week's election, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents now have a much more optimistic view of the U.S. economy's outlook than they did before the election. Just 16% of Republicans said the economy was getting better in the week before the election, while 81% said it was getting worse. Since the election, 49% say it is getting better and 44% worse.
Conversely, Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents' confidence in the economy plummeted after the election. Before the election, 61% of Democrats said the economy was getting better and 35% worse. Now, Democrats are evenly divided, with 46% saying it is getting better and 47% saying it is getting worse.
My point is not that economic woes wouldn't have mattered in the 2016 elections, but that the voters' feelings about the state of the economy can be colored by those same voters' general feelings about the administration in power. For some, even the race and/or gender of the sitting president affects that economic evaluation. (1)
This intertwined aspect of one's reasons for voting in a certain way complicates the answers to the question I posed in the title of this post: Did sexism affect the results?
It is further complicated by the fact that very few voters are going to answer political surveys by saying that their vote for Trump was motivated by their hatred of all those bitches and sluts and manipulative whores and the desire to keep them from power, even if that is the true reason. Rather, they will give some other, more acceptable reasons for their vote, and the same applies to those who vote their racism or anti-Semitism or other types of bigotry.
2. Given all that, what was the role of sexism in the 2016 presidential election?
Surely it had some role to play, because despite the way Hillary Clinton was seen as the insider, as the elitist, as the pursuer of the same-old-same-old Obama policies or neoliberal policies, as the most powerful political agent of the last thirty years, the fact remains that she has girl cooties.
And our inherited traditions warn us about those cooties. The Bible tells us that the man is the head of the household and that women should be silent in the congregation. The Quran tells us that men are placed above women in the divine hierarchy, Confucianism expects obedience from women, and even Buddha taught that wives should be obedient to their husbands. And Aristotle viewed men as more expert in leading than women.