|President Trump, Rob Porter and Reince Priebus|
53%. That's the number I'll never understand. It's the percentage of white women who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Although he lost the female vote overall, due to the overwhelming percentages of non white women voting against him, a clear majority of white women voted for him. He won them despite the Access Hollywood tape in which we heard him boast of sexually assaulting women, and despite the claims of sixteen different women who accused him of assaulting them in much the same way that he described on that tape. They voted for him even after he dismissed those accusers of all lying, and went so far as to imply that some of them were too physically unattractive for him to have assaulted in the first place. With his macho swagger and Archie Bunker like statements, the spell Trump held over working class white men was understandable, but the mind boggles as to why a majority of white women went along with them.
Reading interviews with those white female supporters is both elucidating and infuriating: some just shrug off his behavior as him being a typical man (which really does not reflect well on men in general, does it?), while others only care about his perceived success and wealthiness. He played an exaggerated, god like version of himself on reality TV for years, why couldn't he bring that same kind of power and success to the White House, they rationalized. And in that infamous Access Hollywood tape, he inadvertently stumbled on a sad truth: "When you're a celebrity, you can get away with anything." Add to that the overwhelmingly white Evangelical women who will always support him as long as he promotes their anti-choice, anti-LGBT rights agenda, and you start see how he won that majority.
Well, the good news is that Trump finally may be reaching a breaking point with white female voters: in the past year, his overall approval ratings are down across the board with all women, according to a January 11th. New York Times poll, although he still has over 70% approval from Republican women. Still, the trend for his approval among female voters is definitely downwards. And those disapproving women are speaking out. The recent ME TOO movement, in which women that have been sexually assaulted or harassed raise their voices and demand punishment for their abusers, would not, in my opinion, even exist if Hillary Clinton had won. It appears to have been forged in the anger that so many women in America have felt when a man with a sexual history like Trump's somehow defeated an experienced woman like Clinton. That movement may well spell disaster for Trump and the party he leads: in a recent interview former White House Chief Advisor Steve Bannon told journalist Joshua Green "Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn't juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch," . He, of course, thinks this is a bad thing.
In the past year, Trump has lived up to his misogynistic past, issuing another denial of all the assault charges leveled against him, defending Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly as they were forced to resign under harassment charges, endorsing Roy Moore for the Senate even as credible charges of him having sex with underage girls arose, and recently speaking highly of White House Aide Rob Porter even as Porter resigned under accusations of spousal abuse from both of his ex wives. In every case, Trump believed the men over the women, often not only defending them but outright praising them. It's clear that to him that sexually aggressive (or physically aggressive) men are just acting like the alpha males they should be. When you get down to it, every time he says he wants to Make America Great Again he's talking about going back to a time when powerful men could treat women anyway they wanted, when sexual harassment was just an accepted part of life for women with little to no recourse. Sadly, this man with this downright primitive view of women somehow wound up in the White House. But I think it's safe to say that this victory of his will mark the beginning of the end for white male supremacy in this country with more and more women (many of them not white) joining the ranks of power ready to oppose him and men like him who want to turn the clock back for women and their right to live unharassed. Let's just hope he doesn't ruin this country before he leaves office.