December 12 2016 Dispatch #9 Day 34 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny (PAWSM)
PLEASE put your attention to this e-mail that I am forwarding from the Spirit of 1848, an APHA Members Interest Group/Caucus. Spirit of 1848 represents the most progressive APHA members who are fiercely committed to social justice and health equity.
This information below gives CRITICAL analyses for rejecting the false narrative that Democrats lost the working class and that white people voted for fascism out of economic despair. White Democratic leaders are now using this false narrative, which covers up the Republican campaign’s winning strategy of appealing to White Supremacy, to consider how they might (1) cooperate with the incoming administration, and (2) place less emphasis on the so-called “identity politics”, i.e., the civil and human rights of everyone who is not a white male.
Educate/Arm yourself and your colleagues/comrades/loved ones!!
Subject: [spiritof1848] critical public health: the urgent need to be thoughtful & accurate about linking Trump’s electoral college win, economic distress, and health outcomes — since among voters, Clinton won among low-income and/or people of color
As we all continue to absorb the results of this election and work to figure out how we each, working with others, will fight to protect people’s human rights and well-being, which includes defending the right & need to live sustainably on this planet, it is important to sort out where public health evidence fits into the picture – both as part of accounting for what has transpired and also predicting future harms which we must fight to prevent.
Here I am struck by the contrast between what is increasingly a well-accepted narrative, in the mainstream press and in public health websites/blogs, and the realities of who actually voted for Trump and who has endured the worst of health inequities.
In brief, the mainstream interpretation is that economic distress led a large section of the “white working class” to vote for Trump – with this distress reflected in high rates of deaths from opioids, and possibly halts in reduction of (or actual decreases in) life expectancy.
What this interpretation fails to recognize is that Clinton won among low-income persons and also among people of color – in their overlapping permutations. These are also the groups who have consistently had the worse health outcomes (especially when considered across generations – i.e., after the benefits of any “healthy immigrant” effect have been muted in successive generations for immigrants of color).
It is crucial to distinguish between:
(1) the resentment and relative decline of standing among sectors of the white population that are doing relatively worse (either now or with regard to fears for the future), vs.
(2) the on-going social & public health conditions of sectors of the US population who have long experienced racial discrimination and economic deprivation
This distinction is essential for understanding what is going on with people’s health, for understanding what is going on politically, and for organizing for social justice & public health going forward.
It is also important to be clear in this time of the continued and urgent need to present valid evidence. The only way to challenge living in a “post-truth” world is to be clear and transparent about evidence, while continuing to be clear about the need for critical analysis of science. The ready example that comes to mind is the contrast between explicit research on the health impacts of racial discrimination, as contrasted to research done under the rubric of scientific racism. The point is not to say all science is valid, but instead to be ruthless in critiques about the assumptions of the science and validity of the evidence, recognizing that science is necessarily at once objective and partisan – whereby the objectivity comes from myriad independent investigators being able to test the scientific claims/hypotheses at issue, but of course, this only works if the scientists are critical about the assumptions that inform the hypothesis (if, as has been the case with scientific racism, the dominant scientists agree that humanity can be divided into racially “superior” vs “inferior” groups, and educational institutions exclude people from the allegedly “inferior” groups, then it logically follows that the types of researchers & research supported will not take a critical stance with regard to the underlying assumptions of scientific racism …)
Below I offer some examples to support the issues I am raising:
(a) a new study that uncritically links Trump’s electoral vote to rates of deaths due to alcohol, drugs, and suicide (and which does not stratify results by race/ethnicity);
(b) data on the proportions of the population that voted for Trump in relation to income and race/ethnicity (with a reminder that only 25% of the eligible US electorate voted for Trump, if even that), and
(c) a new essay on the “gaslighting” effect, i.e., the political strategy of repeatedly saying things that are untrue in order to sow confusion and manipulate the electorate, along with the Union of Concerned Scientists letter to Congress & the Trump Administration re the continued need for critical science to inform policy
I hope that members of this listserve will share thoughts about the public health implications of understanding the political moment we are in, and what this means for working for health equity. Please note, however, that any posts which discuss ONLY politics and do not links the political issues raised to public health (i.e., make no explicit links to public health & health equity), will *NOT* be in accord with the stipulations of appropriate postings for the Spirit of 1848 listserve.
EXAMPLE OF NEW ANALYSIS THAT CORRELATES TRUMP VOTES WITH COUNTY RATES OF “DRUG, ALCOHOL, AND SUICIDE RATES” (BUT DOES NOT STRATIFY RESULTS BY RACE/ETHNICITY)
Shannon M. Monnat
Pennsylvania State University Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education
Trump over performed the most in counties with the highest drug, alcohol and suicide mortality rates. Much of this relationship is accounted for by economic distress and the proportion of working-class residents. However, this relationship should not be interpreted as causal. What these analyses demonstrate is that community-level well-being played an important role in the 2016 election.
EXAMPLE OF ANALYSIS THAT SHOWS DATA ON VOTING RATES BY INCOME AND RACE/ETHNICITY, WHICH COUNTERS SIMPLISTIC ASSERTIONS THAT ECONOMIC DISTRESS LED PEOPLE TO VOTE FOR TRUMP (THE MISSING ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM INVOLVES LONG HISTORIES OF WHITE NATIVISM AND BELIEFS IN WHITE SUPERIORITY)
Excerpt from: Fletcher B Jr, Wing B. Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016. Verso Press, November 2016.
- a) “So, while it is true that Trump received 14 percent more votes from white people with less than a college education than did Romney, and 10 percent fewer from whites with a college degree, Trump voters were not mainly poor and unemployed. As Mike Davis points out in a recent blog post, there was no massive defection of white working-class voters to Trump. In fact, Clinton won the majority of voters earning under $30,000 (53 percent to 41 percent) and voters under $50,000 (51 percent to 42 percent). These figures are critical to keep in mind when commentators describe the Trump victory as a working-class vote. How are they defining “working class”?”
- b) “According to the national exit poll sponsored by all the main news organizations, blacks, Latinos, Asians, unmarried women, young voters, union households—the core of the Obama Coalition—all voted for Clinton, but in somewhat smaller percentages than they had voted for Obama in 2012. The black Democratic vote fell from 93 percent in 2012 to 88 percent, including only 80 percent of black men. The Democrats’ winning percentage among Latinos fell from 73 percent to 65 percent (although a poll conducted by Latino Decisions* concluded the real number was 79 percent for Clinton.*); Asians from 76 percent for Obama to 65 percent for Clinton (another poll says 75 percent); unmarried women from 67 percent to 62 percent; young voters’ Democratic support declined by 5 percent; and union households fell to 51 percent from 58 percent. The only strongly progressive voter group that increased its vote for Clinton, according to the national exit poll, were lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender folk. And the hoped for surge of Latino voter participation apparently did not materialize.
Trump did not address the concerns of most voters. He addressed the fears of many white voters. Those fears, again documented in various polls, are both economic and racial. The economic fears focus largely on the potential for economic disaster. The great majority of Trump voters were not hammered by the economy. What scares them is that the American Dream is no longer theirs for the taking. They are no longer convinced that their children’s lives will mark an improvement over their own. Linked to this fear is that of the changing racial demographics. In a post-election report by Toronto Globe & Mail columnist Doug Saunders, what is most interesting is the concern among Trump voters about the changing face of the U.S. Immigration, especially in regions where there were previously few, if any, immigrants, became an inflammatory issue. In short, the white middle class and its upward mobility—the traditional white version of the American Dream—are feared lost forever.”
NB: for a new historical examination of the role of racism and US white fears of “race suicide” in relation to setting economic & social policy in the US and its role in the dominance of eugenics in the 1st half of the 20th century in social policy, medicine, and public health, see:
— Leonard TC. Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016.
“In Illiberal Reformers, Thomas Leonard reexamines the economic progressives whose ideas and reform agenda underwrote the Progressive Era dismantling of laissez-faire and the creation of the regulatory welfare state, which, they believed, would humanize and rationalize industrial capitalism. But not for all. Academic social scientists such as Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, and Edward A. Ross, together with their reform allies in social work, charity, journalism, and law, played a pivotal role in establishing minimum-wage and maximum-hours laws, workmen’s compensation, antitrust regulation, and other hallmarks of the regulatory welfare state. But even as they offered uplift to some, economic progressives advocated exclusion for others, and did both in the name of progress. Leonard meticulously reconstructs the influence of Darwinism, racial science, and eugenics on scholars and activists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, revealing a reform community deeply ambivalent about America’s poor. Illiberal Reformers shows that the intellectual champions of the regulatory welfare state proposed using it not to help those they portrayed as hereditary inferiors but to exclude them.”
EXAMPLE OF NEW ESSAY RE THE “GASLIGHTING” EFFECT (from an unlikely source!) & ALSO THE STATEMENT FROM THE “UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS”
— Duca L. Donald Trump is Gaslighting America. Teen Vogue, December 10, 2016.
Excerpt: “Trump won the Presidency by gas light. His rise to power has awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception. Civil rights are now on trial, though before we can fight to reassert the march toward equality, we must regain control of the truth … At the hands of Trump, facts have become interchangeable with opinions, blinding us into arguing amongst ourselves, as our very reality is called into question.”
–Frumhoff P. How the Trump Administration and Congress Should Use Science to Govern. Union of Concerned Scientists, November 30, 2016.
Excerpt: “ The election of Donald Trump raises many questions about the future role of science and evidence in policy making. Many of us are deeply troubled that some transition team members, senior administration officials and people nominated to head up federal agencies have a history of attacking scientists and misrepresenting science. We’re concerned as well that an emboldened Congress may attempt to pass legislation that cuts science out of existing public health and environmental laws, and cut funding for research critical to understand our changing planet – putting at risk the health and well-being of Americans and people around the world.”
& “open letter to President-elect Trump and the 115th Congress, urging them to set a high and sturdy bar for integrity, transparency and independence in using science to inform our nation’s policies.”