Nikki Schwab, Daily Mail, November 25, 2020
Former President Barack Obama said Republicans made white men think of themselves as victims Wednesday – and that Donald Trump’s surprise success with Hispanic voters was partly because of his appeal to evangelical voters.
He explained in an interview Wednesday with The Breakfast Club that what motivates people to vote is often about ‘the stories that are being told.’
‘What’s always interesting to me, is the degree to which we’ve created, you’ve seen created, in Republican politics, this sense that white males are victims. They’re the ones who are like under attack,’ Obama noted. ‘Which doesn’t jive with both history and data, and economics.’
Obama was trying to explain to hosts Charlamagne tha God, DJ Envy and Angela Yee what motivated Americans in this past election to vote for President Donald Trump.
‘The question though is, you still had 70 million people voting for a government that I would say objectively has failed miserably in handling just basic looking after the American people and keeping them safe. Why is that?’ Obama mused.
He had just been speaking about the coronavirus pandemic, saying that if Trump had kept some of the pandemic infrastructure in place from the Obama administration, ‘We would have saved some lives.’
Obama then pointed to the broader political narrative.
‘The story that they’re hearing from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and, in some cases, inside their churches is that Democrats don’t believe in Christmas, only care about minorities and black folks and trying to take your stuff and trying to take your guns away,’ the former president explained.
With white male victimhood, Obama called it a ‘sincere belief, that’s been internalized.’
‘That’s a story that’s being told and how you unwind that is going to be, something that is done right away, it’s going to take some time,’ he said.
He also noted the importance of getting white support on issues like criminal justice reform.
Charlamagne tha God pushed back telling Obama, ‘Why do we have to wait on them though? We can speak our truth to power.’
‘What this comes down to is, what I said earlier, how do you build coalitions to actually get stuff done?’ Obama asked. ‘Because the truth of the matter is that in very few places are African-Americans the majority of the vote, it’s just simple math.’
Obama also talked about why messaging is important.
‘Even people who are not, in any way, consciously anti-black, they don’t want to be seen as the bad person, they’re always going to be a little defensive, that’s human nature,’ he said.
He asked the two male hosts to think about how men sometimes react to feminism.
‘If women start talking to men about their issues, a lot of men will get very defensive very quickly: “That’s not me, I treat my woman good,”‘ Obama said.
He also pointed to Hispanic-Americans who voted for Trump and explained that some issues for some voters just hold greater weight.
‘People were surprised about a lot of Hispanics folks who voted for Trump. But there are a lot of evangelical Hispanics who, you know, the fact that Trump says racist things about Mexicans, or puts detainees, undocumented workers in cages, they think that’s less important than the fact that he supports their views on gay marriage or abortion,’ Obama argued.
Not everyone was convinced by this explanation.
Pollster Frank Luntz tweeted, ‘This is lazy analysis which likely will become the conventional wisdom of his followers: “People who don’t support us are bigots.”‘
FiveThirtyEight’s reporting on the subject suggested that Latino voting patterns followed the more broad urban-rural divide taking place in the country, with rural counties going heavily for Republicans and urban areas casting votes for Democrats.
Trump had also historically done badly with Latinos in 2016, winning just 18 per cent. That bumped up to 27 per cent in 2020, which is more in line with the amount of support Republicans traditionally get.
In Florida’s Miami-Dade County, which is more urban, Cornell University’s Sergio Garcia-Rios, who studies Latino identity, told FiveThirtyEight that he believed Trump’s improvement here can be explained by the campaign paying specific attention to this community.
The Trump campaign paid for ads in Spanish and English that connected President-elect Joe Biden to ‘socialism’ and pointed to the Obama administration’s easing of restrictions on Cuba.
Obama was speaking in his latest interview to promote his book, A Promised Land, which has now sold more than 1.7 million copies in North America in its first week, besting the book debuts of his wife Michelle and Hillary Clinton.
On Tuesday, he said that Donald Trump ‘exceeded’ his worst nightmares during an interview with Stephen Colbert on CBS The Late Show.