A friend on Facebook this morning reminded me of this piece by Michael Moore, published back in July, predicting a Trump victory. Moore’s message was meant partly as a cautionary tale—it wasn’t him giving up on Clinton. It was him saying, “unless we face facts, this is what’s going to happen.” Even so, it’s incredible to read today, if only for its acute perspicacity. Looking back, on the morning after, this goes beyond “he called it.” This is crystal ball stuff, and it shows how well Moore understands the power and mindset of poor white voters—particularly those from the rust belt—in a way that many liberals doomed themselves by ignoring or underestimating.
Moore starts with a warning about the lies we tell ourselves to feel better about a potentially dark outcome:
You need to stop living in denial and face the truth which you know deep down is very, very real. Trying to soothe yourself with the facts – “77% of the electorate are women, people of color, young adults under 35 and Trump cant win a majority of any of them!” – or logic – “people aren’t going to vote for a buffoon or against their own best interests!” – is your brain’s way of trying to protect you from trauma. Like when you hear a loud noise on the street and you think, “oh, a tire just blew out,” or, “wow, who’s playing with firecrackers?” because you don’t want to think you just heard someone being shot with a gun. It’s the same reason why all the initial news and eyewitness reports on 9/11 said “a small plane accidentally flew into the World Trade Center.” We want to – we need to – hope for the best because, frankly, life is already a shit show and it’s hard enough struggling to get by from paycheck to paycheck. We can’t handle much more bad news. So our mental state goes to default when something scary is actually, truly happening. The first people plowed down by the truck in Nice spent their final moments on earth waving at the driver whom they thought had simply lost control of his truck, trying to tell him that he jumped the curb: “Watch out!,” they shouted. “There are people on the sidewalk!”
He then segues into five reasons why Trump will win, and all of them look like prophecy today.
1. Midwest Math, or Welcome to Our Rust Belt Brexit. I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million)....From Green Bay to Pittsburgh, this, my friends, is the middle of England – broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the countryside with the carcass of what we use to call the Middle Class….this is their chance! To stick to ALL of them, all who wrecked their American Dream! And now The Outsider, Donald Trump, has arrived to clean house! You don’t have to agree with him! You don’t even have to like him! He is your personal Molotov cocktail to throw right into the center of the bastards who did this to you!
Needless to say, it seems like Trump is going to win all four of the rust belt states that Moore identified as vulnerable.
2. The Last Stand of the Angry White Man. Our male-dominated, 240-year run of the USA is coming to an end. A woman is about to take over! How did this happen?! On our watch!...That’s a small peek into the mind of the Endangered White Male. There is a sense that the power has slipped out of their hands, that their way of doing things is no longer how things are done.
Enough said there, right?
3. The Hillary Problem.
Many words have been written on the flaws of Clinton as a candidate, and I don’t want to copy/paste Moore’s entire article, but please go to the link and read this section, because it’s as concise, accurate, and malice-free summary of a candidate who could never drum up real enthusiasm with as many people as she needed.
4. The Depressed Sanders Vote. Stop fretting about Bernie’s supporters not voting for Clinton – we’re voting for Clinton! The polls already show that more Sanders voters will vote for Hillary this year than the number of Hillary primary voters in ’08 who then voted for Obama. This is not the problem. The fire alarm that should be going off is that while the average Bernie backer will drag him/herself to the polls that day to somewhat reluctantly vote for Hillary, it will be what’s called a “depressed vote” – meaning the voter doesn’t bring five people to vote with her. He doesn’t volunteer 10 hours in the month leading up to the election.
God, this is so accurate. This is what Trump had. It’s what Obama had. And it’s what Clinton sorely needed.
Finally, Moore cites the “Jesse Ventura effect,” which very few people are talking about, but which is more critical than anybody believes. Just as Minnesotans did when they elected a former professional wrestler as governor, Americans disgusted with the establishment indulged their mischievous, anarchic side, and pulled the lever for the man who would disturb things the most. This is what happens when the people no longer trust their ruling bodies.
If there’s anything to take from Moore’s words, beyond the stinging regret, it’s the need for the next Democratic candidate to forge a coalition, by any means necessary, with the white working class vote that buried Clinton last night.