Recently, there was an article in the New York Times about Hillary Clinton's failure to win white male voters. When asked about why they are failing to support Clinton in larger numbers, the men interviewed responded that they didn't feel as though she was centering them enough in her campaign:
Many said they did not trust her to overhaul the economy because of her wealth and her ties to Wall Street. Some said her use of private email as secretary of state indicated she had something to hide. A few said they did not think a woman should be commander in chief. But most said they simply did not think Mrs. Clinton cared about people like them.Clinton's winning all other demographics besides white men is still routinely discussed as a failure in the corporate media (which is a neat commentary on the outsized value placed on white men), despite the fact that policies tailored to the needs of the most vulnerable people in a society will inevitably benefit the people who have more privilege. Trickle-down social justice doesn't work, but bottom-up social justice does.
"She's talking to minorities now, not really to white people, and that's a mistake," said Dennis Bertko, 66, a construction project manager in Youngstown, Ohio, as he sipped a draft beer at the Golden Dawn Restaurant in a downtrodden part of town. "She could have a broader message. We would have listened."
…[Forrest Giffin, 23, a Democrat in Sumter, S.C.], a mall supervisor and assistant manager at a gas station, added, "I really wonder if she wants people like me in the Democratic Party."
…[Dick Lucarell, 73, who voted for Mrs. Clinton in 2008 and again on Tuesday] said that Mrs. Clinton was the target of unfair Republican attacks, and that she and her husband would be "a strong team." But he also said she had yet to give white men compelling reasons to stay in the party.
"If I'm a woman, I probably vote for Hillary. If I'm Hispanic, I vote for Hillary. Blacks will vote for Hillary," Mr. Lucarell said. "But white people, especially white men — she has a big problem there."
It isn't anything Clinton is doing wrong that's alienating white men; it's the reaction of white men who feel that they aren't being "cared about" at all if they are not visibly centered.
Which is why Donald Trump's campaign is so appealing to so many disaffected white men. Trump makes no bones about the fact that he is centering the needs, the fears, the anger of white men in his campaign. As white men's unearned privileges and power wane in an increasingly multicultural society, many of them are reacting with violent resentment.
Having long confused "privilege" with "rights," they are now convinced that their "rights" are being eroded, rather than losing some of the privilege they must yield if meaningful racial and gender justice is ever to be achieved.
In yesterday's Washington Post, Greg Sargent explored a new national Washington Post/ABC News poll which finds that a significant plurality of Republican respondents believe that "whites losing out because of preferences for blacks and Hispanics" is a "bigger problem" in the US than "blacks and Hispanics losing out because of preferences for whites."
Writes Sargent: "A majority of Trump supporters—54 percent—believe the bigger problem is whites are losing out. Meanwhile, 37 percent of Trump's supporters believe this strongly, again higher than among any other candidate's supporters."
He also points to a piece by Molly Ball in The Atlantic, for which she spoke to a number of Trump supporters, and found resounding sympathy for "the idea that they, the others, enjoy privileges, resources, and status to which we are denied access."
Trump exploits these resentments—and, further, he routinely unleashes racism and sexism that appeals specifically to white men who treat rights as a zero sum game in which there are winners and losers, and who are gravely concerned about Clinton talking to and about people who are not white men.
And that's all she's doing—she's making explicit appeals to marginalized people. She's not saying terrible things about white men; her alleged sin is, in fact, not saying anything about them at all.
Imagine, for a moment, if Hillary spoke about white men the way Trump speaks about women. Imagine if she called them dogs and pigs, said they were ugly, said: "You've gotta treat 'em like shit."
If she did, white men might have a valid complaint. But a failure to center white men is not the same as being attacked, and it is not the same thing as being hated.
If you want to know what it might look like if Clinton actually did attack and hate men, all you need to do is look at how Trump talks about and to women.
White men desperately need to learn the difference between being attacked and simply not being catered to.
And yet somehow, this is still supposed to be Clinton's fault. She is expected to magically find a way to uplift people who are not white men, while still centering white men. That is simply not possible.
Meanwhile, Trump just keeps actively being terrible to women. And when someone in the corporate media even bothers to ask him about it, he simply declares, unjustifiably, "Women love me! No one respects women more than I do!"
And on we go, pretending that Trump's misogyny doesn't matter, and that Clinton has to do more for men.