Looking back at the 2016 U.S. election, there’s no doubt that Hillary Clinton’s worst moment was calling Trump supporters a “basket of deplorables.” With one stroke she alienated America’s silent majority — the conservatives in faith and those left out by globalization.
The majority of evangelicals — both Protestants and Catholics — voted for Trump. And even though it was the white evangelical vote that boosted Trump’s run, he also received a third of the non-white evangelical vote. The vast majority of the workers in the heartland of America also voted for Trump, and women and the Latinos did not desert him for Hillary as it was expected. It seems the “basket of deplorables” was more diverse than Sec. Clinton guessed.
While the media is still looking for the reasons why Nov. 8 unfolded the way it did, one answer that seems clear to me is that Sec. Clinton misread the values of the silent majority. She grew confident listening to the echo chamber of her own party, and failed to see that her message was not resonating with a large swath of the American people.
One example of this is her support for late term abortions in the third debate. Intended to solidify her position as the woman’s choice, her comment misfired, because, besides being horribly immoral, it dismissed the possibility that many women in America could be pro-life. The expected support from women for Sec. Clinton did not materialize, despite the fact that the president-elect had said some controversial things about women. In the end, deeply held values drove people to vote for policies and not just a candidate.
If any party in the U.S., as well as in other nations like Britain and in other major democracies, want the vote of the silent majority, they have to appeal to the things that matter to this group. After all, what I have always appreciated about America is that it’s democracy is “representative.” Politicians are to reflect the will of the people as opposed to inflicting the people with their own will, their own agenda.
The second is employment. While the West has glorified economic globalization, profiting countries like China, a vast silent majority has been left out from reaping its fruit. The minority elites are the ones who have benefited most. Those who were rich have become richer.
The same is true within my own country. In India, for example, it is only about a quarter of the population which has profited immensely from globalization. The vast, silent majority keeps struggling to make ends meet.
This is why the economy became the most important issue in the 2016 Election. Above foreign policy and immigration, what the silent majority cares most is having employment opportunities, something which the educated elites have treated as optional when coupled with expanding government and social welfare programs.
Finally, the silent majority cares about security. It appears that the Democrats had their heads in the sand when it came to the security of citizens. Criminal terrorism is a worldwide phenomenon, and has come to the point where ordinary citizens are threatened in their own homes. In the name of political correctness, weak and opportunistic political leaders have allowed these elements to foster and have failed to call that which is evil as evil. As proven in the exit polls, the silent majority does not have patience any more with religious extremism, which became the second most important issue in the election.
The lessons from the rise of the silent majority in America should be taken to heart by everyone. Just as the liberal media have had a rude awakening on their contempt for the silent majority, so do the educated evangelical elite and the Christian media also need to take stock and get in touch with the working class evangelicals and the issues that are important to them.