John Scalzi wrote a post on his blog where he likens voting for Trump and Racism to cable TV bundled packages, which is well sumarized by the accompanying image:

Let’s say you want HBO. So you go to your local cable provider to get HBO and the only way they’ll let you get HBO is to sign up for a premium channel package, which includes HBO but also includes Cinemax. Now, maybe you don’t want Cinemax, and you don’t care about Cinemax, and maybe never personally plan to ever watch Cinemax, but the deal is: If you want HBO, you have to sign on to Cinemax too. You have to be a Cinemax subscriber to get HBO. And you go ahead and sign up for the premium channel package.


Now, to bring that analogy back to the point at hand. This election, you had two major Presidential providers. One offered you the Stronger Together plan, and the other offered you the Make America Great Again plan. You chose the Make America Great Again plan. The thing is, the Make America Great Again has in its package active, institutionalized racism (also active, institutionalized sexism. And as it happens, active, institutionalized homophobia). And you know it does, because the people who bundled up the Make America Great Again package not only told you it was there, they made it one of the plan’s big selling points.

And you voted for it anyway.

So did you vote for racism?

You sure did.

Now he has a valid point in that when you vote for a candidate (or a party) you are implicitly voting for everything the candidate says he wants to do but it’s not quite as simple as he makes out.

There’s a few reasons why a non racist voter might logically vote for a racist platform

  1. You don’t believe the news media telling you the platform is racist
  2. You don’t expect the racist elements of the platform to be implemented
  3. You don’t in fact think the elements labeled racist actually were racist
  4. The alternative was worse

I can make arguments for all four of these. Let’s start with the media. The media have been demonizing Republican presidential candidates and calling them racists, sexists etc. since at least 2000 – I wasn’t paying attention in 1996 or earlier – and in every previous case the claims failed the laugh test.


It was possible to make that claim with (very) slight plausibility in 2000 but then George W Bush appointed the lady above to one senior post after another (and she was far from the only highly visible “minority” in the Bush administrations. It was equally obvious to any neutral observer that neither McCain nor Romney were the sexist, racist homophobic bigots they were made out to be as well. Indeed the left has tarred the conservatives and the Republican party generally as racist etc. for decades as Kirsten Powers points out in USA Today:

Conservative white Americans have watched (often fearfully) as liberal cultural elites demand that everyone fall in line with their agenda or risk being called a homophobe, racist or misogynist. The concept of persuasion and debate has been overridden by a quest for immediate and forced cultural conformity. My friend Sally Kohn, the liberal commentator, summed up the left wing view fairly honestly when she told me in a recent debate over free speech that, “If [conservatives on campus] feel like they can no longer speak against positive social change, good.”

This is a paradigm where honest disagreement about abortion makes one a woman-hater, holding orthodox religious views on marriage equates to gay-bashing, and refusing to cop to white privilege — even if you are a working class white person struggling economically — defines you as a racist.

A recent Slate article explaining why a slight majority of white women voted for Trump asserted that these female Trump supporters were “self-loathing” racists who were doing the bidding of their husbands and fathers. This is the omnipresent lefty trope Republican women have lived with for a long time, yet people are actually shocked that they wouldn’t throw their support behind a party that too often casts them as gender-traitors.

Bluntly when you’ve been called a bigot by the media and the left and you know you aren’t one, the chances are pretty high that you’ll discount the claims that others are the same. Especially when the same people also make the same false claims again and again. The activist who cried “racist” is meeting the same result as the boy who cried “wolf”.

[Aside: talking of Condoleezza Rice, I’m pretty sure that had she run, she’d have had the enthusiastic backing of pretty much all conservatives over Trump and probably most other Republican candidates. And then, once she won the nomination, she’d have been subjected to sickening abuse by the “tolerant” left because the one thing they hate more than a successful white male is a woman or minority who succeeds while not spouting the right platitudes ]

Then there is the question of whether the racist parts would be implemented. Everyone knows politicians promise way more than they can deliver. In the case of Trump’s “racist” policies it is quite plausible to believe that if he were to attempt to implement them then the US Supreme Court would stop them. Previous presidents have lost signature measures after cases at the Supreme Court. Obamacare, to take an obvious high profile recent one, has had significant features worn away or changed due to the court and compared to some other measures it’s done pretty well because it is still just about alive. The Supreme Court enforced the end of segregation, permitted gay marriage and so on, and it has proven to be very unwilling to overturn the rulings of previous courts.

Moreover implementing a “racist” policy requires that individual government workers – policemen, soldiers, bureaucrats – actually do what the orders insist. Rounding people up by job lots and other actual positive racist policies require a lot of manpower to actively do things, as opposed to passively stand by while others do, and the rational voter could quite easily decide that the risk of a racist policy coming into effect is close to zero. In fact it is entirely logical to consider that Trump was blustering or pandering, in much the same way as his opponents did in other policy areas.

This ties in to point three. It is quite easy to argue that Trump’s policies are not in fact racist. The obvious ones are the bans on Mexicans and Muslims [I shall ignore the pedantic pickiness that points out that a religion is not a race and so on]. Both can be quite easily seen as logical policy.

To take the Muslims one first. Ever since September 2001 the world has been only too well aware that while the majority of Muslims may not be terrorists the majority of terrorists do seem to be fanatical believers in Islam. The news coverage of the various Islam inspired terror attacks over the last few years shows that, despite all the politically correct pieties, radical Islam does inspire people to commit terrorism. Combine that with the reports of rapes etc. from the European refugees and the atrocities of Daesh and other Islamic governments against gays and women and it is reasonable to consider that a policy of blocking Muslims is in fact one that favors gays, women and other oppressed groups. The US has rules about not letting in people with infectious diseases and for a long time every visitor had to state they had nothing to do with Nazi Germany, so it’s perfectly rational to think that a ban on Muslims is a similar ban on a hostile ideology.

As for the Mexican wall. Again it is really easy to point out that this is not a plan to stop immigration so much as stopping illegal immigration. This may be portrayed as racist because it primarily impacts immigrants from Latin America, but if you aren’t an illegal immigrant, the toleration of large numbers of illegal immigrants looks like positive discrimination in favor of hispanics. The fact that it is trivially easy to find hispanics (from Ted Cruz on down) who also oppose illegal immigration and want something like a wall means that even if the policy is actually racist, it doesn’t necessarily appear to be racist. I personally have a lot of sympathy for the argument that the US has to take control of its borders in the same way that just about every other country in the world does so I can easily see why this is not considered a racist idea by people who aren’t illegals. When you add in the way that illegal immigrants are both committing crimes and clearly doing the jobs that legal citizens and legal temporary residents could do instead and support for this idea looks entirely rational even if it is considered racist.

Finally there’s the possibility that you accept that his policies in Mexicans, Muslims etc. are racist but that even so this is better for the US than the alternative. You can think of this as people who thought that the rule of law, national security and a lack of cronyism/corruption were more important than racism. They very strongly believed Clinton should be facing a court of law and then jail and that racism is less of a problem the US Federal system of government than corruption, cronyism and being too big to jail. They felt that the idea that a cabinet member can treat sensitive data less seriously than her underlings is a dreadful precedent to set. There are enough issues with people leaking data they shouldn’t (consider for example the Valerie Plame affair) without such people thinking that if they lie, delay and obfuscate they can ignore the rules they set for their underlings. I wrote last month about how the email server was very important for these reasons.

Amongst my friends and acquaintances there were a lot who wrestled with this one. Yes Trump was indeed horrible, but letting Clinton become president looked like explicitly sending a message that you could be too important to jail and that corruption could prosper. Any number of them said that the only person that could convince them to vote for Trump was Hillary Clinton. Moreover these ‘reluctant trump voters’ very likely looked at his proposed policies and decided that variants of the first three options applied. i.e. that the policies were unfairly portrayed, that they wouldn’t be implemented or that they wouldn’t be a disaster if implemented.

There are logical and rational reasons to vote for racists, even if one isn’t a racist. All that matters is that you consider racism to be less of a disqualifying factor than something else. One might equally say:

Not all Clinton supporters are corrupt national security risks, but all of them decided that putting personal interest before national security isn’t a deal breaker. End of story