By now the exit poll statistics from the recent election in the state of Alabama are well known: 98% of black women and 92% of black men voted for Democrat Doug Jones, while 74% of white men and 65% of white women voted for Republican pedophile and child-molester Roy Moore.
These statistics raise two important questions. The first is why white women would vote—some would say against their own interests—for a man whose abusive behavior toward women and girls is a matter of public record. The second, and related question, is whether the Democratic strategy of trying to appeal to racist and sexist white people by downplaying racism and sexism is a winning strategy.
No one should really be surprised that white women—conservative and evangelical or not–voted for known child-abuser Roy Moore.* One of the main tenets of the white supremacist patriarchal system is that powerful white men can do no wrong. Most Americans were raised with this notion, and this of course is why it takes women so long to report every form of sexual abuse. White supremacist patriarchy teaches women and men to give white men every break while placing the blame on women—especially if they are black or brown, but also if they are white.
Why do a majority of white women want to believe this story? Because they have been told that their economic status and social position can be secured only by their ties with powerful (in this case, a relative term) white males. When confronted with the allegations against a Roy Moore, white women’s first reaction may be to blame the victim. Maybe she is lying. Maybe she foolishly put herself in harm’s way. Maybe the man who abused her misread the signals she was giving. The last thing women seduced by the white supremacist patriarchal myth want to do is to look clearly at the sexual abuse perpetrated by white men.
Why? Because white women have been taught that if they follow all the rules, they will not be subject to abuse. When they suffer abuse, they try not to think about it. Instead they normalize it by saying to themselves, “it happened a long time ago” and “no matter what happened, it did me no real harm.” If every white woman were to look seriously at the abuse she has suffered at the hands of white men, the whole white supremacist patriarchal system would collapse. However, when single and divorced women are stigmatized, and when there is every likelihood that a single mother with children will struggle to survive financially, there are reasons why white women may not to want to take the abuse of women seriously.
In a powerful blog titled “Dear Democrats. Wake Up and Smell the Black Coffee. We Remember,” Denise Oliver Velez argues that the Alabama election shows that Democratic Party strategy of trying to reach out to disaffected white voters (males and the females who follow their lead) is a failed strategy. She writes:
Instead of chasing the white working class bigots who voted for Trump due to so-called income insecurity—I have been saying for years that the Democratic Party needs to focus major efforts on getting black folks their voting rights.
There is nothing progressive about ignoring black Democrats.
I agree. Instead of seeking to convert the elusive “dissatisfied white voter,” the Democrats should be focusing their efforts on making sure that all Democratic voters have all of their papers in place to be eligible to vote in elections in states where voter suppression efforts have been installed as law. Voter suppression and intimidation targets poor black voters and also the elderly and students. To ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote is able to vote will require a massive effort long before elections are scheduled to help people find or request the necessary papers and to drive them to DMV or other offices that are no longer easily accessible in order to secure voter ID cards. It will also require driving voters to and from polling places that are no longer in their neighborhoods on election day or teaching them how to take advantage of early voting and absentee ballots. And it will require being present at polling places to ensure that voter intimidation does not occur. This kind of grass roots organizing paid off in Alabama.
Beyond that it means making the needs of black voters central in election campaigns and continuing to take them seriously after the elections are won. And yes, let’s elect more black women, both locally and nationally–for they are the true heart and soul of the Democratic party!
This is the real day-to-day work that needs to be done. Democrats and progressives, take heed!
*Not all white women think the same way: in Alabama the other 35% of women voters chose Jones or wrote in another name; there are indications that some higher income and better educated white Republican women voted for Jones or stayed home, perhaps for the first time making a different choice than their husbands.
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19 thoughts on “Black People Elect Jones, White People Vote for Moore: And What That Means by Carol P. Christ”
“No one should really be surprised that white women—conservative and evangelical or not–voted for known child-abuser Roy Moore.* One of the main tenets of the white supremacist patriarchal system is that powerful white men can do no wrong.”
This statement expose the underbelly of patriarchy and its deadly agenda with porn and male supremacy and rape and every other horrific assault creeping around below. Why do we continue to be surprised?
Most white women live with one form of abuse or another – there’s another deadly truth – and oh how much easier it is to blame some other woman rather than take responsibility for what is happening in one’s own life. I call this the Cinderella syndrome.
By all means please let us not ignore Black woman voters. We certainly cannot depend upon white women to step up to the plate.
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I’ve had several friends who stayed with their husbands for the income security. One of them suffered great verbal abuse….but I eventually noticed that she gave as good as she got. Some years ago, I had a long conversation with her husband and–good for him!–he got it, and this particular story has a happy ending. She’s physically frail, and he’s taking good care of her. This is not, of course, to generalize to all powerful white men, but it tells me there’s a tiny glimmer of hope. Sometimes.
I changed my voter registration from Democrat sometime during the Obama years. I am now a California Other. I have very little faith in either of the major parties. I’m exhausted by them.
At the same time, that old dynamic duo (Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders) penned a NY Times op-ed yesterday, titled “Who Is Congress Really Serving?” And what a ticket Warren & Sanders would make as President and Vice President — wow.
(Linked my name here to the NY Times op-ed — so good.)
I’ve tried posting twice now and don’t see my comments. Is there a problem ?
“No one should really be surprised that white women—conservative and evangelical or not–voted for known child-abuser Roy Moore”
I agree that we shouldn’t be surprised, but 3/4 evangelical white women voted for Moore, and 3/4 non-evangelical white women voted for Jones, so it seems that whether the women were evangelical or not made a huge difference (https://twitter.com/matthewjdowd/status/941004081392480256).
Thanks Jacqueline, I followed the link, but it did not lead to the stats. Nor did a search turn them up, if this is true, it is important information.
Yes! Yes! Yes! And another issue that we need to address now is gerrymandering and the way that it makes it impossible for Democratic voters, and especially Black women voters, to have those for whom they vote to actually be elected.
I’ve tried to post a comment yesterday and again today and it’s now shown up. I can only make a reply to another comment. Any idea what that’s about?
I’ve tried to post to this blog by Carol Christ twice now and neither time did it show up.
So sorry Karen, I have had that happen to me too once or twice. Since your posts about not being able to post are posting, maybe you can repost the originals now too.
I checked out spam folder and found your comment there. I am not sure why it went there, but I’ve marked it now as “not spam” and it is visible below. Thanks for letting us know, and thank you for your engagement!
Thanks – well they say the third time is the charm, eh? This is the third version of my comments – and probably the most tame :)
I also think it’s vital we fight this voter suppression being conducted by the GOP to insure African Americans, the poor, elderly and students have their voices heard. (If the vote counting is honest is another story!) However, as a woman who spent the first 30 years of her life in the Bible Belt of the South I realize now that I’m out I never heard a voice/option competing with the racist, sexist, homophobic voices. It was all normal. So, while these older white women (and men) may be lost causes, we must have a megaphone to reach those who are moderate, young, and open minded to start changing the narrative. We can’t give up on this part of the country or these people. They say if one hears something 9 times it begins to sink in. Look at the success of Fox News with promoting narratives….we just don’t have an equal to that megaphone and I think its by design.
Further, I’m disillusioned and disappointed (and that’s putting it mildly) that the Democrats continue to bring a covered dish to a knife fight. They can’t continue to only be vocal on social issues and let economics/social safety net be destroyed. The corporatist Democrats, the neoliberals, have been feeding us the crumbs of incrementalism for decades and here we are dying of corporate exploitation while the Democrats don’t have much of a message except they aren’t Trump. Why is Bernie (and sometimes Elizabeth Warren) the only people out there fighting for us? Imagine if the majority of Democrats were fighting for us instead of laying low and under the radar! Could it be our liberal elites are too busy catering to their corporate masters to serve the people? We have to stand up and fight this and not just continue to accept it as business as usual – and we have to admit its happening and not bury our heads in the sand.
Coming full circle ……Why don’t we hear Democrats talking about how we need something akin to Fox News for the Left – or just unbiased sources, to explain how things have gotten the way they are and how to fix them? We’ve been too complacent with the Democrats in office and have let them blame the Republicans for too long. They’ve become DINOs – Democrats in name only. If Democrats would make a real investment in capturing these people they lost decades ago with progressive policies that help workers, like FDR policies, these people might be swayed – especially when they see how Trump is going to abandon them.
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Well said! Democrats need to stand up against corporate interests and may I add the war machine and the military industrial complex. Will they? You and I must keep insisting they do just that.
Karen, I like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell. They do a good job of presenting the liberal side, I think.
I too watch Lawrence, Rachel,and Chris Hayes, as well as Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, and Stephen Colbert.
Yes! And can we please not abandon reproductive rights as the attempt to expand the Democratic base?
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This should be a make or break issue for running as a Democrat. If someone doesn’t want to have an abortion, fine, but if he or she wants to take away women’s right to choose, then they should not be given any support of any kind by Democrats.
The Democratic base is expanding as old white sexist racist bigots die off, and it will expand even more if progressive values become the Democrat norm. Mark my words!