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Professor: Liberals must take partial responsibility for Trump presidency

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles reporting on the American Studies Association’s annual meeting, an academic conference held Nov. 9-12 in Chicago.

CHICAGO – The popular #NotMyPresident campaign allows liberals to excuse themselves of any responsibility for their role in the election of Donald Trump, a Grand Valley State University professor suggested at a recent academic conference.

Jae Basiliere, assistant professor of women, gender and Sexuality Studies, said the campaign lets liberals blame others — mostly notably rural America — without looking inward.

While Basiliere emphasized that she believes sexism and racism played a huge role in electing Trump, she said liberals as a whole have seemed to have brushed aside rural America and not taken seriously the need to hone their talking points and engage in constructive dialogue.

“To make a world where Trump is really not our president, we need to train our students to make nuanced arguments, teach them to communicate productively and civilly with people who hold competing ideologies and encourage them to work toward a world where racism, sexism and xenophobia do not hold enough power to manipulate a presidential election,” Basiliere said.

Speaking as part of a panel titled “WTF Rural America? Geography. Culpability. Trump.,” Basiliere pushed back against the political narrative that poor, conservative, uneducated rural voters alone are responsible for Trump’s rise to power.

“The issue here is the ease in which ‘Not My President’ allows scared liberals to disavow any cultural responsibility for the conditions that made Trump’s platform so appealing,” Basiliere said at the American Studies Association’s annual conference, recently held in Chicago and themed around “pedagogies of dissent.”

The scholar said the “Not My President” campaign has garnered acclaim because it is “an escape into a fantasy world where Donald Trump is really not our president.”

“I don’t like it,” Basiliere said. “I can work to resist it everyday, but Donald Trump is absolutely my president.”

“As a white, liberal, excessively educated voter, to say anything but is to disavow my role in creating a world in which a platform based on exclusion had such a broad appeal,” added the professor, speaking in a venue coincidentally located near Chicago’s Trump Tower.

Basiliere’s comments about the anti-Trump campaign came during a presentation that provided a broad look at how commentators have analysed rural voters during and after last year’s presidential election and framed a rural-urban divide.

Basiliere argued media coverage has often summed up Trump’s electoral success as “a contrast between his conservative, uneducated rural base and his liberal, urban, educated critics,” drawing attention to headlines like “Why Rural America Voted for Trump” and a media graphic that broke down how counties with either a Cracker Barrel or Whole Foods voted in the 2016 presidential election.

But Basiliere asserted the rural vote alone cannot determine the outcome of a presidential election. She said media coverage that depicts this contrast risks stereotyping rural Americans as backward and uneducated and “serves to absolve urban liberal voters of any responsibility for Trump’s presidency.”

“Rural America is not the problem here. The problem is an environment that makes racism, xenophobia and sexism palatable to more than 50 percent of white voters. This is really why I find ‘Not My President’ so objectionable,” the professor said.

Basiliere continued: “To disavow responsibility for Donald Trump’s presidency is to disavow the reality that racism and sexism remain so deeply embedded in our cultural imagination that they swing presidential elections.”

In the classroom, Basiliere warned against writing off conservative students because of their political beliefs. She said if such students sense hostility from their professors, they won’t meet the instructors halfway. Basiliere also said professors should allow space for students frustrated and scared by the current political moment.

With the rise of social media and constant access to information, Basiliere said students are especially prone to be influenced by their social circles and unable to put aside those biases in the classroom. She said if professors really want to get rid of Trump, they must help students get to a point where they interact with the other side without simply ostracizing them.

MORE: Johns Hopkins prof — Trump won election by ‘invoking the history of white supremacy’

IMAGE: Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Nathan Rubbelke is a staff reporter for The College Fix with a specialty on investigative and enterprise reporting. He has also held editorial positions at The Commercial Review daily newspaper in Portland, Indiana, as well as at The Washington Examiner, Red Alert Politics and St. Louis Public Radio. Rubbelke graduated from Saint Louis University, where he majored in political science and sociology.

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  • KeenIncite

    “The problem is an environment that makes racism, xenophobia and sexism palatable to more than 50 percent of white voters.”

    OR, maybe 50% of white voters reject your definition of racism, xenophobia and sexism and resent you labeling them these epithets. You’ll have to come much further than merely not “writing off conservative students because of their political beliefs,” you’ll have to repent completely of your Identity Politics.

  • Tom

    Liberals can’t even help themselves. The professor acts as a condescending twit, while imploring other liberals to stop acting like condescending twits. By pretending that Trump voters are a bunch of backwards racists and sexists that were motivated by nothing by bigotry is a convenient way of ignoring the real reasons that Trump were elected. Namely, he had a better platform and the democrat party is batsh*t insane. I beg them to keep talking down to us- it will make our lives easier in 2020.

  • Robbins Mitchell

    Well,I have it on good authority that Rodham has never had sex with a black man (or woman) in her life….so it’s obvious she has a racist pu$$y between her legs….and the Democrats have only themselves to blame for rigging the primary process and nominating her in the first place

  • Fyrex

    Whaaaaaaat? You mean attacking and demonizing everyone that has different ideas from you isn’t a good thing and has the effect of people getting defensive and/or pushing them away or further entrenched.

    Say it isn’t so. Man thank god someone said it because simple common sense would have never figured that one out.

  • Hughlon Thornbury

    Oh wow, ANOTHER one of these Sheldon Cooper confabs where “excessively educated” cloud dwelling elitist nitwits spend days and hours denigrating and demonizing the American working class, those with a GED, HS or community college education who make, service and repair everything these a-holes can’t do for themselves.

    I am in my third labor union and I am a Libertarian who voted for Trump. These social class bigots are not friends of the very people who make up labor unions; the blue collar working class. They hate us, but they need us. They can’t change the oil in their own car, fix their own plumbing, install their own cable TV, repair their own roof or fix their own laptops, cellphones or desktops. They need us to cook and serve them food at fast food chains and restaurants, then clean the tables and wash the dishes, keep store deliveries moving and shelves stocked, keep city services working, traffic flowing, and make sure the equipment and services at the clinics and hospitals work and the surgical drapes and the sheets are clean. They need us to answer that 911 call and respond when they are in danger, their place is on fire, their buddy has overdosed, when they need that organ transplant or five units of A- blood

    In the end, after their wasted lives of vilifying and marginalizing the working class, they will need us when it comes time for that final burial or cremation. We take care of that equipment too. We make the urns and caskets. We dig the graves and tend the cemeteries and mausoleums. In the end, it is they who will need us. It may sound mean to say, but maybe we should look forward to seeing them.

  • dislikedisqus

    Bright guy. No doubt he’ll be derogated for being white and male

  • creativeusernamehere

    He still doesn’t get it. The regressive left is out of control.