53% of white women…who showed up to the polls…

About that oft-cited statistic in progressive discourse that “53% of white women voted for Trump”? I don’t like it. 53% of white women did not vote for Trump. 53% of white women, of those who bothered to show up to the polls, voted for Trump.

It’s not that I object to calling out white women for letting Trumpty Numpty squat in the White House. Of course we should be called out. My objection is that the 53% statistic is burying the lede. I have a very, very hard time believing that any non-trivial number of American white women voted for Obama in 2012 and then voted for Trump in 2016. The problem is more in those who didn’t vote at all in 2016.

(For the purposes of this argument, voting for third-party candidates is the same thing as not voting at all. If you could’ve voted for Hillary, and didn’t, you’re part of the problem.)

The rhetorical distinction matters because there are so fucking many progressive Americans who go around thinking inaction equals blamelessness. So they hear the “53% of white women voted for Trump” line and they think it isn’t about them because they voted for no one. Bullshit. The problem is in the number of progressive Americans who were eligible to vote in 2016 and did not vote for Hillary. Whether they voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or wrote in the name of whatever inconsequential no-name putz Susan Sarandon told them to, or just stayed home and didn’t vote at all, that’s the number we should be talking about.

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