4 | Religion
Religious affiliation in the USA (2014)—Pew Research Center Data
% of U.S. population
Nothing in particular
Other Non-Christian faiths
Don't know/refused answer
Map of the Largest Religious Groups in the Different States
One factor that was particularly overlooked by the Republican campaign in the 2016 US. Presidential race for the White House was the force of sectarianism. Most of the pundits, newsmen, newswomen and scholars who skimped when it came to talking about the influence of religion in the campaigns could be excused for their oversight because religion never played a major role in past elections, and because all the candidates were from the mainstream Christian denominations. Except for the 2012 Republican Party nominee Mitch Romney who was a Mormon, it was always business as usual. In fact, the media always dwelled on the long-held mantra of Evangelicals and most Protestants voting Republicans, and Catholics voting Democrats. But it turned out not to be the case in the 2016 Presidential Election. Donald Trump the Lutheran courted Catholics with an uncommon zeal that many pundits noticed but only a few dwelled on. Perhaps his mother’s Scottish/Free Church of Scotland/Catholic background had something to do with it. All the same, he won their votes. And he won them big in the states that mattered the most in the election—the Rustbelt states. The statistics below bares all the facts.
Votes by Religion
Donald trump’s earnest serenading of Catholics became glaring during the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner—an annual charity event that has long been a bastion of civility in an otherwise partisan political world. When he remarked to the participants gathered there that “Here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics,” it might have been construed by some of the targeted audiences there that night as a passing comment aimed at Hillary Clinton, coming from a man regarded by some as a loose cannon. But the curious thing is that the pronouncement from the then Republican Party’s presidential nominee drew jeers from some of those attending this traditionally lighthearted event. In fact, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the redoubtable archbishop of New York, showed visible signs of unease about the comment. It is hard to imagine that he did not wonder at the time whether his assertion four years ago, that “The purpose of the Al Smith Dinner is to show both our country and our Church at their best”, made sense that night. But he looked relaxed after Donald Trump became gracious with his subsequent remarks, and especially after Hillary Clinton took the rostrum and threw back some light-hearted jabs at her Republican rival. One can say that despite the moments of discomfort experienced by some of the participants, the night ended well for all.
As a matter of fact, nobody is harboring any thoughts of seeing the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation cease its longstanding election-year tradition of inviting the presidential candidates of the Republican and the Democratic parties to the white-tie gala, where they would have the opportunity to rub shoulders with other famous and celebrated figures, give their lighthearted speeches, and tease one another and themselves in a good-natured way in the spirit of Alfred E. Smith, the former governor of New York and the first Catholic presidential nominee in the history of the United States of America.
As we look back at that night in a candid manner, it becomes obvious from the comment the Lutheran/Catholic Donald Trump made that he was reminding Catholic voters he was one of their own, an underdog running against a non-Catholic Hillary Clinton of the United Methodist Church. If not, then what explanation can one give when we know that Lutherans and United Methodists are members of the Mainline Protestant group. Or perhaps he was making a point for his running mate Michael Richard "Mike" Pence who considers himself an Evangelical Catholic, meaning he is a conservative Catholic. And perhaps he thought that the liberal crowd there that night might back Hillary Clinton’s running mate Timothy Michael "Tim" Kaine, who is a known progressive Catholic with an old-school, social-justice, Jesuit-trained Catholicism that is more appealing to the voting population in the center of American politics, the group otherwise known as Moderates. If Tim Kaine, was the target, then it also worked because the majority of moderates in the USA voted for Donald Trump.
The Republican Party nominee had every reason to be concerned. The Democratic Party won the majority of Catholic votes in past Presidential Elections, except for the 2004 Presidential Election when John Forbes Kerry, the Democratic Presidential nominee, lost the Catholic vote to the Methodist George W. Bush. Some pundits have attributed Kerry’s 2004 loss of the Catholic vote to the Jewish faith of his running mate Joseph Isadore "Joe" Lieberman. To prove to sceptics that the Republican win in 2004 was not a fluke, the Trump campaign decided not to take any chances this time. So, the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner became the occasion to use to transform the split of Catholic votes between Republicans and Democrats in the 2012 Presidential Election into a win of the Catholic vote for Republicans in 2016. And since Donald Trump believed he would have the election if many Catholics who voted for the Democratic presidential candidate and incumbent Barack Obama in the last elections changed their minds this time and vote for him, just as they would have voted for Alfred E. Smith, the disingenuous remark that Hillary Clinton hated Catholics, turned out to be well orchestrated. This gimmick certainly swayed many Catholic voters that were inclined towards the Democratic Party in the past, to vote for Donald Trump, a factor that contributed in a major way to his victory in Catholic-majority states like Florida and in some of the Catholic-dominated states of the Great Lakes (Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin) region.
Donald Trump’s win of the Catholic vote has set the base for an uneasy alliance between Lutherans, Catholics, and Evangelicals in the Rustbelt and the Southeast (the first and second most popular Christian religious denominations there), especially now that the three denominations agree on many issues. And since mainstream Evangelicalism is strongest in most of the southern states that have always voted Republican, a partnership between Evangelical and Catholic and other Mainline Protestant voters that made Republicans victorious in the wavering southern state of North Carolina where Catholicism is the leading denomination, will make the state permanently Republican in many future Presidential Elections. In fact, this unwritten alliance of the three may even see Virginia turning redder in future presidential elections.
Weekly church attendance by state in 2014
The Trump campaign also counted on the fact that those states with high weekly church attendance where the denominations that dominate vote the candidates identifying with the dominant denominations, would work in their favor since weekly church attendance rates are highest among Conservatives than among Moderates and Liberals. And as has always been the case, most Conservatives vote Republican. That is why it came as no surprise that the predictions made from the data below on weekly church attendance correlate with the results of past elections, especially the recent 2016 vote.
In short, statistics have been consistent in showing us that states where Evangelical Protestants, Conservative Catholics, and Conservative Mainline Protestants dominate, and where weekly church attendance are high, rarely failed to vote Republican. And since Evangelicals and Catholics are the fastest growing denominations in the country, the votes of this set of Christian faithful will be highly coveted and courted by both the Republican and the Democratic parties in future elections.
Race played a major role in the 2016 Presidential Election. Right up to the closing days of the election campaign, most Americans thought Donald Trump was convinced the United State of America’s first black president Barack Obama was not born in the country. In fact, many Americans believed Donald Trump’s remarks about blacks, Hispanics, Arabs and Muslims were racial or had racial undertones in them. So, when he turned around days before election day and declared that Barack Obama was born in the USA, and then went further by asking the population to put the matter to rest once and for all, many people were shocked. They had to be because he had been jabbing the president for years, questioning the legality of him running for the office of president of the United States of America when he “was not American-born”.
When people from all of the afore-mentioned racial groups Donald Trump had said things about that the mainstream considered racial, defied the media and then came out and defended him against those who called him a racist, even some of his detractors were forced to think that something about his character more than meets the eye. However, even if we rise above the controversies, one thing we cannot close our eyes to is the fact that the president-elect’s politically incorrect statements regarding some of America’s minorities created the platform on which he ran his campaign. Yes, Donald J. Trump ran his campaign on the back of White America. Not on mainstream White America that the political establishment had been dealing with over the past decades in a comfortable manner, but on the other half of White America that for years considered itself on the fringes of American politics.
So, the question looms:
· What are the salient aspects of this half of White America that made it possible for Donald Trump to win the 2016 Presidential Election?
To find a better balance between a short but explicit answer to this question and a detailed and insightful reply, I shall begin with the harmonization of different analysis. The media, political pundits, and even the general population analyzed and made predictions on the results of past elections based on the simplified categorization of race as most of us know it today. In fact, the consensus virtually eliminated nuances. Why that is so in a rapidly integrating world where interracial marriages are no longer uncommon, it is difficult to explain.
The citizens of the United States of America are racially classified today as either White, Hispanic, African, Asian, American, Native-American or American/Pacific/Eskimos. Somebody from South Africa looking at the racial makeup of the USA would think that there are no mixed-race Americans or colored people of the country.
The biggest oversimplification in this grouping of Americans has been the white vote. It stems from the fact that ethnicity is often overlooked or ignored when it comes to White Americans. Statements like “I am Irish”, “I am Scottish”, “I am German”, “I am English”, “I am Russian”, “I am Polish”, “I am Italian” are common among White Americans, often indicating a combination or combinations of the different European origin nationalities. But they are downplayed by statisticians during elections who prefer not to delve deeper and find out the influence voters’ ethnic roots have in their choice of candidates during elections. Analysts have always found it convenient to base their predictions on White America by judging this group as a single solid block that makes decisions on how to vote and who to vote for based on standard factors like the economy, immigration, religion, foreign policy and other social concerns. As Steven Seidman, a sociologist and currently a professor at State University of New York at Albany said:
“Whites are most commonly unaware of their privilege and the way their culture has always been dominant in the US, as they do not identify as members of a specific racial group but rather incorrectly perceive their views and culture as "raceless", when in fact it is ethno-national (ethnic/cultural) specific, with a racial base component.”
Language Families in Europe: Green is Germanic (Teutonic), Purple is Romance (Latin), and Red is Slavic.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the ethno-linguistic origin of most Caucasoid or White Americans could be traced to a Europe with an ethnolinguistic map that looked like the one above and below.
Ethno-linguistic map of Europe in 1920
While the racial definition of White in the United States of America elicits muddled responses from a fair percentage of young White Americans, many of whom even think the group is indigenous in the USA, the special status the group reserves for itself has not diminished much over the years.
White Americans (non-Hispanic and Hispanic) accounted for up to 75% of the American population in 2008. Among the White American population, those with German roots constitute the largest ancestry ties or ethnic group or nationality, followed by Irish Americans and English Americans. In the 1980 census, 49,598,035 Americans cited English as their ancestry, making them 26% of the population of the country’s white population and the largest ethnic or national group at the time. In fact, the English American population back then was even larger than the population of England itself. But then, twenty years later, slightly more than half of English Americans would cite their ancestry as "American", a phenomenon that has only increased on subsequent censuses. In fact, virtually everywhere that "American" ancestry dominates on the 2000 census corresponds to places where "English" Americans predominated on the 1980 census. This is a clear indication of the fact that there is a more “Native Mindset” among English Americans than among other groups of White Americans.
White Americans (Hispanic and non-Hispanic) are projected to remain the majority, though their percentage is going to decrease to 72% of the total population by 2050. However, projections state that non-Hispanic White Americans of that group will become less than 50% of the population of the USA by 2042 mainly because Non-Hispanic White Americans have the lowest fertility rate of any major racial group in the country. This low birth rate among White Americans is compounded by the mass-immigration of other ethnic groups with higher birth rates, and the high rate of intermarriage this non-Hispanic White group with Hispanic White Americans.
less than 50 %
50 - 60 %
60 - 70 %
70 - 80 %
80 - 90 %
more than 90 %
Population-wise, Americans of English origin are the largest ethno-national group among White Americans since they numbered 49,598,035 in 1980, compared with 49,224,146 Americans of German origin, 40,165,702 of Irish origin, and 12,183,692 of Italian origin.
However, the decrease in the number of White Americans of English origin from 49,598,035 in 1980 to 24,382,182 in 2014 is due to the fact that more and more English Americans are choosing to identify themselves simply as Americans. Expanding on the explanation made before, it is obvious that the “Native Mindset” is becoming more fashionable in a rapidly integrating America, and English Americans are leading this growing trend of US. Citizens who were born and raised in the country identifying themselves simply as “Americans”, unlike their parents and ancestors before them. This contrasts with many of the other European American ethnicities.
Today we have the leading ethnic groups among White Americans being German Americans (14.4%), Irish Americans (10.4%), English Americans (7.6%) and Italian Americans (5.4%).
· Where did this “Native Mindset” come from?
· How did it shape the political thinking in America?
· And how did it influnce the 2016 Presidential Election?
Well over ten million White Americans can trace part of their ancestry back to the Pilgrims (religious congregations of Brownest English Dissenters who had fled the volatile political environment in England for the relative calm and tolerance of 16th–17th century Holland, in the Netherlands) who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620. These Calvinists along with the descendants of the Puritans (a group of English Reformed Protestants who sought to "purify" the Church of England from its "Catholic" practices in the 16th and 17th centuries) who left England for America, form the core of English Americans and what plainly is known today as “Americans”. The two groups from England are the core of what became known as WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant), which forms the majority and the cream of the political class in the USA since its founding on July 4, 1776. In fact, Americans of English origin abound in both the Republican and the Democratic Parties and constitute the nucleus of what is considered the elites of the political establishment. Besides Martin Van Buren of Dutch origin, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a legend of Irish descent who served as the 35th President of the United States of America from January 20, 1961–November 22, 1963, all past US. presidents have either been full-blooded or mix-blooded English Americans.
There are muted talks of a sense of entitlement among Anglo-Saxon Americans and of a feeling among some of them that other White American groups are a threat to their status. Anglo-Saxon bashers even claim that this sense of entitlement among Americans of English origin is centuries old. In fact, in the eighteenth century, Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s iconic founding fathers, warned some of the other founding fathers about the threat to the status quo posed by German immigrants whom he thought were overrunning America. In this insightful piece attributed to Benjamin Franklin, he wrote:
Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion?
24. Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionately very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the newcomers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians, and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind.
While the racial definition of White in the United States of America elicits muddled responses from a fair percentage of young White Americans, many of whom even think the group is indigenous in the USA, the special status the group reserves for itself has not diminished much over the years.
Benjamin Franklin would have been appalled by Donald Trump’s win were he alive today. When confronted with the reality that the Republican president-elect is of German roots from his father’s side and of Scottish roots from his mother’s side, ethnic groups or nationalities that Anglo-Saxons looked down on in the past, Benjamin Franklin would not have been spared of the negative feelings harbored by those who still think Anglo-Saxons are a special or exceptional people. After all, back then, being a pure Anglo-Saxon automatically established someone as an accepted member of America’s ruling class. It has been so ever since, but the potency of that inheritance has greatly diminished to the point where “Anglo-Saxon Sacredness” is now an imaginary construct. This is particularly so since the number of Anglo-Saxons keep shrinking from intermarriage, loss of Anglo-Saxon consciousness (Americanism) and the indefensibility of the idea of Anglo-Saxon exclusiveness.
Plurality ancestry in each state, ranging from 11.8% (FL) to 43.9 % (ND). German American Mexican Irish African Italian English Japanese Puerto Rican
Donald Trump counted enormously on the backing of America’s largest or second largest white group (German Americans) that never commanded political power, got scarred by the horrors of Nazism and German atrocities during the Second World War, and chose to play a subdued role in America’s political life. He also counted on Scottish Americans (the fifth largest White American group that was 10 million strong in 1980, but that is now registered as a group made up of 5,365,154 living souls). These two groups voted overwhelmingly for him.
Slavic Americans supported Donald Trump too. After all, his first wife, as well as his third wife, are Slavic (Ivanna hails from the Western Slavic country of Czechoslovakia and Melania is from the small Southern Slavic country of Slovenia). It is not a secret at all that Slavs (the largest Indo-European ethno-linguistic group in Europe) have a peculiar solidarity uncommon among many other European ethno-linguistic groups. Numbering some 18–18.5 million (6% of the population of the USA and close to 10% of the white population), Americans of Slavic origin, of which ethnic Russians are the majority, are increasingly becoming a powerful factor to reckon with in American politics. And since most Americans with Slavic roots do not view Russia and its President Vladimir Putin as an enemy or a threat to the United States of America, with the exception of Polish Americans, it is understandable why Donald Trump’s peaceful overture to Russia was well-received by Slavic American voters, who unlike most other ethno-linguistic groups in the USA, thought the anti-Russian and anti-Putin messages streaming out of the mainstream media and flooding the internet stemmed more from hysteria than from anything else.
Some Slav rubbed off Donald Trump, some of his Slavic supporters say. Why not? Others would ask. Well, perhaps the president-elect understands Slavs and Slavic Americans better than most of the Anglo-Saxon elites and the other Anglophiles of the political establishment. After all, through marriage and the children that came out of those marriages, he has every reason to cherish his ties to Slavs and the Slavic world of which Russia is the big brother.
It is tempting to think that most Americans do not understand Europe’s ethno-linguistic composition, and that very few of them pay attention to the subtle influences it has among White Americans today. It is even more tempting to think that an even smaller number of the consultants in both the Trump and Clinton campaign teams imagined Donald Trump’s Scottish side would increase his political leverage the way it did. But it did play an outsized role not only among Americans of full or partial Scottish origin, but also among Irish, Welsh and even Breton Americans, who like the Scots are Celtic, and who like them also, treasure their common Celtic origin. Americans of Celtic roots who in many ways are outsiders when it comes to the core of the American political establishment played a formidable role in the Midwest in tilting the Electoral vote towards Donald Trump’s favor, and their collective position on any issue will henceforth be taken seriously by the political establishment.
It is obvious that the Celtic factor is the principal reason why so many predictions made by renowned individuals and institutions of the past went awry, leaving the media and political pundits scratching their heads in puzzlement after election day. The majority of Celtic Americans who also happen to be overwhelmingly Catholic, undoubtedly found “one of their own” in Donald Trump, and so gave his campaign a special flavor, and then voted for him accordingly.
And by consciously tapping Catholic solidarity that is strong among Italians, Scottish Americans, Welsh Americans and Irish Americans, Donald Trump combined religion and ethnicity in an effective manner to garner far more the support from White America’s minorities than previous Republican presidential candidates ever got from these minorities, thereby making this election in its simplified form as a battle between the Anglo-Saxon White Americans and their associates who have been dominating the political establishment versus the majority non-Anglo-Saxon White Americans who could be considered a disgruntled lot that think they have been left out for too long in the cold of America’s political life.
The above explanations among other things make it unsurprising that Donald Trump successfully neutralized the Hillary Clinton campaign in the previously Democratic-leaning States of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania—states where German Americans are the majority of the population of White Americans. It is here that an unconscious alliance emerged between German Americans that are the most populous in this area and Americans of Slavic and Celtic roots.
The political establishment dominated by politicians of Anglo-Saxon roots, an establishment whose core are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party elites that secretly or openly supported Hillary Clinton, ended up getting most of their white votes from Anglo-Saxon Americans, White Latino-Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, Native Americans and other minorities. In a nutshell, ancestry or the ethno-linguistic roots of voters played a significant role or counted a lot in the choice of candidate to vote for in the 2016 Presidential Election. That many of those who were conscious of their roots contributed enormously to Donald Trump’s electoral victory, especially in America’s Midwestern States dominated by the Rustbelt, says a lot and gives pundits more reason to delve deeper into this factor in future Presidential Elections.
Ancestral Roots of White Americans
United States total
Donald Trump’s signature notes on immigration during the campaign were the building of a border wall or fence between Mexico and the USA to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and contraband, as well as putting a ban on Muslims. And of course, these populist promises are now new in America. Drawing from the words attributed to Benjamin Franklin concerning the non-conformist or alien nature of the German immigrants in his day, and drawing as well from the words and actions of other politicians who came after him down the centuries and decades, words highlighting their discomfort with the “Others”, meaning the new immigrant groups that had not yet assimilated into the “American Way of Life”, we can conclude that America is a country with a very strong “Nativist Tradition”.
The United States of America is a country of immigrants all right, but it is a country that got molded during its entire history to reflect the notion that those American citizens who were born in the USA, raised here or who have their ancestral roots here in America (Amerindians, Eskimos etc.) are “not immigrants”, even if part(s) of their ethnic roots are out of the country.
This Nativist Tradition may be viewed as discriminatory, but it comes with a positive side in the sense that the descendants of American citizens of immigrant background automatically become American nativists themselves. This can be seen in the case of Irish Americans today, a people whose history in America is highlighted by the ripple effect of “The Great Famine” or the “Great Hunger” that arose from the potato blight that hit Ireland in 1845-1852, causing mass starvation and disease, and sparking off an unprecedented emigration that saw the United States of America receiving most of these impoverished and starving Irish men, women, and children into the new country, a flood that was initially met with resentment from the other established American populations of European roots. Polish Americans, Italian Americans and Jewish Americans also faced some degree of pushback from the other European ethno-linguistic groups who were already calling America their fatherland and harbored the “Nativist Mindset”. However, the quick assimilation of the new immigrant populations into the American way of life made them nativists in no time, so that today, they constitute firm features of the American socio-cultural, economic and political landscape.
Rate of immigration to the United States relative to the population size of the sending country, 2006–2010
Share of the Foreign-Born Population
Number of foreign-born
Country of birth of foreign born population of the United States of America in 2013 (U.S. Census Bureau) and number of immigrants between 1986 and 2012 by country of birth
Countries included in the table exceed 50,000 in either category.
Country of birth
Total foreign born
Note: Counts of immigrants since 1986 for Russia includes "Soviet Union (former)", and for Czech Republic includes "Czechoslovakia (former)"
So, it is not surprising that the picture presented by some of the extremists or right-wing groups that supported Donald Trump was of an America and Americans being overwhelmed by increasing immigrant populations of Muslims, Chinese, Hispanics (Mexicans), etc. so that the country is being taken away from “Real Americans” or the nativists. What most liberals, moderates, and even some conservatives find surprising about the manifestations of these anti-immigrant groups is their audacity in unabashedly peddling their preconceived notions that have no place in the twenty-first century world that is rapidly globalizing.
Another curious thing about the whole melodrama is the fact that the overwhelming majority of those who consider themselves “Real Americans” are mostly White Americans, a fair percentage of whom have extreme views on race, immigration, and religion. Though Donald Trump never echoed their extreme sentiments, the white nationalist groups that supported him during the election campaigns did not hide their worries that unchecked immigration would make the non-Hispanic white population a minority in the United States of America a few decades down the road. This is an impending reality anyway as non-Hispanic White Americans intermarry with other races, and as birthrates and fertility rates of non-Hispanic White Americans drop, especially in the northeastern and southeastern states of the country. The anti-Trump mainstream media used the fact that immigration is speeding up the proportionate decline of White Americans in the demography of the country to court the immigrant vote and to further explain the generalized anger at almost everything that has been coming from mostly White males. Irrespective of how the anger of these White males is described, one thing for sure is that the Anglo-Saxon-dominated political establishment is the focal point of their anger.
Donald Trump may have tapped the worry of the demographic decline of White Americans, not by being forthright in pointing out the disadvantages, threats or setbacks that this racial group will encounter in the future because of the decline of their share of the US. population, but by attributing certain negative behaviors to the so-called threatening groups among America’s minorities―Mexicans being involved in crime and rape, Chinese undermining America’s economy etc. are some of the examples of the passions he stirred with his negative attributes. Nasty as some of the comments about these groups were, those vulnerable to hate and fear took his words to heart and supported him even more. Why he won, especially on the immigration factor, was because his gains from his immigration rhetoric offset the loss of the immigrant vote.
Yes, Donald Trump’s strong stance on immigration was a natural turn off for most immigrant communities, especially Hispanics who are America’s fastest growing demographic group. While his message resonated with a few Hispanics, it sounded threatening to the majority, especially the illegal immigrants or families whose loved ones are not legal or are unlikely to regularize their stay in the USA. Numbering about 57 million, America’s fastest-growing demographic group took less than 20 years to double its population from 22 million in 1990 to 50 million in 2010, a feat seen only in the fastest growing population centers (countries) of the world, which are mostly in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. However, most of the Hispanic vote, especially the Mexican vote, dominates in the states bordering Mexico. It is also good to remember that Hispanics have traditionally supported the Democratic party. After all, most Hispanics happen to be Catholics and Catholics traditionally voted the Democratic Party until this election. Why Catholics related to Donald Trump based on religion in this election, can be further explained by other related factors.
One place that stood out for its peculiarity was Florida. Here, Hispanics make up 22.5% of the state’s population of 20 million. The largest groups among the Hispanic population are 6.5% (1,213,438) Cuban, 4.5% (847,550) Puerto Rican, 3.3% (629,718) Mexican, and 1.6% (300,414) Colombian. Donald Trump’s promise to abrogate the peace agreement the Obama administration worked out with the Castro government of Cuba, a government loathed by most of Florida’s Cuban Americans and their descendants who consider themselves exiles of Marxist Cuba, is something appealing to Cuban Americans. It was this electoral pledge that contributed enormously to Donald Trump’s high performance among voters from the Cuban community, who gave him far more votes than what previous Republican candidates received in past elections.
The Size and Share of the Immigrant Population in the USA (U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 and 2014 American Community Surveys (ACS))
Donald Trump’s message of “Making America Great Again” and his promise to bring jobs and manufacturing back to America resonated well in States that lost jobs during the past decades and that saw their manufacturing base shrink not as a result of natural means (increasing unemployment due to companies that folded or shredded workers), but because of conscious business decisions made by the executives of those large corporations who moved parts, most or all of their manufacturing abroad as a result of strategic decisions made by management to cut the cost of production, increase revenue and the profit margin of their companies, and secure foreign markets and/or increase their market share in the foreign countries.
Some of the major consequences of these transfer of jobs abroad owing to the globalization trend that is characterized by fair trade, have been a shrinking middle class in the affected states, the decline in unionization and membership in trade unions, population decline, and high unemployment in those states that saw their jobs transferred abroad. However, it is the high level of unemployment with its attendant problems of alcoholism, drug abuse, crime and disease in the former manufacturing areas and in those states that witnessed deindustrialization, that fuels the grievances of these affected Americans who feel like the rug has been pulled from under their feet, and are therefore resentful of their fallen status. China, which benefitted more than any other country from this job and technology transfers, is today the world’s leading manufacturing country. This US-led Western transfer of capital and manufacturing to the quasi-Communist Asian giant ended up benefitting China, the Chinese people, and the top 1% of America and the rest of the Western World, but it failed to improve the wellbeing of the common folk of the industrialized countries of the West, especially the middle class of these countries.
This deindustrialization in the USA, coupled with the flood of goods from China, leave a sour taste in the mouths of underprivileged Americans, especially the former industrial workers and their families in these former manufacturing areas. This phenomenon is felt most acutely in the Rustbelt where the people are deeply convinced that the principal concerns of the political establishment and the past US. governments are the interests and welfare of the elites of the country who see globalization as the best way for them to increase their wealth multiple fold.
Growth of GDP and Household Income
The decline in Household Income in the USA over the years, even during the periods of slow and rapid growths in GDP, illustrates this decline of the middle class.
It is not only the states of the Rustbelt that are hurting from the effects of a disappearing middle class, a tragedy that many pundits blame on the path of globalization begun under the presidency of Bill Clinton in the 1990s, which is characterized by a series of trade agreements that he promoted, which ushered in a new era of international trade and investment, aided by information technology, in a process of interaction and integration among the peoples, companies and governments of the trading countries of the world.
December 8, 1993, is remembered as the day Bill Clinton, the then President of the United States of America with hardly even two years of experience in office, ratified the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement—an agreement signed by the USA, Canada and Mexico, creating a trilateral trade bloc in the North American continent) bill, and then stated that “NAFTA means jobs, American jobs, and good-paying American jobs.”
NAFTA went into effect on January 1, 1994, and many of its opponents and even sceptics at the time are apt to say that America’s manufacturing workforce started shrinking in 1994 as Mexico and Canada became more lucrative places for American manufacturers to cut cost by setting up bases there, producing cheaply, and then shipping the products back to the USA.
However, it is the January 1, 1995 transformation of GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs—a multilateral agreement regulating international trade that was born on January 1, 1948 with objectives among others to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers among trading nations, and to eliminate preferences on a reciprocal and mutually advantageous basis) into the WTO (World Trade Organization—an intergovernmental organization created for the regulation of trade between the participating countries through the provision of a framework for negotiating trade agreements, and a dispute resolution process aimed at enforcing member countries' adherence to WTO agreements) that changed the nature of the relationship between manufacturing in the USA and the globalization drive spearheaded by those with the capital and technology.
The creation of the World Trade Organization made it very easy for American corporations, especially its manufacturing companies, to carry out a far more extensive expansion into China’s opening and rapidly growing market which has even proven to be far more profitable than it was anticipated three decades ago. And these American business entities were not wrong. But they made those profits at the price of losing their long-term competitive advantages to other foreign enterprises. The globalization drive is bringing India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and a host of other countries into the fold of manufacturing nations, thereby increasing the need for America’s industrial workers to improve their skills and focus on high-end manufacturing jobs that are the future of American manufacturing if the country must have an edge over the rising number of cheaper manufacturing nations of the world.
In the USA, advocates of Free Trade and Globalization are apt to say that fair trade among free markets does more than simply enrich America; that it encourages investment and growth; that it enriches all business parties and countries that carry out transactions with one another; that it raises a worldwide demand for American products; that it increases understanding between the different peoples and the different countries of the world; that it helps dispel long-held hatreds; and that it lifts people out of poverty and ignorance. In fact they are apt to peddle the benefits of fair trade as reasons why they supported the building of free-market institutions in Eastern Europe, in Russia and the former Soviet republics, and in other former Marxist states of the world such as Ethiopia, Vietnam, Angola, Cambodia, Cuba; they are apt to use fair trade as a justification for their support of commercial liberalization in China, which is the world’s fastest-growing market today, basing their argument on the postulation that democracy helps make the world safe for commerce, just as commerce helps make the world safe for democracy.
The free trade idea was a US-led Western effort to control manufacturing in China, but it apparently backfired as the Chinese copied most of the technologies the foreign entities transferred to their country, and then went about creating rival manufacturers of their own that besides competing with the rest of the world on legal terms, are equally competing with the Western-owned companies in China, the rest of the world and even in the Western countries. Anti-globalists that have a beef with China’s trade practices accuse it of flooding every country in the world with cheap Chinese products as well as with fake Western-copyrighted products.
Damage Imports do to US. Industrial Production
The ripple effect of these developments is lost opportunities for the millions of American who make a living from their strong elbows by churning out goods in America’s factories. To find out the reasons for the lost opportunities, we would have to answer these unavoidable questions:
· Who is to be blamed for this growing problem?
· When did it all start?
The average American worker, and more especially America’s middle class that is reeling from the negative results of globalization, fails to understand that the process of American export of jobs to countries where the cost of labor is cheap began in the 1980s under the leadership of Ronald Reagan, a Republican president who is today the icon of the Republican Party. It is true Bill Clinton sealed the deal of whatever had been brewing by leading the world in creating NAFTA and WTO. Irrespective of that, it is under the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama that globalization attained its height. So:
Did Bill Clinton truly believe NAFTA and WTO would create more jobs and bring greater prosperity to America?
· Was the 42nd president of the United States of America convinced that the internet would be the greatest instrument to end poverty?
Most pundits would say that his advisers, the leading corporations in America, the media and the financial institutions gave him no reason to think that globalization would not be great for America. So, even if his presidency brought greater economic prosperity to America, the average American blames him for the negative effects that NAFTA and WTO are having on the wellbeing of the American middle class today.
It is also true the Democratic Party under Bill Clinton started moving from the left to the center around the time that NAFTA and WTO were created. However, worthy of particular note is the fact that since he started moving away from what has traditionally been the base of the Democratic Party for decades (the working class made up mostly of White Americans who for generations have been involved with manufacturing, trade unions etc.), the party has never stopped tilting towards the center of American politics. It is understandable then why the victims of this transfer of jobs abroad and of America’s deindustrialization associate Bill Clinton’s presidency and faith in globalization with the loss of American manufacturing prowess, a decline that is the cornerstone of their economic plight today.
By moving the Democratic Party to the center, Bill Clinton made the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt become a party of the professional class. And in a process that had been ongoing since the 1990s, the uneducated and the less educated of the working class have been shifting more and more to the right of American politics, and by default to the Republican Party. And strange as it may sound, what we have today is a switch of poles. In fact, politics in America has been transformed to the point where the elites are the only ones who still believe that the Republican Party stands for less government, big businesses and the rich; and that the Democratic Party stands for the working class etc.
Globalization during the recent decades has produced tectonic movements beneath the surface not only of American politics, but also of the politics of other countries of the world that became major partners with one another in the globalization drive led by the United States of America. And it is not only in America that the gains of this globalization have been going to the top instead of to everybody, which was the stated intention for the creation of NAFTA and WTO in the first place. While globalization swelled the ranks of the middle class in the rest of the world, especially China, it not only shrank the ranks of the middle class in the USA, it also increased the ranks of the lower class.
The deindustrialization or transfer of jobs abroad affected the different states of the union in varying ways. But the one thing these different states share in common is the fact that globalization resulted in industries with low domestic production to demand ratios, due to the profitability of imports. In fact, in 2015, imports adversely affected three distinct categories of industries in the USA:
(i) Those industries that had suffered a major drop in domestic production to domestic demand ratio over a short period. These were mostly the furniture, computer and electronics, and electrical equipment and parts. The USA's domestic production of computer and electronics met only 61% of the demand in 2015, down from 92 percent in 1997.
(ii) Industries that experienced their drop in domestic production to demand ratio prior to 2006 due mainly to imports. These are mostly the 'automobiles, trailers and parts’ and the ‘textile, apparel and products’ industries. In the case of the textile industry, domestic production met only 36.6% of domestic demand in 2015, down from more than 80% in the 1980s.
(iii) Industries such as 'oil and gas extraction' and other categories of manufacturing with low domestic production to demand ratios, but that had actually been growing or are stable now compared to the past years and decades. Texas and the north-central states are the most affected in this category.
A deeper pry into the above results reveals that most of the states that have been negatively affected are the Rustbelt states. It is they who lost most of the high-end jobs in automobiles, computer and electronics, trailers and parts, industries that are likely to be automated in the near future, but that would make the most impact if fully revived.
The Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton apparently failed to learn some useful lessons from the effects of globalization and the shift of the Democratic elites to the center, which the castrated ranks of manufacturing workers hold her husband and former president Bill Clinton responsible for. What these workers found even stranger was the fact that the political establishment’s Democratic elites tend to focus more on the urban areas that were the major beneficiaries of globalization. In fact, politicians of the Democratic Party are inclined to pay little attention to the rural areas that globalization wrecked so badly.
The upper echelons of the Democratic Party ignored the poverty-stricken parts of America during the election like they did in other elections in the past, even though they found it fashionable to appear in poverty-stricken and disaster-struck parts of the world as a show of empathy, leaving many to wonder whether their actions were not directed at the media.
Over the years, even the Clintons have been accused of focusing their attention on Africa, the inner cities of America’s urban centers, and Haiti as areas left behind, when the Rustbelt that Bill Clinton’s presidency set up for disaster in the long run, should have been the area for Hillary Clinton to focus her campaigns on.
Thus, the populous white working class that had been moving to the right since the 1990s felt left out. That along with the other factors explain why the Rustbelt states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio that usually voted for candidates of the Democratic Party in the past presidential elections, switched their support to Donald Trump in the 2016 race for the White House either by voting for him, by voting for third party candidates or by abstaining altogether.
It is very likely that Donald Trump would follow through some aspects of his deglobalization promises in the long run, and we should expect to see him lead America into some sort of a trade war with China. He has been accusing the Asian giant not only of unfair trade practices, but also of manipulating its currency the yuan in order to increase its exports. However, it is highly unlikely that Donald Trump would take the USA out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.