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White Men are Not the Key to a Trumpless Future, by Donna Gabaccia

After the reality-show star with an endorsement from the KKK became President of the USA November 8th, prognosticators have focused most of their strategies for reversal or renewal on a Bernie Bro take-over of the Democratic party or on appeals to the white, poorly educated men of rural areas and small towns.

These are not the only way forward.

When the last votes are counted, Hillary Clinton will likely have won the popular vote by a million or more votes. She built a coalition that will expand because no matter what the new president’s economic policies are, they are not likely to reverse the rural-to-urban movement and industrial transformations that have been underway for over a century.

By contrast, key groups in Clinton’s winning coalition are projected to expand. Who are they?  Initial exit polls (currently disputed by Latino analysts) show 55 percent of young voters “with her,” along with 53 percent of low-income voters, 88 percent of African-Americans, 65 percent of Asian-Americans and Latinos, 51 percent of well-educated white women, 60 percent of big city dwellers, 71 percent of Jewish Americans, 78 percent of LBGT voters, 62 percent of religiously affiliated but non-Catholic, Jewish or Protestant voters and 65 percent of voters with no religious affiliation. Demographic projections show the numbers of big city dwellers, college-educated women, Asian-American and Latinos, young voters and both religiously “other” and religiously unaffiliated voters increasing. Only truly massive deportations of Mexicans and Muslims could reverse these trends.

Studies of the 2012 presidential election showed that non-voters already then resembled the Clinton coalition. Approximately 241 million American were eligible to vote on November 8th 2016 but only 200 million had registered. Roughly 128.5 million voted—a somewhat higher proportion than anticipated, although low by international standards.  In 2012, non-voters were disproportionately young, female, low-income or unemployed, and either Latino or African-American. They resembled Trump’s rural and small town, white and Evangelical voters only in their low educational levels and a strong sense of political powerlessness. It’s likely that surveys of 2016 non-voters will show a larger minority than in 2012 of college students, African-Americans and Latinos prevented from voting by structural and logistical barriers implemented recently by Republican-dominated legislatures.

Clinton’s supporters have been dismissed as elitists living isolated from mainstream America and unable to communicate with working class, less well educated Americans. That’s not what the secret Facebook Group “Pantsuit Nation,” suggests. Its 3.5 million members describe intense debates with Republican neighbours, partners, co-workers, and relatives. They work with young people and low-income communities. Their neighbours, friends and co-religionists include visible and other minorities who feel under attack. While Clinton was criticized for lacking vision, her “stronger together” slogan was the kind of message of inclusion and government activism that non-voters in 2012 approved. Today’s non-voters alongside parts of the Clinton coalition at ongoing anti-Trump protests. The streets are sometimes more important sites of mobilization and empowerment than the voting booth.

In short: don’t mourn; organize. The future doesn’t hinge exclusively on white men. 

 Donna Gabaccia is an historian of international migration at the University of Toronto. She is currently teaching courses in Women's Studies and Digital History. Her book  Foreign Relations: Global Perspectives on U.S. Immigration  won the Theadore Saloutos award for best book in American immigration and ethnic history form the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.

Donna Gabaccia is an historian of international migration at the University of Toronto. She is currently teaching courses in Women's Studies and Digital History. Her book Foreign Relations: Global Perspectives on U.S. Immigration won the Theadore Saloutos award for best book in American immigration and ethnic history form the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.

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