I completely agree with you that a vote for Obama, despite what the voter might have intended, was not proof of an absence of racial prejudice. In fact, I made that very point in my post.
I doubt very much that the old fellow who made the incomprehensible, but bigoted crack about picking cotton actually voted for Obama, and it’s probably a good bet that anyone who felt comfortable using “n*gger” in public did not either, however, I will still argue that anyone who did vote for Obama would be highly unlikely to vote for Trump in 2016 based on the sort of racial animus required of a “whitelash,”and therefore, the fact that many people who voted for Obama in 2008 and/or 2012 voted for Trump in 2016 is supportive of the argument that Van Jones’ “whitelash” theory is outrageous and just plain inaccurate. Of course, my argument is based on the contention that disapproval of Obama’s policies, or even a dislike of him personally, is not evidence of racism. Van Jones may very well disagree with me on this; a great many liberals have.
I would not limit Obama voters with pre-existing racial prejudice to "unsophisticated" voters, as you describe them. I consider a view that holds any given race as monolithic in terms of experience, desires, and mindset, and/or especially in need of the government to compete and survive in our society to be a construct of racial prejudice, no matter whether it has benign or cynical origins. A great many people with the view I consider to be racist, (although they almost assuredly do not), voted for Obama. I doubt that very many of those “sophisticated” voters pulled the lever for Trump in 2016, and you have not insisted that all of your “unsophisticated” voters are bigots, but I wanted to set offer this clarification.
I don’t know if Jones ever attempted, after Election Night, to explain what he meant by “whitewash,” but if he did, it was most likely an effort to walk back what was clearly a condemnation of those who voted for Trump. I feel certain that a great many liberals agreed with Jones that night (the majority of the CNN panel certainly did…or seemed to since none of them challenged his outrageous comment), and even now you can’t find it in yourself to denounce it entirely. It’s far more than the reasonable recognition that Obama didn’t usher in a post-racial society (arguably he was responsible for escalating tensions)and that racism still lives in the hearts of many Americans. In the minds of some well-intentioned folks, there is a fear that any admission that the overall issue of race is, (thanks to a number of factors including education, statutes, and demographics), diminishing in reach and impact, will put a stop to all progress and America will revert back to the Jim Crow Days within a year. With the election of Trump, many are convinced that we are the verge of such a regression and that only the heroic efforts of # Resist are preventing it. There are even people ranting throughout the internet that our trip on the Way Back Machine has already taken place! In the main though, and certainly, for left-wingers (white or black) like Jones, it’s the refusal to surrender a weapon that has proven so successful in smiting their enemies and framing public discourse…to their advantage.
Did some voters cast their ballot for Trump because they thought he would usher in a New White Age in America? Without question. Do some of those who voted for Trump because they were unhappy with the state of the nation and blamed the policies of Obama and Democrats, also harbor, to one degree or another, racial prejudice? Almost certainly. (After all, many of those who voted for Clinton, to one degree or another, harbor racial prejudice). Does this mean that in any meaningful way Trump’s election was a “whitewash?” Absolutely not. I don’t know how the Jones’ statement could be understood to mean anything other than a belief that roughly 63 million Americans voted for Trump as an angry response to the fact that a black man was in the White House for the prior eight years. He obviously didn’t mean Trump’s election was a backlash against the policies of Barrack Obama, in part because he, apparently could not fathom why anyone might not admire and appreciate them and also because like a great many other left-wingers, he believed that displeasure with Obama’s policies was really displeasure with the man and that the root cause of that displeasure was the fact that the man was black. It really is moronically simplistic contention that can only be supported by the feelings of the people who make it. It’s also an example of reverting to form.
Over the past 15 to 20 years those on the left have demonstrated in a great many ways that they cannot tolerate opposing viewpoints and it has reached a point where they literally will shout down their opponents to silence them. I don’t know if it’s a favorite stunt of CNN’s Don Lemon because I don’t watch his show or his network but I did see a clip wherein this is exactly what he did with a guest who would neither agree with him nor stop trying to make the point which, presumably, he was invited on the show to express. This sort of behavior is now common practice among leftwing student activists or rabble-rousers on American campuses. The examples are legion and a great many have been documented on video. I have never seen Van Jones resort to this tactic, but he is also not someone I frequently tune in to watch, however, he doesn’t have to in order to cut his opponents off at the knees and silence them. He merely has to insist calmly and forcefully that their views, with which he disagrees, are racist. Invariably the opponents will fall into the trap and divert their focus from expressing the point they wish to make to defending their character as folks like Jones have made sure that a charge of racism is not something anyone can shrug off.
This is why Steve Bannon has called for conservatives to embrace the title of racist. You and a few other liberals regularly contributing to this forum are certainly bright enough to realize that he didn’t mean conservatives should embrace racism. Arguing otherwise is disingenuous at best. I haven’t discussed the comment with Steve, but it’s not all that complex or nuanced. Anyone can figure it out. If a left-winger calls someone a racist, chances are good that they are incapable of responding intelligently or with facts to an argument you’ve made. If this is the case, then they have given up on discourse and are swinging away with their old reliable ax handle. It is tantamount to intellectual surrender. They are incapable of conceding, but they might as well raise your arm in the air and declare you the winner. When they take that first swing there is no need to respond in kind or to attempt to defend yourself on that point. You should smile, thank them for their surrender and disengage.
Our friend Bill W is a perfect example of someone who gets a real thrill out of swinging this particular ax handle. It’s far more than intellectually lazy, it’s cowardly and the behavior of someone with bullying tendencies, and it has been used so often and for so long that it’s losing its effectiveness. Something to be thankful for but at the same time, it has emasculated what should be a very powerful charge when leveled appropriately. If, for example, you truly believe Trump is a racist, not someone who simply frowns on Affirmative Action or wants NFL players to stand during the National Anthem, but someone who really believes blacks are inferior to whites and that action is necessary to assure that whites regain and hold power over them. It’s a ridiculous hypothetical but some people actually believe it, and if they do they probably have also been labelling a vast number of people as racists: Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Ted Cruz, Rush Limbaugh, Steve Scalise, Marco Rubio, Clint Eastwood, Trey Gowdy, Devin Nunes, Tom Cotton, Paul Ryan and Dennis Miller (to name just a few of the likely targets). Along comes someone who truly believes Trump is a racist, and can make a credible argument to support the charge. At least 60 million people, and likely a lot more, will immediately dismiss the charge. It may not be the best tendency to have, but whenever I hear a liberal charge someone with racism, I stop listening, and I doubt that I’ve missed any important revelation.
Racist, of course, isn’t the only ax handle the left swings. Since the school shooting in Florida, people who don’t believe stricter gun control is the proper response, or (God Forbid!) offer support and defense of the NRA, have been ducking and getting hit upside the head with one similar handle or another: Murderer
etc. It’s not the case with everyone arguing for stricter gun-control measures, but more often than not discussions on the subject end up with a swinging ax handle. Right after the incident, “discussions” started, continued and ended with outrageous rhetorical attacks (describing them as rhetoric is to elevate them above their actual state: incoherent expressions of anger and hatred). A perfect example of this was the farcical “town hall meeting” CNN engineered. Even individuals who were able to maintain a civil mien brought their ax handles and led off with a blow to the head of one of the two conservatives “taking questions.” A member of the student group that immediately formed after the incident and announced a planned demonstration march in DC, faced Marco Rubio, Senator for the State of Florida, father of four and one of the more articulate and rhetorically restrained of the GOP and said
I'm sorry, I know I'm not supposed to do this, but I'm not going to listen to that. Senator Rubio, it's hard to look at you and not look down a barrel of an AR-15 and not look at Nicholas Cruz, but the point is you're here and there some people who are not.
He also said
I wished I could have asked the NRA lady a question. I would ask her, how she can look in the mirror, considering the fact she has children, but maybe she avoids those.
Now, I realize that he is only 17 and had just gone through a very traumatic event. I’m not criticizing him for adopting the rhetorical technique of those he was copying, but his comments were entirely inappropriate. Not inappropriate because he’s a kid and Rubio is an exalted Senator; Dana Loesch an adult. Inappropriate because if you actually want to engage in a rational discussion with someone, anyone, you don’t lead with highly insulting and unfounded accusations. It is very unfortunate that the young man has come to believe that this is, in fact, an appropriate way to approach discussion and possible resolution of a serious and complex problem. He learned it somewhere and from someone. I don’t know who his tutors were but I would bet he saw them on TV.