Clay Shirky to white liberals: Trump could win, so here's what you have to do

In an epic Twitter tear, Clay Shirky addresses white liberals who are horrified by the rise of Trump and reminds them that "Trump IS the voice of angry whites. He wasn't on stage because he has unusual views. He was on stage because he has the usual ones, loudly."

White liberals cluster in cities and liberal states, meaning that their numbers count less — California isn't going to swing for Trump, and the liberal whites who abandon Missouri and Ohio and Pennsylvania for California's shores actually improve Trump's odds, by leaving those states with a more homogeneous voting population. "Voting population" is different from "population" thanks, in part, to Republican voter suppression laws that have disenfranchised black people in 33 US states.

Whites have voted against Democrats since the 1964 passage of the Civil Rights Act, and "the liberal cause has been saved by African-Americans, who are populous and disciplined and consistent enough voters to overcome white rage."

What can white liberals do to help black and brown people defeat white supremacy in America? Donate to fight voter suppression, "call voters, or better, get to a swing state and knock on doors. Get to poorer communities and drive people to the polls"; "talk with pro-Trump relatives, because they won't listen to people who aren't white"; "realize we are a minority, and we have to campaign like one. Donate to the campaign, for starters (Yes, yes, Clinton's not as liberal as we'd like, but minorities never get the luxury of demanding a perfect candidate. Just give.)"

Shirky recommends following @docrocktex26 and @jbouie, "who serve hot coffee on this stuff all day."

During the speech, a lot of white liberals in my timeline – people like me – were reacting in disbelief. We can't afford disbelief, not now.

So, believe this: Trump could win. We can help stop him, but that means giving up on a lot of comfortable illusions.

The hardest illusion to give up is the majority illusion, where we confuse our neighborhood with the world.

Elections are a harsh corrective to thinking everyone agrees with you. Winning isn't about policy, or passion. It's about headcount.

I'm a white guy, so I'm an imperfect vehicle for this message. Follow @docrocktex26 and @jbouie, who serve hot coffee on this stuff all day

But I can remind other white people, as an insider, that the amount of white rage available for political use in America remains enormous.

"When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression."

White liberals should know headcount is against us. In our communities, we're a comfortable majority. In the US, we're a permanent minority.

Most whites vote /against/ Democratic presidential candidates, and have done in every election since LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964

When Democrats committed to reducing whites' ability to lord it over blacks, it cost the party the white vote for two generations. So far.

The liberal cause has been saved by African-Americans, who are populous and disciplined and consistent enough voters to overcome white rage.

Unlike President Obama's campaigns, though, whites can't coast on minority Get Out The Vote work in 2016, not with VoterID laws in 33 states

Trump can win, if he can whip up white rage unchallenged, if enough women vote for him, and if Red states suppress black and Hispanic votes.

Trump can win, if he concentrates on white fear. Thats how you get white evangelicals to pick a libertine agnostic over a liberal Christian.

Clay Shirky, on avoiding complacency this election season [Clay Shirky/Storify]

(via DJ Spooky)

(Image: MAD Dumps on Trump; Ku Klux Klan members supporting Barry Goldwater's campaign for the presidential nomination, Warren K. Leffler, PD)