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Donald Trump

Racism and sexism are rife in the US – among its elite

Sin-ming Shaw notes the hypocrisy of painting Donald Trump’s racist and sexist views as representative of the poor and uneducated in America, when its elite are likely to be worse offenders

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 November, 2016, 10:13am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 November, 2016, 8:07pm

Donald Trump is a consequence, not a cause, of the country’s deeply embedded racial, social and political problems.

The Democratic Party has no one to blame but itself for its electoral disaster. The media in the US has been shameful in underreporting social grievances, focusing instead on titillating tidbits on Trump’s indiscretions as a sexist, racist or, worse, representing mostly the “rural poor” uneducated white population. The truth is, Trump is far more representative of America than the media and political elite wanted to admit.

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Harvard has just suspended its soccer team and Columbia its wrestling team for exchanging sexually explicit comments on fellow female athletes. Those messages made Trump’s “locker room” banter seemed tame.

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Columbia and Harvard are symbols of American cultural enlightenment and incubators of the country’s past, present and future ruling elites. These institutions are for the nation’s privileged, not the rural, poor white kids. Sexual assault is so prevalent at the major universities that a special help desk for victims is now a common feature on campus.

Racism, too, remains a widespread fact of life. I was once the chief international economist at one of the country’s most prestigious asset management companies. Nearly all associates had at least one, usually two degrees from a top university.

Once, after I gave a talk to an assembly of associates, a senior partner came over to congratulate me. He said, “You are a credit to your school”, when he found out which was my alma mater. I was in my 40s.

I was momentarily stunned and responded with a meek “thank you”. An Ivy League degree at that firm was a non-event, and brilliant presentations were routine. It was doubtful he would have said the same to an associate of his own race. He, like Trump, would be surprised to be called a racist.

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The Democratic Party has been out of touch with the people for a long time. In 2010, only two years into Barack Obama’s first term, voter disenchantment had already set in. That year, the Democrats lost the majority in the House. In 2014, they lost their Senate majority.

Trump defeated all of the major, better financed, Republican candidates at the primaries. He prevailed against all odds to win the nomination. The media treated him as a fair game for ridicule.

The elite in both parties failed to listen to the supporters of both Trump and Bernie Sanders, who were riding on a widespread contempt for the country’s political and financial elite. The rest, as we know, is now history.

Sin-ming Shaw, a former professional investor, was a visiting fellow at Harvard and Oxford