November 16, 2016

EDITORIAL: Bursting the Cornell Bubble

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Donald Trump’s election came as a shock to many, including a significant number of Cornell students. His victory is surprising for many reasons: Trump will be the first president with no formal political or military experience before entering the White House; he began his campaign with a promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it; throughout his campaign, Trump has made racist, sexist, Islamophobic and otherwise hateful comments.

Yet it should be less of a surprise that rural voters overwhelmingly supported Trump, especially since the Democratic establishment and progressive elites have dismissed them throughout the campaign and for the past several years. This should not surprise Cornell students and faculty, who live in deep blue Ithaca but are surrounded by a sea of red. Every county adjoining Tompkins County — which Hillary won with more than 60 percent of votes — supported Trump.

In our Cornell bubble — one that is overwhelmingly liberal — we sometimes forget about the importance of engaging with those who are politically different from us. In this election cycle in particular, many of us neglected rural voters and did not hear their growing frustration with government. Even post-election, many Trump protesters are writing off those who voted for him, without making the effort to understand why Trump’s message resonated with specific groups. Trump’s election is a rude awakening that the Cornell bubble often insulates us from the fact that the ideas and innovations generated at universities like Cornell are not always connecting with people outside the bubble. Liberals will not simply get their way by continuing to support policies and candidates that do not consider rural Americans. Republican Congressman Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), for example, resoundingly defeated Democratic challenger John Plumb, even though 70.8 percent of Tompkins County residents cast their ballot for Plumb.

However, acknowledging the frustration of rural voters and understanding their motivations for voting for Trump is not equivalent to normalizing our president-elect’s policies and actions. Let’s not mince words: Trump represents an appalling brand of racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia that rightly frightens many people on our campus, and some of the areas that Trump won are sites of deep-seated and dangerous vitriol. Even if not every Trump supporter is racist, all of them decided to support him either in spite of or because of his hateful speech.

Yet to move forward, these are some of the very people that we — members of a private university privileged with access to some of this nation’s best educational opportunities — can no longer afford to ignore. We must bridge this country’s widening political fissures, the most prominent of which is the rural-urban divide. Of course, not all rural voters are conservative or support Trump, just as not all urban voters are liberal or Democrats. But rural voters are feeling increasingly ignored by their government representatives and expressed this disconnect with a vote for Trump, and it is in our mutual interest to understand those outside our Cornell bubble.

  • Pops

    This piece began well, then turned into the usual liberal sour grapes. Donald Trump is the President-elect. Get over it. It behooves all Americans to help him be the best President he can be.

  • wana

    Don’t let the media influence your own independent views.
    Gather the facts yourself.
    Question blanket statements and ask yourself are comments REALLY as categorized. For example go look at Most Wanted List for California … these are people who have killed, raped, robbed. Are they illegals I don’t know but I suspect someone in law enforcement does. About time we bring “light and transparency” to the forefront.

  • David Walker

    “Let’s not mince words: Trump represents an appalling brand of racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia…”

    Oh dear.

    And there’s me thinking for a moment you were showing a glimmer of understanding, and you come out and by implication that around half of the US voters are appallingly racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic.

    What right do you believe you have to make such an insulting statement about around 65 million people – the very section of the population who get their hands dirty to keep you parasites in the manner in which you have unfortunately become accustomed. Who do you think drives the trucks, works the power stations, grows the food, keeps your water flowing and makes your sewage gets dealt with?

    That’s right, the very people you pseudo-intellectual self-elected “elite” sneer at, patronise, condescend to and call racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic.

    And now what are you doing? Being apparently paid to demonstrate, smashing the shops of productive businesses, burning cars and blocking roads. Yesterday a four old child died in the back of an a ambulance bcause the filth manning the roadblock wouldn’t let him through.

    I hope you’re proud of yourself.

    You lot lost – quite deservedly, going by that comment and your subsequent actions.

    Stop whining, live with and GROW UP!

    Oh, and GET A PROPER JOB!

    • Alum

      You just asked why the author thinks he has the right to be insulting and then in the very same sentence called him a parasite. I agree that peace and understanding is vital to getting past this, but that is not the same thing as complacency. We do not need to sit quietly and let the new administration run its course on the country and the world. We can voice our concerns and opinions. This election will hopefully result in one silver lining, being that people are now inspired to fight for their communities and make a difference in politics.

      Calling Trump’s words racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic is just being factual. Trump’s supporters love him for “telling it like it is.” Well, this author is just telling it like it is. If you discriminate against another individual, you’re not exempt from being called discriminatory just because you feel insulted. He disrespects massive groups of human beings who are fighting passionately for equality. We cannot forget this just because he’s our president

      • zeke

        So you are agreeing that a minority that hates and discriminates against whites can be properly called a racist. Glad we got that straight.

    • Tag

      This is the most interesting comment I’ve seen in a while, not because it’s any different from the other screaming, mean comments that some Trump supporters leave, but because it’s attached to a wealth of social media profiles. “Catweazle666” spends a lot of time denying climate change, and that’s probably why he’s interested in Cornell, and probably why he’s interested in denigrating Cornell scholars. After a little digging, I’m pretty sure that the actual person connected to the account is not “David Walker” but John Schut, a native German speaker in his 40s who now lives in the UK. I might be off on one or two details, but it seems clear that this is someone coming into the community who neither understands it or cares about it — note that he thinks that writing for the Sun is a “job,” which isn’t what I would call it since you guys are mostly unpaid full-time students.

      The David Walker pseudonym appears quite a bit in recent comments — so just a note to the writers that if the comments are getting you down, a substantial number of them might very well be from insane cranks with axes to grind, not legitimate political opponents. It is meaningful to remember, though, that a lot of people benefit (or think they benefit) if you are silenced, or feel bad or scared. Take care of yourselves/each other and keep fighting!

  • Alum

    Trump voters on average have higher incomes than the median income in America, and higher incomes than all other Republican primary or Democratic voters. Trump tricked them into believing they’re being oppressed and that their rights are being infringed upon, while simultaneously oppressing the groups that he actively spread hatred and fear of.

    • Paul

      So you know how much Trump voters make? You must have a great crystal ball.

      • I have a crystal ball

        I made a mistake about the other republican voters. Their incomes were higher than those of Trump voters. However, Trump voters still have very high median incomes. 23 states were sampled.

        “Trump voters’ median income exceeded the overall statewide median in all 23 states, sometimes narrowly (as in New Hampshire or Missouri) but sometimes substantially.”

        “The median household income for non-Hispanic whites is about $62,000,4 still a fair bit lower than the $72,000 median for Trump voters.”

        “The differences are usually larger in states with substantial non-white populations, as black and Hispanic voters are overwhelmingly Democratic and tend to have lower incomes. In South Carolina, for example, the median Trump supporter had a household income of $72,000, while the median for Clinton supporters was $39,000.”

        “The median income for Clinton and Sanders voters — $61,000 for each candidate — is generally much closer to the overall median income in each state.”


  • John Pade

    I remember reading a news story four, six years ago. In the “New York TImes” I recall. The reporter interviewed several Democratic operatives about the Party’s shifting composition. The operatives speculated that in the near future, if not already, the Party would not need the working class in order to implement its agenda. Maybe for 2016 but by 2020, probably not. These operatives were the “Charlotte Democrats”, leaders of the liberal base that President Obama made the centerpiece of 2012 his re-election campaign.

    So I don’t think the disconnect epitomized by the “Cornell Bubble” is accidental. It is the culmination of a long process of Party evolution where the Party has consciously been replacing one group of supporters with another: one that is larger and more in tune with its goals. It fits in with an economic conference I attended in the 1990’s where a speaker said Democrats were trying to increase immigration because they knew they would never regain the support of most white people. Immigrants were their only path to majority status.

    Ronald Reagan said he never left the Democratic Party. The Party left him. That was 50 years ago. The leaving process is still going on and I would be very surprised, astonished even, if Trump’s election will do anything to change it.


    Amazing how hypocritical Libs never stop dumping on Trump, but have nothing to say about Hillary’s crimes and incompetence: Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster, Benghazi, Clinton Foundation, Clinton Initiative, etc. It seems Trump saying untoward things about women 10 years ago and wanting to deport known illegal immigrant felons are so much more important than Hillary selling 20% of US uranium to Russia, ignoring hundreds of requests for added security in Benghazi, lying about Benghazi, jeopardizing US security and vi0lating federal laws by mishandling confidential government emails, obstructing justice by destroying evidence, taking money from 55% of those who had appointments to see her as Sec of State, lying every time her lips are moving, ad nauseam.

    One simply cannot take this paper and its editorial board seriously.

  • paul

    538! Really, so you want people to believe another liberal Hilary supporting pollster? Nate Silver is a s liberal as you get!

  • A J

    The scary part of this article is that it demonstrates the fact that political science departments at major institutions like Cornell suffer due to the lack of different viewpoints, resulting in students who do not even understand political science. They are doing a major disservice by not having the diversity of thought necessary to adequately teach the subject.