Donald Trump Begs Suburban Women to Like Him as His Failures Continue to Push Many Women Out of the Workforce
Donald Trump begged women to like him at a packed, largely mask-free rally this week, in a statement that managed to be simultaneously pleading and condescending.
While once again bragging about having saved fragile women from the scourge of fairness in housing, Trump asked, “So can I ask you to do me a favor? Suburban women, will you please like me? I saved your damn neighborhood, okay?”
His plea comes only weeks after a jobs report that indicated women are being forced to leave the workforce in droves, largely as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, 617,000 women left the workforce, compared with only 78,000 men. Half of those women were between the ages of 35 and 44.
Women are particularly hard hit by the pandemic, about which Donald Trump was warned in January and clearly understood the seriousness of in February, but upon which he failed to act.
For one, women are more likely than men to be employed in industries like hospitality and leisure that have shed millions of jobs. Women are also still three times more likely than men to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility for children and other home-based obligations. As many schools are forced to remain virtual, women are disproportionately dropping out of the workforce to handle the extra duties that come from having children learn at home.
Donald Trump knew in February that COVID-19 was deadly and airborne. His administration wasted the spring and summer threatening schools rather than coming up with a plan — vital time that could have been used to bring the pandemic under control and give schools the resources they needed to open safely.
When the president speaks of “saving” the suburbs, he is referring to the repeal of an Obama-era update to the 1968 Fair Housing Act that would have required local governments receiving federal funds directed at housing and development to create a plan to address and fix biased housing practices.
The Fair Housing Act was passed in large part to fight redlining, a government practice of outlining minority neighborhoods with literal red ink to delineate areas in which the government would not invest based on demographics alone. The government systematically refused minorities in redlined areas housing and financial products like mortgages, credit cards, insurance and even student loans.
Trump saved the suburbs, through his logic, by preventing the federal government from proactively addressing biased housing practices. In the words of Joe Biden, “I was raised in the suburbs. This is not 1950. All these dog whistles and racism don’t work anymore … There’s many people today driving their kids to soccer practice … Black and white and Hispanic.”
More recent research has also shown that one of the most successful ways to help low-income families get good educations for their children and integrate into the middle class is by actively interspersing low-income housing throughout middle- and upper-middle-class neighborhoods.
But for Trump, an incumbent president behind in the polls, fierce opposition to integrating low-income housing is about much more than just zoning policy.
The term “redlining” was coined by sociologist John McKnight in the 1960s and derives from how the federal government and lenders would literally draw a red line on a map around the neighborhoods they would not invest in based on demographics alone. Black inner-city neighborhoods were most likely to be redlined. Investigations found that lenders would make loans to lower-income Whites but not to middle- or upper-income African Americans.