The two sins that defined this election

Supporters hold placards during a rally for US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, New Hampshire on November 4, 2016. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN)Perhaps the phenomenon might be better described as a cultural reaction to change, but it often expresses itself simply as hostility to people who are different, and usually brown and black. Consider, for example, that 72 percent of registered Republican voters still doubt that Barack Obama was born in the United States, according to an August NBC News poll.

Donald Trump's political skill was to speak defiantly about both of these sensitive issues -- elitism and race -- in simple, direct and politically incorrect ways that connected with white voters, particularly white men. But in doing so, he also terrified tens of millions of other Americans. It is important that we have a serious conversation about elitism and rural communities. But it is also important that we not shy away from a conversation about race. There are other ignored and suffering people in the United States as well. We all need to be listening to each other now.