You really can’t hear the voices of most people until they vote. This election is a perfect example. What I (and obviously millions of others) didn’t hear from the electorate that became Trump voters were stories like, “I lost my job in the (pick one – auto plant, coal mine, appliance factory) in (pick one – 1984, 1992, 2009) because of (pick one – offshoring, regulation, automation) and in the years since, politicians from both parties have promised to help me, but no one ever has.”
Those voters spoke loudly on Tuesday night. They certainly weren’t all racists, xenophobes, or misogynists. I believe most were not any of those things. I have to believe that. I have friends and family that supported Mr. Trump. If you supported Mrs. Clinton, you likely have those friends and family too. Speaking of Mrs. Clinton, I think she would have made a fine president, and I do believe she got badly slandered by the right-wing press, but ultimately her “qualifications” were a turnoff to Trump voters. She’s been a “Washington politician” for 25 years, and a big majority of Trump voters see politicians as a group that did not hear them or help them. The Democratic Party had a candidate with a message to help many of the very same people who voted for Donald Trump. Bernie was my candidate, but the DNC denied him. How’d that work out?
On election night, well, morning really around 4:30AM, after seeing the supposed “blue wall” of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin crumble red, I realized that I didn’t know anything about those “disaffected voters” that elected Donald Trump. I’m a white (somewhat) educated male living in Massachusetts who has enjoyed almost 33 consecutive years of career progress and great jobs in high-tech. I’ve been lucky and very fortunate to have no idea what financial pain and insecurity and hopelessness is all about.
Those good people in the “rust belt” – by the way, do you think they like that quaint name? It comes from the image of empty factories literally rusting away in their towns, a reminder of a past when America was great for them. Many of them have little left and less hope. “Hope and change” sounded great to me, but what real change did it deliver to them?
So along came Donald Trump. They knew him from TV. He was a billionaire and he promised to “Make America Great Again.” He told them he’d change the trade deals and get tough with Mexico and China. He promised to bring those jobs back. Those people aren’t stupid. They’ve heard the jobs promises from candidates over the years, but maybe this time would be different. Donald Trump had many successful businesses and he wasn’t a politician. He wasn’t taking donations from big donors and corporations, either. Just small ones from people like them.
On Tuesday, these people who worked hard until the work was denied them walked into polling places all over the country and they spoke. They didn’t like his behavior toward women or his mistreatment of that Muslim Gold Star family or his making fun of a handicapped man, but they saw him as their last chance to have a voice so they held their noses and cast their votes. And they were heard.
I don’t think Donald Trump is nearly as bad as the liberal press makes him out to be. Yeah, he’s a chauvinist and being inarticulate has got him in some trouble, especially when insensitive comments are amplified through the liberal echo chamber. I know. I’m in it. The problems he faces are complex and won’t be solved with slogans. “Repeal Obamacare?” Good luck telling those health insurance companies you’re ripping millions of customers from their income statements. None of it is going to be easy.
Finally, I’ve witnessed a real freak out from some of my fellow liberals who came out on the losing end in the election. Please, as Samuel L. Jackson might say, “calm the fuck down.” “If you supported Trump, please defriend me?” C’mon! (Full disclosure – a Facebook friend – more of an acquaintance came at me gloating Tuesday night… Poof.) Hey, our system of democracy worked and our girl lost. Get a grip. Plus, I don’t think Mr. Trump really has passion for the social issues like some of the social conservative nuts in the Republican party. I know… Mike Pence is pretty whacked out on choice and LGBT rights, but those things have already been sustained through a conservative Supreme Court, and again, I just don’t think Trump’s agenda is social. All that said, if some crazy shit gets proposed, and it will – we fight it.
My hope is that the president-elect stays true to his promise to help the middle-class people who got him elected. If he does, we’ll all benefit. In the meantime, I think my liberal friends should walk the talk of peace, love, tolerance and acceptance.