Monday, November 14, 2016

Who Supported Trump and Why; Where do We Go From Here?

I’ve been talking to a lot of people, before and after the election, as to their support for Trump. 

For some background, I happen to live in Illinois, which went for Hillary, but I live in an area that is so deeply red and went about 60/34 for Trump. And that’s a good result for this area for Hillary, especially considering the heavy turnout in rural precincts.

I worked in a grassroots effort for other Democratic candidates on the ground, and we had one of the largest turnouts in decades here. It was a patchwork quilt of turnout. In some precincts and counties across the area, turnout was way down. But, in many others, the turnout was shockingly high. 

In my opinion, many regular Republican voters didn’t vote, or did so unenthusiastically. From all the poll watchers and election judges I've talked to across the area, people showed up to the polls that hadn’t voted in decades. It was as shocking to them as it was to us on the ground.
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So, to the question as to why people voted or supported Trump. There were a lot of different reasons I’ve discovered. 

One of the top reasons would be Obamacare. People in the rural areas were hit harder by the fines for not having coverage and also weren’t offered health insurance by their employers. Employers were hit hard for the same reasons. This group was seething mad about this issue. If you had children in a divorce, you may have been hit doubly hard, especially if you had to pay for their healthcare out of your own pocket or paycheck that hadn’t grown much in decades.

They ended up not blaming their employers for not raising their wages and not offering healthcare coverage. They didn’t trust or weren’t willing to listen to anyone connected to President Obama that said they would fix the problems with the law. They were over it.
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Other groups of people I talked to were seething mad about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. They just hated her for some conspiracy-laden reasons that weren’t backed up by the facts. If it wasn’t Benghazi it was emails. If it wasn’t Bill Clinton, it was the pack of lies they say she had made over the years. Try and tell them something different about all of those things, they just wouldn’t listen. Try and tell them Trump was far worse, they didn’t care.

I do believe this second group of people were never going to vote for a woman, were never going to vote for a Democrat this year, and just had a pack of excuses to scapegoat their choice. If Bernie had been the nominee, the outcome would have been far worse, IMO. I could be wrong, and I’m sure about every Bernie supporter would strongly disagree with that assertion. If Bernie had been the nominee, those other Republican voters who stayed home would have came out in force for any Republican, including Trump. 
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And, there absolutely were a number of people that were driven to support Trump by his divisive, conspiracy-ridden, misogynistic, bigoted, and xenophobic rhetoric. These people range in ages, which would be a surprise to many. 

Yes, there are many young people growing up with an array of troubling and troubled views of others that aren’t like them. There are many of these types of children and adolescents being raised to be this way throughout rural America. If the Democratic Party really think this problem will die off, they’re dead wrong. (That’s why I strongly urge Democrats to get busy and engaged in rural areas. Stop relying on urban and suburban areas to carry general elections. It’s not a winning strategy.)
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However, the support of Trump because of these extreme views is not what won him the Electoral College, and thus, the Presidency. These are definitely some of the loudest voices on social media that were part of the Trump base, that includes gays and women that supported Trump. However, I just don’t buy into the narratives that these won him the White House. 

People want to group everyone together into these monolithic, homogenous groups that just aren’t based in reality. The violence at peaceful protests don’t have anything to do with one another. The vast majority of these protesters are just exercising their right to peaceably assemble to right to free speech. 

The same can be said of all those who voted for Trump in this election. They don’t condone all of his hateful, divisive rhetoric, nor do they support the real violence that continues to take place against minorities, women, and the LGBT community across the country. Of course President-elect Trump doesn’t want violence done against others in his name.
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If you believe he would condone such violence, then you would also allow others to believe similarly about those who are committing violence on Trump supporters being condoned by President Obama, right? 

Basically, both parties have left rural America behind. Trump was the perfect vessel for their vengeance on Republicans and Democrats. Try running as a Democrat in rural America with or without support from the state or national parties. The groundwork and foundation simply isn’t there and there also hasn’t been a relevant, rational, public discourse about ideas in these areas for decades.

If both parties continue their strategy of disinterest and “couldn’t care less” philosophy, there will always be a place for a disruptive, caustic character such as Trump to take advantage. I wish I had some answers as to how to bridge the divides. I’m working to understand what just happened instead of just rage against those who disagreed with me. I think that’s a better place to begin a conversation.

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