Election Post #1: Explaining How 60 Million People “Could Possibly” Vote for Trump
Since the election, I have read disparaging comments made by Democrats about people who voted for Donald Trump. Collectively these statements say that anyone who voted for Trump must be a racist, sexist, misogynistic xenophobe – Trump supporters let hate and anger win. I would like to offer a different perspective.
I want to take some time to explain why someone would vote for Donald Trump. First of all, 60 million people in America voted for Trump from all areas of the country and from all walks of life. It wasn’t just one voting block of people or people from one area of the country. One just needs to look at the “Voting by County” map to see that he carried most of the country. In other words, it is impossible to stereotype the Trump voter into a monolithic group that voted for one issue (remember 29% of Hispanics and 42% of women voted for Trump). It is inconceivable to say that “the Trump voter” is racist, sexist… unless one actually believes that 60 million people fit into this category.
Reason #1 – Partisanship: Approximately 30% of Americans say that they are Republicans and 33% say they are Democrats. This means that most of these individuals will turn out for their candidate, regardless of who the candidate is. These individuals vote on core values and principles. These people can tell you who they are going to vote for in the 2020, 2024, 2040 election right now. For republicans, these core beliefs are small and limited government, fiscal conservatism, low taxes, strict interpretations of the constitution, capitalism… Most partisans will overlook the flaws of their candidate and vote based on core values and principles.
Reason #2 – Flaws Cancel Out: Speaking of flaws… It is fair to say that Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump will go down as the most flawed presidential candidates in history, for different reasons. Republicans can’t imagine anyone voting for Hilary (Bengazi, mishandling top secret information, lying to Congress, receiving debate questions ahead of time, Clinton Foundation…) and think she should be disqualified from running for president. Similarly, Democrats can’t image anyone voting for Trump (comments about Hispanics, Muslims and women, Trump University, bullying behavior, sex allegations…). I argue that to the masses of independent voters, these flaws cancelled each other out. As proof, exit polls indicated that voters who said both candidates were unfit for office, Trump won by a 2 to 1 ratio. I also argue that if Clinton wasn’t so flawed, some Trump voters would not have found him so vote-worthy. This swung the election as much as anything.
Reason #3 – Underdog: Have you ever turned on a football game and found yourself rooting for the underdog for no good reason? Ever found yourself rooting against Alabama, Duke or the Yankees, just because? Clinton was that for a lot of people. She was the perennial favorite that represented the status quo while Trump was a true outsider with no political strings attached. Trump was fighting the media, the democrats and the Republican establishment. I argue that people coalesced behind him simply to support the underdog.
Reason #4 – Obamacare: If you are looking for the straw that broke the camel’s back, it was Americans receiving their premium increases in Mid-October. The pocket book trumps politics for many voters. People are sick of having the government piss on their leg and then told that it’s raining. In other words, you can’t call it the “affordable healthcare Act” and increase premiums and decrease coverage year after year. Voters understood that a vote for Hillary was a vote to continue this trend.
Reason # 5 – Partial Birth Abortion: Remember, republicans were not coalescing around Trump. Evangelicals, Catholics and traditional republicans found it difficult to vote for Trump. He made condescending comments about women and his taped remarks on the bus did not align with their Christian values. However, during the 3rd debate, Hilary openly said she supports partial-birth abortion, including up until the final day of birth. This extreme position energized many who would not have otherwise voted for Trump.
Reason # 6 – The Obama Effect: To many, Obama tried to push the country too far to the left. This push to the left energized, and yes, angered many Americans. I argue vehemently that this was not about his skin color for most – it was about his policies. He was moving America toward liberal, even socialist principles. Trump loudly represented a push back to the right. I argue that the Trump candidacy was born out of Obama’s liberal policies.
Reason # 7 – Drain the Swamp: This message resonated with many Americans. Remember, the rating of Congress is at a historic low (9%). The people do not trust politicians. Trump was the ultimate outsider who also doesn’t trust politicians. He pledged to go to Washington and change the system. Not sure if he can do that, but it resonated with voters.
Reason # 8 – Leadership: I wrote a blog earlier this month asking students to rate Trump and Clinton on their character – https://characterandleadership.com/rating-trump-clinton-character/. Not surprisingly, both were universally rated low. However, when it comes to leadership, Trump has the advantage. He successfully argued that you don’t have to be a career politician to be president. And, people believed that it is possible to successfully run the country the way he successfully ran his company. People could hear the common-sense arguments that, “We don’t win anymore,” “Our politicians make stupid deals,” “I will make smart deals and make America Great Again.”
Reason #9 – The Jobs President: The average median income in this country has not increased in a long time. People are continually seeing manufacturing jobs move to other countries. Trump’s message that he will provide tax incentives/penalties for companies to move back to America was well received. This resonated with the blue-collar worker and with the small business owner.
Reason # 10 – Perception is Reality: Over the past 18 months, I heard Trump say things that made me say, “He’s done. It’s over.” The media jumped on each issue and tried to hang him in effigy. However,
- When some heard Trump call Hispanics rapists and drug dealers, others heard him say that there are some illegal immigrants who bring drugs and commit felonies. Most believe that we have a problem with illegal immigration and that America needs to do something about it. We have a national debt of 20 trillion dollars and America cannot afford to educate, pay healthcare and provide welfare to individuals who did not come here legally. We have been discussing this issue for decades, but Trump claims he will do something about it.
- When some heard Trump say he was going to stop all Muslims from entering this country, others heard him restate his position 24 hours later saying that he wanted to provide a temporary ban on people entering this country from a certain region of the world until we can properly vet them (which the CIA and FBI testified that it currently couldn’t be done).
- When some heard Trump say discriminatory things about black people, others heard him talk negatively about a controversial group, Black Lives Matter. He believes that police officers who kill anyone without just cause should go to prison, but that police are not inherently racist. This message was well received by many Americans.
- When Trump said idiotic things about women, well… I’m not sure what people heard. He sounded like an idiot… and yet 42% of women voted for Trump (re-read points 1 & 2 to understand why).
So, to those who say that the Trump voter is a racist, sexist… I provide an alternative viewpoint. You can feel free to disagree or call me crazy. But, to those who say they simply cannot understand, I try to explain.
To be honest, I hope that Trump acts presidential and represents all of America well. Please exemplify grace, dignity and integrity. Please grow a thick skin and stop using twitter to “punch down.” Please be a better president than you were as a candidate. Please pursue the right issues – jobs, healthcare, the border, taxes, Washington corruption. Pull the country together through your words and actions.
To my liberal friends, I get it. I understand your sadness and your anger. I even understand the protests (although not the violence). I honestly support your right to protest in the streets and to have your voice heard. I understand your worry and your fears. I cannot dismiss them nor should he. However, you make certain assumptions about what kind of president he will be before he even takes office. Everyone has been wrong about him so far. Is it possible that he just might be a good president?
To my gay friends, I don’t think he is going to start a national war on gay marriage. The supreme court has ruled on this issue. If I am wrong, I will feel horrible and apologize. This would be the wrong agenda.
To my Hispanic and Muslim friends, I believe Trump is against illegal immigration, not Hispanics or any other ethnic group that has legally immigrated to America. He will secure the borders. I am not sure how his administration will handle illegal immigrants. My best guess is illegal immigrants without felonies will be granted citizenship and those with felonies will be escorted to the border.
To the idiots who are chanting, “build the wall” to Hispanic students in schools or to Americans pulling out the Confederate Flag, knock it off. Trumps presidency does not give you license to bully or discriminate. Trump and everyone needs to denounce such stupidity. As a nation, we are better than that.
Your Turn: I want to credit you, the student. I continually write about controversial issues and you continue to provide clean thought-provoking comments. Of the thousands of comments, I have only had to delete 1. Awesome job!
- If you could have voted, what would you have done with your vote and why? Remember, 75% of college-age people (18-22) did not vote.
- If you could write a message to President-elect Trump, what would you say?