First, I’m going to call shame. I saw innumerable tweets last night calling over 59 million Americans racist, homophobic, xenophobic, sexist, horrible deplorables and so on. I’m sure there are many Trump voters who are those things. But I am also certain that there are many more who are not. Some of my own family voted for Trump, and they are certainly not any of those things.
If anything, those harsh accusations help explain why Trump won. Middle class jobs are and have been disappearing for years, and that trend seems likely to continue. For people without a college (or higher) education, this means a path to nowhere. Low-income jobs typically do not result in any career advancement or significant raises. As college becomes more expensive (and grad school even more so, not only financially, but chronologically), this turns into a vicious cycle from generation to generation. It is a problem which has, historically, disproportionately affected minorities–but it has also affected whites as well, and whites (non-Latino/Hispanic) make up the majority of the population. 80% of 13.2% (African American population) is less than 20% of 62.6% (white population).
Add to this that many white people who do succeed are told that they succeed primarily because they are white, and it’s not hard to see why they might become resentful. They’re told that they need to support and accept people who are different, less privileged, who come from cultures they don’t understand, against whom they do have some reason to be suspicious–not a good one, but still a reason–and that if they don’t put their needs after the needs of foreigners, they’re racist and xenophobic bigots.
I’m not saying they’re right. I’m not saying that they have the proper perspective. But, my God, for all those who preach tolerance and universal acceptance, you might want to start in your own backyard. Are they ignorant regarding other cultures? Definitely. Are you ignorant of theirs? I think this election shows that you quite probably are. Flyover country–and that includes rural Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin–has long felt ignored, neglected, and abused. To be honest, I don’t really blame them.
Second, I’m going to exhort you to take a very deep breath. Donald Trump may soon be the most powerful man in the world; but he’s still just one man. It is regrettable that the power of the president has been exponentially increased in the past 16 years–for which we can blame both Bush and Obama–but it is still the power of one man.
Additionally, that man is a notorious liar. Bush promised smaller government for everyone. It mushroomed into a revolting behemoth during his 8 years. Obama promised affordable healthcare for everyone and a withdrawal of military interventions, while many people’s rates went up 100% or more and he ordered 10 times as many drone strikes as Bush.
Trump made outlandish, vague, poorly-defined campaign promises. Do we really think he’s going to keep any of them–when he has switched political parties 5 times since the late 1980’s? He was for abortion before he was against abortion. He donated to Hillary Clinton’s senate campaign.
So read his acceptance speech and tell me if you think he’s going to stay hard-line with his promises, or if he, like nearly every other successful politician in the history of the world, made his promises to win votes. The cynic in me–which is all of me–thinks that we’re really just in store for more political words coming up empty. And today, that’s a good thing.
I could be wrong. Let’s hope I’m not.