Underneath the Hood Of The Trump Voter

Everyone all over the place are pointing to the other side saying "How could you?"  And probably the most important way to heal this divide is to try to understand the other side. In the faith, as it were, we are called to seek to understand rather than be understood. Why? Because it feels great? No. Because it heals and THEN it feels good and things can actually change.  As a Hillary voter, I will start with the Trump voter.  Don't think for a moment that this easy for me or that I'm not deeply sadden, confused or disappointed by this vote.  I am. I struggle with it every day.

The Trump Voter

photo from www.newyorker.com

photo from www.newyorker.com

There is an overall consensus by analysists and by the Trump voters I've talked to that they are, believe it or not, people who feel disenfranchised and deeply skeptical of the government. I'm not talking about the KKK type voter but more the white male voter who doesn't really see their own racism and where their focus is.  So I want to be clear, that I'm not suggesting we try to understand and empathize with a white supremacist.  

The large percentage of Trump voters are white male Americans according to polling data and then white females in middle to upper age ranges.  Key word "White".  Their sense of being seen as a threat for what they represent to some minorities is something I've often wondered about quietly as we as a country have essentially called out white, male privilege as a sort of cancer.  That is, without some education and understanding around it, there might be a backlash, which happens to any group seen as a threat.  It is not that this isn't true analogy. As this country has made great strides toward diversity and equalizing the white male privileged empowerment, the white working class male has experienced great job losses in the last few years due to economy and quietly joined the ranks of the disenfranchised minority. In a sense, their white world from the 50's-90's has been ever shrinking and ever unwelcoming to them in order to make room for the "others", minorities, while the down turn in the economy has dumped their jobs and forced them to join the ranks of those having to learn new job skills or taking lower pay/frozen pay scales. The question comes, do they understand the value of these minorities and the rights they fought for, and how they now might be able to relate to them rather than be threatened by them?  Does this kind of voter feel that they are worthwhile too and their needs matter even as we become a more diverse nation?   Can we make room for minorities without making the American white person feel like they should be treated like a symbol of a miscarriage of justice? 

I think our attitude toward this large voting contingent has possibly, for some white Americans of the Trump voter vain, felt like a force-feeding of language they can only see as a threat without the education to go behind it.  Suddenly, terms like"diversity awareness", "kindness", "freedom of press and speech", "women's rights" and "LGBT rights" and so much more became a lexicon of a language from those that see them and treat them as a threat, rather than as a source to be educated and shown their worth in the process of globalization.  It is hard to imagine, I know, especially when white Americans have had so much for so long, that the Trump voter could feel disenfranchised, but that is what a lot of Trump voters feel.  It doesn't mean it really is the rest of the world's fault that white privileged dream is a sinking ship, but we need to understand the emotional wall that is being held up. Some are just plain racist, my way or the high-way type folk and of course that is a losing argument.

There has been insistence on political correctness over education on diversity awareness and everyone's place and worth in this country. Instead, it has become more like the movie Clash of the Titans on viewpoints as people dig into what they value and refuse to move.  Otherwise, we wouldn't have such a big divide and a country so deadlocked on such simple matters as what distinguishes as a Republic. So, to the Trump voter, political correctness became worse than a curse word. To the Trump supporter, these kind of values became the disguise that leaders hide behind who weren't working on their behalf even though they talked like they were for everyone's behalf.  This is how those who voted for Trump really felt.  They weren't being told the truth in their minds while their jobs have been thrown away, they've been told to share what is out there with other minorities they don't know much about except what the media tells them.  So, they rather hear what seems like the truth even from a bigot and all his filth than no truth at all.  I'm not saying this as though I agree with it, I'm just repeating what they are saying and feeling so that we can attempt to understand it.  

I imagine it could be Hitler incarnate running for president, and Hitler Incarnate might have won.  But, it is not because they are all KKK folks or supportive of Trump's bigotry.  The telling part is that a lot of these very same people that voted for Trump had once voted for Obama, according to the demographics. This tells us the vote wasn't about race as it was this notion of change. I've heard this time and time again "At least I know where I stand with Trump"and "At least I know now the system isn't rigged because 'sly' Hillary couldn't buy her way in".  I don't agree with that perspective nor do I agree that Trump is telling the truth more than Hillary, but I see where they are coming from because on their end, they believe Trump more than Hillary or anyone else in the political seen because he spoke in a raw manner and defied the rules. He spoke to their fears and concerns.

Trumps message of returning to protectionism, bigotry, racism, and misogyny suddenly became not such a big deal and less deceptive than political correct talking points. In addition, a large amount of these people probably had no real life reference of discrimination, poverty and bigotry in a way that changed their life. They were more concerned with how rigged this government system felt to them, the economic conditions they were in and the threat liberals were making on their known way of life over these eight years.  They were being "Left Behind".  So for most Trump supporters, it is my belief that if it wasn't going to be emails, it was going to be something else for Hillary because she represented establishment yet they ignored that he represented elitism even more so or just as much. We all laughed and even I laughed at how rigged Trump was saying things were that were really not rigged.  But over these last many years ALL of us have cried the government system is rigged against us, haven't we? Something went wrong.  Our government has the lowest approval rating ever.  This is the set up Trump walked in on and won with. And the liberal side cry of "What about discrimination!?!" was no different for the Trump voter than if we heard from a conservative "What about abortion!?!"  The white American male heard that already, even gave it to Obama for eight years to also include them, but the changes for them weren't enough and that's because we did't educate well enough.  It was a push forward without them. This election cycle they pulled us back, bitch slapped us and said no.    

Many have different beliefs about what Trump said, things that were so horrendous to most of us. Some believe he used his wild statements to get a platform, get attention and that he will reverse his stance. Others believed he had to say those things because its all part of the campaigning and will reverse his stances to at least some degree.  One sign this could be true in some regard is that the Trump website took down the plan to ban all Muslims from entering the country off their website after the election was over.  However, he threatened a lot of groups and belittled them terribly over a year and a half so he made the divide huge. Children, families and even myself are frightened of what this man who has proven himself to be a loose canon will do.  

The additional problem for the Trump voter is that their willingness to not hear and over look the threatening, discriminatory statements he made has rightly inflamed others about the racism in this country.  However, we must remember that in light of darkness and lack of understanding, the best thing is revelation through education.  We must listen to each other because the election says and is meant to tell more about us than one man, Trump. 

Next...The Hillary Voter...