Some Thoughts Of Secret Voters -- Did Our Labels Keep Them Hidden?

What about the other Trump supporters?
Did everyone behind Trump share the same thoughts? U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump pictured with supporters
Did everyone behind Trump share the same thoughts? U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump pictured with supporters

Raise your hand if your predicted Trump’s victory when he announced his candidacy. Almost no one believed you. The U.S. economy showed gains in several metrics used to judge its success—since Obama took office. Hillary would make that case, while adding the longer list of shared achievements in the last eight years. We admired Bernie, but his age and idealistic agenda reminded realists that a more visibly matured Obama struggled to push a comparatively moderate platform. So Hillary, the imperfect messenger of supported causes, would run against Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio and perhaps even struggle against John Kasich. People would believe that forecast—the popular expectation in June 2015.

Trump bulldozed everything in his way to the Republican nomination. His approach gave us a tired list of adjectives used to describe him. By extension, and mistakenly, anyone counted as a Trump supporter suffered the demonizing condemnation of that label—with “angry” and “uneducated” being the least extreme label qualifiers. Without question, a number of his supporters embody the spirit of the demonizing adjectives: a list so constantly repeated you can recite five items now yourself—and off by heart.

The list, however, creates a part of the problem. What about the other Trump supporters? Our ability to easily recite the list left us without any terms to describe middle-of-the-road people who found some valid ideas in Trump’s platform. Hold on, what valid ideas did Trump have? The automatic shutdown. So secret supporters held secret thoughts, with little intellectual curiosity and attention placed on their line of reasoning. Fearful of the label, they were left no real avenue to express their thoughts, except the ballot box, reversing the Bradley effect.

If you didn’t know any lonely Trump supporters, like Troy, then Michael Moore criticizes your sense of “shock” over his victory, arguing you have lived in a bubble and did not pay enough attention to the other side. If you did know Troy existed, we often assumed what was important to him. The list. The disqualifiers. The liberal media, coworkers, and international actors kept harping on the disqualifiers. Despite Troy’s many endearing qualities, the disqualification strategy ignored the fact his own views on gender equality were also unfortunate. So while ethically valid, the disqualification approach often precluded any discovery of what actually mattered to Troy, or discussed the merits of his attraction. Mainstream media did not focus on such discovery, and even refused to pan cameras to show crowds in rallies, making the counter-active labeling of “dishonest media” an easy sell. Keeping the secret, to avoid the label, showed as much desire for our approval as it did our failure to master the art of disagreement—on topics that were “settled”.

There will be a beautiful doorin the wallfor people to come in, legally!

Most countries in the world have rapists, criminals and drug dealers. It’s not a uniquely Mexican affair. Supporters like Troy focused on the words “when Mexico sends its people, they are not sending their best”. For secret voters, his comments were about the “smart” government of Mexico, and an assertion they do not always police the boundaries for national convicts, rather than a sweeping definition of all neighbors south of the border. The politically correct class, however, developed “and some, I assume, are good people” into a notion that Trump was anti-Mexican—and every subsequent comment was read in light of that very first campaign speech.

There are some bad hombres

Is it racist for angels moms to explain that undocumented migrants killed family members in crimes, ranging from hit-and-runs to shoot-outs? Even if they acknowledged their experience was not a generalization. Yet angel moms were still largely dismissed. What did we think: Paid actors? Not progressive? Not smart enough to believe Hillary also cared about borders? U.S. citizens and documented migrants commit crimes too, so why was it taboo to include harder to trace migrants in our conversation? Or admit the more liberal “pathway to citizenship” for all might not correct the concerns of bereaved family member—among the hurting folk Kasich pointed out.

They have to pay: NATO & Allies

Supporters like Troy had to watch this zero sum conversation. Phrased as two mutually exclusive options: “American allies need to invest more in their own defense spending, so that America can redirect the surplus its currently being relied on to provide” or “that reckless Trump position leaves allies vulnerable to attacks by shared enemy states. Or will make the U.S. a mercenary.” Yet Trump raising this idea, like much of his business-like a/b testing, might lead to a smart third option: Trump eventually maintaining the commitment to allies—and—allies paying their fair share, so finances could be diverted back to Troy’s family. Nothing encouraged Troy to think about the “and” — just the recklessness.

He is treating me unfairly

Judge Curiel was truly American, using birth as the esteemed litmus test. Yet some dared to accept the human possibility that Curiel’s membership of La Raza Lawyers Association and mainstream interpretation of Trump’s comments about Mexico (the country of the couple who gave birth to him) could inform his broader views on Trump. While all of his affiliations are celebration worthy, Troy may not have accepted the politically correct notion that Curiel was a robot, averse to being offended. Immune from seeing Trump differently, and any other conclusion, was surely racist.

Until we figure out what the hell is going on

Trump declaring an offensive ban is of secondary importance if roughly 49% of the population actually supports the ban. We undermine the fact some Americans have not had the privilege of having Muslim friends, classmates, neighbors, colleagues and lovers. For those who have not, like Bob, a member of Troy’s coterie, the unfamiliarity gives rise to questions asked of many other unfamiliar minorities, which is not, should I be afraid (we generally know the answer to that) but am I allowed to be afraid? The ban came after an attack on U.S. homeland, amid mixed views on the “responsibility” of the Muslim community in denouncing and resisting terror attacks. Familiarity, migrants and homeland attacks did not come together for all voters in the way we assume it should for nuanced city people. By the way, if we don’t reach out to the unfamiliar, if we keep distance—are we better?

Our jobs are fleeing the country, folks: The Rust Belt

The well-measured economic recovery under Obama, conceivably, did not extend to Troy. Keeping historical perspective of others left behind, Troy’s particular demographic lost jobs in the manufacturing sector. Troy made daily choices between paying for power supply or feeding his children. Add to that, the deliberate fantasy of a self-funding candidate, not beholden to lobbyists who help companies outsource jobs. My older brother forced me to concede that some people did not have the privilege of thinking about the negative messages a Trump presidency sends to the world. Troy cared more about voting for a well-identified solution to urgencies in his own world. Promises are just step one, yet Troy prioritized personal factors, relegating the factors itemized on the list—a distinction separating many Trump supporters from voters.

Knock them the hell out

Martha Raddatz. Second debate. One of the rare media voices who offered thoughts on why launching a surprise attack on ISIS might be a bad idea—in contrast to a detailed strategy that provides timelines ISIS could access. While Troy might concede Trump probably lacked any real plans, this approach could make sense to people like Troy when Trump did make a plan.

I like veterans who weren’t captured, okay?

Veterans in the U.S. are often overlooked, including those who are not captured. It’s wrong to insult McCain’s legacy, but a spotlight landed on less famous veterans Trump has raised money for—who returned safely and often suffer from neglect.

I can tell you that – believe me!

Psychologists call it cognitive fluency. Simple language. Brash delivery. Repetition to make sure it sticks. It connected. When you throw in the legendary mid-sentence digressions, we have to admit there was a comical element too. Crowds screamed the answers to his questions at rallies, finishing sentences for him. We all could. What was his plan for Obamacare? Hillary’s surface credentials exceeded the test for presidential timber. Most of us agree on that. Yet this was a season where being qualified counted for something, but connecting counted for everything.

We’re going to win – like you won’t believe it

The bizarre split of the voting numbers show three progressively bitter truths. Hillary would have won in most other democracies. Second, swing state votes that were not cast or wasted on third party alternatives made this outcome possible. Third, uncommitted liberals failed Hillary (not vice-versa), by sitting it out on election night as prisoners of their expectations, concerned more about her past than the future they expect, and discounting the idea it was a future she would protect. Instead, their “message” only proves that no amount of protest, after the fact, matches the potential of a wasted vote. Actually, four, a minority with an agenda is more powerful than a majority with no agenda.

Bind the wounds of division

Jon Stewart challenges the idea that anyone who voted for Trump must be defined by the worst of his rhetoric. We hate the idea, he says, of creating people as a monolith (Muslims or others). “They are individuals, it would be ignorance.” Yet it is easy to paint everyone who voted for Trump as a monolith. “They are individuals, it would be ignorance.”

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