Today’s news filled me with despair – as a citizen of the world, as a woman, as a person of colour, as a human. Even though the results of the American election has a drumroll effect on the rest of the world, and tells us a lot about about the general mindset of a large portion of population, I cannot even begin to fathom how an American might feel, especially one that feels now more than ever, that they are experiences are worth nothing in a country that claims to be great.
I had a lot of election conversations today to try and understand why a forward thinking country like USA would vote such a hateful man into power, and it is evident that I did not know the socio-political issues facing Americans, I had a narrow viewpoint about what I expected them to be, and my friend American friend Jess helped to explain to me just how this came to be. I thought what she had to say was so enlightening and interesting that I had to share it with everyone:
Trump didn’t win because of why you think.
Yeah, some of his supporters are bigots, sexists, racists- just like him. And I don’t know what percentage they made up of everyone who voted red, but they’re not the reason he won.
He won because he pandered to the disenfranchised; to the people who have lost their jobs, their homes, their hopes, their dreams, and are living in a world they feel has done them nothing but wrong. They’re bitter and angry because no one is fighting for them. Politicians come and go and most give the same spiel- tax cuts, more jobs, etc etc. But in most of those small towns, nothing changes. Big cities get the attention, and you can’t fault people living in rural areas for resenting that.
And then along comes Trump, claiming to fight for them, specifically. He will bring back their stolen jobs, their lost opportunities. Never mind that he’s part of the social rung that caused a lot of their problems in the first place, never mind that he himself has done a lot of the things during his time as a businessman that he now condemns. He tells them that he will fight the rich and powerful- the ones responsible for their hardships (never mind that he IS one of those people). And yeah, he plays on their fears- warranted or not- of the unknown or the misunderstood. He feeds them propaganda and tells blatant lies.
But he speaks to THEM. He doesn’t lump them in with a giant group of people using phrases like “middle class” like most politicians; he talks about their situations, claims to know how to fix them, to understand their plight, and NO ONE ELSE has done that.
You can’t be surprised when they latch on to someone who finally notices them and their struggles, regardless of whether he’s being genuine or not.
Trump is just charismatic enough to get them to look the other way when it comes to his- many- shortcomings. And the media fed into him, giving him a daily platform to spew his lies and hate, spreading his message for him.
Die-hard Republicans were never going to vote Dem, especially not for a woman, doubly so not for Hillary whom they’ve had experience with; that’s not what the issue was this election. This country has always been- in recent history- divided fairly evenly red and blue. That’s nothing new. Trump didn’t win because he convinced more people to come to his side; he won because he convinced more of those people to show up and VOTE.
The usually happy to stay at home on election night, thinking there was no point in them voting because it was all an elitist race between politicians who didn’t care about them so their vote ultimately didn’t matter potential voters- those people heard Trump and they reacted accordingly.
And while the left was busy squabbling over a decision made months ago- splitting the liberal vote between who is probably the most qualified person to run for president ever, third party candidates they didn’t actually want to become president but felt comfortable enough in their own privilege that they could “vote their conscience” and condemn more than half of the population of this country to possible losses of human rights, and write ins/joke votes (including 11k for a dead gorilla), in addition to the usual non voters- Trump managed to unite the right, regardless of what high profile politicians felt about him- remember, this is not about them- and bring in record numbers of voters.
And that’s why Trump won and America lost.