Dear Trump voters, can I say how that looked to the rest of us?

To Trump voters, I don't presume to know what motivated your vote. I'm guessing ultimately most of you voted your conscience. I'm from small town Ohio. You people are my family and friends. I get angry when people stereotype you, and I really do think we're all in this together. I do my best not to be smug and dismissive because I care about you, and so many of you are among the most important people in my life.

But if I can be so presumptuous, can I speak for half of the voting public to say how that looked to the rest of us?

I'm asking, not as a sore loser (because no one actually won in this year's election cycle), but because I genuinely wonder if you know how that looked. And because the first step to moving forward is understanding where the other side is coming from.

1) The first thing is that it's hard not to conclude from this election that you're at least a little bit racist. Trump started his political career as the key proponent of old school racist propaganda, in the birther movement, and never apologized. Why did the dog whistle politics work? Why wasn't it shocking when he characterized undocumented immigrants as rapists and murderers?  Or refugees as terrorists? So many of us were legitimately horrified because we think of those groups as primarily containing human beings with the same hopes, aspirations, and right to life as the rest of us. Why didn't it matter to you that the Klan endorsed him? A lot of covertly racist things happen in American politics, but this year it couldn't have been more obvious that Trump was openly racist and not working on it. Why do so many people think that, but it didn't register as a crucial issue with you?

It's hard to believe that when you say you love America, you don't actually mean (white) America. At least a little. At least subconsciously.

2) The second thing is that it is hard to think now that the conservative movement really believes in personal responsibility. So much of the Trump campaign amounted to blaming other people for your problems. Muslims, immigrants, liberals, the government, media, the Clintons. And it seems like you looked around at your situation and agreed - yes, those people are the problem. It was shocking in large part because conservative rhetoric focuses so much on taking responsibility for your own situation, and Trump offered so little in that regard. It's really difficult to think that you really own that - that the Republican Party is really the party of hard work and rugged individualism.

It's hard to think anymore that you believe in the American dream, and it's hard to think that you're committed to working through America's problems with the rest of us. People are worried exactly because of this: they're worried that you've given up on trying to fix problems together, and are going to take the easy road of scapegoating people you don't understand or care about - that you will attack the rights of society's most vulnerable as an alternative to taking responsibility for your own issues. It's not an irrational fear. It's scapegoating, it's a common dynamic in history in social situations like ours, and it is the tyranny of the masses that our federal system was set up to protect against.

3) So many of us are disillusioned with politics as usual, and I understand this year how so many people didn't want to vote for another establishment candidate. And I understand that Hillary represents that to a lot of people - I get it. But it really seems like you replaced politics as usual with a guy who is a legitimate demagogue. A guy who thinks he knows more about ISIS than our military commanders, and who has marketed himself as a political Messiah who will solve all of your problems on January 20th. I know Obama did some of the same stuff, but this really does feel different. Trump's a guy who undermined our democracy by repeatedly suggesting that the election would be rigged and that he wouldn't concede if he lost. And a guy who has openly praised other demagogues like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Il for their strength. To most of us who agree with you that Washington is plagued by corruption, it seems like you rallied behind literally the worst available solution to the problem.

And if this election was really about taking back the country from the elites, and the establishment, why did you want to give it to a man whose whole identity revolves around being rich? Who puts his name in gold on everything he owns. Why is the coalition of voters against him made primarily of society's most vulnerable - women, the queer community, blacks, immigrants (legal, because they're the only ones who can vote), Hispanics? Why was it white males (including the college educated) who broke so decisively for Trump and not any of those other groups if he's really going to help the dispossessed?

Maybe this election really was about standing up for the working class, but why were only the white working class (my people) on board with that? Whatever your own race/gender/sexual orientation, it seems like you just threw America's minorities under the bus.

4) And, whatever your motivations, it's hard to believe that you aren't at least a bit anti-woman. Why didn't Trump's salacious "pussy grabbing" comments trigger you as rapey rather than just locker room talk? In this election, even if you think they're both bad, why did you read the absolutely open misogynist as a better option than the woman? Why didn't the Howard Stern interviews matter to you when he rated women on a scale of 1 - 10 and bragged about sleeping with married women? And why did you believe a guy like Trump rather than the women that said he sexually assaulted him? (Was it really about the benefit of the doubt? Did you believe Bill Cosby under similar circumstances?) Why doesn't it matter that Trump cheated on both of his first two wives (verifiably) and by his own account actively attempted to cheat on his current wife (whether or not he was successful)? Can you see how that looks? How most women would feel betrayed by your vote?

5) And if you say you want to end the corruption, why did you elect a New Jersey Casino magnate with verified mafia ties in the New York/New Jersey construction industries? Why didn't it matter to you that he has verified Mafia ties? And why didn't it matter that he was mentored by Roy Cohn and friends with Jeffrey Epstein? Maybe you didn't know? But there were articles and news stories. Why didn't that register? Do you really think that's going to be the guy to clean up Washington?

6) When the party that is traditionally the representative of religious conservatives elected a man who embodies the antithesis of your values, why was there no prophetic voice this year from the Churches? It wasn't split. Why did 81% of evangelicals believe that Trump is an acceptable representative? Why did you fall in line behind that guy? It's hard not to feel like you sold your soul for power. You might have reasons, but it's hard not to conclude that 2016 is the year that the Church unequivocally lost its claim to moral authority in America. It's hard not to conclude that Christians have either been used or don't really have the courage of their convictions.

Maybe you disagree with those interpretations (and we'll have years to work through our disagreements) but whatever your motivations this is absolutely how this year's election looks to the rest of us.


Dogman said…
Well to start you have no interest in starting a conversation. Nor are you interested in our point of view. You jump right into painting all the Trump voters with your liberal brush. So I will not even attempt to converse with you.
Unknown said…
Seems like you just did - I get the 'fuck you' impulse, and I'm fine with being told how you feel about it. I just told you how this year read to a lot of us, and why it was so shocking to so many people. You don't have to engage with me but I hope you will engage with some of that reality. If you have any interest in working with other Americans, you need to know how all of this rhetoric sounds. Just like I need to know how my rhetoric sounds.
Unknown said…
Great read i agree with alot of what you said. Im also a white man from a small town in ohio and let me assure your not the only one who is feeling like this.
Dawn said…
So u would rather have elected an elitist who literally got away with so many crimes, accepted her husband's many affairs, paid off and threatened those women, used a "non profit" organization guise to line the pockets of her family, was proven to have cheated another candidate from what might have been a victory for him, has accepted foreign monies in the millions contributions for her non profit, believes in killing unborn children, and has been linked to many more atrocities, turned her back over 600 times to cries for help from the embassy in Lybia, then when questioned about the death of 4 Americans, said "what difference does it make?".....yea I can see how that would have made a much better President. Before you get too judgemental, why don't u give him a chance. He might surprise u.
Sarah Thornbery said…
Thank you, Tim! - Sarah T.
Unknown said…
Timothy...great post. I live in Ohio, but used to live in New York, so I have both perspectives. Most people in Ohio only know Trump from his reality show. I know Trump from witnessing many of his business and moral failures. In New York, he had great distain for the common worker and only viewed them as someone he can use and abuse. Voting for Trump from the perspective of those who know him connects to many of the points you've raised. I hope he surprises us all.
Unknown said…
The short answer is, yeah, I would have rather had Clinton. The longer answer is in a post here:

I sincerely hope you're right that I/we'll be surprised by Trump, but I also think it's our duty as Americans not to mistake 'giving a chance' with 'giving a pass' to our leaders. I think liberals made that mistake at times during the Obama years. I also believe in dangerous personalities, and I believe that Trump is one. I hope I'm wrong.
Unknown said…
Yeah I had to stop reading at the very first #1. You make a completely fallacious argument that if a candidate has quality X, then their voter must be at least partially X. As if you have to at least somewhat support every single quality of a candidate.

By that same rationale, someone could say that if you supported Hillary, then I must conclude that you are at least a bit of a liar, seemingly corrupt, and extremely careless.

If you can't see that it's still valid logic that you can vote for a candidate while completely disagreeing with quality X, then I don't see how you can support anyone.

If you correct your first point, I may read the rest - you seem to write well, but start your argument poorly.
Unknown said…
Thank you for taking the time to write this. It is how so many of us are feeling. We are confused and shocked as to how and why, we Americans, have chosen someone like Trump to represent us to the world.
Unknown said…
It is not a fallacious argument to question if Trump supporters are a little bit racist. If a candidate "sells" a particular set of viewpoints, it is fair to ask what that candidate's supporters really think deep down inside. Clinton did not "sell" the viewpoint of her being politically corrupt or as an alleged liar, so that argument doesn't hold up.
Unknown said…
None of your characteristics of Hillary are proven; all of Trump's are. His abhorrent actions are effing WILLFUL, and hers are not. And there are a TON, not a few, reviling traits associated with him. You voted for him; then, that's all okay with you.
Unknown said…
Oh Dawn...
1. She was investigated for those so called crimes MULTIPLE TIMES and there was no criminal activity found.
2. What in God's name does her husband having an affair have to do with her. Remember Trump was the one that actually HAD the affairs.
3. There's no PROOF she threatened or paid off anyone.
5. The DNC and DWS were proven to have had a bias in the primaries. Hillary's camp literally had not to do with that.
6. Again, the Clinton Foundation is an INTERNATIONAL organization and they taken in foreign dollars because those are generally the countries the money go to help in.
7. Abortion is legal. Roe v. Wade happened.
8. You obviously didn't read any of the Bengahzi reports. so, in sum, you're wrong.

Yes, Hillary Clinton would have made a MUCH better President. Please stop getting your information form Faux News.
Unknown said…
patty - you are blinded by bias clearly. you didn't even understand my post - I am not comparing candidates, I am attacking the premise of the argument. it is completely possible that someone can disagree with and not associate with every negative quality of a candidate, yet still have reason to vote for them.

Timothy's argument is that if you vote for a candidate then you must have at least a little of every negative quality that candidate has. All it takes is one counter-example to prove that argument wrong.

I am one example. I am disgusted at the things Trump has said, don't support it, and will publicly denounce it. I still voted for him as a difficult judgment call of comparing two bad choices.

I'll also disprove your statement that none of those characteristics are proven:
1) Hillary has been caught several times lying - here's an easy direct comparison:

2) seemingly corrupt, I said seemingly meaning perception and it is subjective. 55% of msnbc poll respondents say they think she is corrupt:

3) extremely careless, yes this was "proven" if you accept the FBI investigation conclusion. that's why I used the words:
re-read the transcript:
Unknown said…
questioning is one thing, saying it's "hard not to conclude" that you are at least a little bit racist is a different thing.

i already wrote my post showing why it's a false argument. it only takes one counter-example to prove an assertion about everyone is false.

So long as we keep stereotyping large groups of Americans in negative ways, we will remain a divided country. As long as we keep resorting to opinions without researching facts and rationally debating, the more we will remain closed-minded.
Anonymous said…
Unknown you literally just described the pinnacle of what Trump represents to all the rest of us in your last paragraph
Cassie said…
I was in Israel during the election which was almost surreal. I normally would have been fearful traveling in another country after the US elected a white supremacist but given his anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim rhetoric we were actually just surrounded almost entirely by Trump supporters. It was completely bonkers and surely one of the oddest places to experience the election. It was so strange to go to the Yad Vashem (holocaust museum) the day the election results came in and hear Jewish Israelis praise the president elect.

Your post helped remind me that there are still reasonable people in this world.