In 2010 I sat in Peru, Indiana’s Harvey Hinklemeyer restaurant with a group of Libertarians. One older guy there had been an auto worker. His job-making dashboards or seatbelts or something had been sent overseas. He blamed Bill Clinton. He had been unemployed for several years and worked odd jobs. He said most of his coworkers had moved out of state to find work. The community had radically changed in the 1990s and the 2000s. Friends had moved away. Schools had closed. Favorite restaurants closed down. Entertainment venues closed. Tax revenue shrunk so basic services were threatened. In the north, it’s lost industry. In the south, it’s selling family farms while working in coal plants.
I heard this same story in every county of this state from 2008 to 2012. I’ve talked to dozens of people that tell me about the good old days of their community. It’s when they loved their town and took pride in it. What moved in? Drugs mostly along with some low paying warehouse jobs.
They rightly know government costs them what they loved. So they’ve asked government for a solution. Instead of solutions, they’ve gotten Todd Youngs. Some little nerd that says the right things but really just wants to be a part of the Washington elite. People like Evan Bayh and Dick Lugar didn’t give a sh$& about them. They are tired of being lied to and being unrepresented.
I grew up in an upwardly mobile town in the suburbs. I’ve never seen my community die off. Most of rural America has. I grew up in a family with two well-employed parents and I’ve never been underemployed. Most of rural America has. Most of America feels like their economic situation sucks while doing the jobs of three people if they do have a job.
Along comes Trump. He finally says to the Washington elite what they want to say and he doesn’t apologize for telling them to “fu$& off.” He feels cathartic. He doesn’t play their shallow games. He doesn’t want to be liked by the people that have made the lives of these voters miserable. He could care less about the Sunday Shows. The people on your tv tonight are playing a game resembling the old courts of Europe. He makes them feel irrelevant (because they are), and they are lashing out of insecurity. No one exemplifies this system more than Clinton.
These are the people that stole their community, their economic security, their friends, their schools, and their future.
It isn’t about racism. Yeah, there is bigotry amongst this group. These are decent people that want to be proud of their lives and where they live. It isn’t about keeping anyone down. It’s about regaining what they lost. It’s about getting their kids fed, clothed, sent to good schools, pay a mortgage, buy a car, and every other pocketbook concern we all face. Make America Great Again isn’t about returning to the civil rights era. It isn’t about being the “superior race.” It has everything to do with money.
We do a disservice by mocking and making a caricature of the Trump voters instead of actually trying to understand them. In doing it, we’re buying into the propaganda that was built to win Democrats an election. By writing off the Trump voter as a racist makes you as bigoted as they are. That’s why they react to “white privilege” and being called racist so sharply. It’s just ignorant.
Trump is a cretin and morally reprehensible. These people agree. They just think he will give them back the things they’ve lost. Pocketbook issues will always win in the end.
I voted for Johnson. I’ve been pretty clear on how much I hate Trump. But having experience with people that had their everything stolen from them, I understand it. If we are going to heal as a nation, we do too. We have to stop being condescending, dramatic, holier-than-thou, and mocking if we want to actually build a better America together.