Why Trump Won
It won’t surprise you that I was not expecting Donald Trump to win. I was #NeverTrump from day one. I don’t regret that one bit. Based on his record I have no reason to expect that the President-Elect is going to govern like a conservative. But like all rational Americans, I accept the fact that he won. I hope he does well by our country and I hope he governs like the conservative that so many supporters of his claim that he is. I don’t have a lot of confidence in that, but let’s hope we can be pleasantly surprised. It will be incumbent upon conservatives to stay the course and hold him accountable for what he does and how he governs.
But that’s still off into the future; we need to unpack why President-Elect Trump won. As you know we at Red Maryland talk to people in the “real world” frequently. It was not a surprise to us that so many people outside of the major metro areas voted for Trump. These voters have been disaffected, they have been disillusioned, and the idea that Trump could be elected as an “agent of chaos” (so to speak) to disrupt the goings on of establishment Washington is certainly appealing. It turned out to be much more appealing than I, you, or even Trump’s inner circle anticipated.
Some people blame the Republicans for that sense of disillusionment with establishment Washington. I disagree. Congressional Republicans often get nabbed with the blame by Trump voters, except those facts just don’t add up. For example, Trump won Wisconsin on Tuesday, but back in August Paul Ryan steamrolled a Trump supporter who challenged him in the primary. If the true source of the disillusionment were Congressional Republicans, more of them would have been defeated in Congressional primaries. As it were, only three Republicans were defeated in primaries; two of them because of new districts through court-ordered redistricting and the other, in Kansas, saw an “establishment” Republican defeat a “Tea Party” incumbent.
No, the primary source of that disillusionment is Democratic overreach. The voters, particularly in the Rust Belt, are part of the old Democratic Party. It’s why the Clinton campaign was banking on the “blue firewall” of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to save them on Tuesday night. Trump, of course, won all three. The voters that swung those states are primarily blue collar, factory workers in towns that have been struggling for years based on their declining industrial base. Trump’s protectionism appealed to them.
But these voters would not have switched to Trump primarily because of trade issues. There are so many other issues that led to their decision to switch to Trump:
- The Affordable Care Act has been anything but affordable for most Americans. Despite promises that Obamacare was going to health care cheaper and more accessible, these days it’s neither due to skyrocketing premiums and the closing of so many Obamacare exchanges. Due to the skyrocketing premiums, people are choosing to pay the fine instead of getting healthcare, making them worse off than they were in the first place, particularly painful for those voters who are already struggling economically. Voters realize that they were lied to about the impacts of Obamacare and how it would affect them and their families.
- These Trump voters are socially conservative, usually Christians. They see how liberals are attacking religion as a whole, and churches in particular. It’s not particularly conducive to reach out to Catholic voters in the midwest when the Obama Administration repeatedly sued Catholic groups, including the nuns like the Little Sisters of the Poor, over Obamacare issues when Obamacare was clearly attempting to force these religious groups to violate their consciences by paying for birth control that not only was unnecessary but violated the very tenets of their faith. They see how Christians are being sued, fined, and forced to go out of business because their religion does not believe in gay marriage. Pushes for assisted suicide so that it would be just as legal to kill old people as it is to kill unborn people. They see fights over transgender bathroom issues and the idea that biological men are really women because they “feel” like they are as strange, foreign and scientifically inaccurate. These Trump voters see these issues for what they are; attacks on their faith.
- Liberals continue to attempt to push new and restrictive gun laws. What they fail to realize is that most swing voters in the Midwest are gun owners who understand that such gun laws are aimed at restricting access to or confiscating their weapons, but can’t understand why such laws would be fruitful while cities with restricting gun laws like Baltimore and Chicago have such high murder rates.
- Breathless coverage of protests infuriates these swing voters. When these folks are trying to look for a new job or keep the job they have to try to keep a roof over their head or food on the table they have little sympathy for people who take the streets protesting, damaging property, closing businesses, and blocking roadways. It doesn’t matter how noble the cause is, there is little relation to people, primarily in big cities, who have enough disposable income to drop everything and go yelling and screaming in the streets with their iPhones and their fancy kicks.
- The Entertainment industry, both the news media and in Hollywood, treat Middle America with contempt. Hollywood stars who talk about nothing other than liberal politics and abortion. Movies and TV shows that are designed to glorify coastal values and to denigrate those of average Americans. National Geographic peddling a “documentary” by Leonardo DiCaprio talking about climate change from a perspective that is both political and unscientific. A media that calls every Republican and every voter who has traditional values an “extremist”. Is it any wonder why average Americans don’t take their cues from the media or from entertainment figures when both are telling these voters why they’re terrible people? These folks are bigoted against average Americans because they never talk to a single person about life outside of their “elite” circles.
- And the cultural rot of politics into everyday life. You can’t do anything these days without it becoming some sort of political firestorm. When you watch the NFL, you see breathless coverage of players who won’t stand for the Star-Spangled Banner. Half of ESPN’s coverage is of political issues instead of what’s happening on the field. The NBA moved their All-Star Game out of North Carolina because of the transgender bathroom bill. Sports, which had been the last politically neutral cultural touchstone, has now been overrun with liberal politics and virtue signaling. These Trump voters often like their sports, and the infiltration of politics into them is a significant reason why they’re turning the TV off of NFL games.
There are a number of other factors as to why Trump swept the Midwest the way he did. But these are but a few of the issues where Democrats and liberals from the coasts significantly outkicked their coverage and tried to reach too far outside of the American mainstream. This isn’t an issue about rights; even on issues like gay marriage I’d be willing to be that the average Trump voter is more receptive to accepting its legality more than coastal liberals will expect. But the issue that most Trump voters (and really, most Americans) have is the fact that these issues are being pushed on Americans as the only right way to think of things and that if somebody steps outside of the groupthink on those issues that they are a racist, a bigot, a misogynist.
Voters gave the middle finger to that idea on Tuesday.
Journalist Salena Zito, who probably was the most insightful of all journalists when it came to getting out of the cities and talking to people who ultimately became Trump voters, nailed it yesterday when she noted that Trump voters were hiding in plain sight:
Dr. Anthony Ripepi wants the cosmopolitan class — who so misread everything about this election cycle — to know the first thing they might want to shed is their constant mocking of those who live in flyover country.
He also wants them to know that despite the gnashing of teeth over the mere thought of a Donald Trump presidency or the rise of his supporters as an electoral force, he holds no malice.
“The Trump presidency will never be a threat to their way of life the way progressive policies were to the values Trump supporters hold dear,” he said.
Even now, Democrats and coastal liberals are refusing to learn their lesson. Many are flowing out into the streets to protest Trump’s presidency. They are complaining that the voice of the people is being denied because the wrong people voted for the wrong candidate. They refuse to understand the purpose of the Electoral College is to prevent the rights of the states with large populations to overrun the rights of those with smaller populations. They’re calling for violence in the streets. And they are completely missing the lesson of this election. Their continued overreach is already making voters, some of whom never voted for Trump in the first place, more sympathetic to him and his administration. They don’t want to understand what happened, they don’t want to understand why voters rejected them and their policies, they don’t want to understand the way that people have been affected by liberalism, but government overreach, and by their attempts to snuff out traditional values. All they want to do now is protest and disrupt, clueless as to how such actions distract from their political points and makes voters less conducive to give their arguments, policies and candidates a second look.
Trump voters disrupted the apple cart too, but they did it at the ballot box after years of being ignored by the coastal elites.
Liberals made Trump. Liberal overreach got Trump elected. Unless they understand it, the Democratic Party may wind up being the party left on the ash head of history. If they want to learn their lessons, they’d be planning on how to get out to the people to talk to them and hear their concerns. They’d spend less time concerning themselves with the opinions in the liberal salons and coffee clatches and more talking to their base voters that abandoned them across the country (including here in Maryland). They would listen more to parents, teachers, and business leaders, and less to entrenched politicians. That’s not just something that happened in 2016; that’s the exact campaign philosophy used by Larry Hogan when he was elected Governor in 2014.
There are other lessons to be learned from 2016 (not the least of which is the fact that Congressional Republicans often outperformed Donald Trump in Senate and Congressional races across the country, including here in Maryland). But if Democrats and liberals want to understand why Trump won, if they want to understand why voters rejected Hillary Clinton, if they want to truly learn from the experience they would have to stop what they’re doing and take a look at the mirror. And past experience tells us that just will not happen.