Tuesday, August 21, 2018

America Voted For Trump Because Of Who He Is, Not In Spite Of It

Published in HuffPost
November 16, 2016 - 12:18 pm ET
By Rich Weissman, Black Butte Ranch, Oregon (www.richweissman.com)

What was the election truly about? How did Trump wind up winning? His campaign, candidacy and success at the polls were unlike anything we have seen before. So what was the essence of his appeal that allowed him to surprise us all and be victorious? Let us be honest: we were stunned by it all and reasonable people did not expect a Trump candidacy nor victory. And we are in shock now because it does not seem to make sense.

But it does make sense now that the election is over if we take a different perspective.

I believe that the election can be reduced to five tipping-point factors that caused white, Christian, heterosexual, male-dominated Americans (both men and women, and particularly among the less educated) to specifically turn to Trumpism as a backlash against ...

1. We had a successful African-American President and first family for eight years who showed dignity, grace and intelligence

2.  Hispanics are becoming an increasingly large portion of the U.S. population, and Muslim presence in the U.S. is increasing and more visible

3. Same-sex marriage became the law and LGBT rights are on their way to full implementation

4.  The Confederate flag was being removed in various ways, and this hit home not just to those in the South, but as a symbol of the end of racism and the full recognition of African-Americans and minorities as equals, and the beginning of a new chapter in race relations

5.  A highly competent and educated woman was running as a major party candidate

This was just too much for white, Christian, male-dominate heterosexuals, particularly among those with less education. Just too much.  So they supported someone ...

1.  Who was a key promoter of the Birther Movement that challenged Obama as a legitimate President

2.  Who openly and clearly disparaged minorities in outrageous, mocking and taunting ways, and focused attacks on Mexicans as the primary enemy, and Muslims as the secondary enemy

3.  Who purposely picked Mike Pence as a running mate, a man who is best known as a leader for those opposed to all LGBT rights

4.  Who used a plethora of symbols of racism, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic icons as part of the campaign, and who focused on nativism and Christian white nationalism as a foundation

5.  Who openly talked about women in the most demeaning and vile ways, and even bragged about assaulting them, using unprecedented vulgar language as part of the campaign, presenting a super-macho facade

This is what this election was all about. Not issues (and not economics), not even Hillary Clinton. And it is now clear to me that no Democratic candidate could have won. There were plenty of other GOP nominees if these people wanted to focus on their issues in a civil way. But that was not what this election was about. They like that he mocks the core values of our political, government and election system. They like that he refused to release his tax returns and pays no taxes. They like that he has a history of cheating people. They like his bullying and macho tactics. They like that he consistently lies and knows nothing about governing and does not want to learn about political issues. They like that he uses the most vile language, and stands for the most horrific things about minorities, and behaves in the most disgusting manner that would make most people unacceptable in any form. They like that he is a complete child-like narcissist without any moral core. They like his obsession with sex and women’s genitals, and that his wife posed naked for pornography and that he talks about the size of his penis. They admire all of this. They really admire it. These attributes allowed Trump’s support to grow. And the more the other GOP candidates and the Democrats pointed out all of his transgressions and vulgarity, the more his base supported him. This was different than any other previous election, which would have quashed his candidacy with his first disgusting tweet.

But his base wants someone who is going to bring America “back” to the days where one could openly talk about America as a Christian, white nation run by macho men, free to engage in the most disgusting “locker room” antics and free to display uncontainable macho, where one does not tolerate “the homos” and where “uppity” minorities, immigrants and outspoken women are put in their place (and not just Clinton, but GOP candidate Carly Fiorina who was also an “outsider” and very conservative, Fox’s Megyn Kelly, Ted Cruz’s wife (!), other female reporters, and other women who he attacked, e.g. Elizabeth Warren, Janet Yellen, and many others.). A nation in which white Christian men are free to be vulgar, mean, self-centered and crudely display their love of money. It is that simple. That is why the more outrageous Trump became, and the more venomous and rough his language and his foul behaviors, the more his base cheered. They like how he breaks all rules of civil conduct and his disregard for common courtesy, and the way he dismisses the structures of our government’s system of checks and balances and the law. They like his macho anarchy. They like that he is Putin-like. They like his reality show tactics. That is why he was able to win the nomination as no other GOP candidate would sink to his level. And this is why his appeal was so strong among his base in the election itself.

Let’s be clear: everyone who voted for Trump knows who Trump is and what he stands for. They were not fooled. They want him and his vulgarity, mean spirit and hatred. They voted for him BECAUSE of these attributes, not in spite of them. And now in retrospect, that is what stumped all the pundits and rational people who were repelled by Trump (including me - I assumed Hillary would win). Mind you, among all US adult citizens, 47% stayed home, and only 26% of voters cast their ballots for Trump (less than Clinton), but enough to garnish the Electoral College plurality. And now we live in a nation in which disgusting language and behavior, hatred and bigotry is rewarded by the “good Christians”. It’s a world turned upside-down.

It is disturbing and sickening, and we need to call it out for what it is. We need to tell these people that they are nothing short of horrid vulgarians, bigots and fascists. We should not waste our time examining the underlying “issues” nor trying to fit this election into the standard post-mortems. We should not just “move on” as if this were a normal election. This was different, and its essence is based on bigotry, homophobia, misogyny and macho. Nothing more. And it took election night returns to wake the rest of us up and see what was unfolding before our very eyes. There is serious work ahead, but it will require understanding what the Trump base is all about. I do not yet have answers as to how to get the nation back on track. This will require altogether new ways of thinking and analyzing election results. The first step is accepting that the issues or other GOP candidates or Clinton herself played little or no role. It was the five factors above were the driving forces in this election. And that hurts. It hurts a lot. We need to get our arms around that before we can figure out what is next.