I know some people who voted for Trump. One of them doesn’t mind telling people he voted for Trump, but the one I want to talk about does not want to be known as a Trump voter. Therefore, I am going to discuss her anonymously.
She grew up in poverty, is an immigrant, non-religious, her native language is not English, she did some feminist activism in her youth, she is in favor of a single-payer healthcare system, has a Ph.D, and is vegetarian.
Some of you may be thinking that she voted for Trump because she has internalized misogyny. My short answer is: no, that’s not why, in fact she has done more to promote women’s rights than a lot of the women who voted for Clinton. Some of you may assume that she voted for Trump because she is racist. To that I say: like most white Americans, she has some racial prejudices. However, the only political sign she put on her home during this entire election campaign was for a black female politician who was running against a white male politician. If you think her vote for Trump was motivated primarily by race, please explain why she would put up a sign in favor of a black female politician rather than support the white male politician who was running in the same race.
If you’re thinking “If she is not religious, not sexist/misogynist, and has a sufficiently low level of racism to support a black female politician over a white male politician, then why the hell did she vote for Trump?” then my response is “That is a really good question.” And in general, when people say “How could anyone vote for Trump?” my response is “That is a good question. Talk with and listen to people who voted for Trump.”
If you want to know why she voted for Trump, it is this: ever since Al Gore won the popular vote but not the presidential election, she has on principle never voted for the candidate she expects to win California. That means she has not voted for a Democrat for president since 2000. Why Trump and not a third party candidate? I don’t entirely understand why, but her vote was primarily a protest against how the electoral college system prevents her vote from counting. And yes, she is mad that the candidate who won the electoral college is not the same candidate who won the popular vote.
Here is another question: why would anyone who has always opposed the Iraq War vote for Hillary Clinton, who voted for the Iraq War and never expressed any regret before December 2006, rather than Donald Trump, who never expressed clear public support for the Iraq War and was publicly opposed to it as early as July 2003? I think the most common answer to that question is “I would rather vote for pro-Iraq-war politician, especially one who later expressed regret about her vote in favor of the Iraq War, than an anti-Iraq-war politician who makes racist and misogynist remarks, has suggested restricting travel on the basis of religion, is in favor of deporting undocumented immigrants, and will appoint Republicans to the Supreme Court.” If you are someone who has always opposed the Iraq War yet voted for Hillary Clinton, feel free to share your answer in the comments.
I have been really disappointed by the level of vitriol aimed at Trump voters in this election campaign. Note I said at voters, not at Trump himself. I am so okay with saying Trump is deplorable that I’ll go ahead and say it right now: Trump is deplorable. I do not support him, and I did not vote for him.
However, I believe that Trump won in spite of all of his terrible qualities because for too long politicians have refused to listen to the demands of working class voters. If the Democratic party listened to working class voters – like it did fifty years ago – I do not believe that Trump could have won this election (I know, not all Trump voters are white, but the majority of them are).
To be sure, there is a vocal minority of Trump supporters who are openly misogynist and racist. However, I do not believe that there were enough of them to allow him to win the electoral college. For example, the hypothesis that Trump voters were primarily motivated by racism does not explain how Trump got slightly more support from Latino and African-American voters than Mitt Romney in 2012. It seems to me that the majority of people who voted for Trump were people who wanted to reject the political establishment, not people who enthusiastically embrace misogyny and racism.
While I refused to vote for Trump myself, I think the American people were right to reject the establishment. After all, the establishment brought us programs like HAMP (more specifically, the Obama administration, since it was a program run by the executive branch, not the legislative branch). Why would voters who lost their home thanks to a program run by a Democrat president be willing to vote for another Democrat for president?
Critique Trump’s political agenda all you want – there is certainly a lot about it I don’t like – but if you want to reduce the popularity of people like him, I suggest talking to the people who voted for him and learning about their concerns rather than dismissing them. One of the most effective ways to get someone else to change their mind is to first let them express their views and then listen to them before discussing one’s own views.
And when you talk about people who voted for Trump, remember, you are talking about people.
I recommend reading this and this. I also think that Elizabeth Warren has a pragmatic response to Trump’s victory.