I spent the past several days in the Grand Tetons trying to detox my psyche from the depressing tenor of the recent campaign. It was there amidst the natural grandeur of the place that I found a certain clarity…an epiphany if you will…as to why Donald Trump will become our nation’s 45th president.
In hindsight it is all very simple.
Donald Trump will be our next president because the American electorate is not very smart.
I know that every pundit and politician parrots a version of this all too familiar phrase: “The American people are smart. In the end they will always get it right.”
In this particular case…not so much.
DEMOCRATS STAYED HOME: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote; but 6 million Democrats who came out for Barak Obama stayed home. Some stayed home because they didn’t like Secretary Clinton as a person. Many African Americans stayed home because they felt that the party in general and Clinton specifically had taken them for granted. Some did not feel that President Obama kept his promise of change. Others stayed home because they could not bear another Clinton in the White House. Some voted for Trump. The reasons vary but the facts remain the same…Dems did not turn out in sufficient numbers for Hillary Clinton. They all stayed home and handed Trump the keys to the White House.
Dems stayed home and now they are freaking out.
African Americans are worried that Trump will roll back decades of hard fought civil rights victories. Hispanics are freaked that Trump will round up family members and toss them over his beautiful wall. Muslims fret that Trump will establish a religious test for entering the country, target their mosques and impose his “extreme vetting” policies. Women worry about Roe v Wade, equal pay and family leave while gays see the legality of same sex marriage as short lived.
These groups either couldn’t be bothered to vote or turned their backs on the Democrats as a matter of protest. Now they are scared to death and wondering what in the world they have gotten themselves in to. Then they hear that Trump is considering guys like Bannon, Giuliani, Sessions, Flynn, Kobach and Christie for leadership posts and those concerns get very real.
PISSED OFF RURAL WHITE FOLKS FLOCKED TO TRUMP: Rural white Americans believe that the system is rigged. They see the rich getting all the breaks while they are left struggling to meet ends meet. Government doesn’t work for them. So they turn to an outsider. Trump tells them he’ll make America great again. He’ll bring back high paying manufacturing jobs. He’ll lower taxes. He’ll bomb the hell out of ISIS and send all the Mexicans and Muslims and foreigners packing. Trump doesn’t give any specifics but these folks don’t care. They don’t care about his language, or the way he treats women. They just want to give the middle finger to Washington and Trump promises to do just that. “Drain the Swamp.”
Now that Trump is elected the details of his plans…or the lack thereof…start to crystalize. He’ll lower taxes…but 83% of Trump’s tax breaks go to the top 1%; 15% to those making over $150k and 2% to the rest of the working class. Most of Trump’s supporters will get a tax break of $300-$750. Don’t spend it all in one place. It’s the return of the same Reagan/Bush trickledown economics that crashed the economy in ten years ago. The “big beautiful wall is now a fence. He won’t deport all 11 million illegals just the criminals. He’ll repeal Obamacare but no one knows what he will replace it with. $20 million people will have to find someplace else to go. He’ll bomb the hell out of ISIS…which Obama is already doing. He says he’ll create jobs by passing a one trillion dollar infrastructure bill. But his own leadership in congress says that’s not going to happen because there is no way to pay for it. He says he’ll pass term limits but his own party leadership laughs aloud. And as for draining the swamp of the lobbyists and special interest groups…his transition team is chock full of them.
Look, I get that the American people are mad as hell and want to upset the apple cart. But as self-absorbed Americans are apt to do…they viewed the situation through the narrow prism of their own daily lives without giving any thought to the big picture. Anger and impulse won out and now the consequences of that decision will be played out in full.
President Obama has encouraged us to give the new administration a chance. He is right, of course. President Elect Donald Trump is our legally elected leader and he should be given all the respect that position deserves.
That said…we must never forget the racism and bigotry that ran rampant in his campaign. We must never overlook the blatant appeals to white supremacy groups, the misogyny, the vulgarity, the insults and ugliness. We must never overlook the denigration of African Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, Gold Star families and the disabled that became an integral part of his campaign routine. Nor should we overlook his lack of knowledge and apparent lack of interest in the details of foreign and domestic policy.
It has been said that Donald Trump’s supporters take him seriously but not literally. That’s insane. Words matter. Particularly those uttered by the most powerful person in the world.
And make no mistake America…we have made Donald Trump the most powerful person in the world. He alone has the power to wipe civilization from the planet. Think about that for a moment and this “unusual” election becomes very real.
The American electorate has spoken. In my view they have recklessly allowed their anger and emotions to cloud their judgement and elect an alarmingly flawed and unqualified candidate to the most powerful position in the world. I believe the consequences of that wrongheaded decision will be severe. I believe the palpable unrest and fear that is rampant in this country is but the tip of the iceberg.
For those of you who believe that I may be over stating the case, I leave you with this…
The day after the election I received a text from my son informing me about a conversation that he had with his 12 and 10 year old daughters…my granddaughters. They are white and have African American and Hispanic friends. He texted: “It is beyond sad that this morning I had to explain to my girls that he (Trump) won. They know what he said. I had to explain that everything would be ok. They were unsettled for sure. You never had to do that for me after a presidential election. How amazingly sad and disturbing is that?”