If you’re reading this, you’re probably not a Trump supporter. You probably stand against bullying, racism, sexism, and/or ignorance. You may be scared of/for Americans. You probably don’t think Trump is the greatest person on earth. I know because Trump supporters don’t think so either.
You’re probably a well-educated, hard-working, white-collar jobholder who follows current events (at least casually), can afford Christmas presents (at least for mom) and looks forward to the future (with at least a hint of optimism).
Not everyone is like you.
I’m a child of immigrants. My parents force fed the importance of hard work, good grades, and strong education in sciences or finance. In this obstacle course of life, I came out on top. I’m not delivering food (my father’s first job) or painting nails (my mother). I have a well-paying job, cover my monthly expenses, with savings to travel anywhere in the world once a year for a week. Excited for tomorrow – my numerous potential career paths could prove both challenging and intrinsically rewarding.
Not everyone is like you, and me.
Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac? – George Carlin
I’m not dismissing the possibility that Donald Trump could be racist, sexist, ignorant, or playing the American people for suckers. I am not dismissing that some supporters are indeed racist, sexist, and/or ignorant. I am not dismissing the fact that having Donald Trump’s face with the other Presidents of the United States in Smithsonian museums doesn’t bug me too.
I want to share another side of the story. One that I’ve tried to put together for my own sake, to gather my own thoughts.
We have two choices:
- Understand what motivated Trump voters
- Blame Trump or attack Trump supporters for being racist, sexist, xenophobic primates.
I want to try and answer my own question:
How did Donald Trump win?
Many Americans vote for the party, not the candidate. In a 2014 survey of over 25,000 Americans, one-third self-identified as Democrats and one-quarter of respondents self-identified as Republicans. (2014 Party Identification Detailed Tables)
Humans enjoy consistency, especially after active and effortful commitments. From a psychological point of view, after making the commitment to a party, the mental stress of contradictory beliefs, ideas or values causes the mind to ignore certain beliefs, ideas or values in an unconscious effort to reduce that mental stress. This is the theory of cognitive dissonance.
How did self-identified female Republicans respond after Trump’s p*ssy incident? Many shrugged “Oh, that’s just how men talk,” ignoring the contradictory values and reduce mental energy. She was going to vote Republican regardless.
What remains are those who don’t self-identify with either party.
Why were the polls so wrong?
There are plenty of reasons, but one is very obvious to me. The shy Trump supporter.
The media portrayed Good Hilary Clinton as rational, educated, experienced, and the rightful heir to Obama’s desk. Supporting Evil Trump meant supporting bullying, racism, sexism, and intolerance.
I bought a Trump MAGA hat while I was in Washington DC. I’ve worn it twice, in front of my friends, just for some giggles. Too embarrassing to wear any other time. I felt people would judge me, or someone would blindside punch me.
I understand if you believe this is a setback for racism and sexism movements. I don’t want Trump’s face in the history books either. But perhaps our concerns – well-educated, hard-working, white-collar, current events reading, Christmas-shopping, optimistic-futures – aren’t as severe as those who don’t have what we have.
Imagine if you graduated from college and earned an annual salary of $100,000. You pay rent, eat food, sleep in a comfortable bed and enjoy recreational activities with your family, friends, and neighbours. One day, scientific advances take your job away. Robotic computers automate all engineering jobs. Jobless, your quality of life plummets. While this is happening, condominiums are being built at an unprecedented rate. You sit and watch as others build on their riches. You read the news phrase these new developments as they contribute success to working hard.
In the near future, truck drivers will be replaced with driverless cars. How would they respond to losing their jobs? How would they feel?
The western world’s success increased the average quality of life of its population. But not everyone’s a winner. Labelled as uneducated, stupid, lazy, barbarians, they asked for help and they were told NO. They found their voice in Trump.
Psychological distance makes it difficult to relate to people who are different from us. Appreciate half of the voters either believe in Republican values or have suffered from globalization. Democracy doesn’t favour the white or black, educated or uneducated, smart or stupid, we all have concerns for ourselves and we each vote once.
There is no right answer to all our problems, but we would be one step closer to solving them if we listened with concern. Instead of bullying and name calling. Be good, be tolerant and perhaps we will all learn to understand each other’s concerns as well.
Thank you for reading. Please provide comments because it would help so much.