2016 Election Thoughts – Part IV (Trump’s Base)

November 15, 2016

2016 Election Thoughts – Part IV (Trump’s Base)

Books will be written about the angry people who elected Donald Trump. I lack the knowledge base, the data, and the time to do the subject justice. I do, however, have some thoughts.

There was a Trump Supporter, the other day, whose comments on Facebook followed this path:

Trump Supporter: He also promised to “build a wall” at the border, but that never meant a physical brick/stone/concrete wall between USA & Mexico. It also means security and upgraded patrols.

Trump Opponent: It absolutely meant an actual physical wall! I read where he actually described in detail how the wall would be made!

TS: You can’t build a wall across a river, for example, but you can still stop scum bags from crossing our border with a “wall of security” to protect our country.

Bottom line for this guy? Trump’s my guy, he’s tough, and he’ll fix it. (I don’t guess he’d believe More Mexicans Leaving than Coming to the U.S. The story, published by the Pew Research Center and written by Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, documents a net outflow to Mexico of 140,000 Mexicans.)*

On issue after issue, from border security to health care to jobs, Trump supporters have decided their man will be right, no matter what. The blankety-blank elites can take whatever they know and, as Dick Cavett famously told Norman Mailer, … fold it five ways and put it where the moon don’t shine.

So I think this election was, truly, not about policy at all. There will be changes for sure. Donald Trump will hack away at low hanging fruit straightaway. Planned Parenthood funding? Gone. DREAMERS? Fuhgeddaboudit. Estate taxation on couples with a net worth greater than $11M. Bu-bye!

The regulatory regimen will see bigger changes, although they will be less evident to regular people. Kiss goodbye Dodd-Frank. Limitations on coal burning power plants will die. And I wonder plenty about new wage and hour regulations, which go into effect on December 1, 2016.

Policy aside, though, I think this election was all about Team, and which team won. Trump supporters wanted to win, because winning feels good and, Lord knows, for too many people, there haven’t been many wins. Between automation and globalization, good jobs have evaporated, especially for uneducated and undereducated people. The recession hit lower income people very hard, and they had to recover into the downward-trending employment situation.

Above all else, Donald Trump made his people feel like they mattered. Here’s this famous billionaire, with planes and helicopters, for crying out loud, telling them they’ve been screwed, and that he’ll fix it. Details-schme-tails: The Man hears us!

There is more. In 1964, when he signed the Civil Rights Act, President Lyndon Johnson may or may not have said: We have lost the South for a generation. Said or not said, the Democrats have lost the South for more than 50 years, with no likelihood of a return for decades to come. The Republican Party effected a takeover with Richard Nixon’s 1968 Southern Strategy, and the continuing focus on Otherness since then.

The Other comes in many varieties. African-Americans in the South. Hispanics in the West (and, increasingly, in the Midwest.) Muslim terrorists. (For too many, I just repeated myself.)

Finally, there was the whole change thing. Ultimately, for more people in the right states—barely more, but more—change beat fear about incompetence.

The combination works. Act like you’re hearing people, and reflect back to them what they’re feeling. And do it when people crave change. Mr. Trump worked it very well, very much like a puppet master. With hindsight—damn, but we do see well looking backwards—the election outcome ought to surprise nobody.

(By the way, I appreciate the concerns which many Trump voters had about his opponent. She was never nearly as bad as she seemed, but she made many bad decisions, she’s a lousy candidate, ya-da, ya-da. Still, we elected an incompetent boob to run the strongest nation in the world. I see a Bad Moon Rising.)

*An old friend told me I was 180° wrong when I noted the absence of corruption in the Obama Administration. “Most corrupt administration ever,” said he. “Facts?” “I’ll get ‘em, son.” He won’t, because he cares not one whit about facts.

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