Friday, November 11, 2016
Trump Won By Offering What Others Didn't
Posted: Thursday, November 10, 2016 11:30 pm | Updated: 11:51 pm, Thu Nov 10, 2016.
Donald Trump is the president-elect. Congratulations to him on winning a hard-fought campaign, and congratulations to those supporters who stuck with him when it seemed impossible.
The time for comparing Trump and Hillary Clinton is over. It no longer matters. Election strategies and what should have been done is something best left to those pollsters now trying to figure out where they went wrong. The matter has been decided, and the result bitterly and grudgingly accepted by those on the losing side.
I want to talk about why I think Trump won. Frankly I don't believe it had all that much to do with Hillary Clinton. I believe Donald Trump won the presidency by giving America what no other legitimate candidate with means was willing or able to offer them.
That was a chance to vent their anger and let loose the dark feelings they have always been told are wrong. The opportunity to set aside reason, logic and process - and just say "Screw it, I'm going to say and do what I really want to say and do here!"
Now, that is not to discount Clinton's shortcomings as a candidate. She had a lot of weaknesses, and made an easy target for Trump. She was burdened with something Trump was not - a documented record as an elected or appointed official. She was part of the establishment, part of the system. And she has never been all that likable as a candidate.
But to use that as the main reason she lost would be to once again underestimate Trump. And I won't make that mistake again.
Trump recognized the pain a lot of Americans were feeling, and gave them something to blame it on. Illegal immigrants were a big target. Threaten to round them all up, send them back where they came from.
Don't worry about how to pay for it, or the details of how it would happen. It's OK if you make them all sound like evil people. Don't be concerned by the fact their children born here are U.S. citizens. Just make it sound fair and just, and let Americans rally around you.
Tie the woman you are running against to her husband's past infidelities, even though she was the victim in them. Blame her, because although they don't talk about it much, many people blame the woman when her husband cheats. Use her gender against her, and appeal to the misogyny that is still so prevalent in our society.
But if you think I am totally blaming Donald Trump for this - you would be wrong. He is not the cause of all this hatred and prejudice and racism. He didn't create it. It was already there, bubbling just below the surface.
Trump simply cultivated it. He farmed it. He saw it growing, fed it, and then harvested it like a crop.
Despite all our idealistic talk about America as the Home of the Free, we are a divided county in politics as well as social values. As our minority population continues to grow, our white population is feeling the loss of power. There was a tremendous reservoir of resentment that had previously not expressed itself at the ballot box. That changed with the 2016 presidential election.
I'm not talking about the KKK, or even some of the other despicable fringe hate groups. I'm talking about good old rural America - the Homeland, the Heartland, small town USA. In this election, it became OK for them to vote for someone who clearly demonstrated a lack of respect for women, minorities, immigrants and a host of others.
Donald Trump made it OK to let loose our prejudices. He allowed us to be irrational and operate on an emotional basis. Americans didn't have to believe what he said; many were just happy someone was making it acceptable again.
Most voters didn't even bother with issues this year. They didn't demand detailed plans or explanations. They just voted for the candidate who made them feel better, who let them blow off the ugly steam they had built up.
Trump didn't create racism and misogyny in America. He just harnessed the energy from it.
As Shakespeare wrote, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves ..."
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.