Does a Vote For Trump Mean They’re Enemies?
Understanding Without Agreeing, Keeping the Peace Without Keeping Silent
Where I work, like so many other places in America, talking politics is off limits. Most of us do it anyway, as long as it doesn’t lead to conflict. While we are pretty set in our ways politically, and don’t really want to be influenced to think otherwise, we’ve learned to be accepting of others’ opinions. Since the election of 2016, friendly discussions on policy and what is going on in our government have gone completely silent. Opinions are not just different, they are polarized, and silence is usually the best way to keep from seeing these people as the enemy.
I have family and friends on both sides of the spectrum, and I have found this silence denies me the opportunity to get to know these people better. So, I made a request on Facebook to those who voted for Trump to interview them on why they voted the way they did. One friend said it best when he posted in response; “I have lost too many friends since the election and don’t want to lose any more. My intentions are to kill some of the monsters in the closet and allow us to see that those who voted their conscience did so not because they are prejudice or blind to the social quandaries of others, but because they too are affected by decisions made in our government.”
Trump voters want the security of knowing we are safe from terrorism
I think that this is one of the issues that causes the most division. I know I speak for others, as well as myself, when I see the closing of the borders to Muslim countries, as well as Mexico, as an act of bias. That is not, however, the reasoning of those who support the bans. One interviewee stated that the government should have a little bias in the effort to keep us safe as American citizens. It may not always be right, but these are real people making policy for an entire nation and they are doing the best they can with their own human flaws. She reminded me that we all discriminate to a certain extent. Maybe not a specific religion or nationality, but an age group or a social status. How many of us go into neighborhoods more concerned about our safety simply because of where we are? And although we are a very accepting nation, one of my interviewees stated that she sees the problems of immigration in foreign countries and does not want to see these same issues in our own. As she put it, when they come to America, they should be willing to embrace Western values, which are different than those in other countries. Religion should be absolutely respected unless it is potentially harmful. Assimilation, however, is that of culture, not religion, and in the same way we go to other countries and adopt their way of life and laws, those who come here should do the same. One of the biggest concerns was the free flow of young men and women to travel to countries where terrorism is taught, and then allowed to travel back to western societies where they could carry out acts of violence. We’ve all watched, with great sadness and anger, the events in London and Manchester this year. There have been small and large events of terrorism in the last sixteen years, and for those of us old enough to remember 9/11, these recent events conjure up memories of that morning. These people I interviewed have friends and family from Muslim countries, so it isn’t the religion or even the nationality that is seen as a threat, it’s what is being taught by groups intent on harming us and the influence they have on anyone willing to listen. They want that influence terminated.
Since the election of 2016, friendly discussions on policy and what is going on in our government have gone completely silent. Opinions are not just different, they are polarized, and silence is usually the best way to keep from seeing these people as the enemy.
These same people have friends and family from Mexico. Again, it isn’t bias against nationality, it’s anger against those who come in freely with intent to harm. Most from Mexico want to simply come and work and better their lives. However, vetting is a challenge for the masses. One of my interviewees stated that America is, and should continue to be, a loving and generous country, but we need to improve how we screen those who come here. More so, if those coming here to improve their lives are living in the same poverty that they left behind, something needs to change in immigration so that their opportunities are better.
Those who voted for Trump want their voices heard
After the election, I read some of the demographics of people who voted for Trump. Some of the key supporters were those who have felt the weight of unemployment without the ability to improve with a college education. Our country has become richer in many ways, but it seems those who are poor and unemployed before haven’t benefited from this improvement. College is costly, and if you can’t pay for it outright or put it on your parents bill, it furthers debt without the promise of better employment. This demographic feels like they are far less heard than the college educated and rich. They voted for Trump because they felt like they weren’t being listened to, and this man was willing to hear them. Another demographic that felt unheard is the Christian voice. In an effort to make our country religiously and culturally accepting, Christians feel that their beliefs have been undermined. They want a Conservative in the Supreme Court to represent them. There is no doubt that the issues in our country are seen from different perspectives, but I can understand the need to have my values represented. Our government needs to expand diversity here so that all people, no matter what their religion, nationality, or beliefs, are heard.
Trump offered to improve employment from a business standpoint, not a political one
Again, employment is a big issue when voting. It’s very easy to see this issue from where we are financially. For those of us who work for someone else, we see it from the standpoint of how much we bring home to pay for basic necessities. If it isn’t enough, our issues are taxes and minimum wage. If we make enough to meet the bills, issues are the cost of health insurance to the middle class, which by the way, is very expensive. I interviewed one person who owns a business and one of his big issues was the cost of his own premiums after the Affordable Care Act. They had increased enough to make it unaffordable for him as an employer. So, he took a cut in workman’s comp for himself, which offset his overhead cost. He believes that lowering the taxes on businesses would enable him, as an employer, to hire more people at a decent wage. If taxes were lowered for all small businesses, there’s enough of them across the country that it might help bring employment to more and strengthen the economy. Another valid point is the concern that the Paris Agreement might be a needed change for world climate, but it would do little to improve employment for those whose skills are in manufacturing and fossil fuel. Change takes time, but the time that it takes to change could cost a man his home if he’s too old to learn a new skill.
Many, not everyone, who voted for Trump saw him as the lesser evil
A lot of people I interviewed were like the rest of us: we were given two choices, neither of which were exceptional, and asked to vote for the one we saw as less offensive. For some, Hillary Clinton represented the things we valued, but she was a career politician. Then there were her remarks about the “Deplorable”. That was enough to consider her hidden bias of certain demographics. As one of my interviewees said, that was when “she cooked her goose”. We vote on multiple issues in the general election, but it is usually the candidates that we believe share our views who get our votes, and we vote hoping for the best outcome.
The President of the United States should represent all the people within its borders. That is impossible to do because our country is so diverse. Those in government are from the walks of life that were assigned to them and like the rest of us, probably walk with blinders to everything but what they know from personal experience. It doesn’t make them bad people any more than our differences make us bad. The key to change is not just hearing, but listening and understanding a point of view that isn’t ours. We may be set in our ways, but if one of those ways is respect for someone who isn’t us, I think we are well on our way to peace.