I have friends and family members who voted for Trump. Yes, I realize you are shocked, but it’s true. I have pondered this fact a lot over the past year, and I’ve figured out some things. My friends and family members who voted for Trump fall into three distinct categories:
Uneducated Self-serving Fed up
Meet the Uneducated.
When my Trump-supporting family members are asked why, they cite all kinds of reasons, not one of which is based on a fact-oriented analysis. One read The Truth About Hillary—a book about many things, all of which fail to uncover truths about Hillary. I explained to her that there’s information out there about how the book is meant to manipulate without containing any fact-based analysis, and she had zero interest in discussing it (or even hearing it). Her eyes glazed over with that “you are such a Liberal and therefore dangerous to my belief system” look that I walked away from the conversation . . . and her. When I asked another family member if he thought Trump would do more for him than Hillary, he replied in the affirmative but was unable to provide me with even one concrete way. And, if you ask him today what Trump has done, he replies, “a lot,” but is still unable to state a single fact-based example.
By this point, you have met my family members who just didn’t take the time to do their homework, and who, by the way, will suffer the most under Trump and his policies.
Now, say hello to the Self-serving.
This possibly hurts me the most. In a close-to-contentious conversation with a close friend at his multimillion-dollar house overlooking (although distantly) the water in the summer of 2016, I asked him why he’d even contemplate supporting Trump. “I worked really hard for my money,” he replied angrily. “I want it to go to my children, not the government.” This is possibly the hardest reason to reconcile. Both his kids are on the dole, and the view that they enjoy so much will surely suffer from the ocean changes that will be nurtured by Trump’s policies, but hey, the money will be safe. When the new tax plan was announced, I noted that his coveted inheritance tax is right where he wants it to be. Good for you, sir. Well done. And how will your kids’ kids fare as a result of your decision? Not so well, I’m afraid.
And, for the Fed-up.
This is the one that haunts me – makes me pause. I have a smart friend—much smarter than I could ever aspire to be, although I recognize that part of what makes her her is that she works far harder and more intelligently than I do. She voted for Trump. We have had many discussions about it, but none of them left me feeling like I did following my conversations with the Uneducated and Self-serving groups.
Me: “D.T. just basically canceled the EPA. I know how much you care about clean air and water. How do you reconcile that?”
Her: “Well, the EPA has been in charge for decades, and the environment is a mess. A MESS. Maybe the EPA needs to go away and be replaced by something else.”
It was a mind-blowing moment. She doesn’t believe in the government that has been running the show, and if electing a crazy person (she doesn’t fight me on Trump’s sanity) means that we all wake up as Americans and take note of that which is happening around us—and the responsibility to fix it—then maybe that’s what’s needed. Blow up the Washington that was destroying us without our noticing so that we can hear that warning buzzer and not remain the self-centered Americans we have become.
She would get rid of government altogether, I suspect, but the premise of her perspective is not lost on me. I’m actually beginning to think she may be right. Since I’m now paying attention in a way I hadn’t all those years, I’m seeing the awful people running the country without the shade they lived in before, and I’m not sitting idly by anymore. I have read more than I ever have in the past. I have donated to candidates I would never have known were running. I am writing about politics in a way I’d never even considered before. More than ever, I’m paying attention to who is leading. I’m engaged.
So, in the end, this category—the one containing this brilliant friend of mine who thinks we need to rebuild from scratch since things can’t be changed from the inside—is the one I hear loud and clear. And it’s the one that gives me hope. I do a podcast on movie reviews, called Screen Thoughts, and in a recent podcast discussing Kevin Spacey’s industry exit, I said that we have lived in the shadows of reality. I believe that the stark sunlight of truth around Hollywood was too blinding to bear; we have to stop creating our own shadow reality and face the full truth so it can change.
It’s true for politics as well, and I’m ready. I see my fellow Americans with more clarity. Their silence over the past years rings in my ears, and while I abhor where they have gone as an answer to their having been ignored, I believe they can change. I believe that I, too, can change. As for categories one and two—the Uneducated and the Self-serving—I have left them behind. They are in my rearview mirror, not part of the landscape in front of me.
I welcome the new year, and I thank you, D.T., for waking me up from a sugar-induced slumber. And, it’s not about you, D.T., but rather, we the people. I can work with that. I will change. I will not slumber at this time of turmoil. Bring it on 2018!