Reflections from a “NeverTrump”

I’ve been “NeverTrump” from the beginning, even when he ran for president back in 2012. Denny Burk does a fair job summing up my thoughts on Trump, from both a Christian perspective and as a US citizen. But now that he’s been elected, I’ve been reflecting on where I go, and watching and listening to what others are saying and doing.

Overall, post-election behavior in this country is largely the same as the pre-election behavior, which is to say that people aren’t listening to each other. Here are my reflections in the aftermath.

  1. Trump wasn’t elected because Republicans are racist.
    I know this is a common talking point by those on the left, but it doesn’t hold. Talking to people who voted for Trump, and looking at the overall numbers, it’s evident that the working class in the majority of this country feel abandoned and marginalized. The manufacturing and other high-quality jobs that used to pepper the rural areas of the country have been moved elsewhere, resulting in the middle class and working poor having grave economic concerns. Trump was able to speak to those concerns, and build a movement around it. He has been an outspoken opponent of NAFTA, of shipping jobs overseas, and of the TPP, each of which are considered to take jobs from working-class Americans. Those who voted for Trump aren’t some sort of secret racists just biding their time to take over the country. They are people who have felt their concerns have been ignored, and were willing to overlook Trumps racist, misogynist, and immoral tendencies in order to be heard.Similarly, these same middle-class workers – you know, those who are being economically overlooked – are being further drown by the mandates of the Affordable Care Act. There are things about the ACA that I like, and I think were necessary, but the resulting spike in mandatory healthcare premiums threaten to bankrupt many families, even with federal assistance. The fact that open enrollment started on November 1st, and families saw a 50-100% increase in their premiums certainly affected the election.

    These working class families also tend to be more traditionally religious than the working class in urban areas, and they were afraid for their religious freedoms. They were afraid their churches would be forced to perform homosexual marriages, or that their businesses would be shut down because they didn’t provide abortion coverage. And they believed that their deeply felt religious convictions were being ignored in Washington. Once again, Trump supporters were willing to overlook Trump’s inconsistency on topics of religious freedom because he spoke to those concerns in a way that connected with people.

    As I read about those who voted for Trump, and as I talk with those who voted for him, most cringe at his inconsistencies and racism, but basically say that they had no other choice. To accuse the majority of his supporters of being racist just doesn’t bear out.

    That being said…

  2. The Republican party tends to attract racists.
    There has been a spike in hate-related crimes since the election, many of which bear the name of “Trump”, though most of them seem to be perpetrated by children, and no official numbers have yet been published. Nevertheless, this indicates what the Democrats have long asserted – that the Republican party tends to attract the racist fringe. Donald Trump was endorsed by the KKK, David Duke is a Republican, and it’s fair to say that those with similar leanings tend to vote republican. These events reinforce in the minds of Democrats that the entire Republican party is racist.The irony is that liberals have tended to come to the defense of Muslims, stating that just because the radical fringe of Islam is violent doesn’t mean that all Muslims are violent, while the far right has argued otherwise. In this post-election season, it seems that those same liberals paint the Republican party with the same “racist” brush, while Republicans argue that a few isolated cases shouldn’t apply to everyone.

    Since many who voted for Trump did so for reasons of economic and religious conviction, there has been a call for Trump supporters to denounce Trump’s racist, sexist, violent statements. With only some exceptions, I’ve found most Republicans either baffled by this call, or unsure how to do it. I’m pretty convinced that’s where the safety-pin movement has come from. But in the meantime, those opposed to Trump’s invective are taking to the streets, using social media, and shouting as loud as they can muster.

  3. The protesting democrats aren’t “spoiled brats”.
    I see this thrown around a lot these days – that the protests are ineffective, that only those who have no jobs can find the time to protest, etc. The first time I remember hearing of this was during the Occupy Wall Street protests, and later during the Black Lives Matter protests. Then, doing some research, I found that it’s an accusation almost as old as protest itself in the US. I’ve encountered a lot of people who just want to chalk up the protest to being a tantrum by people who are unemployed and sponging off others.The protesters, though, are a mixed bag. Let’s all agree that destruction of private property is wrong, just as wrong as the vandalism and intimidation that appears to be emerging from the Republican fringe. The real issues at stake with the protesters are solidarity with those who fear the policies of the new president, policies that may tear families apart due to immigration reform, or force Muslims register with the government in order to live in the US. They’ve taken to the street to show that they won’t be silent about such things if they become reality.

    But they’ve also taken to the streets to show solidarity with each other over shared economic concerns. Millennials graduate college with an average of $35,000 unforgivable of student loan debt, will likely be underemployed through their first several years out of college, and unlikely to find a job in their field. The economics of healthcare in this country make it out of reach for most Millennials, and the widening wage gap threatens the existence of the middle class – not only for Millennials, but for everyone. Yes, they are in the streets because they are underemployed and don’t see how the system is set up to help them. Trump seems like a step in the wrong direction, and they want to see change that matters to their future. People can argue about whether or not it’s effective, but diminishing the struggle is equally as ineffective.

    Most conservatives, especially of the Boomer-era, have mostly forgotten these sorts of concerns, and have also forgotten how to peer into protest to humanize the protester. Far from being a tantrum thrown by spoiled brats (though there are probably a few), the protests are a way to show solidarity around a shared set of values and concerns. I wish both parties would listen to this more closely. If they had, maybe Trump would have faced a better democratic opponent.

Of course there’s more that could be said on these topics and a number of others, but one thing is an important takeaway. Let’s not let an elected official, regardless of whether or not you voted for him, get away with things that go against our values. If we really are a country that wants equality for women, equal treatment for all religions, and a healing of the racial divide, and I think we are, then we ALL need to stand against anything that threatens those values. Let’s figure out how to redirect anger at our personal values being violated to action, and not mere acceptance. Let’s find and back those people who effect change in ways that are meaningful to us. And let’s never forget the power of our voice to divide or raise up, to pray or to curse, and to change reality.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Reflections from a “NeverTrump”

  1. Thank you for this well-thought-out post. I am having such a hard time finding my bearings in this post-election chaos, and I just wondered the other day what you think about the situation. I appreciate a little reflection that doesn’t attempt to inflame, but rather to enlighten. What are your thoughts on the environmental fallout? This is the issue I find myself most disturbed about because climate projections were so dire even before this.

    Like

    • Good to hear from you! I’m also concerned. I’ve never been a climate change denier, though I’ve found some room to wonder if it’s truly anthropogenic. But here’s the rub – the stakes are too high to assume that it’s NOT anthropogenic. The XKCD comic (https://xkcd.com/1732/) is downright scary. The US needs to take action, not only internally, but also using its influence to get other nations to do the same.

      Trump seems truly uninterested, and in fact has stated that he wants to revitalize the coal industry, which is a bid for support from those disenfranchised workers I talk about in the post. Revitalizing coal is a grave mistake for all kinds of reasons. But, if I understand the economics correctly, coal is no longer economically feasible (http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/05/05/like-manufacturing-jobs-to-china-whatever-trump-says-mining-jobs-are-not-returning-to-w-virginia/#1b8c84566f48), which means it isn’t coming back unless someone tampers with the market. (The Forbes article states that fracking has led to natural gas being the most economical fuel right now, but fracking is troublesome on its own, especially as it comes to water quality. If we mess up our water, we’re screwed.) In short, Trump can’t make good on his promise to bring back coal.

      Other than that, I’m not sure what to say. I’m concerned. I believe we need to do something. But I need experts to help me best understand what that thing is, and Trump’s pick as the transition leader for the EPA is a climate change skeptic (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/11/11/meet-the-man-trump-is-relying-on-to-unravel-obamas-environmental-legacy/). I’m not sure good science and good environmental policy are going to prevail in the next few years. At least right now, one week after the election, the best way I can vote for the environment is with my dolla bills, y’all.

      Like

      • Yes- what I was hearing regarding climate change before the election was end-of-the-world bad (interview with the author of “the 6th Extinction” was particularly terrifying). Seems like we might just love/hate each other into the apocalypse if we don’t make some serious change yesterday. I don’t think we had 4-8 years to waste (backtrack). And I’m hardly an environmentalist.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmmmm. You do not mention why you (apparently?) were more aligned with Trump’s opponent. Did you find that you fundamentally were in agreement with her? Your comment ‘(coal’s) not coming back unless someone tampers with the market’ is a bit opaque, which I find very ‘Un-Ben-Like’. Care to elaborate?
    I voted for Trump because he is pro-life and Hillary is not. I don’t love Trump but I think he was the best choice among the very poor choices with which we were presented. Is he a jerk? Unquestionably. Is he crude, rude, in-yo-face, and obnoxious? Affirmative. But he is against killing babies while they are still in their mother’s womb, which should be the safest place imaginable for a child.
    As far as the environmental concerns: The United States is now capable of being entirely energy independent. In fact, we are now EXporting our own oil. This is one reason the Soviet Union (Poutin) is nervous. It would bankrupt their government if some of the countries surrounding Russia were able to purchase oil from US rather than from Poutin. He’s been the most convenient option for the surrounding countries prior to the US achieving energy independence and even exporting. There are (and have been) methods for reducing most of the pollution caused by burning coal and much progress has been made on reducing the ‘acid rain’ component as well. I believe a solution might well have been implemented already without the virtual abandonment of coal as an energy source. The science is definitive that we have global changes, yes. Are these changes a natural process exacerbated by our actions? I lean towards ‘Most Likely’ but am not convinced that there would be absolutely no natural warming and/or changes in the absence of our ‘unintentional assistance.’
    I very much respect your opinion and your right to that opinion. You did stop short of calling Trump supporters idiots and I appreciate your restraint.

    Like

    • I’ve never said I voted for Clinton.

      My statement about coal not coming back is supported by the Forbes article I linked – including the advancements with “clean coal”. The raw economics of coal don’t support it coming back as a primary energy source any time soon. As of this year, most of the power in the USA is supposed to be generated by natural gas (based on predictions in 2014; 2016 numbers are not yet available), and the trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Coal power plants are even being retrofitted to burn natural gas because of the fuel savings, and because putting in those features to reduce pollution are, in many cases prohibitively expensive. The bottom line is that burning coal is not as economically favorable as other fuels. So, unless someone tampers with the market by, say, subsidizing coal production with tax dollars, coal will remain at an economic disadvantage.

      The jump to saying that I “stopped short of calling Trump supporters idiots” is going well beyond what I say in the post. I don’t think supporters of either party are idiots, but they both have their flaws. I defend both Trump supporters and liberals in the post, and also take both to task for the various ways in which they have jumped to conclusions in this election cycle.

      Like

  3. I’ve read, reread, reread, and read your post again. It IS more balanced than it appeared at first read (in the middle of the night last night). I did not accuse you of voting for Hillary…….You are a brilliant man, if I do say so myself, and you may vote for whomever you deem most deserving. I think everyone was mobilized, rather than paralyzed, by fear of the least hated losing.

    You are straddling a barbed wire fence, though, which is a dangerous, precarious “non” position. So, where, generally if not specifically, do you intend to land? Or, perhaps, you, as you are inclined to do, are simply attempting to incite conversations that engage your audience in a more thoughtful dialogue than we have thus far witnessed— from EITHER side?

    An ‘aside’, or a ‘point’:
    Fracking itself is controversial. We’ve personally experienced two magnitude 5 plus earthquakes in the past 8 weeks. While the sensation is totally cool and freakishly terrifying, I would not say that it is enjoyable. (Duh.) Fracking seems the likely culprit, but no one is 100% sure. Perhaps this is a good example of your point: There are those on both sides who firmly believe that they are 100% right but they have 180 degrees of separation between these two sides. (Actually, there are a LOT more than two sides!)

    Trump is a supremely arrogant man and has many, many flaws. Hillary, likewise. There is never a perfect candidate because there are no perfect humans……..well, there was One, and just look what we did to HIM!! We recognize errant behaviors all too well, but are less observant of goodness.

    Do you believe that bad people are 100% bad? Or that good people are 100% good?

    Listening to each other, as you prescribed, is a good start. And wouldn’t it be GREAT if listening lead to understanding which lead to solutions which lead to loving and caring for our brothers and sisters, regardless of their color, creed, or status. If only we would love each other, truly love each other. But we are too busy noticing their weird orange wrapadoodledoodoo hair and their pantsuit wardrobe.

    Now, let’s all join hands and sing ‘Kum Bah Yah, My Lord. Kum Bah Yah.”

    Love my lil boy……….

    Like

    • I chafe at the idea that I’m straddling a barbed wire fence. Whose fence is it? Why is made of barbed wire? And why is it dangerous?

      My position isn’t a non-position. It’s a position that we’ve stopped listening to each other and as a result we can’t make sense out of what is going on. Anxiety and fear have turned us into things that we hate, which deepens the anxiety and inability to listen. I start to get at these concerns in another post. (https://benrhodesblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/03/interacting-without-non-clinical-anxiety/)

      If our primary way of dialoguing others is to resort to works like “racist”, “Nazi”, “baby-killer”, “tantrum”, then we need to take a step back. There are better and more challenging ways to disagree with each other. I believe that most of us are smart enough to use those ways, but we’ve let the powers of the world polarize us to the point where anxiety warps us. I’m on a quest to express myself with my anxiety attended to properly. I’m on a quest to be quick to listen and slow to speak, and even slower to become angry. I refuse to let fear dictate how I interact with the world. This post is merely a step along the way.

      That being said, some things in the world are deeply concerning. Fracking, for instance, is highly likely to be responsible for geologically destabilizing large regions (resulting in earthquakes like you’ve experienced in Oklahoma), but also has great potential to poison huge ground water resources. If we humans mess up our water – and we have a really good track record of messing things up – then we’re in a world of hurt. I’m not going to let fear of fracking determine how I interact with the world, but I am going to let my concerns about the larger impact of fracking guide who and what I support. I’m not a fan of fracking, because I believe it has caused issues which are yet to be fully determined, and because the industry has so greatly fought regulation. Companies won’t even disclose how they know the areas in which they frack aren’t connected to groundwater, and what chemicals they use in their fracking solution! My bet is that that the solutions are highly toxic. Stuff like that is worth taking action on.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s