Three Million Votes Is Not a Lead

Source: The New York Times

It has often been said, in a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee, that “one stock is not a lead”. In a video game where opponents must be defeated four times, losing four “stocks”, being ahead by one stock is not a lead. It could be evened with a random slip of the controller or by a silly mistake. Play-by-play commentators still call the match as if it is a tie game; sometimes, they even make it seem like the person behind in stock count is ahead.

It could be said, then, that three million votes in a presidential election in which 137 million votes were cast is not a lead. Liberals, indignant over the result of the 2016 presidential election, often trumpet Hillary Clinton’s roughly three million vote lead in the popular vote to be evidence that the grand majority of everyday Americans wanted Clinton to be president. They fail to neglect the fact that 63 million people voted for a madman. We as a nation are not currently being cheated out of a leader as badly as we think we are. While liberal commentators called the contest arrogantly and indignantly, a more prudent commentator might have taken a stance like that of a Smash commentator, and maybe consider ways in which Clinton might be behind, even beyond the Electoral College count, which seems to be a scapegoat for the loss.

I will repeat; 63 million people voted for a madman. Rather than take the president’s route and waste your valuable time whining about the margin of victory, I’ll explore the overarching wake-up call here. Instead of living in their echo chambers, liberals need to leave the safety and comfort of their own spaces and open their ears to these 63 million people. I sincerely believe that most of these people are upstanding citizens, strong, principled people, upon which our current president should model his behavior. What is it that they saw in this man? What is it that liberals did not see in them?

Let’s look at the group to which many liberal intellectuals sneer — those without a college education. Education level was a major factor in Trump’s surprise victory. The great Nate Silver noted that counties with well-educated residents voted against Trump even when they weren’t wealthy. Something of Trump’s, then, appealed to the lower educated. While I believe that it might be coming from the “alternative facts” Trump continues to huck about the decline of America (borne out of decisions made by an Obama-gathered liberal elite), I think there may be a more visceral reason here. Who wants to be sneered at? Who wants to be called a “hick”, a “hillbilly”, a “stupid”? For years and years, the liberal elite has looked down upon rural and blue collar America, whether consciously or unconsciously. One of the liberal intellectuals’ greatest fears is doing something mentally “unstimulating”. Our country has a shortage of skilled labor. This is not unknown. We have shortages of master welders, machinists, and builders. These are jobs one can’t simply outsource to another country. And yet, such jobs are looked down upon by liberal intellectuals as something beneath their mental capacity. Many would oxymoronically prefer to bide their time at an unskilled job paying a fraction of that of skilled labor, studying for a slim chance to join the academic elite, rather than devote their lives to a skilled trade. The fear of being “stupid” motivates the young to leave industrial centers and the rural heartlands for the cities. And for the people that remain, that hurts. It hurts to see that your life isn’t wanted anymore. When Trump ramped up his attacks on liberal intellectuals and could frame “alternative facts” that said that these people were the source of declines in America, it resonated with the Rust Belt. They found a candidate who could help them stick it to the man, a perfect “I-told-you-so” to all those who had left for the big cities, and most importantly, somebody who seemed to value their livelihood and their background. He appealed to those whose voices are least likely to be considered in liberal intellectual echo chambers.

I believe that, even beyond cognitive dissonance, this departure from liberal intellectual echo chambers gave Trump voters little buyer’s remorse within the first weeks of his presidency. Liberal intellectuals have begun their protests far and wide, bringing together an inspiringly diverse group of people. But, grand speeches and undetectable majorities matter little to Trump voters who have literally sunk their blood and their iron into their work. His decrees have made many of his voters delighted with his effectiveness. In demanding Mexico pay for a wall, he has provided them with a bandage to staunch the wound of jobs leaving them. In gutting the EPA, he has provided a “take-that” to liberal tree huggers have kept them from precious resources for so long. In ordering a temporary travel ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, he has provided an answer to the liberal intellectual commitment to diversity that seems to have favored the “other” over the “us”. Fortunately, as of late, these have come to be viewed more negatively, and it remains to be seen if this is the result of buyer’s remorse.

Unless liberal intellectuals can learn to listen to the 63 million voices they ignored in the previous election, they can expect to underperform. It is entirely possible that Trump and his lapdog legislature may become so ineffective and harmful that they are voted out of office. However, the number of seats that liberal intellectuals can pick up may be tempered by their arrogance and disconnection with Rust Belt and rural America. The election of 2016 demonstrated how a madman gets into office on the backs of perfectly wonderful people by pushing just the right buttons. Let us try to earn back some of these 63 million votes not by hoping Trump sucks, but by making these voters feel like they are valued. Let us focus on 63 million votes, instead of just 3 million.