A defense of Trump voters from a millennial #NeverTrump conservative
Ever since Trump won the election, liberals have been losing their minds, which I suppose should have been expected. After all, they were warning us for months that as president, Trump would be the equivalent of Hitler, or at least close to it. As a #NeverTrump conservative myself, I was doing my own warning about Trump, which you can read here. But I always made sure to point out that a Trump presidency wouldn’t be the end of the world, or the country. We’ve survived terrible presidents before, and we can survive one again.
As a conservative who opposed Trump from day one, I was mentally preparing myself for the inevitable blame that was sure to come from his hardcore supporters after he lost. Imagine my surprise when he won. I was shocked, like many others, but a Trump victory was never going to be the end of the world for me because I was also #NeverHillary, and I believe our system of checks and balances can at least contain even the most authoritarian presidents.
Liberals, on the other hand, and even some of my fellow conservatives were in full meltdown mode. As someone who rejected both candidates, I believe this election has allowed me to have a unique and relatively objective perspective on them and their voters. So I watched with amusement as many liberals began to take out their frustrations on anyone and everyone who didn’t vote the way they did. They desperately wanted to blame anyone for Hillary’s loss except the person who deserved the biggest share of the blame- Hillary Clinton.
They came up with two narratives that I believe all conservatives should push back against, because they’re both untrue and very condescending to the groups of people they target. The first narrative is that white women are to blame for Hillary’s loss, and were the weak link in the chain opposing Trump. There is simply no evidence to back up this claim. In fact, the opposite is true. If you compare how she did with white women to how she did with other groups, Hillary lost fewer of them from 2012 than she did members of other demographic groups. She did slightly worse than Obama with white women, but that pales in comparison to how much worse she did with every other group, especially minorities.
There was only one white woman who was the weak link in the chain- again, her name is Hillary Clinton. She ran arguably the most cautious and uninspiring presidential campaign in modern times. Her entire message could be summed up this way: “Vote for me, I’m not Trump, and I’m not crazy”. I will admit, I believed that was enough to win, because Trump also ran a terrible campaign and had almost no ground game to speak of. Turns out that message wasn’t enough. Why? There are at least three reasons that jump out at me:
1) The average person’s desire to vote for something and/or someone they can be excited about and believe in is almost always greater than their desire to vote against someone. Trump’s victory was a perfect example of this. He simply had more people who passionately supported him than Hillary had people who voted for her solely out of a desire to stop Trump. Fear is a powerful emotion that politicians often use to motivate people to vote for them. But there is something even more powerful than fear- hope.
Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012 proved that to be true. Whether we’re comfortable admitting it or not, Trump gave hope to many white voters. I believe it was a false hope, but that’s not what they felt. I’ve already seen articles that included interviews with people who both reluctantly and passionately voted for him. The one thing these voters all had in common was that they believed he could upend the status quo and bring change both to our political system and to Washington D.C. They also believed a vote for Trump represented a strong pushback against the politically correct liberal culture that’s been smothering them for years.
I’m not saying they’re correct to believe Trump will find the solutions to their problems, quite the contrary, but I am saying these were the motivators behind their vote for Trump. The progressive base of minorities and young people who helped elect Obama simply didn’t have such incentives to come out in support of Hillary.
2) Another reason Hillary lost is because she was a symbol of the status quo in a year and environment when people were simply tired of it. She represented four more years of Obama’s failed liberal policies, which were unpopular. Obama himself continues to have relatively high approval ratings for a president in his second term, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise since he’s being compared to the two most unpopular and unlikable candidates in US history. The problem for Hillary was that she planned on continuing all of Obama’s unpopular policies like Obamacare, but has none of the charisma and personal charm that makes Obama likable for over half the country.
It’s important that we debunk the notion that Hillary lost because she’s a woman. While it may be true that there were a certain number of men who didn’t want to see a woman in the White House, they weren’t nearly a big enough percentage of the population to cause so many counties to flip from voting for Obama to Trump. Hillary lost because in the minds of the average blue collar worker, she was the female version of Mitt Romney.
Trump won in large part because the roles of Democrat and Republican were reversed from 2012. In 2016, the overly cautious, stiff, uninspiring candidate who was backed by Wall Street turned out to be the Democrat. The candidate who claimed the mantle of “celebrity change agent” who didn’t care about ideology, and who was perceived as just wanting to help the little guy turned out to be the Republican. That’s why so many low income areas around the country, particularly in swing states, flipped from voting for Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016.
3) Hillary didn’t give independents and moderates a convincing reason to vote for her. She made the case that Trump was unfit for the presidency, but people just didn’t buy it, or were willing to take the risk even if they suspected she might have been right about him. They wanted to know the answers to the following questions:
-Hillary, why are you running for president?
-What is your plan to turn the economy around?
-How will you protect us from radical Islamic terrorists?
-What experience do you have that would make you a good president?
She didn’t have good, or in some cases any answers to these questions, at least not answers that could be clearly understood by the average American voter. Trump did have answers. We might not agree with them, or believe he’ll follow through with them, but for many voters, just having them was better than not having them.
Despite all of this, many liberals refuse to hold Hillary accountable for her weaknesses and mistakes. It takes a certain kind of arrogance and delusional thinking to suggest that white women didn’t vote for Hillary because they’re more privileged than the other groups of people who voted for her in higher numbers. They’re implying that white women who voted for Trump have been brainwashed by white men into thinking Trump isn’t such a bad guy, and therefore it’s ok to vote for him. This is wrong, and a shameful argument to make because it takes away the moral agency of these women and infantilizes them.
From the interviews and polls I’ve seen, a certain percentage of them, including most of the late deciders, truly were conflicted about whether or not to vote for Trump. Some were disgusted by his words and actions, but they were also disgusted by Hillary’s litany of lies and corrupt actions. These women tended to be strongly pro-life and believed Trump would nominate conservative justices to the Supreme Court. For these reluctant Trump voters, they weren’t voting for Trump as much as they were voting against Hillary and the liberal status quo, and for policies that they believed would improve their families’ lives. Now, you can disagree with their belief that Trump would ever keep a promise, or with the policies themselves. That’s understandable. What isn’t fair or reasonable is attacking the character, sanity, and sincerity of all of these women simply for being women who voted for what they believed was in the best interest of them and their families.
After Romney’s loss in 2012, the RNC issue the now infamous “autopsy report”, and at least some conservatives did some serious introspection about why we lost. We knew Romney was a flawed candidate and were honest about why he failed, and what needed to change going forward. It’s time liberals take a look in the mirror and do some reflection of their own. They can blame Trump voters all they want, but that’s not gonna change the fact that their candidate lost to the most unpopular, inexperienced, and unprepared candidate for president in US history.
If liberals want to limit the damage of a Trump presidency to only four years rather than eight, they better start recruiting younger and more competent candidates at both the state and local levels, and actually create a policy agenda that would address the problems of more than just their progressive base of people. In the end, the buck stopped with Hillary. There indeed was a 3am phone call- it was America on the other end of the line, begging for her to prevent Trump from reaching the White House, and she was fast asleep.
Not all Trump voters are responsible for all of his offensive words and actions, or those of his worst supporters, and didn’t ‘normalize’ him simply by voting for him
The other narrative I’ve seen in liberal circles that has caught on is that if you defend Trump or anyone associated with him on any issue, statement, or policy, you’re ‘normalizing’ him and are thus part of the problem. It’s an attempt to smear all conservatives with a broad brush, and to make us look like we don’t care about the offensive words and actions against minorities and women that some of Trump’s worst supporters have engaged in.
This is nothing new from the left, and it’s straight out of the Alinsky political playbook. When you can’t beat a political opponent based on the merits of your argument and using logic and reason, you have to mock them and convince people they’re not just wrong, but crazy and/or evil. The only difference is that now liberals are using Trump as a proxy to smear the rest of us.
Liberals now claim that if we defend any of Trump’s policies, or the people who voted for him even reluctantly, we’re ok with racism, misogyny, and an overall coarsening of society and lack of decency. This is wrong, and simply not true. One can defend a good decision Trump makes, a good person he picks to join his administration, or just a person who’s loosely associated with him without condoning all of the ignorant and offensive beliefs and behaviors of the alt-right.
The irony of the “normalization” argument when it comes to Trump and his white nationalist supporters is that by spending so much time talking about them and turning them into a boogeyman, the media is doing more to normalize them than their defenders ever could. As Jonah Goldberg so brilliantly explained, these are the same liberal pundits who normalized Trump by telling people he’d be the best GOP nominee, in large part because he seemed the most likely to lose, and then did everything in their power to make sure that happened.
When it comes to the alt-right, most Americans don’t even know they exist, and of the people who do, a majority are disgusted by their beliefs. We don’t have to be constantly scolded by liberals about not doing enough to call them out, or continually warned about how dangerous they are. This excess warning might actually have the opposite of its intended effect, in that if liberals fear-monger about Trump and his most radical supporters long enough, average Americans will tune them out because they’ll figure it’s just another example of liberals overreacting to people who don’t think and act like them.
When everyone’s a racist, no one is. When everyone’s a sexist, no one is. Just like with money, when you print it excessively and flood the market with it, it loses its value. It’s the same with these charges by liberals. They’re “flooding the market” of our culture with cries and warnings of sexism and racism, and when the average American looks around his or her town or city and doesn’t see it, he or she is gonna believe the media is just using the alt-right as a proxy to bash anyone who doesn’t agree with their agenda. That’s not the case with everyone in the media, but there is some truth to that idea. By incessantly talking about the most prominent members of the alt-right and covering their every move, the media is actually giving them more legitimacy and making them more significant than they otherwise would be.
Liberals and the MSM have apparently learned nothing from the effect their coverage of Trump had on the election. The more they covered him, even in a negative way, the more his supporters rallied to him, and the more average Americans paid attention to him. If anything, they helped grow his support rather than shrink it. The same is true of the alt-right. If the media covers every crazy thing they say it will give them the oxygen they want and need to survive. Without coverage, they simply won’t be able to get the airtime they need to propagate their disgusting beliefs because they don’t have the numbers or influence to do so on their own.
You don’t normalize something by ignoring it, you normalize it by constantly covering it. Every year pro-lifers march by the thousands in the streets of Washington DC, but the media never covers it. Ironically, but not surprisingly, the MSM has covered the alt-right more after Trump’s election than they did the March for Life for four years.
Pro-choicers say pro-lifers are dangerous and want to take away women’s rights, and therefore if the media doesn’t speak up about them, they’re normalizing them. Yet the media continues to ignore pro-lifers, and they haven’t gained much, if any influence or power in our culture. They haven’t been “normalized”. If the media constantly covered every statement and action of the loudest and most hardcore pro-lifers, that would do far more to normalize them than ignoring them would.
This is another binary choice narrative foisted on us by the media and partisans on both sides of the political debate. They tell us we have to choose between defending the alt-right on one side, or supporting liberals on the other. We must reject this false choice, just as some of us did in the election. One can reject the alt-right and their beliefs while also rejecting the oppressive pc culture of left, and we must do so.
Should we really be that worried about the alt-right? I don’t believe so. The irony as I see it is that the alt-right will disappear not because of the minorities and foreigners they’re apparently so terrified of, but because they aren’t having kids. They’re dominated by men, and it’s pretty clear those men aren’t very successful with women, probably because they have so much resentment towards them. One of the reasons young men are drawn to radical movements is because they’re miserable and usually failing in life, and want to belong to something that gives their lives meaning. But if the men of the alt-right aren’t having kids, what will happen to their movement? I believe it will remain as weak as it is now, and go back underground to the abyss it lurked in before Trump came onto the scene.
Trump will never be normalized
Trump won’t be normalized, no matter what he does, because we’re already living in a relatively liberal society. All of our institutions- media, academia, sports, government, Hollywood, etc, are still dominated by liberals. That won’t be changing anytime soon. Just having one president for four years whose views and actions are abhorrent to the big chunk of the country who didn’t vote for him isn’t gonna change our national identity or our culture. We used to have a conservative core as a society that was based on Judeo-Christian values and beliefs. I would argue we now have a more liberal one due to the breakdown of the institutions I just mentioned, as well as our families and faith communities. That’s the only way a true progressive like Obama could have won dominant victories in two straight elections. It took decades for this shift to occur. So relax, liberals, it’s not gonna be undone or even change in four short years.
Furthermore, I’m not worried about racism or misogyny being normalized because those mindsets are slowly dying with the older Americans who are most strongly associated with them. The average Trump supporter is over the age of 50, whereas millennials largely didn’t support him or his beliefs, and we’re the ones who will be governing the country when the baby boomers are no longer around. My generation has plenty of its own problems, but in general we’re much more tolerant of people who don’t share our faith, race, or cultural background. The main reason for this is because we grew up in a much more diverse and tolerant society than generations past. We got to know many different kinds of people, and you usually don’t hate what or who you know, you hate what you fear from not knowing.
Beyond that, today’s youth are just more apathetic about life in general. We go to church far less, are less sexually active, get married less frequently and later in life, and do drugs less frequently than past generations. This apathy can be a gift and a curse. It’s a gift in the sense that we don’t engage in the bad behaviors our parents and grandparents did when they were our age as much, but it’s also a curse in that we don’t engage in the good behaviors they did as much.
A big problem for millennials is that many of us come from broken homes and simply weren’t taught the values that would lead us to being moral, responsible, and engaged citizens. We also didn’t get good examples from our parents. I speak from experience on that, and for many other young people, some of which I know. However, the flip side to this coin is that we also didn’t learn to hate others because of superficial things like race, gender, religion, or cultural differences. So we won’t be normalizing those attitudes.
After Trump disappears from the political arena in 4–8 years, those attitudes will likely disappear with him. There will always be racism and sexism in this country because there will always be racists and sexists. People have given into the worst instincts of human nature since man was created. But to fearmonger, as liberals do, and say defending Trump or his voters in any way will take us back to the 1950s is to deny all of the progress we’ve made as a society since then. We should be celebrating that progress, not pretending it never happened, or minimizing it just to score political points.
Using the logic of the left, wouldn’t it then be true that all of the liberals who voted for Hillary are complicit in normalizing all the corruption, pathological lying, and elitism she represents? After all, she was responsible for the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, she risked our national security just so she could avoid scrutiny of her financial transactions, and was involved in numerous scandals going all the way back to her time as First Lady of Arkansas. By voting for her, are you normalizing that behavior?
I don’t think you necessarily are, and I don’t think it’s fair to reasonable liberals to make that argument. There were legitimate and principled reasons one could have for voting for Hillary, from domestic to foreign policy, to simply stopping Trump. Hillary voters aren’t responsible for all of her failures and shouldn’t be blamed for them. It would be nice if they showed Trump voters that same goodwill.
Don’t Blame Trump voters for Hillary’s loss- there are many other sources that should be blamed first
Instead of blaming Trump voters, let me tell you who you might want to blame:
Blame the mainstream media, who never took Trump seriously but were secretly wishing all along that he would be the nominee because they thought Hillary could beat him easily. They gave his rallies maximum airtime and rarely asked him tough questions. This gave his amateur campaign the oxygen it needed to survive and eventually gain momentum and legitimacy. The MSM was intentionally soft on Trump in the primaries because they desperately wanted him to be the nominee. Well, they got their wish.
Blame GOP primary voters, who ignored all of the warnings of us #NeverTrump conservatives about how Trump wasn’t one of us and was a con man who couldn’t be trusted. He wouldn’t have been the nominee without their votes and support.
Blame Democrat primary voters as well, who either knew about Hillary’s lies and vulnerabilities and didn’t care, or chose to remain willfully ignorant about them. Of course they didn’t have much of a selection to choose from in terms of candidates, but if they wanted to beat Trump and not have a candidate with historic levels of baggage, they could’ve nominated Bernie Sanders. Who knows if he would’ve beaten Trump, but I think it’s safe to say that in hindsight he had a better chance than Hillary ever did because he appealed to some of the same blue collar white voters Trump ended up winning over.
Blame Democrat party leadership, especially Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who did a terrible job recruiting good candidates at every level and for many different offices, causing the Democrat party to have no good alternatives to Hillary, and led them to be wiped out in state and local elections for the last two years and counting.
Still angry that Trump won, and need to point fingers at someone? Blame right wing talk radio and Fox News, who backed Trump from the start and truly helped him go from being a joke for some voters to a legitimate choice for their nominee. Guys like Rush and Hannity ignored and misrepresented his weaknesses, overplayed his strengths, and fed their audiences lies and half-truths about his past, his flip-flops, and his opponents. There’s a strong case to be made that without their dedicated and often aggressive support, he never would’ve been the nominee.
Blame Republican members of Congress, who sold their constituents a bill of goods and then over-promised and under-delivered on it. They knew they couldn’t get everything done that they wanted because of Obama’s veto power, but they pretended they could somehow magically get past that. Sometimes they tried and failed, while other times they didn’t even try. No doubt the voters shouldn’t have had such high expectations for them in the first place, but the weakness and poor communication of Republicans in Congress led to the dissatisfaction and anger on the right that fueled the rise of Trump.
Blame yourselves, liberals, for creating an oppressive politically correct culture that made not just Trump voters, but many Christian conservatives and even libertarians feel like outsiders in their own country, and for pushing your ideology and beliefs onto them constantly. They finally got fed up and decided to push back hard, even if they had to use an imperfect vessel to do it.
Finally, and most importantly, blame Hillary for Trump’s victory. Was her campaign better than Trump’s? Overall I would say it was, but that’s a really low bar to clear. She had a massive advantage when it came to cash on hand, ground game, and a mainstream media who was clearly on her side. Yet she still lost. I will give credit to Trump for a few things, not as a person, but as a politician:
a)He knew where his bread was buttered. He held massive rallies, and his used them to fire up his base and keep the media spotlight on him at all times. This translated to turnout on election day.
b)He spent lots of time in swing states, especially in the poorer areas that he ended up winning. I think the credit for this goes mostly to Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, since her area of expertise is polling, and so she must have made sure he visited the areas that would maximize turnout for him. Hillary literally spent no time in Wisconsin, which she lost, and didn’t spend nearly enough time in swing states, just assuming she’d win them instead. Well, she lost Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Iowa- all states Obama won in 2012. She also didn’t flip any red states, as some analysts thought she might.
c)Trump did many interviews and was constantly on television. Regardless of what you think of him, he got his message out. What would have been the equivalent strategy for Hillary? It would’ve been going on MSNBC, CNN, and the major news networks on a regular basis, and giving interviews to them. But she didn’t do that. For months she hid from the press, and when she finally emerged, somehow she still didn’t know to defend the illegal use of her personal email server, among other things. In retrospect, we should’ve expected that from her, because it’s hard to defend the indefensible, which was the case for Hillary.
August 24th, 2016 marked the 263rd day since Hillary held a press conference. That was probably a record for a presidential candidate, and it was inexcusable. But one can understand why she was so afraid to hold one, given her disastrous performances in the past. Regardless, that was 263 days she wasn’t getting her message out on national television via the press, while Trump was holding his huge rallies that were carried live and nonstop by every major news channel.
There are generally two main reasons why a candidate will hide from the press and ultimately from voters the way Hillary did:
1)They have something(s) to hide, which she did, or,
2)Deep down, the candidate lacks confidence in herself, her own message, and her very candidacy itself. When Bill Clinton ran for president, he took every opportunity to use his charisma and personal charm on both the media and voters, going so far as to play the saxophone on a late night tv show at one point. I think if she did some introspection, Hillary might not be able to explain to herself why she ran for president. That’s not unprecedented, but it is a recipe for failure. Ted Kennedy had that exact problem when he ran for the Democrat nomination in 1979. In a now infamous interview, he was asked why he was running for president, and he couldn’t give a cogent answer. It was largely believed to have ended his chances of being president, it was that bad.
Now repeat that over and over again and that was basically Hillary’s campaign. I believe she wanted to be president her entire life because it’s just something her huge ego told her she could do and was entitled to. She wanted to prove that she was more than just a powerful man’s wife. She’s not a hardcore bleeding heart liberal like Obama is, so clearly she’s not driven by any set of core beliefs and principles. She appears to be driven by personal ambition, and nothing more.
I believe that came through to voters, and they could sense it, no matter how hard she tried to hide it. They might not have been able to articulate it or even be aware of it at a conscious level, but they could feel it viscerally in their guts. They sensed that she had an entitled attitude and couldn’t relate to them in any way, and didn’t care about them, and they were right. Of course Trump didn’t care about those voters either, but he at least pretended to, and that made a huge difference.
Hillary’s wasn’t an optimistic and hopeful campaign with a clear vision for the future. It was a cautious and dry campaign that defined itself more by what it was against (Trump) than what it was for. As the author of this article points out, Hillary was so insecure she refused to go on Megyn Kelly’s show even once. If she lacked confidence in her ability to answer some tough questions, why should have we entrusted her with the presidency? As Charles Barkley once said, “If you’re afraid of failure, you don’t deserve to succeed”.
Hillary didn’t tell a story to voters, and people make emotional connections through stories rather than through facts and stale political platitudes, such as being told we’re “Stronger Together”. Trump told a story. You might loathe the story he told, as many people did, but it attracted many poor working class white voters to his campaign. Hillary tried to make the election revolve around a moral debate over Trump, rather than an economic choice for voters. In the process she ignored the concerns of blue collar voters in swing states, and it cost her. I rarely heard her talking about jobs, she was too busy talking about how crazy Trump was. By doing this, she effectively took policy and economics off the table, and as soon as she did that, she lost her chance to connect with voters, because the race then became a personality contest, and she couldn’t win one vs Trump.
Hindsight is 20/20, but looking back on this election, we really shouldn’t have been surprised that blacks, hispanics, and young people didn’t turn out to vote for Hillary. They needed a reason to do so, and she didn’t give them a good one. She didn’t connect with them on an emotional level the way Obama did, and without that connection, voters just won’t vote for a candidate, period.
One of the central questions of this election cycle was whether or not Hillary could put Obama’s winning coalition back together and keep them together. Well, now we know the answer was a definitive NO. All the money in the world can’t make voters like a candidate. We saw that with Romney in 2012 and Jeb Bush in 2016, and we should’ve seen it coming with Hillary too. I readily admit my disgust for Trump and my fear of what he would do to the conservative movement blinded me to this reality. I won’t allow that to happen again in the future, no matter how I feel about a candidate.
So, liberals, instead of closing your eyes to the reality of what happened on November 8th, I sincerely suggest that you think long and hard about what your side did wrong. In the future, maybe you shouldn’t demonize every conservative you disagree with. You kept crying wolf, and pretended regular dogs were wolves. When a wolf finally showed up and you cried again, people ignored you. Can you blame them?
Finally, instead of impugning the character and motives of the people in the Rust Belt and Heartland who didn’t vote for your candidate, here’s an idea: Go outside your comfort zone and actually talk to some of them, like human beings tend to do. Democrat candidates (and Republicans) at all levels should be doing this. Ask these voters what their hopes, dreams, and fears are. Actually spend time listening to them, even if their views and opinions disgust you. Then, I would suggest you try to create an agenda based on the principles you believe in that would be targeted towards the problems they described to you that they face in their everyday lives.
If you spent the years leading up to 2016 doing that, and had a more likable candidate, rather than being arrogant and assuming the GOP was dying and Obama could help you win again, you would’ve at least had a better chance of winning. Having less arrogance and more humility and kindness towards people who don’t live and think like you would go a long way towards preventing Trump from winning again in 2020. You can trust my advice on this because I don’t have a dog in this fight. I don’t want a Democrat to be president in 2020, but I don’t want another four years of Trump either, especially if he goes full populist and implements the big government protectionist policies I believe will damage our economy.
I want what’s best for the country, and I believe a debate about ideas, principles, and values between two robust political parties (hopefully more) will produce a better result in the future than the one we got this time around. I’ll be doing my part to help rebuild our families and communities and to foster that civil debate, and I hope my liberal peers will do their part as well. The future of the country depends on it.