Why I Didn’t Vote for Donald Trump (but I’m Glad He Won)

A lot of people who see an article with an inflammatory title tend to click on it, read the first line, then skip down to the bottom to register how much they disagree. I would ask you not to do that today. Instead, I encourage you to read the entire article and particularly pay attention to its conclusion.

I am a swing voter. I voted for President Bush in 2004, President Obama in 2008, and Governor Romney in 2012. I have never belonged to a political party and have rigidly rejected offers to join both the Republicans and the Democrats. While I certainly have political opinions, I have stayed aloof because I have never felt that either group really captured what I believe.

What I believe, of course, is a factor of both my conscience and my background: I am from a rural town in eastern Washington State; I am Caucasian, male, a Millennial, and a practicing Christian. I grew up poor, and my family was homeless for a period of time when I was a young child. I am generally “left” on financial issues (I advocate Canadian-style socialized healthcare) and “right” on social ones.

Like many of us, I watched with amusement as reality TV star Donald Trump jumped into the Republican presidential race. Along with my roommates at the time, I laughed at the ridiculously impolitic comments he flung at his polished opponents. Looking hopelessly un-presidential, I didn’t think he would make it past the first debate.

My amusement turned to alarmed astonishment when he went on to beat every single Republican contender. The fact that he was less religious, less polite, and even less experienced seemed, against all odds, to help rather than to hurt him.

I decried Donald Trump from the bully pulpit of my Facebook page for his churlish comments towards women and foreigners. I spoke out against his authoritarianism to my graduate school classmates and, as a veteran, I seriously questioned the honesty of his avowed respect for the military when he mocked Senator John McCain’s background as a prisoner of war. Most importantly, though, I cautioned fellow Christians from supporting him because, while he courted the Evangelical vote, he seemed to display few fruits of the spirit (peace, forbearance, and gentleness being particularly absent). Yet, against every prediction, he won the presidency by an electoral landslide.

It wasn’t until I saw a couple of internet videos that I really began make sense of why. I’ve provided links to them here, but please be warned that they are both rather profane, even by military standards. In the right-leaning video, a group of young men explain why they support modern conservatism. In the left-leaning video, British comedian Tom Walker, speaking in character as fictional newsman Jonathan Pie, relates “how and why” Donald Trump took the presidency.

These videos helped me make sense of what I had felt on the night of the election. Though I hadn’t voted for President Trump (I abstained), I was glad that he won. Why?

Because I’m mad. Come to think of it, mad doesn’t even begin to cover my emotional state. I’m furious because I feel that I and my beliefs have been under attack for as long as I can remember.

My ethnicity, my culture, and my faith have become targets for lampoon and hate. Only today, I overheard a left-leaning acquaintance say that if he found a “five-year-old kid” whose mother and father belonged to a particular conservative activist group, he would paintball the child in the face until he realized how awful his parents are. As terrible as that sounds, I have been bombarded with socially acceptable messages like it for years.

And I’m sick of it. I’m sick of people who hold Ivy League diplomas lecturing me about privilege and poverty. I’m sick of being told I might be racist even if I don’t mean to be. I’m sick of being accused of misogyny and informed that tolerance need not extend to my kind. I’m sick of receiving indictments of hating women for daring to say a fetal homo sapiens is a human being with rights equal to its mother. More than anything, I’m sick that in a country where more than 70 percent of its citizens consider themselves Christian, it has become acceptable to revile those who base their public actions on the convictions of that same faith that feeds the hungry, shelters the weak, and clothes the naked.

In short, I’m sick of being put down — and I’m ready to do something about it. While there is a lot I won’t ever like about President Trump’s policies and personal conduct, I’m willing to support him because, finally, there is someone in power who is willing to take on a system that has voiced nothing but disdain for me.

Don’t like it? Frankly, neither do I. As a matter of fact, I hate that it has come to this. I want things to be different. I want an America where I can talk to my friends and family across the aisle without wondering who is going to be the first to resort to name-calling. I want an America where people refrain from rioting when they don’t get their way. I want an America where everywhere is a safe space.

To have that, though, we will have to put aside our arrogant self-righteousness and reconcile with each other. We must change the false mindset that compromise is the same thing as being compromised. We must stop calling the opposition antichrists and bigots. Most of all, we must absolutely stop denying the basic decency of those who do not subscribe to our opinions. We don’t have to agree on anything; we can be different in creed and race and gender and religion — yet still work together for something good.

I challenge you to start now. Instead of lodging an angry comment below, find a friend or relative who doesn’t agree with you and send her an email. Open up by making the assurance that you aren’t there to attack her. Tell her that you understand she must have good reason for believing what she does.

Ask her what the specifics of her views are without looking for a way to fault them. After listening patiently and honestly, tell her that even though you may not agree, you genuinely respect and recognize her authentic desire to make the world a better place.

I will do the same.