Photo: Reuters

Why Donald Trump and the Washington Redskins are both winning.

This morning my email brought new news on the controversy surrounding the name of the Washington Redskins NFL football team. The news probably left jaws bouncing on marble floors all around the D.C. Beltway.

Elite figures and institutions both nationally and in our nation’s capital have told us for years that “Redskins” was a deeply offensive name that must be changed. President Obama said so. 50 Democratic U.S. Senators sent a letter to the NFL demanding the name be changed. Many national and local sportswriters and broadcasters have equated the name with Voldemort, refusing to speak it, including the editorial board of The Washington Post.

It was a shaming campaign of the first order, making people who felt like the name was not a big deal — or even liked it — feel like Neanderthals. Or worse.

But a funny thing happened when The Washington Post actually asked Native Americans what they thought about the name. Today, the Post released their own new poll revealing that 9 out of 10 Native Americans are not offended that Washington D.C.’s football team is named “Redskins.”

Turns out, all these elites had Native Americans confused with somebody who gave a damn about the name of a professional football team. Surprising? Not really. Native Americans have a few other things going on they find a little more pressing:

Those interviewed highlighted repeatedly other challenges to their communities that they consider much more urgent than an NFL team’s name: substandard schools, substance abuse, unemployment.

That’s right. Most people — Native Americans, African Americans, All Americans — actually care more about the day to day personal problems and struggles in their own lives than the agenda of the liberal elites.

When Donald Trump rails on political correctness, he is connecting directly with these Americans. People are tired of hearing politicians and media figures wail on about things like the name of a football team and other issues that they don’t believe make a bit of difference in their lives. This is just one more piece of evidence of the disconnect between liberal elites and the people they aspire to govern.

Americans are worried about a failing economy that blinds their once-held vision of a bright future. They live in communities changing at a pace so rapid they sometimes feel lost in their own hometowns. And threats like substance abuse have invaded their cities, sometimes their own homes, bringing death, the destruction of families and tearing apart the fabric of communities.

Hopelessness for most folks is not the name on someone’s jersey, the bathroom someone uses or whether or not Donald Trump retweeted something inappropriate about Megyn Kelly. These matters consume the thoughts of many in Washington who launch hashtag campaigns, fire out press releases, make speeches and start petitions.

Real hopelessness is months or years of being unable to find work, not being able to send your kids to college, seeing your brother or sister fight addiction and feeling like no one cares. It’s feeling stuck, trapped, alone and left behind.

Sure, there are initiatives on the left and right designed to help. But too many of them are either insufficient, not working or can’t get passed. So, a generation of people begin to conclude the American dream is dead while the President, Senate Democrats and media elites wring their hands about the name of a billionaire’s football team.

That’s more shameful than the name of any football team.

Meanwhile, Trump’s strategy is simple. Rather than tell people what to think, he holds up a mirror to this phenomenon. Yes, it’s populism, and yes it lacks principle or any real governing philosophy. But these voters don’t care. That Donald Trump is the GOP nominee has very little to do with Donald Trump himself. His campaign represents the reflection of millions of Americans who simply want someone to hear them, and to tell them they can fix what they believe is broken in America.

The answer for these people has to be something more than #NeverTrump. It has to be to listen to them and convince them there is a better answer. Until then, the movement behind Trump will continue to grow.

Originally published at on May 19, 2016.

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