There is a depressive narrative out there, led by POC (People Of Color), who are not sad that President Donald J. Trump lost — they love that — but that he did not lose by enough.
They are downhearted because when Joe Biden said Trump’s beliefs and actions do not reflect who we are, writers such as my friend Jenice Armstrong started saying, OMG, this is who we are — or almost half of us, anyway.
All they see in Trump — in Hostin’s words — is racism, homophobia, and misogyny.
We can trace this line of attack to Hillary Clinton, with her too clever term for half of Trump’s supporters: “Deplorables.”
Remember her 5-point litany? “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.”
Here’s the thing: Saying it doesn’t make it true. But for the sake of argument, let’s say it is true. Is that the only, or even main, reason Trump collected the second-greatest tally of votes for president?
Those who say yes sell their neighbors short. I say no.
I have described Trump as arrogant, needy, whiny, narcissistic, lying, ignorant, cowardly, bullying, knuckle-dragging, and repulsive. When he was a Big Thing in Atlantic City, I covered him, I have seen him up close and personal, and regard him to be wholly unfit to be president.
I don’t think he is evil incarnate, however, as many do. He is a symptom of something and I steer away from the Clinton Quintuple — racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic.
Clinton wasn’t the first to go there, as I will show you. I believe that cost her the election by energizing Trump’s base. Being deplorable became a statement.
As to how you feel about Trump, I get it.
But how much do you get?
Let me challenge the disheartened POC to a mental exercise: Imagine it is not racism. Let’s say Black FOT (Friends Of Trump, such as Kanye West, Herschel Walker, Lil Wayne, Ice Cube and Fifty Cent) see him in an entirely different light than do you. Why is that? Are they stupid? Are they “house n——-s,” as they have been called?
Why did Trump win as much as 18% of Black men, according to one pollster? That is huge. For a Republican.
Trump is a successor to the Tea Party, which also was widely condemned as being racist, and which also tapped into a deep vein of grievance in the white electorate, especially male, blue collar and not college educated.
If you look down your nose at those who are not college educated — and you shouldn’t — understand they represent 66% of America. With those numbers, they are the real America, not those with a sheepskin.
Many of the 66% see Democrats as the party of limousine liberals — college educated, middle class and upwardly mobile, morally superior to those in flyover country. The people who, in the memorable words of Barack Obama, “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
In other words, deplorable.
Obama used a key word, too often forgotten: Frustrations.
Frustrations with ever-changing cultural norms, with stagnant salaries, with declining life expectancy rates, with a perceived loss of standing in the world for themselves and their country.
Here’s what former presidential candidate and all-around bright guy Andrew Yang said on CNN about his Democratic Party’s connection with working-class voters:
“I would say, ‘Hey! I’m running for president!’ to a truck driver, retail worker, waitress in a diner. And they would say, ‘What party?’ And I’d say, ‘Democrat,’ and they would flinch like I said something really negative or I had just turned another color or something like that,” said Yang.
“So you have to ask yourself, what has the Democratic Party been standing for in their minds? And in their minds, the Democratic Party, unfortunately, has taken on this role of the coastal urban elites who are more concerned about policing various cultural issues than improving their way of life that has been declining for years.”
This is a loyal Democrat talking. Nothing about the name-calling Clinton Quintuple — more about the economics and the feeling that the Democratic Party of their parents has turned left and turned its back. The party has become so enthralled with identity politics, it forgot its base — and its base bit back.
Not all of them, of course, but enough to elect Trump once and almost elect him a second time.
Do you realize if Trump tweeted a little less, lowered his voice just a notch, and just pretended to care about the fight against coronavirus he probably would have won re-election? For him to be in such a close race after having been impeached, withstanding four years of a majority hostile media, fighting off charges of Russian fealty — any objective person would have to say his close finish is a remarkable political feat. You can say he deserved the vilification, but that’s a moot point.
Trump’s success was explained by journalist Salena Zito who said his supporters take him seriously, but not literally, while the media takes him literally but not seriously. That’s why Trump’s lies don’t matter to his base.
Some of Trump’s achievements include a massive tax cut, taking an axe to federal regulations, appointing hundreds of conservative judges to the federal bench, and three to the Supreme Court, nearly closing the southern border to illegals, quitting the Paris and Iranian accords, rewriting NAFTA, imposing tariffs. He tapped into patriotism (or nationalism, if you like) by proclaiming America First and that the U.S. would never become socialist.
You may disagree with everything he has done, I disagree with most of it, but he did it and a lot of that — along with his defiance of Political Correctness — endears himself to his loyal acolytes, whether Black or White.
That he was elected in the first place points to a deficiency within the Democratic Party, as noted by Yang. The expected “blue wave” did not materialize this year, suggesting Democrats are not all that popular. Many see them as infatuated with the woke class, instead of the working class.
If Democrats believe Trump’s support is explained solely by Clinton’s Quintuple, they will be riding for a fall, making the worst possible assumption about their neighbors.
I’ll give President-elect Biden the last word: “Now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric. Lower the temperature . . . We have to stop treating our opponents as our enemies. They are not our enemies. They are Americans.”