Think about it. Is that really possible? After all, at least that many voted for Trump in the 2020 election. What could they be thinking? How could they possibly cast a vote for the evil orange man? Well, buckle your seatbelt, and if you have an open mind, are capable of true critical thought, and are willing to believe that not all good people think exactly as you do, I may be able to give you some answers.
Before I continue, I am unapologetically not a fan of Donald Trump. I think just about every time he opens his mouth, he vomits diarrhea, and I believe he is an absolute narcissist. He was nowhere near the top of my list in 2016, and if I could wave a magic wand, Jo Jorgensen would be our President-Elect. More importantly, I can understand why many voted for Biden, and why many voted for Trump. Furthermore, I count many good people and bad people in both groups.
Grit & The Value of Freedom
Most would argue that we are a free country, and if you are one of those, I would love to have a sit down with you and talk about freedom. There is no such thing as total freedom. That would be anarchy, and would only last as long as it takes for someone to accumulate enough raw power to control everything.
That said, The United States was born as the most free country in the world. Yes, we had slavery, and that is an ugly stain on our founding. True, women did not have equal rights under the law. Also an ugly stain. But for the most part, The United States was, in fact, at the time, the most free country in the world. More importantly, we had founding documents that provided a set of instructions for the abolition of slavery and true equal rights for all people.
While the rest of the world had governments that were based on what they could do to the people, we formed one that was based on what they cannot do to the people. It was truly all about self-governance.
This was an intoxicating attraction to people all over the world, because so many lived in nations that did not have such protections against the government. The United States was a place where they could come and have a true opportunity to rise above their station. The poorest had almost unlimited freedom to become the richest. But with that freedom, they also had to accept responsibility that they were just as free to fail, no matter how bad that may turn out. That was the deal that attracted millions. This was an opportunity for millions of immigrants to come here, knowing that they would get no free ride, no advantages, but also the near total freedom to make it or break it on their own. These immigrants were people with true grit. They had what came to be known as the American Spirit.
My Paternal Grandparents
On both sides of my family, my grandparents were perfect examples of this grit. My father’s parents were poor Jewish Russian immigrants escaping religious persecution after the Bolshevik Revolution. Although they were the proletariat, the jews were persecuted by the new USSR, that resulted from a revolution “for the workers.” Their parents saved everything they could to send one child at a time to America, and my grandfather came by himself when he was only 13 years old.
Jacob was a poor immigrant in Philadelphia, and ended up finding work in a shoe store. Years later, another Russian immigrant named Hannah also worked in the shoe store, and they were married. The two worked there for years, and saved everything they could.
They lived in a place in which Russian immigrants were considered second class citizens, but rather than seeing themselves as victims, they worked hard, and made it on their own. Eventually they saved enough to buy the shoe store, and lived in the apartment above it. They were now small business owners that earned respect in their community.
Coming from Russia, they had a natural distrust for governments and banks, so they literally stuffed their mattresses with every dollar they saved. This worked to their benefit when the great depression happened, as they were literally sleeping on cash. Still a middle class family, they were able to take that money and buy some buildings in Germantown, Pennsylvania. They went on to have two children: Richard, and my father, Seymour.
As things turned around, they sold some of those properties at a significant profit, and moved their family to California. Beverly Hills, to be exact. At the time it was a sparsely populated area, and real estate was cheap. They bought a house next door to Judy Garland, and bought some commercial property that provided them with a solid enough income to raise themselves to upper middle class.
They worked their way up with hard work, determination, and no hand outs. They were able to send both of their boys to college, and Richard went on to be a Major in the U.S. Army who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day, and eventually a filmmaker who brought Godzilla to the United States. Seymour served in the Merchant Marines, and eventually attended USC, then Wharton Business School. He went on to start a little company making foam shoulder pads, and built it into one of the largest foam manufacturing companies in the country. He did so with hard work, grit, and determination.
He instilled values in me that I carry to this day. Know history, always be honest, no matter what the cost, and everyone you meet has great value that you can learn from, no matter what first impression they make.
Every person I just wrote about was honest to the core, highly intelligent, caring, philanthropic, and each of them would have been a Trump voter. They would have hated his words, but they would have stood behind a great deal of his policy, especially when it came to anti-collectivism and distrust of a government starting to look more and more like what they had escaped from.
My Maternal Grandparents
On my mothers side, they immigrated from Sicily to the United States during the great exodus. Italy was a relatively new unified nation, and the poverty in the south was overwhelming. The area of Sicily my family came from was mostly made up of sulfur mining, but Italy’s central government had made international trade deals that devastated the sulfur mining in Sicily, leaving the population to starve as a result of mandated central government controls on exports.
This sent hundreds of thousands of Sicilians on a mass exodus to “L’America,” a place that promised the freedom to rise or fall based on your own ability and fortitude. This was a dream to them, coming from a place in which the only way they could ever rise above their station was based on family privilege and government connections, neither of which was available to the majority of the impoverished south. No matter how much ability or will you had, if those stars didn’t line up for you, there was no hope.
To them, America was different. They had a shot there, but they would have to endure hardships and make it on their own. But at least they could make it on their own!
They arrived on Ellis Island, and found themselves in a country in which they were considered the scum of the earth by the general population. Most of the Italians were poor, and they were arriving in droves, taking jobs from the Americans, so they were vilified. Stores and restaurants often had signs showing that they did no allow Italians, and racial slurs against the Italians were commonplace. This turned many to organized crime, and many others to incredibly hard work just to feed their families. They were the dirty immigrants that nobody wanted to associate with, and there were very few decent jobs for an Italian.
But they didn’t embrace victimhood. As uncomfortable as it was, most worked to prove themselves, to lift themselves up. My grandfather was one of them. He worked in a print shop for years before he was able to get a job as a meat salesman. For years he worked as a traveling salesman as he moved from New York to Chicago, and finally California. He went on to start his own meat brokerage business, and lifted himself into a solid middle class lifestyle, where he and his wife raised three children who all went on to lead respectable lives in their own right.
My grandparents’ children (my mom, my aunt and uncle) never experienced the xenophobia my grandparents did, because that generation did not feed the idea of victimhood to their children. Instead, they nurtured a “Can Do” attitude, and they all melted into the fabric of American society. It didn’t take long before being Italian was consider “cool,” rather than a dirty immigrant, because those immigrants lifted themselves up. They proved themselves with hard work and determination. They did not demand respect as an immigrant culture, they earned it.
They were never rich, but they were hard working, honest, well educated people. Having been on the receiving end of bigotry, they were most certainly not racists, xenophobes, homophobes, or pick any other phobe you want. They just believed in everyone having the freedom to succeed or fail without the government getting in their way.
Each of these people would have been disgusted by Trump’s tweets, but they would have voted for Trump based on policy and action. They would have been shocked by to see ideas being accepted in society that embrace the kind of central planning and government powers they escaped.
The American Promise
Give me your tired, your poor,Emma Lazarus – Poem on a plaque at the base of The Statue of Liberty
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
This is the great promise written on the base of the statue as people enter the harbor entering New York. It is the welcome to a free country. This poem is often quoted out of context nowadays in the immigration debates, but context is everything. This was written in 1883, and the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886. I ask people to use critical thought, because when we read quotes, we need to understand it on the context of society at the time.
In 1886, when the United States invited the world to come seek freedom here, it is important to note what the United States offered. Freedom to succeed or fail without government intervention. The key here was the freedom to fail came with the freedom to succeed. There were no massive government programs for society. There was no Department of Labor, Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Homeland Security, etc. There was no income tax, there was no welfare or social security until 1935, there was no FBI, CIA, NSA, INS, ICE, ATF, CBP, etc.
We didn’t have a massive bureaucratic system with complex policies and social safety nets. What we were saying at the time was, quite simply, “Welcome to America. We won’t get in your way.” Even the right to education was something that varied state to state, and town to town.
So at the time, the tired and poor could come the The United States, but really had to make it or break it on their own. They could not come here and simply get education, housing, welfare, and the full list of taxpayer-funded programs. This is not to say that those programs are good or bad, but to say that the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, were being promised freedom from both government oppression and assistance.
With all of the taxpayer-funded aid programs we have developed over the course of the past century, the math has changed dramatically, and like it or not, we do have to factor that into the discussion.
With all of this in mind, I have never met a Trump supporter that was against immigration. The only perspective I have heard was no to immigration as a path to a free ride, no to anchor babies as a path to welfare and citizenship, no to an open border without checks to assure we can handle it. This is not to say that there are not xenophobes out there. No doubt, but we are talking about a very, very small fringe that has always been there, and always will be there. The 72+ million Trump voters for the most part are simply looking for a sustainable policy. This is not evil, and this does not make them stupid.
During the Covid pandemic, many Trump supporters have been labeled as Covid deniers, anti-maskers, whatever. They are not following the science, they are not being careful, they are listening to the wrong people. I can go on ad nauseam. Are they stupid? Are they evil? No. They are different. They have a higher risk tolerance than many others, and that is not only ok, but it is necessary.
This is the kind of person that took up arms against King George while most colonists cowered in their homes. This is the kind of person that tests that new jet, that new rocket. This is a person that is willing to take calculated risk. You may argue with this by citing that by doing so, they are putting others at risk, and that is most certainly true. But this i also the kind of person that questions authority and does not simply believe everything they see on TV. And if you open your mind to their perspective, maybe, just maybe you can understand them. Because the reality is that most of the world has had roughly the same mortality rate, and while the media does not report it, a handful of countries did not take the extreme measures most of us did, and have fared much better. That should be up for question and investigation, but for some reason it is not.
These people also see the staggering numbers of “cases” that are usually no worse than a cold, if that, and a survival rate of over 99%. These are people that believe there is a certain amount of risk we all take in life, and this fits within that threshold. They would rather spend our resources protecting the most at risk, while allowing those willing to take that risk to do so. These are people that are simply not willing to sit down and obey people that say follow the science, when there is a fair amount of conflicting science that is not given the light of day. They accept that grandma may die, or that they themselves may die, just as they may die from a flu, a car accident, or any of a thousand reasons. They don’t believe the world should stop turning when living gets a little more risky.
None of this make them evil. It just means that they value their freedom enough to accept more risk than many others. They do not want to force you not to be careful any more than they want you to force them to be careful.
My friend’s father died from Covid. His take on it was this: “Dad was very old. He had all sorts of problems, including many bouts of pneumonia. He was in and out of the hospital. He died and they attributed it to Covid, but if it had not been covid, it would have been something else.” Another friend of mine never leaves his house because he has been struck by fear after an elderly parent died from Covid. Which of these friends is right? In my opinion, both. They only become wrong when they support the use of force to shame the other for their response.
They’re Holding on to their Guns & Religion
As a guy that was raised in a major metropolis, the whole gun thing never made much sense to me. To be perfectly honest, I strongly dislike guns. With respect to religion, I was raised pretty much agnostic, but have become a Christian in my adulthood.
So I will start with the whole gun debate. Since moving to the southeast, I have come to know a great deal of gun lovers. To them, it is all about the second amendment, and that didn’t resonate with me for quite some time. But over time, I came to know many of those people, and found highly intelligent people that were simply raised in a different culture than I was. To them, their guns are an integral part of their culture. They are raised with them, learning how to use them, how not to use them, and they are as much a part of their life as a car is to most of us. These are not criminals, and they have no desire to shoot anyone. But they do generally love to hunt, and want to be able to protect their property and family.
Personally, I just don’t get it. It makes very little sense to me, but that is quite simply because I was not raised in that culture. Here’s the thing. I don’t need to understand it to support it. If they use their gun for target practice, it hurts nobody. If they use it to hunt for dinner, good for them. If they use it in any crime, I see the person that committed the crime, not the instrument they used. Furthermore, like I said, I come from a big city. If I wanted to get an illegal gun, I could get it faster than a legal one, so if you make guns illegal, what are you actually accomplishing?
More importantly, it is a far off government entity that is enforcing laws in far off areas that they have no real understanding of. It is exactly what our nation is supposed to be against. Still, the second amendment always seemed archaic and unnecessary to me, until recently.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed
I was really with many wanting gun control, thinking this statement didn’t really apply to modern society. A well regulated Militia? Well, we have military, police, and all sorts of law enforcement. Why would this be the basis on which I would have the right to keep and bear arms? I mean, I supported gun rights for the sake of defending yourself against people that might do you harm, but as a means to security of a free State? That perspective seemed like a necessity of the past.
But then the BLM and Antifa protests happened in 2020, along with the Defund the Police movement. Now do not get me wrong, I can write a book about corruption in law enforcement, and I know there are some very bad actors being protected by the system as it stands. But then in a period of time that we watched urban areas get “taken over” by protesters, saw entire neighborhoods overrun with looters and vandals, police precincts being taken over, and calls to police in many areas resulting in a denial of service. Well, all of the sudden the promise of protection by law enforcement didn’t seem like much of a guarantee. The basis for those riots was most surely just. The police that killed George Floyd are most certainly reprehensible criminals with a badge. But they deserve your rage, not your neighborhood cafe.
What would happen if those protests turned into riots scaled up a couple notches? Well, we would need the citizenry to form a militia for the security of a free State. So this is concrete proof that the right of the people to keep and bear Arms cannot not be infringed. When the very people sworn to protect you infringe your right to protect yourself, and then cannot protect you, you have a pretty big problem on your hands.
I wonder how many others had been sitting on the fence with the second amendment, only to suddenly see not only its value, but necessity after what we saw unfold in 2020?
But what about the children? Yeah, I know. I get it. But remember, I can get an illegal gun all day long. Moreover, I know with absolute certainty that in countries that have total gun control I can do the same.
So are the “Don’t take my guns” Trump supporters evildoers? Well, in any crowd you will have some. But the vast overwhelming majority just wanna be left alone, and want to know they have the freedom to protect themselves.
So this is where it gets sticky for me. The argument against Christian conservatives in politics should not be mixed with the concept of someone being Christian. I personally take issue with anyone that wants a government to legislate based on specific religious teachings with some exceptions. For example, “Thou shalt not kill” is a pretty good rule to stick with. I believe if you are harming another, you are creating a societal problem, regardless of your religion. But to legislate based on religious morality that causes no harm to others is an issue for me.
For example, the big debate on gay marriage over the past few decades makes my point. The religious right was against it because of the belief in one man, one woman. The left was for it as a matter of equal rights. My perspective was a little different. I ask one simple question: Why is the government legislating the legality of marriage for anyone in the first place? In other words, marriage should not be a “legal” status. All of the legal benefits that one gets by being married could easily be applied to a couple of roommates. Problem solved. Or are there other reasons for the government to legislate the legality of marriage? Seriously, think that one through!
If a specific religious belief defines a recognized marriage as between one man and one woman, then those are the confines of that religion, and we are all free to take it or leave it.
But after living in the south for roughly a decade, I have come to know many of the “religious right,” and for the most part they really don’t have a problem with who gets married or not in city hall. They, for the most part, just don’t want to be forced to go against their beliefs. As long as those beliefs do not cause harm to another, let it be.
So are the religious right Trump supporters trying to force their religion on you? A few, for sure. But for the most part, the overwhelming majority just want to be able to be left free to live according to their own faith.
All of those evil rich people that are hoarding their money are surely Trump supporters, right? Well, look at the political leanings of the biggest corporations in the United States. For the most part, left. Look at the Super PAC money spent on the 2020 election. About even for both sides. Why do so many multi billion dollar corporations support the people that promise to hurt them? You think there may be something behind that curtain?
But then the biq question is to ask “how do you define rich?” Obama famously referred to the “millionaires and billionaires with their yachts and private jets,” but his plan took a hard hit on anyone making more than $250,000 per year. For many reading this, that may sound like a lot, but the devil is in the details.
- $250,000 per year would be on a tax filing. So a married couple that each make $125,000 per year fall into the same category as “millionaires and billionaires with their yachts and private jets.” That may be wealthy in Iowa, but see what kind of lifestyle that buys you in New York or California. Trust me, you are not boarding your private jet!
- Most small businesses are formed as Limited Liability Companies. Why does this matter? Because for taxation purposes, the money the business brings in passes through to the personal income taxes of the business owner(s). So perhaps you have a small restaurant. You may bring in $20 million per year, and that will show on your personal taxes, but you may only be making enough money to pay yourself a very modest salary. Still, you are well into the “millionaires and billionaires with their yachts and private jets” category. How do I know? Because that is my situation. Small business that operates as an LLC, but trust me, I am severely lacking in the private jet and yacht department.
The reality is that those rich enough to be largely affected by a reversal of Trump’s tax cuts have all sorts of ways to avoid any negative impact. These are the people and corporations with teams of lawyers that manipulate layers of trusts and corporations spread across the world. In fact, the creation of more complex tax code and regulation is something that helps them insure against smaller competition from being able to rise up.
Think I am wrong? Just take a deep dive into The Dodd-Frank “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” that was passed in with an Obama White House and both houses of Congress controlled by the DNC. We were promised it would protect us from the big banks and Wall Street monsters. But guess who wrote the bill? Yeah, look it up!
That bill guaranteed that the mega banks like Chase, B of A and others would not have to worry about smaller regional banks growing. They could afford buildings full of attorneys to comply with the regulations, but the smaller banks didn’t stand a chance.
Take a deep dive into the corporations that pay the big money to the lobbyists, who they support, and the unseen consequences of bills they “fight for” and you may be surprised. I am not saying the Republicans are any better. I am saying two sides of the same coin.
So millions of small business owners, farmers, ranchers know this stuff because they live it. It is the small farmer that cannot compete with the giant industrial farming corporation because they cannot get the farm subsidies meant for them. It is the small business that is trying to grow, but cannot get past the regulatory hurdles that cost millions to overcome.
It is the small business struggling to survive that saw its health insurance costs triple for half the coverage as a result of Obamacare while multinational corporations got waivers and congress got a pass.
These are your Trump supporters. They can’t stand the way he says what he says, but they see him as someone that is willing to fight the corporate-government corruption from the inside. They are not stupid or evil. They are not racists or bigots. They just want to be able to go to work with minimal government interference.
So Who Voted for Trump?
Surely in the mix, there were a few thousand that are evil, stupid and racist. Surely in the mix of Biden voters you found a few thousand of the same. But the millions that voted for him simply do not fit into the boxes the media and politicians paint for us. They simply don’t trust the government. They see the United States, which was once about freedom from excessive government rule, has become the single largest government bureaucracy in the history of the world, and they don’t like that.
They see elected officials in both parties that will lie and cheat habitually to hold onto power for as long as possible and enrich themselves on the backs of the taxpayers. They see the swamp, which is populated by both the Republicans and Democrats… and as difficult as it is to hear the words coming out of Trump’s mouth, they see that he is not part of that swamp. They see him taking a blowtorch to it.
They see the Joe Bidens and Hilary Clintons of the world as products of that swamp, and they dislike that notion more than they dislike the words Trump uses in his tweets.
They see a double standard, in which their charities don’t get approval from the IRS. One in which their opinions are silenced by a mass media that preaches “tolerance” but refuses to tolerate opposing opinions. They see a consistent hunt against their guy by media and federal agencies, while the other guy hardly gets a single hardball question or cursory review of his actions.
These are people that want equality of opportunity for all, not for specific protected classes. And they do not want equality of outcome, because they know how uniquely unfair that is to those with a strong work ethic. They believe in a meritocracy, and that does not make them evil. It makes them American.
Trump Supporters Tolerate Me
I will reiterate that I was not, and am not, a Trump supporter. I have no MAGA gear whatsoever. I am also not a Biden supporter. I am a libertarian, and there is a great deal of Trump policy I strongly disagree with. But here is the thing that makes me scratch my head. I voice my opinion whenever it is solicited. By hearing those opinions, many Republicans think I am a Democrat, and many Democrats think I am a Republican. As much as I correct them, they usually cannot see beyond the two parties.
But there is a general difference in the way most people react. Those Republicans and Trump supporters typically respect my opinion, and honor my beliefs, even when they disagree. There is almost always a very pleasant “agree to disagree” feel, and we move on to other topics with no problem.
But I have found that most on the left, the ones that preach tolerance of others, don’t react so well. If I am not with their opinion, I must be a far-right nut. I must be a closet Trump supporter… a racist…. a xenophobe… or pick any of a dozen or so names. I do not agree with that world view, so I must be evil. My opinion has no value, and for the most part, I am persona non grata. In other words, with some people I can talk it out, but with others I am just shut down if I don’t agree. I can talk to a Republican about how I support absolute equality for all. I can talk to them about how I am a non-interventionist, or how I strongly disagree with the Republican position on immigration. In almost every case, I get a respectful conversation. But if I dare talk about my views on national fiscal policy with someone on the left, somehow I am nearly always shut down as a hater. If I explain how I support BLM, the movement, but do not support the political ideology of the corporation that was born out of that movement, I must am automatically a racist, and there is no room for discussion. If I am not in lockstep with the DNC party line, I must be far right.
That, in my opinion, is dangerous. That is the fuel that gives rise to totalitarianism.
Be Careful What You Wish For
In closing, if you keep telling 72 million people that they are racists, evil, deplorable, or Nazis, you are taking the power away from those terms. Actual racists can hide among them. Actual evil, and even actual Nazis are harder to pinpoint. Perhaps even more significantly, you might consider that some of these organizations may be tools to give your party power, but can easily turn on you as soon as it is convenient. Case and point: look at the Antifa actions, and read up on the rise of Fascism in the early 20th century. What we see in these groups is lifted directly from the same playbook that created fascism.
So next time you simply dismiss over 72 million Americans as some sort of evil, I ask you to stop and imagine that number and ask yourself how tolerant you actually are. Because if you stopped to listen, those people might have some very valid points, and they may learn that you do as well. That is the ONLY way any of this ends well.