The Liberal Response – Why Trump Won

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Written by: George Burns III


Over the last almost two weeks, I have had several conversations with friends and colleagues about the result of the election.  All of these conversations have opened up new ideas for me, and I have learned a lot, not only about myself, but about my friends, family and other people in my life.  I have learned to appreciate those around me in a new way, not only for their friendship, love or companionship, but also for their opinions and experiences.  This has made me feel closer to them, despite our sometimes differing opinions.  It is a feeling that I would not trade for anything right now.

Of the conversations I have had, one that I had yesterday morning with a friend following our run has been stuck in my head.  We discussed the election, the result, and how we felt that result impacting us.  Then, we moved the conversation to why.  Why did this election turn out this way?  He and I always have great conversations, and he has a way of opening my mind up to a different perspective.

As I continued to analyze our conversation, something flew into my head, in the middle of doing the dishes, which caused me to immediately drop the sponge, and run into my office to write it down before I could forget it.

I wrote this on the tablet on my desk, “In this age of instant gratification, incremental results have no appeal to the masses.”

After I wrote it, I turned the light back out, and slowly walked back into the kitchen.  How had this not occurred to me before?  I have said before that this election was one based on change, but these words made it more “real” to me than it had been previously.

So, I went back to washing the dishes, and I thought.  I thought about how the simple issue of change was the beacon that spoke to voters.  All of that thinking lead me to one conclusion – Trump’s campaign did a great job of tapping into the hope that change would deliver a brighter future.  Reports of the Trump campaign’s internal polling have come out explaining how asking the electorate the right questions will give you proper insight into their American experience.  Trump was able to see that people who have lost their jobs because of “some policy” held that against the establishment; he was able to see that people who felt like their liberties were being eroded held that against the government.  People who had any fundamental problem in their lives held it against the government.

Is that response logical?  To me, maybe not, but to some people that is very real.  If your reality consisted of a community destroyed by the closing of a manufacturing facility, quite possibly the result of globalization, your American experience has been dimmed.  From an upbringing that promised a bright future to those who worked hard, the reality of your livelihood being stripped from you is an experience that you cannot just walk away from.  This happens because of SOMETHING, whether tangible or not.  If you cannot point your finger at the exact cause, you point it at what made it possible – government.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign worked from the premise that the policies enacted by the Obama administration were positive for America and for Americans, and that in order to ensure a prosperous and safe future for our country, those policies needed to be tweaked, reinforced, and continued through the next administration.  For those disenfranchised by their American experience, this methodology is, from the very beginning, flawed.

Merely the prospect of change is enough to bring hope to someone who has none.  “I’ll bring the factories back to America,” or, “We need to remove regulation to make the American business effective again,” are powerful statements.  These words resonate in an individual who is grasping for hope.  People are not looking for details on how to make something happen, they really just want something to happen.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was sleepover at my Grandmother’s house.  Why? It was not because Grandma did not have rules, trust me, she had many.  At her house, I slept on a bed of blankets and pillows she built for me on the floor of her bedroom, which was not more comfortable them the bed I had in my own house.  I still had to go to sleep at the same time, and I still had to behave myself.  Sure, Grandma gave us ice cream every night before bed, but that was really the only real difference – other than the fact that it was a change from my norm.  My life at home was not bad by a long shot.  I just wanted a change.

Hope is a powerful tool; it is what Barack Obama ran on in 2008.  He wrote The Audacity of Hope to tell us just that.   As it turns out, hope turned out to be a more powerful tool than the promise of something that, to some, was already a pretty awesome experience.  Hillary’s message of incremental improvements to a system that is perceived to be broken beyond repair just failed to register with voters who expect something to happen right now to bring a brighter light to their American experience.

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