It’s now been a few weeks since we all found out and were forced to come to the harsh realization that Donald J. Trump was elected President of this great country. Since that night, I’ve done a lot of thinking and reflecting on what this all means for us. Seriously, what is happening?!
After the initial shock, and I’m sure this was and still may be the case for many of you, there was some heartbreak and just straight up sadness. I felt this way because as a first-generation American, I have seen my parents work so incredibly hard to build a life in this country. They have managed to put their two daughters through college, and strive every day to be good people while never asking for a hand out. To then see us elect a bigot, a racist, a misogynist, and fear-monger I was at a total loss. Not to be dramatic or anything, but I cried on my way to work Wednesday morning and a few times at my desk. I felt like I was going through a really shitty breakup. I was disillusioned, hopeless and confused.
Like the many articles and tweets that first came out, the initial reaction seemed to be complete shock. Not just for those who were hoping for a Hillary win, but also for a lot of those that were supporting Trump. His entire campaign and this whole election was about the outsider, not just for Republicans but for Democrats as well (Bernie Sanders). The very fact of being an outsider, about completely and utterly shaking the republican and democratic establishments to their core, was thrilling enough for the public to see.
As if that was not signal enough of changing times, a nominee with zero political or military experience actually went on to win the White House. Something that has never happened before (see Vox – Donald Trump will be the only US president ever with no political or military experience).
So, okay we get it Jack. He won… We can’t believe it… There’s nothing we can do… What’s the point of talking about the same thing right? Wrong.
This is when we ask ourselves, where do we go from here?
When my emotional and personal haze began to fade, I started asking questions. I began to truly wonder about those who voted for Trump and why they did so. While I will never understand those who cast a vote purely based on a hatred, detest and rejection of those who are unlike them, and while I do believe race played a large role in this election, it’s certainly not the only factor. As we all know, money makes the world go round, and there are people who are really struggling every single day living paycheck to paycheck.
As the political autopsies began, the most shocking was how states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin that had twice voted for Obama, this time voted for Trump. Why did they do this?
They call this part of the country the Rust Belt because as a once thriving industrial and manufacturing sector, it is now filled with abandoned and neglected factories left to, well, rust. To keep this as simple as possible, globalization, modernization and trade deals have changed the industrial industry. We no longer make things like we used to, we are consumers and this has left countless workers in this part of the country without jobs or with low-paying jobs. To give you guys a number, in the 1980’s GM (General Motors) employed 80,000 workers in the Flint, Michigan area. Today that number is 7,2000. Factories and assembly plants that provided steady jobs and salaries to tens of thousands of workers have been closed or relocated to Japan and yes, to Mexico where labor and manufacturing costs are cheaper. (In September, Ford announced that it’s moving all small-car production to Mexico.)
So when Trump ranted on about Mexico taking our jobs and how disastrous our trade deals are, it may not have hit a nerve with us here in New York but it certainly did for the thousands, if not millions, of people that have been left behind by fast changing times.
“Trump tapped into a still-strong nostalgia for a time when a young man could go straight from high school to an industrial job that paid enough to support a family.” – Washington Post
Again, I am not excusing the racism and hatred that has unfortunately come to the surface full force in this election. We should absolutely stop and fight this hatred when we see it.
This is also not to say that Trump is actually going to give these people all their jobs back, this flux in industries is a result of companies reacting and having to survive in the global market. These jobs will never come back. But at least Trump acknowledged that these people exist.
The point I’m trying to make is that we should be cautious in labeling every single person who voted for Trump as hateful, ignorant racists. We should instead ask questions and attempt to understand different points of view and motives. Remind ourselves that not everyone lives in thriving coastal cities, spoiled with modernization and the luxury to work at media and fashion companies. We so often get caught up in our own little worlds, we forget about how others live.
If you want to read more about the Rust Belt and how they factored in the election click here.