The Big Picture
So what have we learned? Where do we go from here? Joe Biden won the Presidency by a convincing margin. But it’s starkly disappointing that 70 million people STILL voted for Trump. Why? It is incomprehensible to rational and moral people. However, having lived through the dark years since 2016, I believe I can summarize the general Trump appeal. Trumpers wish a return to the America of the 1950s. Why? Because they fit in one or more of the following categories.
They are racist.
Although they would vehemently deny they are. They fear the growing diversity in the U.S. They fear the inclusion, on an equal measure, of everyone that isn’t like them (i.e. black, brown, non-Christian, gay, transgender). They fear a loss of, what they call, religious freedom. This is really a means to legitimize the fight against diversity. Evangelical Christians are shockingly conservative, exclusive, and against diversity. (You have to be like me, and believe what I believe to be saved.)
They are xenophobic.
They fear foreigners, even in a land founded by immigrants. American nationalism and exceptionalism is often a thin disguise for xenophobia. Even foreigners of the white, caucasian race are often treated with disdain.
They are homophobic.
Anyone who exhibits ideas about sexuality which differ from the 1950s, Christian norm are branded as evil.
They are male chauvinists.
Chauvinism often flourishes to the point of misogyny. Again, as preached in conservative Christianity and celebrated in the society of the 1950s, men should run the world. Women should run the home. Surprisingly many women support this male dominance which fits nicely in their conservative Christian ethos.
They hate government.
They despise the government telling them what to do, even if it’s obviously good for them. They shout the credo, “It’s a free country”, from the top of their lungs and take that to mean “free from any government involvement in any feature of their lives”. The most illustrative example is the irrational, support of a literal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution.
They fear Democrats.
Trumpers are deathly afraid that Democrats in general, and Biden in particular, will aggressively pursue policies that promote all those things, enumerated above, which they fear. This is why they vote for a man who is immoral, ignorant, a narcissist, immature, and completely incompetent in any managerial capacity. Because he supports racists, misogynists, homophobes, xenophobes, and touts the evils of government.
They are comfortable in a make-believe world.
Facts do not impress this group. Trump won re-election. COVID19 is mostly hype. Masks are merely unwanted government interference in our lives. Trump’s 2016 inauguration was the most heavily attended in history. CNN broadcasts “fake news” stories. Trump has done more for black people than any President since Lincoln — if Trump says so.
And it’s amazing how partisan this is. I believe the figures will show that Trump support is almost entirely Republican and very nearly all Republicans are Trumpers.
So what is to be done?
Many voices are arguing that we must launch an historic effort to educate these voters and change their minds. This effort would presumably shrink the 70 million Trump voters to a permanently lower number in future elections.
OR, we could use the current Democratic majority to launch sweeping, large-scale, aggressive reforms to stamp out racism, xenophobia, and misogyny. And launch reforms to control the use of religion as a weapon against the LGBT community and women’s rights. By doing so we could illustrate that government action to promote equality and diversity does not bring about the end of the world after all. Conservative Christian families will still be free to believe what they will and largely live their lives as they see fit — as long as they don’t infringe upon the rights of others.
I support the second alternative. Democracy means that the majority rules. We must use our majority, clearly revealed this November, to build the country we want and which our Founding Fathers imagined. If we do that, many in the minority will be convinced. And those that aren’t will no longer be allowed to pull us backward to the 1950s.