I voted for Trump. There, I said it. And yes, I’m a white, christian, male. You may be thinking, “You’re a racist, bigot, sexist, homophobe, misogynist, xenophobe.” And, you can certainly keep thinking that, but I’ll let you in on a little secret – that’s exactly what got Trump elected.
Spoiler alert: this will not fit the narrative you’ve undoubtedly heard. But if you’re still reading, I gather you want to at least understand a little about an actual Trump supporter and not the caricature painted by the media – the same media that got the polls wrong, that said Trump would never win. If they were wrong about that, maybe they were wrong about me. So, here goes.
I was raised by my single mother who was a Democrat. I voted Democrat in my first two presidential elections. I actually haven’t voted for any Republican president until now. Am I a hillbilly from the sticks who doesn’t have a college degree? Far from it. I’m a white kid from the inner city who grew up going to a predominantly hispanic Catholic school. My best friends growing up were the black and hispanic kids on our block and those I went to Catholic school with. We were the poor, inner city kids whose parents struggled to send us to Catholic school despite the costs. We were never on food stamps or government assistance, but we came pretty darn close. My parents struggled to make ends meet before and after their divorce. My mother ran campaigns for Democratic city council members. I spent many of my birthdays growing up at Democratic campaign headquarters making phone calls to get out the vote for our candidates. My mother ran the campaign for our city’s first gay city councilman. My parents worked hard to give us a better life despite not having college degrees. All of us went to college and got our degrees. My mother even went back to school and finished hers at the age of 60. She taught us that education was a privilege and the opportunity to better our situation and she was right. She taught of the value of hard work and how it multiplies the fruits of opportunity.
I was a proud Democrat and proud to be for the working-class, the little guy, the marginalized. I was also pro-life like my mother when the Democratic Party still had pro-life Democrats. But in the past 10-15 years something changed in the party I was raised in, and something changed drastically. The pro-life position was quickly squeezed out. You could be personally and quietly pro-life in your interior life, but you couldn’t be publicly pro-life on the Democratic ticket – that had somehow become anti-woman. Even my mother, a self-proclaimed bra-burning feminist from the 1960s recognized the lie that feminism had become. The pendulum had swung too far. They had jumped the shark. Free speech and dissenting speech was no longer tolerated by the Left. Something else changed drastically in the past 8 years – the demonization and labeling of anybody who didn’t toe the new ultra-progressive line of the Democratic Party. No longer was the instrument of change the kind I grew up admiring in people like Dr. Martin Luther King. Now, the party I knew and loved had embraced a blunt weapon of change – ridicule and ostracizing of anyone who disagreed with any of the platform’s policies or positions. The labels began and they were targeted directly at people like me. Again, I was raised a Democrat. I was pro-life and anti-death penalty. I was for capitalism and safety nets and social programs to help people get back on their feet. But the party I knew and loved no longer knew and loved me. They pushed me out. They pushed my mother out. They had forgotten me. The party of the marginalized had marginalized me. I was the enemy embodied. There was no longer room for charitable discourse or debate on issues like abortion, immigration, social justice or the size of government. It was the new progressive way or the highway. Faced with that realization, the only other option was the Republican Party. They held our pro-life position – something sacred to us – but were lacking in other areas we valued as Democrats. But they weren’t labeling us, ridiculing us and ostracizing us by claiming we were racists, bigots, sexists, what have you. We could at least debate the issues with reason and rational discourse and try to effect change or at least compromise. We could agree on some things and agree to disagree on others. So, I packed my Democratic bags and made a right.
Let me back up a bit. I supported Bill Clinton’s rather centrist ideas and policies during his two terms. I didn’t vote for Bush either time. I’m the person who put Obama in the Whitehouse in 2008 and I’m the person who put Trump in the Whitehouse in 2016. I supported universal healthcare and am glad that many of my family members have health insurance now. I’m a successful small business owner, but my premiums for my immediate family tripled under this unsustainable system and while I fear my other family members will lose their coverage, I recognize something has to change to bring the cost of care down and the solution isn’t just borrowing more to pay for it. I didn’t vote for Trump in the primaries. And the only candidate I gave money to was an African-American – Dr. Ben Carson. Am I racist, I hope you can see am I’m not. Am I a sexist, no. Am I a homophobe, no. Is Trump any of these? Maybe, maybe not. And Hillary might be a lot of things you’re not. I chose the lesser of two evils in my mind knowing that the things I’m being called for supporting Trump are the things I was already being called before supporting Trump. But faced with a dirty bulldozer like Trump or a dirty Washington insider like Clinton, I rolled the dice on the bulldozer hoping for the same thing I hoped for in elections before – change.