By: Sonah Lee, Contributor
I didn’t vote for Donald Trump. In fact, I’m very anti-Trump. But after a few days of grief post-election I needed to push past the poisonous and discriminatory rhetoric I saw coming from both Democrats and Republicans. I had to take Patrick Thornton’s advice: “We are all real Americans, and it’s time we start empathizing with one another more.”
After a week of combing through the internet and talking to friends, I found that I connected most with the poor, rural, white Americans who supported Trump; voters who were most desperate for change. That was easy to understand. When you are worried about your family or your community’s survival, you want to believe in whomever can change the system that failed you. For everyone else who voted for the President-elect it was hard to truly sympathize. I often had to excuse ignorant comments to really understand someone’s point of view.
Here are some of the sources I found informative. I made an effort to avoid the ones with sensational sound bites or inflammatory quotes so as not to perpetuate stereotypes. I hope you find them eye-opening as well.
Cassie Hewlett is an independent blogger and college freshman. This year was her first presidential election and, in a brief blog post, she revealed she had voted for Donald Trump. Hewlett makes it clear that she is not a racist or homophobic person; her choice was a vote for traditional Republican values. She believes in the importance of small businesses, a strong domestic economy, safe borders and better foreign trade. I loved Hewlett’s honesty and I felt I could understand where she was coming from. But right now it’s unclear what “being Republican” really means. How will her voice be represented by this new President-elect?
“The Naked Truth: Trumpland” was a great glimpse into the diversity among Donald Trump voters. The more affluent supporters were like Cassie Hewlett — they voted for Republican values. But some of them veered off into statements that weren’t entirely accurate. One voter from Long Island talked about government spending and officials receiving “kickbacks” as if they were everyday occurrences. The argument sounded more like an anecdote he had heard once or twice that was being blown out of proportion.
Another Trump voter believed all illegal immigrants needed to be stopped. What I found interesting about this conversation was that her daughter-in-laws were present — one of them was an immigrant from Latin America. Both children challenged her ideas and ended up diffusing the tension. It was a great moment.
In a video piece from The Guardian, I got a better look at life in a rural West Virginia county. The people of this community, I felt, were the voices of America that needed to be heard the most. They ended up voicing their concerns by voting for Donald Trump.
In the first episode of Van Jones’ new series “The Messy Truth,” the CNN commentator sat down to talk to a family of Donald Trump supporters. I appreciated that he was taking the first step in trying to reach out to the voters we couldn’t understand after the election. It was nice to see Jones listening to the family’s take on the world. The episode ended on a high note.
I’m just starting to get to know more about those who voted for Donald Trump. I know I cannot agree or sympathize with everyone and I’ll need to continue exploring. But I’m also afraid this might be a one-sided effort. Do Trump supporters care about me and what my life and my views are? Do they want to learn more about me and others who think like me?
If you want to learn more, I’d also recommend these podcasts:
“A Sociologist Speaks to ‘Strangers’ In Neglected Corners of America” — On Point with Tom Ashbrook
“The Man Who Saw Donald Trump’s Victory Coming” — The Center for Investigative Reporting
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