The Falconer

Donald Trump Won, and Democrats Are to Blame

Stephen French, Staff Writer

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The media has made a bad habit of Donald Trump. Since last June, he’s been the subject of every conversation, the guest of every interview, his speeches airing seemingly on a loop — often times, in their entirety. Because, to the media, and to millions of Democrats across the country, Donald Trump amounted to a bad joke. And when we laughed and wondered who could take this man seriously, we failed to realize that there was a legitimate answer to that question.

As it turns out, staying above the poverty line means much more to people than staying true to party lines, and no place has exemplified that phenomenon more clearly than the Rust Belt. Spanning from the Northeastern United States to parts of the upper Midwest, the region is home to some of the highest poverty rates in the country, and its inhabitants feel forgotten. They feel that their voices have been lost in America’s swift transition to a globalized economy.

That’s why, when these people watched Donald Trump day in and day out, they weren’t laughing. They were listening. They were paying close attention as this man, in spite of all his wealth and social status, assured them that he would be their champion. He would fight for blue collar workers in a way that the Democrats have failed to do since the Clinton administration. Was he telling the truth? That remains to be seen.

The fact is, most of these people are not racist — they’re desperate. They voted for Trump not because of the offensive things he said, but in spite of them. They were made to compromise their morals because they simply could not justify voting for a party who had all but left them behind.

Granted, it would be dangerous to pretend that at least some of Trump’s supporters aren’t motivated by hate and bigotry and chauvinism. Because some of them are. But it’s also dangerously easy to assume that they constitute the majority. In doing that, we misidentify the root of the problem. The Democratic Party has abandoned a vital part of its electorate, and if they ever intend to gain control of Congress, it is imperative that they reprise their role as advocates for the working class.

But maybe they’re too far gone. Maybe they’ve been ignored by their home party for too long, and have truly found a new voice in Donald Trump. Maybe it’s too late altogether.

Only, I don’t think it is. I think president-elect Trump heard the cheers and chants of a vocal, violent minority, and as a result, grossly misjudged his voters. The bulk of them didn’t support him because of his anti-immigrant rhetoric; they supported him because, underneath all the lies and xenophobia, he struck a nerve in the hearts of unemployed blue-collar workers and impoverished families all up and down the Rust Belt.

Given any other option, I genuinely believe that they would have voted against the likes of Donald Trump. And that’s good news for the Democratic Party. If it can return to it’s foundations as a defender of working people, the United States might have a chance to live up to its name in the wake of the 2016 election.

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