As much as I vow to never move back to my hometown, I’ll always know that it is where I started from. I’ve made a lot of comments on my views of the majority of Trump supporters and I understand not everyone falls into those categories. While I still do believe that mocking the handicapped and belittling a woman’s worth and showing superiority to all other races and ethnicities is something that doesn’t bother them enough to denounce the man who consistently and continually does that, I know there are other factors at play. It doesn’t take a scientist or a writer from The NY Times to understand that Erie, Pa and many cities in that area of Pennsylvania are crumbling. And Ohio. And Michigan. Companies are leaving the area at a rapid rate. Small business are popping up and that’s awesome, but they don’t employ as many people as a factory would.
For as far back as I can remember, growing old in Erie was never something I envisioned for myself. I left as soon as I could by going to college and collecting an incredible amount of student debt (yay, me!). But I never thought of that city as one that offered a whole lot of opportunity or career growth. Most of the well known businesses were family run and I think that’s still true today. I know GE just pulled out not too long ago leaving thousands unemployed. I know the construction business can’t be doing all that well because every thing looks the same today as when I left in 2003. It’s easy for me to forget that because where I live now there are businesses popping up as quickly as they can build them. My husband works in the construction industry and he’s busy all year round. He may not be as busy in February as opposed to July but he’s still working a lot. He’s definitely not left collecting unemployment to get through the winter months or turning his truck into a plow to make ends meet with the ridiculous winters they have up there.
Through high school and into college I worked at a pizza shop where if you couldn’t handle the language you couldn’t handle the job. If you put a tape recorder in there and played it back you would have a lot of offensive things coming your way, but not sexual assault confessions. Because while I may have worked with some foul mouths they were all good people. And if someone did say something like that we probably wouldn’t have kicked them out, but we wouldn’t have let it go unnoticed. And we’d definitely laugh in their face if they ever tried to run for public office, let alone the presidency. And in all the sentiments expressed that may have come across to an outsider as derogatory and offensive, it was never racism that was displayed. There was definitely some misogyny, sexism, and classism at play but race wasn’t something ever joked about. The way people spent their money and how they came up with it was met with more contention than anything else. If you sold drugs then people (not police people) may have looked at you as someone who was doing what they needed to do to get by. It was understood by people in similar economic statuses as you, whether they agreed with it or not. And to be clear when I say, “drugs,” I’m referring primarily to marijuana. I don’t think crack dealers are ever held in high regard. But, on the flip side, if you sold drugs and collected any form of welfare you were considered a piece of shit. Even now into adulthood there are many people who would rather do something illegal and a little shady on the side to make up their deficit than use food stamps or Medicaid until they make enough to not need it anymore. And right there may be why Trump’s shady business dealings weren’t at all a factor and Clinton’s desire to expand social programs was a deal breaker.
I don’t think that every single person who voted for Donald Trump is a racist or sexist or misogynist or mocks the handicapped or is afraid of anybody that comes from a different country. I believe that somehow beneath all of that they thought someone was “giving it to them straight” and going to help them keep their jobs or get their jobs back. Although in all the plans laid out by each candidate I really don’t see how Trump is going to do that. I don’t think he’s going to bring back the factories or create new jobs in the manufacturing or coal industries to the cities that have been hit the hardest. I think those have left and he knows that. While Hilary did offer plans to help in job training and vocational studies as well as community college to help further yourself in the career world, to people who need to go to work to feed their families that seemed out of reach. It seems that people who live in these areas and fall into the working class category found Donald to be much more relatable. And it’s easy to say that it was because Hillary is a woman but I’m sure it had a lot to do with the language used. What appalled many Americans (and I believe it still should) actually attracted others. When you grow up in a working class family you appreciate people who seem open and honest. Whether what they’re saying is right or wrong, if it seems sincere and genuine there’s a good chance you’ll back them. And even though fact check after fact check proved that Hillary Clinton was actually much more honest in every speech and debate through the campaign in comparison to Trump, since he said it with such bravado and confidence it was believed that he was the candidate that would pull the least amount of tricks.
In the end, the facts of his business dealings and his character as well as the ability to make possible what he speaks isn’t what anyone wanted to focus on. The big promises and the simple notion of getting to be able to continue living in the comfort zone they’ve grown accustomed to is what caught their attention. And I hope that the people who voted with that in their heart are able to benefit from this in some way, even with people like me telling them it’s not going to happen. Even when people are clearly letting them know that the man is a con artist and has no intention on truly helping your life, I hope he somehow manages to give them something. If this was just an election between the right and the left, the usual reasons for voting for your registered party would have been understandable. I believe there was a lot more than that on the line here and I think America has made a huge mistake. But there’s a lot to pay attention to right now and we all need to find some common ground in order to move forward.
For the sake of not stretching out my thoughts and observations on who supported this candidate as opposed to that one, I threw in this bonus post for the week. You’re welcome. And this will be my last post that primarily targets the voters. You’re welcome, again.