Eye Opening

Reading time – 3:13; Viewing time – 5:30  .  .  .

I’m still trying to figure this out and I think I’m making progress. Reality keeps telling me that I better hurry it up.

Why did people vote for Donald Trump even when he promised to do things that would harm them?

It’s easy to dismiss such people as ignorant or stupid. It’s also both factually inaccurate and counterproductive. First, nobody wakes up on election day and decides to do something harmful to themselves. We all act in what we perceive to be our best interests and feel we have good, sensible reasons to back that up. Second, if you want to encourage someone to see things in a different way, starting with, “You’re stupid,” probably won’t be useful, so a different approach is called for. In very short order that is going to become critically important. Stay with me to see why.

Sarah Kliff wrote a most interesting article in Vox entitled Why Obamacare enrollees voted for Trump. The sub-head is “In Whitley County, Kentucky, the uninsured rate declined 60 percent under Obamacare. So why did 82 percent of voters there support Donald Trump?” Good question.

The short answer comes from a woman living in the area who signed up thousands of people for Obamacare and then voted for Trump. Interviewed by Kliff, she said, “I found with Trump, he says a lot of stuff. I just think all politicians promise you everything and then we’ll see. It’s like when you get married — ‘Oh, honey, I won’t do this, oh, honey, I won’t do that.’” Kliff later reports, “I kept hearing informed voters, who had watched the election closely, say they did hear the promise of repeal [of Obamacare] but simply felt Trump couldn’t repeal a law that had done so much good for them. In fact, some of the people I talked to hope that one of the more divisive pieces of the law — Medicaid expansion — might become even more robust, offering more of the working poor a chance at the same coverage the very poor receive.”

In other words, they heard Trump’s message that he would repeal Obamacare and simply didn’t believe it. Here’s another example.

Watch the “Bernie Sanders in Trump Country” discussion that was aired on Chris Hayes’ program on MSNBC on December 12 and pay special attention to the panel members. They consistently expressed the same views as Kliff’s interviewees in Kentucky. They just figured that Trump was saying what he needed to say to get elected and, once elected, would do whatever these people viewed as the right thing, even when the right thing was in conflict with what Trump said he would do.

Before you slip into smug mode, wondering what kind of fools these people might be, consider what you expected from Barack Obama in 2008. There’s a good chance that you imagined that he would consistently do the right thing. Later it’s possible you were disappointed in him for failing your right thing test.

There’s a psychological term for hearing what we want to hear and dismissing as insignificant what we don’t want to hear. It’s called confirmation bias and we are all subject to our own version of self-delusion powered by that bias.

Here’s the bottom line to this: Be slow to ridicule Trump voters as stupid or ignorant or racist (yes, clearly some of the really loud ones are that). All that most of them were doing in this past election was being human. And they will respond to you a lot better when they realize that you respect them. In fact, that may be the key both to understanding what happened in this election and, more important, the key to a better future for you and our democracy.

Millions of voters have buyer’s remorse right now because they really voted against establishment Hillary, not for Trump. And they got Trump and now they are horrified. It’s time to respectfully invite them to join you and others to do something to stop the extremist agenda of the oligarchs and generals who are about to take the reins of power.

Not convinced that’s happening? Go here and here and click through the links there to learn what this open season of American hatred looks like. And as you do that, recognize that this brutality is sanctioned from the top. Protections you take for granted are on the edge of being eliminated by Presidential cabinet appointments, people who are dedicated to eliminating the agencies they will lead, the ones that now provide those protections you take for granted.

There is extreme danger on the very near horizon and we better make our voices heard. And we better reach the millions of Americans who voted for Trump and are now horrified so that they make their voices heard along with ours.

On a livestream on the 19th there was a critical clarity that was offered: Love doesn’t trump hate; Organizing trumps hate. As I have written repeatedly, if things are to change for the better, we’ll actually have to do something.

So, now that you see the looming danger and understand Trump voters a little better, get up, get involved and get organized – while we still can.


Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

YOUR ACTION STEPS: Offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe and engage.  Thanks!  JA

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5 Responses to Eye Opening
  1. Paul winsor Reply

    Hi Jack

    I’m Canadian, the land of Rob Ford, Justin Trudeau and Bob Rae.

    Bob Rae?

    Bob was an Ontario Premier. He was elected in an “anyone but” election. His party, NDP, is hard left. Harder left than Bernie.

    Many of us were horrified. In fact, Bob looked horrified . . . What I won? . . . eke!

    Anyway he implemented hard left policies . . . government expansion, wage concessions, give, give give, more, more.

    Then suddenly the economy did not improve, tax revenues decreased and he panicked. The NDP had to reduce spending . . . eke . . . they came up with the idea of keeping all government employees employed, with 2 weeks unpaid leave per year.

    The term for these unpaid days off, “Rae days”.

    When anyone thinks of voting NDP in Ontario, their first thought is “Rae days”.

    My point is, just wait for the equivalent of “Trump Days” . . . no one will vote for a Trump like figure again for a generation.

    If you slow him down, you risk making him look reasonable.


  2. Amy Tucker Reply

    I have a question. Has Trump made any public statement in response to all of the hate crimes that have occurred in his name since the day after the election? I’m not aware of anything.

    • Jack Altschuler Reply

      He’s told audiences at his Nuremberg Rallies (“Thank You Tour”) to tone down the “Lock her up” rhetoric and a couple of others of his staples of hateful and unconstitutional standards from the campaign, but I have heard nothing from Trump or his surrogates that speak to the hate crimes and bigoted attacks that Trump encouraged either actively or passively.

  3. Jim Altschuler Reply

    Well said. I just have a problem taking the “higher road” needed to do what you’re suggesting. In light of the hate speech and the prejudicial attitudes of the people being appointed to cabinet positions (in some cases without any over-sight or approval by Congress), it is incredibly difficult to “turn the other cheek” or to believe that it’s really going to work out for the benefit of the people of America and, in broader strokes, the people of the world. There are people, leaders and followers, who, even at this moment, are champing at the bit to damage the most powerful country in the world — the U.S.A. We have been a target for decades, whether the Soviet Union (and in more recent years many of its factions), the Chinese, the Iranians, the Iraqis, the Syrians, etc. Never before, however, has the United States gone out of its way to make itself a target. I haven’t seen anything in the language or behavior or appointments by the President-elect that seems to me (or, I presume, the rest of the world) to be a positive invitation. And “waiting and seeing” is not only something I’m not very good at but I believe it’s an inactivity that is probably damaging to our people, our government and our future.

  4. Jay Becker Reply

    Kudos for making the connection between largely misplaced expectations of Obama and the same regarding Trump! Rather than blaming those who voted for him, I think we need to look more closely at the larger forces that funded Trump’s campaign, provided his advisors, and kept his message in front of the public free of charge. If your readers are interested in that livestream on Dec. 19, it’s available at http://www.refusefascism.org, thanks to HuffPo!