Every time Donald Trump wins another state, I overhear the same conversations in New York City:
“Can you believe how well Trump is doing?”
“At first it was a joke, but now he could actually win!”
“Someone has to stop him – or I’m moving to Canada.”
Often the conversation morphs into putting down Mr Trump’s voters, who are stereotyped as racist and uninformed. What’s interesting is that no one seems that interested in attempting to empathize with Trump’s supporters.
Two days ago, the NYTimes released an article which lists the census factors that correlate with support for Trump: uneducated, white, live in a mobile home, and showed support for segregationists (as measured by Support for George Wallace (1968)).
The data might be correct, but I highly doubt the NYTimes is discounting supporters of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama who have no high school diploma. And is a vote in 1968 really relevant? This NYTimes article fuels the kind of elitism that divides this country further.
I do not support Donald Trump’s candidacy, but I do not think we will stop him (or movements similar to his) if we do not attempt to empathize with his supporters and give them the respect they deserve as voting Americans.
A few pieces of journalism have attempted to highlight why Trump has a base of legitimate support (The WSJ’s Trump’s America is an excellent read). Pieces like those have the ability to inspire political solutions that will help Trump’s base get back on their feet – without need for Trump in office.
One of the commenters on the NYTimes article summarized how I feel quite nicely:
“I do not think trashing Trump supporters, is helpful. I know plenty of people with college degrees, master’s degrees, supporting him. I am a Bernie supporter, but do understand their anger. The last 8 years have been very difficult, for so many. I think the NYTs, and the rest of the main stream media, need to investigate, and interview, main street America, without a bias, without an agenda.”
In my opinion, those who write off Trump’s supporters without considering that they might be informed voters making the best decision for themselves are just as elitist as Donald himself.