I would like to make myself very clear. I am not a Trump supporter. Having grown up in the midwest though, and having many good friends who voted Trump, I think I have a pretty good idea of how Trump made his ascent to the presidency.
I grew up in Piqua, Ohio, a small blue collar town built on hard work and honor. Men and women from Piqua get up in the morning and head to the machine shop. They are working class folks who never question the work they do, but rather only believe that the work they are doing is worth something great. A lot of these folks are union workers and have always voted democrat, but in a year where the media and liberal elite made us all believe that our country only existed on the west and east coast, people across the midwest felt compelled to make a statement. You see men and women in rural Ohio work for everything that they have. Nothing is given. There is a competitive spirit amongst these people to do better for themselves, to do better for their kids. I have always admired that no matter how rich or poor these folks are, they grind from sunup until sundown. Whether you are the town attorney or the local garbage man, these people are friends, they are family and most of all they have your back when times are tough.
I remember back in 2008 when the General Motors automobile plant of Moraine, Ohio shut down. For decades Chevy pickup trucks and suv’s rolled off the line, but when the plant shut down during the recession, 2400 plant employees were sent packing. I remember when the banks foreclosed on neighbors houses and almost all of southwestern Ohio shared a deep sense sorrow. It is not worth anyone’s time to point fingers and blame one political party or another, but what I can tell you is our government has done little to show that they actually care about these hardworking people in recent years. It used to be that we saw the American worker as the heart and soul of this country, and in 2008 and 2012 hardworking Ohioans bought in on Obama’s message of hope. While our nation has been sound under his honest and steady leadership, a lot of these people felt like they were being sold out to democratic policy that overregulated their jobs and made times even worse. When Trump announced his candidacy he promised to put these people first. He promised to bring back jobs. He had a message, and while his rhetoric was raw and fierce, he captivated many Americans who were looking for a champion. “Make America Great Again” may mean nothing to all of us who already believe our nation is great, but to these people it meant everything. They saw a rebirth in American manufacturing, and they were reminded of the glory days. You can be sure that if Trump could deliver even a fraction of that, they were going to get out and vote. Most of all though, these people were tired of being called uneducated white guys who were to blame for all of our country’s problems. Sure many of them do not have college degrees, but I can guarantee you that any man or woman who works so hard so that they can send their kids on to college, is a genius. And while we all found it easy to boast of our high virtues and intellect, my friends back home only felt compelled to protest. In many ways they were not voting for Trump, but rather voting against all of us who painted them to be a bunch of idiots.
Now while I believe that President Elect Trump represents everything that is wrong with our country, not a day goes by where I forget why they voted the way they did. To them Clinton represented more of the same, and they were tired of hearing about a family that seldom stood by the truth, yet time and time again asked to be put in office. It felt un-american to even consider electing another Clinton. And, as the election went on, we all had the audacity to call most of these Trump supporters racists and bigots. Clinton herself denounced half of our populace as deplorable, and as we sat atop our hightower acting like we really knew what America was all about, these people living in the shadows only felt more inclined to vote for Trump. It was not out of ignorance. It was out anger because time and time again we made these people feel like they weren’t worth anything. I am not up here speaking to tell you that these people were right. I do not even know if Trump will make it through his four years in office. But what can tell you is that we learned a great deal about our country. The majority of Trump voters were tired of the “system” and they voted for change, and many honest hardworking Americans were wrongly targeted and blamed for the social unease we see in our country. I ask for all of you to look outside the presidency. We will always be a nation with hateful people, and never will every individual feel like their needs are atop the government’s agenda. But like you and me, most Trump supporters hope for a better future. Let me end by saying this. Take the time to see the country for what it really is. We are all a lot more common than you think. Humanity is amongst us all, and if you take a second to recognize someone else’s before you demand betterment of your own, we will be a better nation. A friend once told me that every bird has a left wing and a right wing, and we all know birds need both to fly high. America is young, and we are a generation that can change the game for the better. Think about what that means, and think about the work it will take.