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November 11, 2016
by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

The Morning After the Night Before

November 11, 2016 03:18 by Ruth Gordon, MA, MSW, LCSW

Michael Moore, the left-leaning filmmaker, called it in July. Moore is from Flint, Michigan and understands the experiences and concerns of individuals who live in the so-called Rust Belt.

Moore lives among people who have suffered from factory closings, the rise of technology that squeezed them out of jobs, and what has felt like an elite political system that could not relate to them and did not want to.

Trump spoke directly in a language they could understand about putting a 35% tax on automobiles that are made in Mexico. He has promised, as a business man, that he can and will create jobs which will lead to prosperity for the “working” class.

The adage that people vote their pocketbooks was forgotten during the 2016 election by Trump opponents.  Many who voted for President Obama and the promise of change were disillusioned. 

The slow growth of the GDP (gross domestic product),  convinced a substantial number of blue collar and formerly middle-class Americans that the existing system would never work for them.

There is a truism that states that happy people will vote for incumbents. The Trump win underlined the desire to sweep Washington clean. People have lost patience with a Congress that is stuck due to political rivalries. Accomplishing little to nothing is no longer acceptable.  Politicians are seen as uncaring and self-involved.

Citizens are struggling to stay above the poverty level. There is resistance to foreign wars and interference in the affairs of sovereign nations. With a fear that there is not enough to go around it is understandable that there is resistance to the admission of a vast number of immigrants. It is not unusual in times of perceived threat for people to close ranks.

Was Hillary Clinton treated fairly?  There will be little consensus on the answer to that question.  One theory that has been put forward is that man, and more so, women resent Secretary Clinton.

Despite the growth of opportunities for women, scores of women resent her for not accepting nurturing as her central goal in life.  It is hard for human beings to accept a change in paradigm.  The possibility exists that there are fewer roads to success for the women who live in the Rust Belt.  It is feasible that these women resent one of their own gender who has broken through expectations.

Citizens of the United States are not in awe of dynasties.  It is possible that many people are tired of Clinton’s and Bush’s in positions of power. Any intrigue or mystique wore thin while the Clinton’s and Bush’s were not looking.

There is a shared similarity between Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. All of them have that hard to define quality called charisma. Charisma is something you have, or you do not.  It cannot be taught or imitated. Unfortunately, Hillary lacks this quality. 

In his book, Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goleman provides a thorough and compelling argument that the way an individual understands, gets along with, is sensitive to the reactions of others will predict success in life. Goleman values this emotional intelligence above intellectual intelligence and beauty.  At the time he wrote it he named Oprah Winfrey as an example of excellent emotional intelligence. He credited this characteristic as the reason for Ms. Winfrey’s phenomenal success.

Many regard Hillary as the epitome of greed and trickery.  They believe that she was guilty of all charges against her including Whitewater, the death of Vince Foster. And the tragedy in Benghazi. Despite being found not guilty, many harbor the belief that Hillary somehow cheated her way out of conviction. Because of the above, Hillary is rarely given the benefit of the doubt. 

Those who are fed up with things moving along at the same old pace in the same old way in Washington have an appreciation of and desire for a leader who can think outside the box.  President-elect Trump is a self-described entrepreneur. Certainly, he ran his campaign in a way like none other.  There is an expectation that his administration will come up with novel solutions to the same old problems. Mr. Trump faces a challenge that many would find daunting. 

Mr. Trump threw away the current campaign playbook and quite effectively went back to an authoritarian style informed by reality tv and social media. He utilized what he had: glamour, celebrity, ostentatious wealth and a bombastic style to his advantage. His lifestyle offered a dream of escape for those who are struggling financially. His disregard for accepted rules of civility spoke to those who are tired of being civilized. 

Mr. Trump made mention in his victory speech of the so-called “forgotten man”. He is not the first successful politician to play that card.  The “forgotten man” has been referenced by Republicans and Democrats. In today’s incarnation the implication is that white working class people have been neglected due to untoward attention that has been paid to men, all men, who do not identify themselves as Caucasian. 

The irony of this attention to the white working class following eight years of America’s first African-American President is impossible to ignore. This populist, xenophobic attitude did not start with Mr. Trump’s candidacy. 

In Hungary, prime minister Viktor Orban has erected a wall to keep out immigrants. Finland is in the process of slashing the number of immigrants allowed to enter as they attempt to exclude non-Europeans. The swing to the authoritarian right is a trend on both sides of the Atlantic.  

CNN journalist Van Jones has called this trend a “white lash”. It has been speculated that those who have traditionally held power (white men) are fearful that their privileges are being usurped by non-whites. The notion that those in power will fight to keep the power is nothing new. Focus on any historical era to find examples of the hoarding of entitlements. There is data that confirms that when those who have been subjugated become citizens the likelihood of violence increases, as the “haves” hold on to their status for dear life.

Mr. Trump has been unafraid to herald his bigotry toward anyone who isn’t him.  A part of the American populace has been shocked and appalled. The other part, the “forgotten man” part assert that he is saying what they are thinking, and an impenetrable bond has been formed.

There are those who declare that the United States now has the leader it deserves. Clearly, this is unprovable. What comes next remains to be seen. The hope is that American voters got it right.  Time will tell if the different sections of the United States will come together and each side will develop some empathy for the other.

Donald Trump is the new leader of the free world.  May he use his power judiciously.  


References: 

DeVega, C. (2016, November 9). White Rage Against the Machine: President-elect, Donald Trump is an Historical Shock -- Unless You Study American History. Retrieved November 10, 2016.

Dowd, M. (2015, March 11). 10 Things America Wants in It's President in 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2016.

Goldberg, M. (2016, July 24). The Hillary Haters. Retrieved November 10, 2016.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence. Bantam Books.

Lewis, N. (2016, November 9). Why Did Trump Win? Just Look At His Policy. Retrieved November 10, 2016.

Rosenmann, A. (2016, July 21). Michael Moore Gives 5 Scary Reasons Why Trump Will Win. Retrieved November 10, 2016.

Schiller, B. (2016, November 9). Why Did Trump Win? The Economy Stupid. Retrieved November 10, 2016.

Sheffield, M. (2016, October 26). Michel Moore: People Will Vote for Donald Trump as a Giant F**K you -- and He'll Win. Retrieved November 10, 2016.

Wilkinson, W. (2016, November 9). What Happened on Election Day? The Majesty of Trump. Retrieved November 10, 2016.

Womack, L. (2016, October 12). Stop Pretending You Don't Know Why People Hate Hillary Clinton. Retrieved November 10, 2016.


About the Author

Ruth Gordon Ruth Gordon, MA/MSW/LCSW

A practical approach to problems encountered in daily life. A confidential and comfortable atmosphere in which we will use humor to help you gain perspective on current concerns. Enhance your skills for creative problem solving.

Ruth Gordon has a clinical practice in Naples, FL

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