Don’t call Trump voters deplorable, debate them

Trump’s campaign succeeded by tapping into a wide range of grievances which we must engage with and discuss fully

Image: Gage Skidmore

Image: Gage Skidmore

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past week, you may have noticed that reality TV star Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton, in a shock result, to become the President of the US. Following this result, many people have been blaming Trump’s supporters, exclaiming how racist and misogynistic they must have to be to have voted for this sociopath. Now although I have found myself doing this, having had time to reflect, it is imperative that we must not blame the voters.

Yes, it will be the case that quite a few Trump supporters are racist or misogynistic, but this cannot be the case for all Trump supporters. Even the most cynical among you can’t surely believe that the 61.2m people who voted for Trump are all racist or misogynistic. What about Trump’s Mexican, Muslim, and female supporters? Do you really believe that these people hate people of their own race, religion or gender? Of course they don’t. Instead, many people in the US are fed up of the perceived failures of conventional politicians.

People are fed up of Presidents being bankrolled by Wall Street. While Donald Trump funded his Presidential campaign himself, more than $4.2m from Wall Street went into Clinton’s campaign, and a further $18.7m went into the super political action committee backing her. These statistics would seem to suggest that had Clinton been elected, her policies would have favoured Wall Street significantly more than Trumps will. While Clinton might not have attempted to take power away from the banks, a key piece of rhetoric in Trump’s campaign was to do just that. Clearly many Bernie Sanders supporters will have been concerned by this, either voted from Trump or not at all.

Furthermore, as with Brexit, the election results reflect that working people feel let down by neoliberal policies. Since the economic crash, despite Obama’s best efforts to prevent it, wages have stagnated, the public sector has been cut, and many people are finding themselves unemployed or in low paid jobs. And while Clinton represented continuity, Trump gave people hope that this would be stopped under his Presidency.

Instead of labelling Trump supporters as stupid, racist, or sexist, people need to debate with them, listen to their point of view and put their own point of view across. People like me, on the left, have been guilty of this for years. Instead of listening to people who may disagree with them, they just hurl insults at them. How is this going to change their mind? After being called a racist or an idiot, will people think: ‘you know what, I am a racist. Thank you for changing my point of view’? Of course they won’t. But if we respect alternative views, maybe they will listen to us.

You, like me, may not agree with Trump. You probably despise that orange-faced oaf. But, please do not insult the people who voted for him. Debate with them respectfully, and listen to their alternative views. Only then, will we have hope of changing their views.

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