Think of all the great Presidential speeches in American history:
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” – FDR
“That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – Abe Lincoln
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” – JFK
In just a few weeks, the guy in the position to say the words that will live in history will be Donald J. Trump.
Yeah, the guy who up until two years ago, was most famous for saying “You’re fired” – and tried to copyright that phrase more than a decade ago – will be the one standing before our country in times of change or crisis, explaining what happened and how we, as a nation will respond together.
The Oklahoma City bombing.
The Challenger Disaster.
In all of these crises, our President told us what we were facing, and how we as a nation would respond. We listened, hoping for hope, guidance and confidence. It’s one of the most important of a President’s jobs.
In just a few weeks, that job will belong to Trump.
President Elect D….
I still can’t write “President-Elect Donald Trump” without shaking my head, and pondering the bizarre series of events over the past 18 months – or rather, the changes in our society and some of the actions of our federal government over the past several years – that combined to make Trump’s election a reality.
First, where I am coming from:
I was from the start (and still am) a Never-Trumper. I also became, for reasons you will eventually learn if you can keep from smashing whatever device you are using to read this column and make it that far, “Never Hillary,” too.
And while I view our Vinton Today web site as a place for discussing uniquely Vinton events and people, the fact I have found myself awake in the middle of the night many times before and since Nov. 8, pondering what is happening makes me think that some of you are asking yourselves many of the same questions.
Also, since I am lucky enough that my job allows me to spend hours a day pondering and researching such things without getting me in trouble with the boss, I have learned a few things you may not have known before.
Also, we as individuals, as well as our city, county and school governments, have been affected by what happens in the White House, and will continue to be.
This whole 2016 election is so big, complex, perplexing and compelling that it requires the journalist to remember each of the basic questions journalists are supposed to ask and answer: Who, what, where, when why and how.
I will, with as few words as possible, attempt to answer those questions here.
But please know this: I am not attempting to change anyone’s mind with this column, or criticize any reason for any vote. I have good friends who stood firmly on both sides on Nov. 8. My amazing friends who wore red on Nov. 9 to celebrate are as noble as those who are still mourning the election results, the people who have started a countdown to 2020. There were, and are, compelling reasons to vote for, or at least against, each candidate. Eventually, in the “How,” “When” and “Why” sections, we will explore some of those issues that seem to have impacted voters the most in the places where Trump won.
And “Where” is where we will start….
Part 1: Where Trump won, and didn’t
Here, in Benton County, Trump won in each of our precincts, in all of the cities. The final totals from the Benton County Auditor’s Office indicate that the Trump/Mike Pence ticket received 8,232 votes to 4,678 votes for the Hillary Clinton/Tim Keane ticket. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, received 542 votes and Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, 86.
See all those Benton County totals for the Presidential election (and all other races) HERE.
Trump’s 59.46 percent among Benton County voters is about 8 percent higher than the Iowa total of 51 percent; it’s 13 percent higher than his nationwide percentage, 46.3. Trump’s Iowa percentage is noticeably lower than that of most of the other “red” states in the 2016 election, but higher than average among swing states that went red this year. Iowa and Ohio had very similar percentages; in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida, Trump won by 1 percent or so without earning more than 50 percent of votes.
The final electoral vote total is 306 to 232, in Trump’s favor.
The now-infamous pre-election polls which predicted a big impending victory for Hillary Clinton were right, in many ways. According to the latest compilation from the Cook Report, (upon which most major media rely for accurate election totals), the Clinton/Kaine team received 65,152,112 total votes nationwide, or 48.2 percent. The Trump/Pence total of 62,625,928 represents 46.3 percent.
The New York Daily News, in an editorial before the election, called on voters to “Bury Trump in a landslide.”
They did, in New York, and several other large cities.
Clinton was the winner in 37 of the 40 most populated metropolitan areas, and won huge in New York City, Chicago and L.A. (Approximately 75 percent) and even bigger in Boston (80 percent), Philadelphia (82 percent) and Washington, D.C. (93 percent). Nationwide, she received more than 2.5 million more votes than Trump.
Trump, however, won just about everywhere else. Take a look at a county-by-county map of election results. The New York Times has an Electoral Map that is very easy to use.
Clinton won about 500 of the 3100-plus counties, parishes or other government-defined regions in the U.S.; Trump was the winner in more than 2,600. That explains why some states that look “blue” or “red” on an electoral map contain much of the other color when you compare the county map. Although Clinton won in states like Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Virginia and Minnesota, those maps appear overwhelmingly red when you compare the number of counties each candidate won.
Maybe this statistic puts Trump’s loss/win in perspective: Hillary had more votes in New York City than she received Idaho, Utah, Wyoming Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma combined.
This is where Trump won – or where Clinton lost, depending on your point of view.
Perhaps the most important lesson of Election 2016 – or perhaps the place to start discussing it – is here: Rural America voted for Trump in historically Republican margins.
It’s possible to drive From Okanogan County in northwest Washington, located along the Canadian border, not far from the Pacific, to Duval County (Jacksonville) Fla., which borders the Atlantic, without crossing through even one county where Clinton won.
Trump won (usually by 20-30 points or more) in all of the counties in Oklahoma and West Virgina. He took all but two counties in Kansas and Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah and Idaho, all but four in North Dakota, all but five in Montana and came 1 county short of winning all of Wyoming. Clinton won six counties in Iowa, two in Missouri and Kentucky, four in Indiana and three in Tennessee.
There are a few exceptions to the “Red Rural Rule.” In South Texas, where there is a high Latino population, Hillary won most of the counties south of San Antonio and west of Corpus Christi. She also took most of the mostly-black areas of Bible Belt states, a few Native American areas West of the Mississippi, and Blaine County, Idaho, a ski resort community where many West Coast natives have moved. That county has voted for Democrats in most recent presidential elections, and was the site of a rare Red-State anti-Trump rally in the days after the election.
CNN recently profiled one rural county that voted for Trump by a huge margin, making him the ONLY Republican presidential candidate to win that county, ever. Since its creation in 1869, Elliot County, Ky., has supported every Democratic candidate, even in years of GOP landslides.
But overall, rural states became red states as Trump won big enough in enough places without big cities to win the necessary electoral votes.
Part 2: What happened?
That brings us to the “What” of 2016: The Trump/Pence team won the electoral vote by a big margin, while losing the popular vote by more than 2.5 million votes.
Just what is an electoral vote? And what on earth is an “Electoral College?” It sounds as phony to some as a degree from “Trump University.”
Boredom Warning: Here comes a civics lesson.
Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution says this about the Electoral College (although nowhere in the Constition does not the phrase “Electoral College” appear; that phrase became part of the American election process and its language later):
“The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress…”
How states choose their electors evolved over the first several elections into our current process by which each state bases its electoral votes which candidate received the most votes for President in that state’s general election.
Although it did not start the exactly this way, the Presidential election process evolved over the first few elections into the system we use now, in which votes by citizens every four years dictate whom the electors of the Electoral College will be, and for whom they will vote.
We, in Iowa, have four members of Congress (based on our population, and how it compares to other states) and two Senators. So, our electoral vote total is six. Each other state has a number of electoral votes, based on its population. California, with the highest population, has 55 electoral votes. The states states with the lowest population have 3 each, as does Washington, D.C.
According to the federal government’s election page, this is how the Electoral college works in every state but Nebraska and Maine, where the process is slightly different:
Early in the election cycle, each major political party appoints its own set of electors. After the election, the electors from party whose candidate won that county’s poplar vote become that state’s official Electors. Those people will meet in their state on Dec. 19, to cast their votes. Because of history and tradition and party loyalties, the Electors virtually always will vote for the candidate who won their state. There have been few exceptions and never has the Electoral College voted differently than state results dictated. Congress then counts the votes in early January, and determines a winner. While it’s been just 16 years since a candidate (George W. Bush) won the electoral vote while losing the popular vote, it’s been 140 years since Congress settled an Electoral College dispute.
For more insight into why the Electors are expected to vote for Trump you can read more from an Iowa writer HERE:
When, why and how: What I, and the rest of rural America saw, when they reacted, and why it matters, in 2016 and beyond
Now that I have somewhat briefly – and, I hope, thoroughly – explained what happened, and where on Election Day, 2016, we can move on to the other questions: When, why and how?
When did this once-crazy idea of voting for an orange-haired reality TV blabbermouth start to make more sense to 62,625,928 Americans than voting for one of the most-experienced candidates ever?
How did Trump rise to the top of a crowded field of Republican candidates? Why did enough people in enough states vote for one of the least politically-experienced candidates in history to make him President?
I have spoken to several of my friends and relatives about why they voted for Trump (and/or against Clinton), and when and how they made their decision. And yes, I spoke to many who did not vote for him, for her, or like me, for either.
The answers of the Trump voters might surprise some of you, and perhaps even contradict the preconceived notions of others, but what they told me makes a lot of sense.
But first, an anecdote that leads to my “When Story,” from a member of the media involved in Election Night coverage who did not vote the same way as most of her colleagues:
“The room was bustling with laughter and oaths, but little by little, it quieted. It was as if an invisible cloud of gas had descended. Soon there was only the dry tap-tap of computer keys as people punched up and re-punched a nightmare. Something extraordinary is happening – it’s carnage!”
Watching her devastated colleagues mourning the election results, this journalist described seeing a man who voted the same way she did across the room. After a very brief celebratory greeting with this colleague, the writer recalls, “Ashamed of my joy, I go back to work.”
“What is happening to us? What is happening to this country?” asked another devastated colleague, later, at a bar.
“I think we awoke from our slumber,” replied the writer. “I think the country probably had enough of everything that wasn’t working and now they want a change.”
“Well, they’re going to get it,” replied the sad colleague.
The above conversation does capture how most of the media felt on Election Night 2016 (more on that later). But this exchange actually took place 36 years ago, the night the Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter. The woman writing about that night, Peggy Noonan, was a producer at CBS News at the time. She would later become a Reagan speechwriter; she’s now a political commentator and Wall Street Journal columnist.
I have my own personal “1980 story,” and I share this now because of something unique that happened to me on the morning of Election Day 2016.
I remember, in the fall of 1980, that it was extremely important to me that, although I was not eligible to vote, that I support the right candidate. I spent more time paying attention to the debates and issues than most 15-year-olds, and I remember being “undecided” all the way up to the weekend before the election.
Sometime that weekend, while wandering around outside a farm in rural Brandon (like I often do now), it occurred to me: I would, if I could, vote for Ronald Reagan.
There was not any one reason. I liked Jimmy Carter. I would have voted for him in 1976. I was, however, extremely angry about our national decision to give the Panama Canal back to Panama. We had just learned in Social Studies how hard Americans had worked to build it, and soon later, I saw our our U.S. Senators on TV, voting to give it back! It was my first time to care passionately about a political issue.
So, when Reagan said on the campaign trail, “We gave back the Panama Canal because we wanted the world to like us – but we don’t want the world to like us, we want the world to respect us,” I listened.
I was also appalled at Carter’s response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by keeping the U.S. Olympic team from the 1980 Moscow games, as well as his grain embargo.
I don’t know which of those issues came to mind, as I decided that Reagan was the candidate I would have voted for, if I were three years older.
Later, I read an article that said that many Americans seemed to change, or make up their minds, over that same weekend in 1980, resulting in Reagan’s big win.
Nine Presidential elections later, I woke up at 4 a.m. or so on that Tuesday morning, and the first thing that came to mind was: “I really, really, really dread the thought of Hillary Clinton being President.”
Like just about everyone else, I “knew” all along that Hillary would win. From the interviews in which journalists practically begged her to run long before the election season began, to Trump’s nomination as her GOP opponent, I just expected Hillary to win.
I had been closely monitoring the 538.com site, which tracked the odds of the election. Over the two weeks before the election, Trump’s odds of winning, according to 538, had increased from 13 to 35 percent. Not everyone agreed. A Huffington Post writer strongly expressed disdain for the 538 research, declaring that all other polls showed Clinton with a 99 percent chance or greater of winning. I had no reason to disagree with that assessment.
But as I woke up with that feeling about Clinton, I remembered the sudden change of heart I had experienced just before the Election of 1980.
I asked myself if it was possible that the rest of the country – or enough of it, at least – was waking up with the same feeling, and that you and I would wake up the next morning with Trump as our President-Elect.
“Nah,” I told myself and hour before the first polls opened. “Impossible.”
Personally, my morning revelation meant nothing. I had voted early, and even if I still could have voted on Election Day, I still just am not anywhere near being ready to fill the box next to Trump’s name.
Every one of the 62,625,928 people who voted for Trump has his (or her, and yes, lots of women voted for Trump, especially in “red” states) own story of when, how and why he made up his mind. I don’t know how many of them did so on Election Day.
I have heard from many people about why they did vote for Trump, from reluctant “Never Hillary” people to Trump despisers who voted for him because they like Mike Pence to first-time voters who got involved in the Iowa Caucus process for the very first time because Trump appealed to them, to rural Iowans who are not real political enthusiasts but have been worn down by the regulations of federal government or the painfully un-affordable cost of health care premiums under the Affordable Care Act.
The following list of reasons my friends and neighbors voted for Trump is nowhere near comprehensive, but it does include the reasons I have heard most often, and most forcefully, from Trumpsters. While I have numbered the topics below to more clearly distinguish them, those numbers do not represent any kind of order of importance; I am sure, in fact, that my friends would prioritize them differently.
When No. 1: August 9, 2014, the day Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Mo.
How No. 1: Clinton lost by accusing police officers of killing young men simply because they are black.
Why No. 1: Trump won in rural America because black lives matter so much to white America.
Many of us vote because of issues that affect us intensely and fiercely personally. For me, this was the main issue of the 2016 election.
I had spent much of the fall of 2015 researching the murder of former Vinton resident and ABQ police officer Daniel Webster by a career criminal who happens to be black. I felt the pain of Webster’s family in Vinton, and read about the intense sorrow in Albuquerque over the killing of Webster and another officer.
On a related personal note, as I was just finishing the writing of those Webster articles, a distant cousin who shares my last name was killed by police in a Dallas suburb.
I have no doubt that the shooting was justified; my cousin had just murdered his girlfriend, and called the police to tell them so. When they showed up in his driveway he ran at them with a baseball bat and fireplace poker in his hand. They shot him dead.
What was startling, however, is how quickly the story died. Because my cousin was white, there was no media follow-up; there were no protests.
If he had been black, you can be sure the response would have been different.
Shortly after these two incidents, I heard Hillary Clinton say first that there is “systemic racism,” in our judicial system. That, at times has been true; I have even written about it. Of course, those who cite systemic racism usually fail to point out that the vast majority of suspects arrested for the murder of blacks are black. It has been true, however, that in some places of the country, being black makes a person more likely to get stopped by police, and to spend more time in jail for a crime than a white criminal would face.
But shortly later, Clinton said in one of the early Democratic candidate debates: Young men are getting shot by police because they are black.
That incendiary and blatantly untrue accusation was enough to make me decide that Hillary Clinton no longer deserves to be heard.
Almost every cop I spoke to (as well as the majority of veterans, especially the younger ones who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan) very strongly supported Trump. Clinton gave them a very good reason for doing that.
Black lives matter intensely to white America. It troubles us when we hear that a young black man has been killed by police, and we hope the policeman acted properly. And sure, some of them did not.
However, virtually all of the shootings of black men by police – including the ones that led to protests, riots, killings and mass vandalism – were ruled as justified.
And yes, the media is to blame for how they covered many of the stories. After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., most media outlets quoted his friend – who had already been convicted of giving false information – as saying Michael Brown had his hands in the air in surrender when the officer shot him in the back.
Later, the district attorney would say that those people who said they saw the officer of shoot Brown in the back stood by their story, even after being shown evidence that proved that could not have happened. The media, however, repeated those false allegations without challenging the people who made them.
I have spent hours researching this topic over the many years and here’s a statistic that should inform our views on the “Black Lives Matter” movement: Since Saddam Hussein invade Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, more Americans have died from gunfire within 50 miles of the White House than in three wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The problem in these communities is not the police; it’s years of poverty and desperation and unemployment that creates at atmosphere perfect for gangs and drugs to thrive. Donald Trump deserves credit for being among the first Republican candidates to address this issue on the campaign trail. Hopefully he and others will remember these issues after Inauguration Day.
Why No. 2: Rural Americans care about the environment.
When No. 2: The day rural America turned more red because we do, in fact care: Dec. 14, 2015.
How No. 2: Solar panel tarriffs and“Covert Propaganda.”
If you compare this map of solar wind farms to the election map you notice that most are are in areas where Trump won. And when you hear about protests over wind farms, they often come from Blue-Staters who are all for clean energy – as long as you produce it somewhere else.
Iowans are proud of our state’s status as one of the leading producers of wind energy.
Solar energy, too. I recently attended the ribbon-cutting for the REC solar panel project in Urbana. It’s a great thing for all of us, and the planet, too.
Sure, we love our ethanol in Iowa, and our ethanol subsidies. Just ask Ted Cruz or any other candidate who doesn’t come to Iowa toeing the pro-ethanol line what the political establishment has to say about that. But we also know and respect the fact that clean, independent energy requires a variety of sources and technologies – including wind and solar energy farms in our state.
If you paid attention in 2008, when candidate Barack Obama came to Iowa nearly 80 times (and twice to Vinton), you heard him repeatedly say “The planet is in peril,” referring to climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels. He has made climate change a main issue during his eight years in office, and recently committed America to paying $3 Billion to the Green Climate Fund, the United Nations-backed program designed to slow or reverse climate change.
But what did the Obama administration do about solar energy?
It raised taxes/tariffs on solar panels made in other countries so much that it made solar energy unaffordable.
Seriously. It really happened, believe it or not. When the supply and demand trend of the Asian solar panel market swung heavy on the supply side, Asian companies began selling them to other countries, including the U.S.
However, at the request of a man, Dukesh Mulani, who works for a German-based company’s U.S. affiliate called SolarWorld, the Obama adminstration imposed strict tariffs. This company had spent a lot of money on lobbying politicians and government agencies, even though most other solar companies were asking the U.S. Government to take advantage of the lower prices to allow more jobs in the solar installation industry.
“Economically counterproductive tariffs have artificially made solar panel prices in the U.S. the most expensive in the world,” said Jigar Shah, President of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy.
This was just one example of how people in “Red” areas found government to be part of the problem, and not the solution – despite having a President whose declared policies called for doing all we can to encourage clean energy.
Meanwhile, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also made the news for its shenanigans.
Two words: Covert Propaganda.
That loaded phrase sounds like it came from one of those “alt-right” web sites, or perhaps even one of those “Fake News” sites that were blamed for spreading false information during the election season.
“Covert propaganda” is how the Government Accounting Office (GAO) described, in December 2015, the attempts by the EPA to get on social media sites, where its agents or employees pretended to be regular citizens who were praising the “Waters of the U.S.” rule.
Under this controversial rule, the EPA re-defined “waterway” to mean just about any place that gets rained on. This allowed the agency to place stringent (and expensive) rules on farmers – again most of whom are in areas that appear red on that electoral college map.
If the proposed rule were really that good, the EPA leaders wouldn’t have to pretend to be private citizens praising EPA leaders for their great policy.
I have heard from many area farmers who would be adversely affected by this rule.
“It’s just another example of big government,” said one.
“The Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”
That disturbing comment is how Al Armendariz, a now-former official at the EPA, described his approach to enforcing his views of environmental laws. Appointed by Obama in 2009, Armendariz was legendary for punishing companies, even when there was no evidence that they were polluting.
It was not until a video of his “crucify” comments became public that Armendariz lost his job.
“Crucifying” Americans. “Covert propaganda.” Raising taxes on solar panels to appease those who donate to his campaign.
That’s Obama’s environmental legacy. It’s also a reason that Trump won in so many red areas.
The Environment & Energy Publishing (E&E) web site reported that EPA employees were “in tears” over Trump’s election. Maybe if they had taken a different approach, they would be celebrating with Clinton.
But they didn’t, so they aren’t.
How No. 3: The “Secretary of Explaining Stuff” called Obamacare “The craziest thing in the world.”
Why No. 3: Rural families are among those most affected by the highly-publicized ACA Marketplace premium increases.
When No. 3: Oct. 3, 2016
Here is another quote that helped determine the outcome of the election, or at least explain it:
“So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It’s the craziest thing in the world…” – Bill Clinton
Former President Clinton was dubbed the “Secretary of Explaining Stuff” after his words helped the Obama administration win over enough of America (and Congress) to pass things like Obamacare.
Actually, the original version of that title used in place of “Stuff” a four-letter word that the first President George Bush famously called “deep doo-doo.”
A month before the election, Bill Clinton stepped in some very deep and stinky doo-doo when he made the comment above, in response to news reports about the steep increases in premiums many Americans were facing.
Farmers and other small business owners in rural America are among those hardest hit. One friend who says her family makes about $3,000 per month has to pay $1,600 in health care premiums. I have heard from several other people who face similar challenges and expenses. Before the Affordable Care Act, their insurance was affordable. Now, it’s not.
My friends didn’t need Bill Clinton to tell them the ACA is the craziest thing in the world. They already knew that.
The next day – after a huge backlash, the Secretary of Explaining Stuff tried to explain what he had said the day before. He defended the overall success of the ACA, and its subsidies but then when on to say: “But the people that are getting killed in this deal are small business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies.”
Obama called it “growing pains.” Hillary Clinton called it a “glitch.”
Bill, however, got it right: Obamacare did help a few million people. But it also caused many to lose their health care, and many who do keep their coverage are getting “killed” by its monthly cost.
My many friends who shared with me their stories didn’t need Bill Clinton to tell them Obamacare is the craziest thing in the world, or that it’s killing them.
They already knew that.
And yes, the vast majority of them voted for Trump.
When No. 4: June 23, 2016
How No. 4: Big government advocates didn’t learn anything from the Brexit vote.
Why No. 4: Big City rules don’t work in rural America.
One of the big differences between “Red State” and “Blue State” voters is how they look at the need for government rules and regulation – much of it is non-partisan, but rather based on where you live.
For example, I can make as much noise as I want on my farm, and nobody will notice.
But in New York City, they have a very strict noise ordinance that governs when you can do construction work. NYC’s noise rules even governs ice cream trucks (the vehicles can play jingles while they are moving, but drivers must shut off the music when they stop).
In NYC, tax drivers are required to post this warning in their cabs: “ATTENTION: Assaulting A Driver Is Punishable By Up to Twenty-Five Years in Prison.” The NYC rule book for cabbies also governs the size of the warning stickers: 8 inches wide by 2 inches high. The rules even dictate where an approved sticker must be obtained and where in the cab it must be placed.
Almost every big city has volumes and volumes of these rules and regulations – things unheard of in most small towns and rural areas.
That’s not the problem; when you have 15 to 25 million people living in an area the size of Benton County, Iowa (Population: 25,000-26,000) you are naturally going to need more rules.
But far too often, big-city politicians (Obama is the first President from Chicago, where big-city government is among the most legendary in the nations) forget that big-city rules don’t work in places like rural Iowa or Idaho, or even the rural areas surrounding those big cities.
When the far-away big city people go to D.C., to make rules for far-away places where they have never lived, they sometimes seem surprised that the people in those places disapprove.
President Obama went to Europe last summer to tell our British pals to vote against Brexit.
Because they, like rural America, were tired of the meddlesome, burdensome regulations imposed by government; in Britian, the government body that offended the voters was the European Union Commission.
In recent years, our federal government has imposed rules limiting the number of calories in student lunches; I attended a school board meeting recently, where someone pointed out that athletes often bring food to school, or have to go buy something to eat, because of the guidelines. The Department of Eduation’s Common Core initiative was so heavy-handed that it provoked a reaction from both conservatives and teachers’ unions.
The Washington Post, perhaps second only in its anti-Trump posture to the New York Daily New, published an article after the election placing part of the blame for Trump’s win on President Obama’s love of big government rules.
“Obama set a land speed record for major regulations — defined as regulations costing the economy $100 million or more — imposing more than 600 since taking office,” according to the story by Marc Theisen.
Here is another example: The Justice Department, in implementing some of Obama’s unilateral executive orders lied to a federal court.
“The United States Department of Justice (“DOJ” or “Justice Department”) has now admitted making statements that clearly did not match the facts. It has admitted that the lawyers who made these statements had knowledge of the truth when they made these misstatements,” wrote Federal Judge Andrew Hanen (Southern District of Texas) in an unusual rebuke and an order in which he told all DOJ lawyers they need to take a legal ethics class each year. See it HERE.
Obama is the first President to come from what used to be the Chicago Machine that produced legendary Mayor Richard J. Daley. Chicago was (and is) famous for using the power of office to dictate policy and punish political enemies. The backers of the Keystone Pipeline were among the biggest donors to Obama’s biggest challenger in 2008 – Hillary Clinton. So, when the time was right (and gas prices had finally gone down from nearly $4 per gallon to around $2), Obama punished his opponents by denying permission for the pipeline.
It’s all legal. Obama has the right as President to issue those orders (but not, of course to have his representatives commit perjury in federal court).
But that heavy-handed, big city approach resulted in an almost universal rear-end whooping for Obama in red areas where those big city rules had the harshest impact on small-town America.
Why No 5. While rural Americans love, or at least respect, the media/academia, we don’t think ( as many of those people do) that they are any smarter than us. And we don’t listen so well when they tell us how to vote.
When No 5: Nov. 7, 2016
How No. 5: Polls were dreadfully wrong for many reasons
Among the many comments and predictions that turned out to be wrong this election cycle is an article by the Huffington Post.
With the exception of a few days immediately after the GOP convention, when Trump was enjoying the “convention bump” in the polls, the surveys of likely voters indicated that Trump would fare poorly in blue states, was behind Clinton by several points in swing states, and was barely ahead of Clinton in red states.
When the 538.com web site looked at its polls, it saw Trump’s narrow odds of winning growing every day before the election, until what once looked like a 90-something chance of Clinton winning became a 35 percent chance for Trump to win.
A Huffington Post writer made fun of this the day before the election, saying no way Trump has even a 1 percent chance of winning. I bet he still is hearing about that.
Along with the first question that came to mind after it appeared that Trump would win (“What the —!?!?!?!?????”) the media began asking: “How could the polls be so wrong?”
Some commentator speculated that some people lied to pollsters; I think a more plausible explanation is that most people simply chose not to participate in polls, leaving the researchers and election-predictors with a smaller sample.
Call it “media fatigue.”
One of the huge ironies of Election 2016 is that Trump won the GOP nomination, in large part, because of the overwhelming amount of free air time the media gave him. He won the presidency, however, despite the nearly unanimous view among the media that Clinton should, and indeed, would win.
Donald Trump’s son Eric sat down with a TV journalist for an interview that started with these exact words: “So you saw that poll. Down double digits. Twelve points in our tracking poll. And it shows that arguments your father is making right now are not working, so how do you turn this around in the next two weeks?”
That is exactly how George Stephanopoulos – former Bill Clinton campaign and White House communications director and donor to the Clinton Foundation – began the interview with Eric Trump.
Another question from Stephanopoulos in the first 90 seconds was : “Do you think you might be living in a bubble of your own support?”
A recent story about media members who made political donations indicated that well over 90 percent of them donated to Clinton or Democratic candidates.
Again, we in rural American don’t mind. And again, we think for ourselves.
It’s probably not a coincidence that most major media is located in NYC, where it’s been nearly a century since a Republican candidate for President won a majority among NYC voters.
Just how Democratic is NYC?
Presidents Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan, while winning big Electoral College victories for their second term, lost in New York City.
Only one Republican, Warren Harding in 1920, has won in all five boroughs of NYC. The last time a majority of Big Applers voted for a Republican for president was 1924 (Coolidge). The only other Republican to win among NYC voters was William McKinley.
The next time you visit the city and see all those places named “Lincoln,” remember that in 1864, two-thirds of NYC voters cast ballots against him.
And even Teddy Roosevelt, a New York City native and popular Mount Rushmore honoree, lost in NYC, getting fewer votes than his opponent in four of the five boroughs – even though he had served as that city’s police commissioner.
From Irish Democrats to other descendants of European migrants to the newer minority groups to people who are used to higher levels of taxes and regulation, NYC is a bubble. And most of our media broadcasts from there.
We, in rural America, know that.
We don’t let it bother us.
But neither do we let it influence us.
Similarly, academia is very much a place where liberalism and Democrats are likely to rule, and often with an iron hand. Consider this column from a declared liberal, who wrote: “We progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.” He goes on to say that statistically, it’s more likely that a college professor is a Marxist than a Republican.
And again, we in rural America know this. We still send our children to those colleges, knowing that they are old and smart enough to think for themselves.
And again, we don’t let it intimidate us. We are old enough and smart enough to think for ourselves.
And that’s what the majority of rural voters did on Nov. 8. They didn’t vote for Trump because of any one particular thing he said, but because they have watched for years the impact of urban liberalism and have determined it won’t, and can’t, work where they live.
And yes, my Trump-voting pals do, indeed, recognize the irony: Trump is the ultimate big city candidate, born in Queens, with his name all over Manhattan.
And they embraced this irony on Election Day.
When No. 6: Jan. 21, 2016, 364 days before Inauguration Day
How: Area residents saw an unsavory side to Hillary Clinton, in person
Why: In short, Trump won because Hillary came to town.
There is a rule in journalism when you are reporting a new story that may be hard to confirm: You always have to have two sources who confirm to you what happened.
And I have heard the following unbelievable story from two people who were there, two people who are not in the same professional or social circles, and told the same story from two different perspectives and two different rooms.
Hillary Clinton spoke to several hundred people at the Vinton Skate Center on Jan. 21, a few days before the Iowa Caucuses.
Secret Service agents went across the street to the Vinton-Shellsburg School Administration offices, and made the following announcement: Because campaign staff determined that the restroom of the skate center was not adequate for Mrs. Clinton, she may need to use the facilities in the administration building (which ironically, consist of a corner bathroom in what a decade ago was the Washington High School auto shop garage area). A school employee shared this information.
“I was in another room in a meeting, and they came in and told us we may have to leave,” said another friend.
My pals were understandably unhappy about this. I have been in the Skate Center bathrooms, and they are clean and functional, if not fancy. The experience left my Vinton friends feeling that Hillary Clinton thinks she is too good for them, too good for the rest of rural America.
Outside the Skate Center, local law enforcement officers joined Secret Service agents in patrolling the area. Some of those officers told me of hearing from the Secret Service agents stories about the unique challenges of protecting Hillary Clinton, as compared to others. This of course, is not a new story – books have been written about the topic of Hillary’s disdain for those whose job it would be to die for her. It was surprising, however, to know that Secret Service personnel feel so strongly about Clinton that they would say so to strangers they just met.
Lots of local people will report having a good experience, and a good vibe when they met Hillary. My own daughters came home in 2007 with campaign signs autographed by Hillary.
But even many of Clinton’s friends and supporters know that she’s not… well, likable, at times.
Do you know who agreed with my friends? Clinton supporters who responded to polls.
Look at THIS story from the Washington Post:
“The poll shows fully 57 percent of Clinton voters say their candidate is ‘too willing to bend the rules.’ Another 34 percent disapprove of Clinton’s handling of her email problems, 31 percent are concerned about potential conflicts of interest with the Clinton Foundation, 29 percent say she did special favors for donors as secretary of state, and 27 percent say she’s not honest and trustworthy.”
“Her fatal flaws were exposed for anyone to see,” wrote lifetime Democrat and former Dade County, Florida Democratic Chairman Mike Abrams, who voted for Clinton.
With supporters like that, who needs enemies?
I could offer many more comments like these, but you get the point. Just as Never Trumpers have many good reasons for not wanting him to be President, even Hillary’s supporters see why she was so unappealing to so many.
What’s saddest about this is that together Bill and Hillary Clinton are among the most brilliant politicians in U.S. History. I doubt that anyone entered a presidential race with a bigger variety of political experience that Hillary Clinton. The Clintons were in the White House in the 1990s, when the economy was good and the world was mostly at peace.
And yet, they lost big, all over rural America, even in their home state of Arkansas, and they deserved to.
Why did Hillary lose in rural America? Because elections not only have consequences, they ARE consequences.
Election Day 2016 was a consequence for Clinton, for her years of what Republicans would label as “scandals” and what Democrats called “willingness to bend the rules.” The election was a consequence of years of heavy-handed government from the Obama administration, and the unique deafness of that segment of government – which included Clinton – to hear when rural America screamed: Enough.
By the way, if this is how the federal government treats rural areas, when we do have an electoral system that requires the president to win enough states to get 270 electoral votes, imagine how little influence rural states would have and how many burdensome rules residents of those states would face without that system giving us the attention of those in D.C.? For another view on rural America and 2016, click HERE.
Elections are consequences. That’s something for supporters of both Clinton Trump, and leaders of all parties to remember.
“ President Barack Obama said his legacy was on the ballot. His legacy lost on Tuesday night,” says this commentary from Politico.
Democrats need to ponder why they won so big and lost so big at the same time. And Republicans celebrating now need to just look back a decade, to when their clumsiness and deafness led to the first of several consequential defeats at the ballot box. It can happen to them again, and will, very soon, if they don’t listen, and lead.
Well, if you’ve made it this far, you know what happened and where on Election Day, and when, why and how I think Trump won.
Now, we should spend a bit of time on the first of those journalistic questions: Who?
Just who is this orange-haired, spray-tanned, white-eyed billionaire who will be our next President?
We know Trump because of his money and marriages and his TV show and his ancestors, notably his father, Fred. I learned early on in my research that the Trump surname used to be Drumpf, and his ancestors changed it to Trumpf when the family migrated from Germany to the U.S., and later to what it is now.
Fred Trump got rich in real estate in NYC, mostly from providing housing apartments for veterans and moderate income people, with the help of government programs. He was also accused at a 1954 Congressional hearing of “profiteering” at the expense of both veterans and the U.S. Government.
One of the more famous tenants of Fred Trump was Woody Guthrie, the famous Oklahoma-born folk singer. A Tulsa TV station ran a story earlier this year about a display featuring some of Guthrie’s rebukes of Fred Trump.
But despite the many enemies, critics and opponents (among whom I still consider myself), there were some things that Trump did that were undeniably successful.
If you have ever seen a movie set in the winter in New York City, chances are you have seen the Wollman skating rink. With countless skyscrapers behind it, the rink has provided countless scenes of contrast between relaxing winter recreation and the bustling noise of the Big Apple.
But there was a time when the future of the iconic place was in doubt, and Donald Trump saved it.
A Forbes story by Irwin Cula and Craig Hatkoff about the rink opens with a very Trumpesque description:
“Once upon a time there was an ice skating rink in Central Park that could no longer make ice. No one could figure out how to fix the skating rink. Years went by and millions of dollars were spent and still no ice. One day a white knight wearing a bright red tie showed up and said: ‘ Let there be ice!’ Four months later there was ice. When asked by the press why the people had been unable to fix the rink themselves the knight said ‘they’re very nice people and I like them very much but they’re all idiots!’ And everyone lived happily ever after.”
This silly, over-simplied version is actually quite true. In 1980, NYC closed the rink for a two-year repair project. Six years a $13M later, the rink remained a wreck. An exasperated Donald Trump contacted Mayor Ed Koch privately, asking for authorization to take over the project. When Koch refused, Trump went public with his challenge and his offer. Even Trump’s loudest critics acknowledge that the project was a success; the rink re-opened in November of 1986, under budget.
Of course, Trump accomplished this project in his own way, with lots of press conferences and photo ops (so many, in fact, that NYC leaders got tired of them). And of course, the Trump name is clearly visible in large red letters. But the project was and continues to be a success, and its profits continue to go to charity.
One of my Trump-supporting friends, Joslyn Truax of Vinton, said she learned about the rink as she researched GOP candidates a year ago.
“It was one of the stories that made me start realizing maybe he’s exactly what our country needs,” Joslyn told me when I asked her recently if she knew the story of Wollman Rink.
Another surprising compliment from a frequent Trump critic among the media is an article about Trump University.
Entitled “They went to Trump University and they want you to know it,” the article by Slate’s L.V. Anderson quotes several people who praise the University for teaching them how to succeed in business.
Yes, it does also include quotes from those who said they wasted money there, too. Yet, many people still list “Trump University” as part of their experience or educational histories on business networking pages.
And even a skeptic like me has to acknowledge that Trump has succeeded often, even if he fails spectacularly as well.
But balancing the budget, handling the bizarre international challenges like Syria and North Korea and fixing the VA and navigating the currents of international trade are way more complex than keeping ice frozen in NYC in the winter. And bankruptcy is not an option; and there is no American family inheritance on which to rely if Trump fails at this.
Many have called American democracy an “experiment.”
A month ago, rural America voted on a new democratic experiment – one never before tried in our history.
Here’s hoping that experiment succeeds; and that all of us, from Trump supporters to election mourners stay attentive and involved.
And as Clinton’s supporters acknowledged her faults in defeat, Trump’s supporters owe it to the rest of us to be his strongest critics when he acts, and tweets, in ways that are non-presidential. Those who support him the most fervently should be among the loudest voices telling him to be better when he makes outrageous claims such as “millions voted illegally.” The office of President deserves a sense of respect and dignity which demands no less from the President-Elect Donald Trump (there, I said it!) and those whose votes elected him.