I sat, staring in disbelief as one state after another turned red. My internet was too slow to stream any news sites, so I settled for a live map and texts from my parents and friends.
But… she still has a chance right?! They haven’t even counted Detroit yet, right?! But she’s going to win Pennsylvania… right?!!
When Pennsylvania fell, tears streamed down my cheeks. I locked myself in my office as my Chinese coworkers laughed about the demise of America. My French roommates texted me in apology. My Chinese boss hugged me and gave me her condolences.
I was heartbroken. How has this idiot been elected? How did this happen? What’s the future of my country??!
Explaining Trump to the World
As an expat in China who travels often, I’ve been attempting to explain Trump to the world since he first started his bid for president a year ago. Last February as I traveled around the Philippines, I couldn’t go a day without justifying American politics to Europeans, Australians, Canadians…
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the phrase “You’re preaching to the choir”, or “my state is bigger than your country”, or “I don’t know anyone who will vote for him in the primaries”.
I majored in International Affairs at one of the most politically active universities in the world. My DC school would counter-protest protests. If you didn’t watch the presidential elections, you better not open your mouth the whole next day in class.
Because I’m extremely interested in politics, I have no problem engaging in these discussions. I think they’re important, and I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from Europeans who finally understand the American political structure. Many people forget just how big the US is. I mean, I get culture shock traveling in my own country!
That Typical Liberal Millennial
For the past eight years of my politically active life (I was 17 when Obama was first elected), I’ve become more liberal and “socialist” as time goes on.
I identify with European democratic socialism. I believe in marriage equality, equal pay for equal work, the right to choose (pro-choice), the freedom to practice ANY religion, socialized healthcare, affordable childcare, legalized marijuana, black lives matter, rights for trans citizens, affordable college tuition… the list goes on and on.
Basically, I’m a typical millennial liberal whose beliefs aligned most closely with Bernie Sanders.
No… I’m not talking about Game of Thrones or a wall. I’m referring to the people I’ve worked so hard to distance myself from these past few years. The Americans who don’t share my values.
Republicans. Conservatives. Rural. Blue-collar.
It took Trump winning for me to wake up and realize I haven’t even tried to relate to them.
I never understood why poor, white, working-class people flocked to the Republican party when obviously the Democrats would be better for them. I felt like the Republican party was taking advantage of their ignorance, pulling them in with talk of “values”. I thought they used baits like abortion, gay marriage, and guns to attract people to a party that would use and abuse them financially.
I’ll admit, I was condescending about it.
I sat up on a pedestal with my Master’s degree, looking down at ignorant country bumpkins who obviously didn’t know any better. I never once took the time to think about why they might be so angry at the “establishment”. I just figured they were all gun-loving bigots… I mean, who else would love Trump with such fervor?
From Denial to Anger
For the first day of Trump’s win, I was a mess. I drank a half-bottle of wine to myself while I cried and stuffed my face with chocolate and ice cream. I watched as my liberal Facebook exploded. I saw bros scream on Snapchat about how Trump was going to “Make America Great Again” and I shook my head. Idiots, I thought to myself.
The second day I was angry. I went from denial to distance. Well… at least I live in China. None of Trump’s horrible policies will affect me. Let the Republicans deal with their mess. No one is going to grab my pussy here.
I shook my head at all of the ignorant people who would be regretting their votes in a few months time. If this year is #Whitelash2016, then in four years we’ll have #Femelash2020. We can no longer pretend we’re a progressive country. We can no longer claim everyone in America is equal.
Let America burn and the Democrats will clean up the mess, just like we did after Bush.
We Failed Rural White America
It wasn’t until Day 3 that I tried to understand. There were so many secret Trump supporters coming out of the shadows to explain why they voted for him. Minorities, Muslim-Americans… I didn’t want to hear it. How could you be so stupid?!
That was until I found this article, How Half of America Lost it’s F**king Mind.
Written by a man who grew up in rural Trump-land and moved to the city, he explains how Obama’s progress failed to help rural white America.
It’s not red vs blue, it’s city vs. country.
We say black lives matter, but what about the people in rural West Virginia who live in crumbling towns surrounding a closed coal mine? We worry about trans people using the bathroom of their choice when they worry about finding food to eat now that their one grocery store has closed. It’s like we live in two different worlds with completely separate issues.
But when they complain, we tell them to check their white privilege and call them bigots. We make fun of their lack of education and their traditions. We don’t understand them and they don’t understand us either.
I Never Understood Trump’s Appeal Until Now
I couldn’t understand why anyone who wasn’t a bigot would like Trump. How could you vote for someone who says such horrible things? How could you allow someone with no self-control to be in charge of our foreign policy? How can you abide by such lack of experience?
After reading the article above, a lot of Trump’s words now make sense.
Make America Great Again? What are you talking about? Do you want to go back to slavery or a time when women couldn’t vote?!
Well, to many people in these crumbling towns, their lives used to be great. They had solid jobs at the mine or the factory. They could support themselves, and provide a good life for their family. Now these towns fall apart one by one, and under Obama, things have just gotten worse.
The educated liberal in me knows this is the way economics works. We’ve moved to a service economy. You like coal so much? So does China, and I had to wear a mask to work today because of it!
But when you’re living in a trailer surviving off food stamps when you used to be able to provide for yourself, a return to the past sounds pretty good. I’m not saying I agree, but at least I understand.
The article describes Trump as “a brick through the window” of the liberal establishment. Trump might not be the best president, but at least he’ll make all of us selfish, condescending liberals angry. After all, we’re the people who completely forgot about them for the last eight years… except for when we made fun of them.
If you want a better look at Trump’s demographic, I really suggest you watch this documentary about the most pro-Trump county in America.
You can watch the full interactive documentary here.
I’m Not Angry, I’m Just Worried
When it comes to the people I describe above, I’m not angry with them, I’m just concerned. I worry they’ll be really disappointed when Trump gets his hands on the Oval Office. I honestly don’t think he’s really going to do anything to help them. I truly hope he can make a difference in their lives without completely destroying the US economy in the process, but we’ll see.
The problem is that many of these towns CAN’T go back in time. While some jobs have moved overseas, many have been displaced by technology. We can’t re-open a Kodak factory when everyone uses phones and digital cameras now. We can’t go back to mining coal without ruining the environment.
What we need to do is implement policies that will help rural towns get back on their feet. Maybe we can start building top-notch electric cars or provide free community college for those who want to get associates degrees. I’m not an economic expert, but surely starting a trade war with China isn’t a very good idea.
Who I DO Have an Issue With
That aside, there are some people I do have major issues with. While not everyone who voted for Trump did so because they’re racist bigots, many people have used Trump’s win as justification to be awful to women and minorities. If you thought post-Brexit racism was bad, the wake of Trump’s win has already become 10X worse.
How is that possible? Well, Brexit’s discrimination focused on immigration and racism, whereas Trump’s followers know no bounds. All minorities have become targets: people of color, LGBT, Muslims, and Jews… you name it. Not to mention women have become targets of sexual violence as well.
Trump’s win has legitimized feelings of privilege, and it’s not pretty. “Trump won, so now you have to sit in the back of the bus”. “If Trump can grab women by the pussy, I can too!“, “Go back to where you came from [Insert ethnic slur here]”… Seriously, I can’t make this up.
Whatever Happened to Equality?
Is it just me, or do many of the people that preach traditional values forget about some of the most important fundamental rights of the USA?
Freedom of religion applies to EVERY religion.
What about all men (and women) needing equal rights and opportunities?
Aren’t we supposed to have separation of church and state?
We were built as a nation of immigrants.
Conservatives Need to Denounce These Hate Crimes
Republicans and Trump himself need to stand up against this bigotry and violence. No more grabbing hijabs off women’s heads or harassing Asian women whilst holding rifles. Stop sexually assaulting women on the subway, or scrawling swastikas on black peoples’ doors. We can’t condone violence towards gay people or joke that Latinos are all going to get deported.
If you voted for Trump, that’s your right, but hate and discrimination aren’t acceptable. If you want to prove to the majority of Americans who voted for Hillary that you aren’t racist bigots, start by condemning discrimination when you see it.
No more “us against them”. We’re all Americans and we all deserve equality.
What About the Protests?
Living in China, I’ve been watching protests erupt in cities all over America, in red and blue states alike. I have many friends participating in these protests, and I’ve also been watching what Trump supporters are saying about them.
Sore losers. You can’t complain about the system after your candidate loses. Grow up.
For those of you who are conservative, I understand your anger and frustration. Trump won fair and square, and I agree with you.
But, you have to realize that the protests aren’t about the fact that we lost. They’re centered on fear. While many conservatives are upset about Obamacare, lower wages, and gun rights, many liberals are scared to death that they will lose their fundamental human rights.
Can you imagine having the government tell you that you can no longer marry the person you love? Well, our new Vice President believes in gay conversion therapy. Many of us (including me) have been fighting for years and years to get affordable access to birth control, only to have it taken away along with the right to have an abortion.
Imagine watching a friend die because a police officer stopped and frisked one too many times, only to have your new president roll his eyes at the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and say we need to give more power to the police. Law and Order candidate? Do you want to start another Civil Rights Movement?!
You may be Christian or conservative, but you can’t force your beliefs on over half of the US population. You may have won, but liberals are not going to give up all of the freedoms and rights they’ve won over the last eight years. THAT is what we’re protesting for.
Liberals Have Their Own Share of Issues Too
That said, there are many liberal protestors who I fundamentally disagree with. The group of men who dragged a white man from his car, beating him for allegedly voting for Trump? Unacceptable. The “Rape Melania” sign at a protest? Absolutely horrible.
You can stage a protest without trashing cars and buildings. One of my liberal friends even had the windows of his car smashed in. Be angry, but don’t be destructive. Damaging property and inciting violence won’t get you anywhere. Assaulting a middle school classmate for supporting Trump is not the way to come together and make a change.
We denounce violence, sexism, and racism from Trump supporters, so we can’t stoop to that level on our side either. When you see it, condemn it. That’s the only way to force people to take you seriously.
Check out Blue and Red Feed to see what the other side is talking about on Facebook
While I disagree with much of Trump’s policies and the Republican platform as a whole, I honestly hope that America doesn’t go down in flames. Praying for Trump to fail is like wishing a pilot will crash a plane we’re all on.
Republicans, it’s up to you now. You’ve got the White House, Congress, and soon to be the Supreme Court.
You’re in control now, so don’t mess it up.
One of those liberal millennials
23 comments on “A Liberal Millennial’s View of Trump’s Presidency”
I’m so glad you wrote about this- I meant to let you know how much the blog link you sent me (mentioned above – how half America…) helped me understand as well. It all makes perfect sense now. I knew these problems existed but to hear it straight from someone who lived it was incredible. Now let’s hope this govt can at least fix some of it!
I’m so glad you liked the article. It definitely helped me understand too. I think both sides need to do a lot of work to understand each other in the next few years..
I didn’t know where to leave a message for you. You did a very good job putting this together. And I clicked on the (How half America lost it’s mind) he did a good job also. Thank you both for doing this, I just hope that a whole lot of people will take the time to read it. I have pictures of you at our house with Megan, and swimming in the pool in Desert Aire, WA. Best of luck to you on your adventure in China.
Thanks so much Laura :) I definitely had a great time with you in Desert Aire. It’s been so long! That other article was really eye-opening for me, as well as the blue feed red feed. It’s so important to understand where other people are coming from, but unfortunately most people (including me) don’t take the time to do it.
This is so excellent, Richelle. It’s so well articulated and really interesting to point out who the people are that voted for Trump. I guess I hadn’t really thought about it much before and you’re completely right. I’m really interested in watching that doco now – thanks for sharing.
No problem! I think a lot of our problems come from both sides not understanding one another, so hopefully this provides a little insight!
Glad this article was less emotional and more explanatory – it helped me (a millennial from post-communist Eastern Europe) understand a little bit what the heck just happened in the US…your election system is still a mystery to me though.
In my opinion the electoral system is completely archaic and should be abandoned, but that’s just me! I mean most of my friends feel like their votes don’t matter because they don’t live in a swing state. It’s pretty sad :(
Richelle, I thought the same thing about the Electoral system until recently when I found out that the big city areas would dominate the elections. The electoral system lets the country folk have a voice.
That’s the explanation I saw, but think about this the other way- if you don’t live in a swing state you don’t have a voice. Think about all of the rural people in Washington and California who’s votes literally don’t count. The people in Atlanta who literally never get a say. When is the last time a politician has visited Oregon or Alabama? They court swing states and no one else. At least this way rural voters in blue states might actually have a say. About half of my friends in China didn’t even bother voting because “what’s the point” when their state is already decided.
Your vote is important, what if everyone thought that way. If you don’t vote you don’t have the right to complain. In Washington we have all write in voting 2 weeks ahead of the election. We got ours in the next day. They should not announce the results of the voting until all of the votes are counted. How can they say that a state is for someone when there are only 29% or 37% in, that is not right. You have a relaxing and stress free day. Stressing over something that you have no control over is a waste of energy. Take care.
Also the people in Texas who voted Clinton, that state had the closest margins it’s had in years and all those people who jumped from the republican to the democratic ticket – their votes essentially just ran up the popular vote totals (the split is now up to ~1m more votes to Clinton than Trump).
Yeah there are definitely pros to the electoral college, but I don’t think they outweigh the cons. Everyone’s vote should count- no matter which state they live in.
I found this video explained it very well to me. I hope it helps clear up a little mystery. Sorry, I could only find a Facebook link. https://www.facebook.com/prageru/videos/883270108382513/
This is actually a pretty great video. I think the problem is that a lot of people just don’t vote now because “what’s the point” if their state is already red or blue. People don’t feel like they have an opinion if their choice is different in the majority of their state- unfortunately that’s still a huge problem with the electoral system that this video ignores.
No problem, I´ll have a look into it tomorrow! :-)
Thank you for being so reasonable. I understand where you’re coming from even if I disagree with a lot of it–except for the last few paragraphs. I could probably write a whole article about this myself but I don’t want to because there’s so much hate going around already I don’t want to add to the fire. Hugs all around.
Yeah I’ve been surprised I haven’t gotten more biased hate on this. I think emotions are just really high right now, but you should write something just for yourself and you can publish it later if you want to :)
And still you don’t learn. What good are mass protests outside Trump tower going to achieve, when minorities are being hounded at home, school, work, on the streets etc.? You’ll all be fine though, you’re white. Continue to light candles, hold peace marches and write positive messages on “love walls” whilst others are getting assaulted.
I had a first part to that, don’t know where it went.
I said that anyone who was capable of listening to others’ views (isn’t that what uni prepares you for?) could see this a mile off. We had this with Brexit, where “Educated” people woule condescend the white working class, telling them that if they couldn’t get a job but a Pole could, it’s their fault…did anyone think that would convince them? No, it hardens them more. And the result of “the enlightened”s ignorance is the persecution of minorities. Thanks a lot.
I see you’re really angry, but venting at me isn’t going to make a difference either. America is a very huge country, and it’s actually pretty difficult to fully realize the other side’s anger and frustration when you don’t ever interact with that part of the population. We can see the Trump rallies, but most of us figured it was a very small, vocal portion of the US, and that most educated Republicans wouldn’t vote for him. I just added a section on why the protests should be taken seriously and are important if you want to check it out.
Anonymous, I know you are afraid, but attacking the author is unfair. And the marches, are ways of peaceful protest that gain world recognition. In order to make change, one must stand up against the bigotry. They must fight for their unalienable Rights. Those people are out there because they want to make a difference. They want to stop the violence against minorities, religious differences, and gender discrimination. If you want things to get better, then you shouldn’t be pissing all over the people who want to make a difference. We are fighting for people like you and me to have a life. And if you refuse to be part of the solution, then you are, by default, part of the problem. So stop whining and use your voice! Together, our collective voices are our greatest weapon!
I completely agree with all of the above. Blaming liberals for Trump isn’t helping anyone. Trump happened. Brexit happened. Now we all need to move forward together and fix it.