Posted by: Calum Miller | November 25, 2016

Why People Voted for Trump

Whether or not you’re happy/excited/relieved about a Trump presidency, it is important to understand why people voted that way. It is perhaps especially important the more scared you are about him – if you want to avoid it happening again, it is important that the alternative candidates and activists address the reasons he was voted in.

I am personally disinclined to accept the prevailing view in my home country (the UK) that Trump voters only did so out of racism, stupidity, or some other such disreputable reasons. Almost every single Trump voter I know (I know many) voted reluctantly, and many voted primarily against Clinton as the lesser of two evils than for Trump: given that exit polls showed Trump was still perceived more unfavourably than Clinton, these voters make up a large proportion of Trump voters. I hope that the criticisms they had of Trump in the primaries will continue to be voiced to keep him accountable. But the point is that many Trump voters recognise his horrific flaws, and voted in spite of them rather than because of them.

What follows is a Facebook post from a good friend of mine who lives in the US, where he asked his Trump-voting friends to explain why. It is better to hear it from the horse’s mouth than from anywhere else, in my view. This will not be entirely representative – my friend has a wider range of friends than anyone I know, but I don’t think anyone’s Facebook friend list is a fully representative sample of the American electorate. Nor do I think it will be comprehensive – there are (probably many) reasons people voted Trump that do not appear in this list. Some voters do not like the Democratic Party’s failure to address some problems in government such as spying through the NSA, drone strikes in the Middle East killing innocent civilians, and Guantanamo Bay. It is equally undeniable that malicious reasons like racism motivated at least some voters – a recent post-election video showed a white supremacist group celebrating Trump’s victory and claiming it would embolden them (there is not much evidence to suggest they form more than a tiny minority of Trump voters. But any proportion of white supremacists is still too high a proportion, so it is important to root it out, and equally important to acknowledge that it exists). There are also very insightful posts commenting on general trends on various media outlets. This does not cover those.. But my hope is that this list of responses will give a far deeper insight into the election result than is typically given by most of my peers and most of the UK media. I trust that, for that reason, it will both allow understanding of Trump voters and alleviate some of the antipathy towards many of them, as well as helping the country to address the issues which motivate Trump voters, so that we have a better chance of electing someone fit for the job next time around. I have anonymised the responses, but my own response (a few comments down) will be kept de-anonymised.

(A final note: I won’t add how many people liked each comments – but bear in mind that a significant number of people liked various comments, suggesting that many of the comments here are representative of the thoughts of more than just one commenter).

(A second final note: I have commented in red text and square brackets after some of the posts to explain what may be in mind with some of the unclear comments or comments which may not make sense e.g. to non-American readers. I cannot guarantee that these are the thoughts of the commenters, and I have tried to give as objective as possible clarifications).

Initial post:

Any Trump voters out there want to say what their primary reasons were for voting for Trump? Non-Trump voters please don’t comment, this is for information purposes only.

Commenter:

As a small business owner I voted for Trump to hopefully bring some sanity to the oppressive costs of the Affordable Care Act. It was also a vote against the “political establishment.” I am not a big fan of Trump the man but I like the ideas he stands for like smaller government, responsible government spending, conservative ideals hopefully leading to strict supreme court justices who adhere to a strict interpretation of the constitution…

[The Affordable Care Act was introduced during Obama’s presidency and made it mandatory to purchase health insurance, while preserving/expanding healthcare for the poor under Medicaid. Many Americans found that their insurance premiums increased dramatically and were either unable to afford the level of healthcare they previously had, or else struggled to afford it more generally.

The Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) has really significant judicial power on a number of important social issues. So, for example, it is a Supreme Court ruling from the 1970s that is responsible for the relatively liberal abortion law all over the US. This is a ruling which cannot really be overturned by the ruling Party other than by nominating a sufficient number of new Supreme Court justices to eventually overturn the ruling. There are 9 places on the Supreme Court, and they have life tenure – only replaced when one justice dies or retires. There is currently a vacancy due to the recent death of Antonin Scalia. Because of the life tenure, the political influence of nominating Supreme Court judges potentially spans multiple generations – compared with the 4 year tenure of the President. Because of both he length of tenure and because of the power they have on issues related to the constitution (which affects law on abortion, guns, marriage, and so on) they have far more power in some important respects than even the incumbent President.]

Commenter:

In favor of term limits

[This was a response to the above post. I don’t know to what it refers, but it may refer to SCOTUS term limits. This would limit the power of SCOTUS justices, which to many people seems disproportionately great. But as far as I know, Trump has made no comment on this. He has, however, been in favour of term limits for members of Congress (similar to the Houses of Parliament). Members of Congress do not have life tenure, but they can in many cases be re-elected as many times as possible, effectively being in position for life. Trump advocated term limits as part of his ‘Drain the Swamp’ pledge, which is (in turn) part of his anti-establishment drive. The idea is that term limits put some limit on nepotism, elitism, authority, and corruption within government by limiting the amount of time a single person can serve. The proposal is unlikely not least because it would require Congress voting to set term limits on themselves.]

Commenter:

He was the Republican nominee. I’m a Republican.
I’d rather have a President that will likely pick Supreme Court Justices that I like versus a President that definitely will not.

I am generally a two issue voter, guns and taxes. Recently I’ve added abortion, but my position on that is evolving ( I used to be pro choice, not so much anymore)

I am a Republican but not necessarily a conservative, at least on many social issues. Neither is Trump particularly socially conservative.

Commenter:

Disappointingly and honestly, it was primarily anti-Hillary.

It was Supreme Court Justices, late-term abortions, Benghazi, Libya, emails, firearms, and ACA. It was her stance on oil & gas, which is my livelihood and how I provide for my 3 children and wife.

It was some pro-Trump also…small government, taxes, pro-business and entrepreneurship, less socialistic attitudes, and having a business savvy individual making smarter economic decisions.

And the last large part, I’m tired of lifetime politicians.

Trump is far from the ideal candidate, and far from a great candidate but I feel he will lead this country far better than any other candidate in this year’s election. Thus, he garnered my vote.

[Hillary Clinton was deeply unpopular for a great number of reasons, so many voters voted Trump as the lesser of two evils, and many of the main things tarring her reputation appear in this post. Democrats are typically pro-choice while Republicans are typically pro-life. There is some reason to think that liberal justices would liberalise abortion law even further, for example, legalising partial birth abortions, whereby foetuses are killed after most of their body has been delivered through the vaginal tract – for example, SCOTUS voted only narrowly in favour of the view that the government can ban partial birth abortion. This would likely have been overturned had a liberal justice replaced Scalia under Clinton.

The Benghazi incident refers to the attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. The official response of the White House was that this was a spontaneous, unpredictable attack that resulted from anger over an anti-Islam video. A US Ambassador and three other Americans were killed. It later emerged that the attacks were pre-meditated terrorist attacks and that calls to the state department of which Clinton was in charge for extra security were rejected prior to the attack. Clinton’s opponents typically allege that when the White House described the incident as a spontaneous protest, they knew that it was a planned act of terrorism and were thus lying to the American people and to the families of those who had died.

The e-mails incident refers primarily to Hillary Clinton’s use of a non-secure server for her e-mails (including classified information) when she was supposed to use the secure government server. Her critics allege, firstly, that this seriously compromised government and potentially national security, and secondly, that she lied about using the non-secure server. The FBI found that: ‘Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information’. Finally, they allege that people in other positions who had committed the same crimes would have been charged, pointing to similar cases. They see this as part of the corruption of the establishment elite which the ‘Drain the Swamp’ movement is fighting hard against.

The e-mails have recently become about more than this, as many have been leaked via Wikileaks. There are many e-mails that have been criticised for various reasons among those, but two often thought to be particular important are her telling bankers that she had public and private views, and that she privately supports open borders and free trade. This is taken to be evidence that she is dishonest with the public. Many other e-mails have been an extra source of concern to her opponents.]

Calum:

I was close to supporting voting for him (though this is different from supporting him – it would be supporting voting for him with my nose pinched and as the lesser evils) but ultimately decided I supported abstaining completely/voting third party. But (some of) the reasons I nearly endorsed voting for him:

1) The nepotism, entitlement and corruption of the establishment is pretty incredible. The establishment is a flaming heap of turd. More dangerously, imo, a Hillary victory could have seriously compromised both the vulnerability of the political elite and the Constitution. On the former, because as far as I can tell someone not in her position who had committed similar crimes would have suffered under the penal system quite severely (whether rightly or wrongly), and on the latter because the disregard for proper interpretation of the Constitution shown by liberal SCOTUS judges seriously undermines the Constitution. I do not think the Constitution is perfect, nor do I take it as a second Bible. But in a world where liberty is now seriously at stake and the dominant narrative of inevitable progression towards freedom/democracy/yada yada has been shown to be quite demonstrably false, that there is a world superpower with a Constitution which enshrines certain important rights in law and focuses on freedom is, in fact, remarkable and important. So it is important to preserve it. I do not think the SCOTUS is doing that well.

2) More importantly, from my perspective, the Dems are quite clearly pursuing an ever more radical policy in terms of abortion. You know the arguments here and you know the issues. Trump probably won’t overturn Roe vs Wade. But a Republican Party which has stronger support for the pro-life position than in a very long time can make serious changes, and can halt the inevitable march of the Dems towards pro-abortion legislation, provision, lack of accountability, and the educational component that goes along with these (as in, think of the reason most young people are Dems and many are pro-choice). Republicans might not make major changes. But Democrats are virtually certain to drive things even further towards lack of protection for the unborn. And their support for Planned Parenthood, who not only perform thousands of abortions but have been caught selling parts of the dead babies to research companies, is absolutely intolerable. Not only that, but the attempt by liberals to prosecute the people who uncovered this illegal activity simply for doing so worries me deeply.

3) Along similar lines to the above, but less seriously (I think religious freedom is important, but I can cope without it. Abortion is more important), I cannot see that the current SCOTUS or trend of Dems currently provides much support for conscientious objection. I find it pretty unconscionable that, for example, people want businesses to provide contraception (including, as far as I understand, emergency ‘contraception’) against their conscience (and, in the case of emergency contraception, against the moral law).

Trump is an oaf, a buffoon, a demagogue, a boor, probably reckless, a liar, probably guilty of sexual assault. I just sympathise with the view that, as bad as these things are, when compared with point 2) in particular, it is very, very difficult to make the case that they are clearly worse. (I also think that the more egregious of Trump’s crimes are at least partially paralleled by sins of the Clintons – I probably do not need to tell you which, in particular, I am thinking of).

[This is by no means comprehensive, or as detailed as it could be, or as articulate as it could be – this is just what I wrote as a brief response at the time. The final remark in the comment refers to the allegations of sexual assault made against Bill Clinton, along with the responses to the alleged victims made by Bill and Hillary Clinton.]

Commenter:

To shift the Overton window, destroy the credibility of the press, and to Make America Great Again

Commenter:

Supreme court nominees, pro-life policies, free exercise of religion in churches, schools, businesses — including slowing the rate at which private institutions are forced to accept a particular understanding of human sexuality, modest hope for a smaller and less intrusive federal government.

Everything else about him? Hated it. Didn’t vote for him in the primary. Didn’t decide to vote for him in the general election until morning of.

[The free exercise of religion likely refers to a variety of factors: firstly, that part of the Affordable Care Act meant that certain businesses had to provide health insurance for their employees. However, this included the contraceptive mandate, requiring companies to provide contraception as part of the health insurance. This ended in multiple lawsuits against the government – most notably by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious organisation providing care for poor elderly people in the US – which were eventually won (in SCOTUS) by the conscientious objectors. The alternative would have been these religious charity organisations shutting down. They do not think that they should be forced to pay for someone else’s contraception use (including emergency contraception, as far as I know, which is often abortifacient) if they have a conscientious objection to it. This SCOTUS ruling would, again, likely have been overturned under a Clinton government.

Secondly, there are concerns from many Republicans that, rather than just legalising gay marriage and making certain law prohibiting hate crime against, for example, transgender people, there is a movement to silence, punish and sometimes prosecute those who hold traditional views. So, for example, a county clerk who refused to process same-sex marriage licences. When it was charged that she was discriminating, she refused to issue any marriage licences at all. She was later jailed for contempt of court over this. Similarly, many worry that anyone who holds traditional views on sexuality will increasingly be punished (e.g. for hate speech or for discrimination in cases of conscientious objection) for airing their views or for conscientiously objecting. There is a concern that this will intrude too much into what they think ought to be personal decisions – e.g. whether a company decides to keep gender-segregated bathrooms, and so on. Again, I cannot claim that this is what this commenter had in mind.]

Commenter:

Pro-life and the Supreme Court

Commenter:

Pro-life, Supreme Court nominees, gun control, freedom of religion, hopefully less government control of our lives, sovereignty of our nation, trade imbalance/bring manufacturing back to the U.S.

[Just a quick note: the focus on manufacturing jobs, in particular, has been credited with the crucial radical swing in the Midwest towards Trump. These states are traditionally Democrat but had a huge swing this election towards the Republicans, many people think, because Trump promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to regions of high unemployment in those areas. These areas are often very deprived and have problems other than unemployment (for example, the Flint water crisis) and there is some suggestion that there is an element of the ‘not much to lose’ sentiment motivating their voting for Trump after what they see as a Democrat government which has failed them.]

Commenter:

I voted Trump for 3 reasons. Supreme Court (abortion), avoid war with Russia, and to #DrainTheSwamp.

Commenter:

For me, this election long ago became about something other than who the top-of-the-ticket nominees were. Both candidates were repugnant for the well-known variety of reasons, but the gulf between R & D platform, ideology, the VP candidates and the rest of the team(s) each would assemble, etc., is vast. So, I discounted the occupant of the office and looked at the whole enchilada. Choice became pretty easy that way.

Commenter:

I voted for a value system, not just one person. I voted for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, for supporting Israel… I voted to repeal and place ObamaCare, and to dissolve the Iran deal. I voted to dismantle the corrupt establishment elite so that the powers of the government would return to the people. And finally, I voted for Constitutional Supreme Court picks.

[The Iran deal refers to a global agreement involving Obama which lifted economic sanctions and boosted Iran’s economy significantly with the requirement that Iran reduce its nuclear programme, to reduce the risk of Iran getting nuclear weapons. It was criticised by the Republicans who said that Iran cannot be trusted not to tone down their nuclear programme, so that all the deal did was give them far greater economic power to invest in it.]

Commenter:

I’ll answer: to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House

Commenter:

Supreme Court nominees and avoiding war with Russia were my top reasons.

Commenter:

He wants to tax individuals making under $25K/year and couples making under $50K/year 0%. He’s for smaller government. He wants to secure the border with Mexico. He wants to slow down immigration from nations that hate us. He wants to keep potential terrorists out of our country. He didn’t take millions from Saudi Arabia (foreign donations are illegal, foreign donations from countries where gays are publicly executed and women have shit rights is immoral), he made his own money and wasn’t bought out by “donors”. He never charged a $400K “speaking fee”. He didn’t mishandle classified information. He wasn’t the cause of the 4 dead Americans in Benghazi. Our nation needs to fix our security first, and the SJW social issues second because we can’t be offended at everything if we’re hiding out from a foreign invasion.

[The donations from Saudi Arabia refer to the Clinton Foundation, which has been criticised for lack of transparency, accepting enormous amounts of money from foreign sources (some of which include governments deemed to be immoral), and funding non-charitable endeavours, like Chelsea Clinton’s wedding, among other things.

The $400K speaking fee refers to money Clinton was paid by Goldman Sachs, a banking company, for giving speeches there. The general concern of many Republicans here is that she is too close to corporate elites, not sufficiently in touch with the working-class (or the middle-class), and using her position for significant personal financial gain. This is closely related to the ‘Drain the Swamp’ movement mentioned earlier.]

Commenter:

I am a believer in conservative values, and the people behind Mr. Trump (his VP, the justices he vowed to nominate, his potential cabinet, etc.) are more (much more) in line with conservative values than those in Hillary’s. I could not find a single thing about Hillary’s positions that was in line with conservative values. And so, I voted for the “camp” which most embraced conservative values.

Commenter:

Plenty of reasons.

But the biggest by far: I’ve always been pretty much a single-issue voter when it comes to defense of the unborn.

Saving innocent children’s lives is my primary moral duty in voting, as I see it.

Our country alone has eclipsed Mao’s Great Leap Forward and Stalin’s purges in terms of the lives we’ve legally ended through abortion.

Of the four candidates, Jill, Gary, and Hillary give varying degrees of support of abortion, but they all do support it.

Donald is the only one who has promised to defund PP, appoint pro-life judges, overturn Roe v. Wade, and put the practice in the course of ultimate extinction.

I am fervently against abstaining from voting, so my choice came down to which candidate will do the most good in the service of Life. That candidate was Donald.

Again, there are others, far more general Conservative principles. But this alone was enough for me to be certain of my vote.

[PP is Planned Parenthood, the organisation which carries out an enormous number of abortions in the US, and which receives large amounts of government funding. They were secretly filmed on camera talking about the sale of parts of aborted foetuses, and were criticised for this allegedly illegal action, as well as the tone with which they discussed both abortion/foetuses and the money going through the organisation. Under Obama’s presidency, Congress passed a bill to remove government funding of Planned Parenthood, but this was vetoed by President Obama. The thought is that Congress will do the same now but without any veto from Trump.]

Commenter:

Pro life, Pro second amendment, Supreme court Justices, Affordable healthcare Act, Fair Trade,Term Limits in congress, Benghazi, Freedom of religion, and the fact that Hillary is a murderer, a crook and a thief who has no business being in any form of federal government, too many people have died at her hands.

[It is unclear what the ‘murderer’ comment is referring to. It may relate to her support of abortion, it may relate to parts of US foreign policy, or it may refer to the allegation made by some opponents that she is responsible for the deaths of some people related to the Democratic Party whom they suggest were at risk of getting her indicted.]

Commenter:

I am hoping that I fall into the category of “people of goodwill” that you mentioned in another post. My vote was most definitely not motivated by hate (and I don’t think it was motivated by fear). I struggled over my decision even as I was standing in line yesterday morning at the polls. I came very close to not voting at all because I was so conflicted. I do not feel good about Trump as a man (at all). I am a lifelong supporter of equal rights for women, the LGBT community, and racial minorities. I was proud of the stance that the Catholic Church took when it came to refugees. But the two primary hats that I wear are as a small business owner and a health care professional. Concerns related to the Affordable Care Act were the primary thing that caused me to cast my vote for Trump. This country’s disease management system (it is not a health care system) is a mess and is very rapidly getting worse. From my point of view, another Democratic administration making tweaks to the ACA is not the solution, we need to go back to the drawing board. 100% of my household income comes from my small business and I am hoping that a Trump presidency will mean tax policies that leave more money in my pocket to spend on feeding my family, growing my business, paying my employees, and sending my kids to college.

Commenter:

If you’ll accept second-hand information: I spoke with young, female, non-white Trump supporter this morning. She told me that she preferred Trump to Clinton because she saw Clinton as a political insider who has been bought by special interests, and that she would rather upset the apple cart, so to speak, and see what happens. She had no regrets.

Commenter:

My husband is military. I fear that Secretary Clinton would strip the military to bare bones and make us weak and vulnerable. I felt Mr. Trump would actually create a stronger military & actually value our beloved veterans. Actually I was voting for Evan McMulllin until I watched Mr. Trumps remarks at the Al Smith dinner- not clips shown by the media outlets, but the full 12 minute speech.

Commenter:

I will add to the above with “I couldn’t get past the classified info handled so carelessly.”

Commenter:

Views on abortion and gun control and possible supreme court appointee’s. I don’t believe HE is the answer to what we all seem to call America’s problems. A return to Christ. HE is in control no matter who is president. I have complete rest in that.

Commenter:

One reason only: to keep Hillary out of the White House.

Commenter:

Supreme Court Justices, small government, less taxes, pro-business.

Commenter:

Supreme court justices, national security, leaner government, lessening business/industry-killing regulations, AND he wasn’t part of the D.C. elite………. which brings up another issue. The “elite” [media, political or other self-described sub groups, oxford comma, et alia] are not actually elitists but, rather, provincialists with narrowly defined biases.

Commenter:

Only voted for him to cast a vote against Clinton!

Commenter:

Being [not from the US], I could not vote in the US elections but I would have voted for Trump, as the lesser of two evils.

What I like about him is that he strikes me as being someone who does not do politics or spin, who does not pretend to be moral when really he is flawed, and in spite of all the insane things he has said, he is no fool.

Commenter:

Combination of Mr. Trump being both NOT Hillary (a despicable & truly evil being) and a relative outsider to the pro-globalist political establishment.

Commenter:

I did not vote this election cycle, but if Texas were in play, I would have held my nose and voted for Trump. The reason for my abstaining are the character issues that surfaced AFTER the primaries. But that’s another story.

Here are the things that impress me about the man:

Love him or hate him, this guy knows how to get things done. Whether it’s beating 16 other experienced politicians in the primaries, or single handedly (yes, singlehandedly) taking on one of the most efficient, well funded, and ruthless political machines of our generation with Hillary at the helm, he has proven that one should not bet against the man. I kept telling my friends throughout the campaign that we should not bet against him. With two weeks to go, I pretty much conceded that Clinton was going to win. Boy, was I wrong. I do hope that Mr Trump uses his superpowers for good and not for evil.

The main reason I supported Trump during the primaries was the fact that he seems to instinctively know the extent of the corruption in Washington. Having bought a few politicians in his day, he understands how government works from the donor perspective. In this sense he does appreciate the extent of the festering that has taken hold on our government. Again, I finish my point with the hope that he will not use this knowledge for evil, but for good.

Last, but not least, I do believe that the two party system is bad for the country. Trump’s win is a hostile takeover of the GOP, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I do hope that there will be some soul searching within the GOP regarding the events of the past year or so. I know that the Democrats dodged a bullet by being able to silence crazy Bernie. But their day of reckoning is coming soon.

Commenter:

Abortion and the Supreme Court. Also he recently became a Christian, so I believe the Lord is working in his life.

He became pro life after a personal experience with abortion that he does not discuss .As a Christian I will never vote for a Party or individual who blatantly support tax payer funded abortion. Nearly 60 million unborn babies murdered since Roe vs Wade.

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