Ignoring the Struggles of Rural America & Why Blame Goes Both Ways
BY: ANTONIO HENRIQUES
No, I did not vote for Trump.
No, I’m not a Trump apologist.
I am, however, advocating for social responsibility and the ownership of others, as well as, my own incorrect assumptions promoted by the majority of media outlets, pundits and personalities. I am advocating for the exposure of hypocrisy for both Republicans and Democrats.
And neither is immune to criticism.
While past elections displayed candidates as ruthless yet cordial to one another, this election cycle was a verbal bloodbath— instead of acting like united states, we are arguably as divided as we’ve ever been. Instead of quelling the drama, the majority of media outlets fanned the flames— focusing on how crazy one candidate and his followers were and ignoring the problems, which led to his eventual victory.
In the midst of the bloodshed, people hid in their own media bubble— ridiculing those bubbles that weren’t as big or vulnerable to being popped. We looked to the Internet as our main source of news without taking into account if what we’re seeing and hearing was fact, and not merely confirming our own bias. And in the words of author Deepak Chopra, “When you blame and criticize others, you are avoiding the truth about yourself.”
“Oh, you watch CNN? You support Hillary? You’re a sheep!”
“Oh, you support Trump? You’re a racist!”
This is where my own guilt emerges.
The first stop of the atonement train is with the stereotyping of white rural Americans. Yes, I thought white people voting for Trump were racist. I thought they didn’t emphasize the issue of racism as much as I did –but, of course, that doesn’t make someone a racist by definition.
Instead, we should be focusing more on the problems this demographic faces- which include the erosion of the manufacturing industry and its unions along with an opined crisis among the poor and working class.
Republican support in counties with the highest percentage of the working population in manufacturing jobs.
Areas with Large Decreases in Unemployment
Republican support in counties with the largest decreases in unemployed population rates from 2010 to 2014.
A Pew Research Center study found that the size of the middle class— defined by a consistent income range across generations—has shrunk over the last several decades. In fact, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty, white children make up the biggest percentage of America’s poor.
I, and many others, ignored your struggles and saw your support of Trump as bigoted. But this election was bigger than race.
As filmmaker Michael Moore insightfully explained, “Across the Midwest, across the rustbelt, I understand why a lot of people are angry. And they see Donald Trump as their human molotov cocktail that they get to go into the voting booth on Nov 8. and throw him into our political system."
It was a big middle finger to those who shared my way of thinking and to the "system."
My assumptions didn’t catch up with me until election night. Your votes were heard loud and clear and even had me re-thinking my own political identity. And for that, I sincerely and wholeheartedly regret my deafness to your struggle.
The second stop of the atonement train goes to my fellow Latino voters. Yes, I did at one point tell my family that, “Any Latino who votes for Trump is betraying their heritage.” Radical? Yes. But the result of my statement was from Trump’s own radical statement to build a wall and in turn calling illegal Mexican immigrants rapists— the cherry on a shitty cake. As a Mexican-American, it bothered me then and bothers me now.
However, Trump still tallied 31 percent of the Latino vote. The reason being many of them share the same struggle of poverty as working class whites. Despite every poll projecting a Clinton victory, the ones that had Clinton winning the Latino vote focused largely in urban areas rather than rural. And like rural whites, rural Latino voters didn’t view this as an issue of race like I did— rather as a financial issue related to healthcare and unemployment.
Your votes were heard loud and clear as I regret thinking of us Latinos as a unified voting bloc.
But this is where the atonement train makes its last stop.
As Trump assembles his cabinet, we are beginning to see the rise of a new political form of American Nazism known as the “alt-right.” Former Breitbart executive chair Steve Bannon, now Trump’s chief strategist, hasn’t helped quell the idea that white supremacy has a friend and advocate in the White House.
It also won’t ease the continued rise in hate crimes and hate groups— as the latest FBI annual hate crime report shows a rise in incidents involving Muslims, Jews, Blacks and the LGBT community.
And while race didn’t remain a huge issue for Trump voters, I’d like to point them in the direction of this video.
While I’m aware not all Trump supporters and voters hold these ideals, this is where everyone– whether you voted for Trump, Hillary, or even Harambe– should take a stand. This exemplifies the fear of every minority and common sense American that knew what would transpire if Trump were elected. The danger is not in the rhetoric, but that they are using Trump as a stepladder toward their own goals of a monogamous society, and the media attention only spreads their cause.
Now that these hoodless Klan members have appeared without their costume, we must take a stand against people like these who endanger human progression.
We must take a stand against any form of discrimination against others and not use Trump’s victory as a reason to excuse it. We must take a stand against any legislation Trump introduces that involves the exclusion or harm against a category of people, which include banning Muslims. We must take a stand against fake news and make an effort to educate ourselves using reliable and trusted sources of information.
In the age of Donald Trump, I will fight against discrimination and injustice wherever it exists.
It is something I will never regret.