You’re not sure where you’ll be or the state of mind you’ll be in when history changing events happen. You’re never sure what your reaction will be at the time because when significant events happen you seldom realize at the time it is significant. It could take a few minutes or it can take years for you to understand the significance of an event.
When the BP oil spill occurred, I was in South Carolina visiting my parents. It was a few days before my birthday and I had the bright idea that visiting my parents. Actually, being honest, it was suggested by someone that I see my parents. The trip was stressful, not because I hadn’t seen them in a few years since they moved to the South but because, as many people will tell you, to the rest of the world you can have a sense of yourself, a feeling of being in control of yourself but once you’re in the realm of parents all of their controls kick back in. You don’t really revert back to a child but if you’re parents have been with you in your formative years they know what buttons to push to make you happy, sad, compliant and irritated. At least for me there was the euphoria of memories that were of a happy life, but I also know as an adult I have my own opinions about things and those are trumped when I’m with my parents. It’s not something I want to surrender control to but it is easier to back down than to confront.
The BP oil spill news was background noise to the drama I was working on with my parents and other relatives on the visit, plus of seeing things in the South that were things I had seen in old black and white reels that I thought were long gone yet were remarkably intact in the modern South.
Until I got away from the South and away from my parents did the significance of the spill hit me. When I heard the numbers of gallons that had spilled at the time, the efforts that had been done to cap the well and the response made my BP and the government to the incident, I couldn’t believe how we as a nation were so unprepared for the events that occurred. Of course social media exploded with people incredibly concerned and wanting to do something, but many responded in the usual ways. In other words, people talked a good game and did nothing. Of course there were people that acted, but I had people I knew who were very angry about the spill, about the response to the spill and they only expressed their anger through retweets and sharing on Facebook. There were a very few who said they were committed to actively doing something, who had means and access but did nothing.
Two days ago I walked past the breakroom of my job, leaving for the bus and on the television I saw Ted Cruz on CNN. The Indiana primary had just closed and Trump was the projected winner. When I got to the bus stop I decided, and I hadn’t done this in years, to switch to the conservative radio station that broadcast out of LA. On the radio I heard Ted Cruz suspend his campaign after his loss in Indiana. Just after 6pm local time, on the same radio station I heard Donald Trump give his speech.
Yesterday, back in the breakroom on CNN I saw a crawl on the screen during my break that said John Kasich was dropping out of the race. To the right of me, there were three men sitting at the table. I’m not going to call them coworkers because, as I’ve said since I’ve had this job, the job hired me and many of the immediate people I work with through a temp agency. While we are made to think we are part of the ‘family’ we aren’t. Anyway, these three men were pleased that Trump was now the clear choice of the Republican Party. I heard words from them such as Trump would make the country great again and how much they disliked Clinton.
I listened to them for a good 10 minutes of my 15-minute break talk about how much they supported Trump. I listened to them talk about how the country would be better under Trump and how it would fix ‘the mess we’re in now from Obama.’ The men were what I would call midlevel executives in the company. They had health insurance from the company, as long as they didn’t royally screw up they had a secure good paying job with the company.
Listening to those men was a contrast to what the media has shown as the typical Trump supporter. When Trump was campaigning in South Carolina, I remember a report I saw online where a reporter interviewed some people outside of his rally. You had the missing teeth, thick country accent, Dixie shirt wearing ‘Merica crowd whose support for Trump was a mixture of star struck and frustration with the empty promises of canned politicians. They were the Americans whom I see riding public transportation everyday who wants someone to be straight with them and to bring ‘good paying jobs’ back to this country.
Listening to pundits over the last two days, especially on progressive radio, they still live in the bubble that Trump has no chance of winning the election. What I see from my vantage point is something different. People may want to say Trump has the appeal of the tooth missing, Southern speaking, NASCAR loving ‘Mericans but with Trump as the nominee of the Republican Party he will be a candidate that shakes up establishment politics and reach people who are followers more than voters. Voters are people, if they have the time to wait, will go to the polls and vote for a candidate. A follower will work hard for the candidate and, no matter what, will vote for their candidate.
In the job I have I get calls from most of the country and I can tell you the majority of people I talk to are in the same boat as myself. They have low paying jobs, working for bosses who only care about profit. The workers have no incentive and no personal motivation to think for themselves. It’s all about pleasing the boss, doing what the boss says without thinking about ways to make their job easier. Get them out of their lane and they freeze up like a deer in headlights.
The other group I get calls from are the people you’ll see in any political ad. They are the smiling hard hats, the bearded dock workers, the blue collar Americans who, and I love this term I heard from Bernie Sanders, showers after work not before work. They’re Americans who get their hands dirty. Trust me when I say that group of people I’ve talked to are Trump supporters. That’s a good distinction to understand because you can have people who are Republicans who may not agree with Trump. The people I’m talking about love Trump. I’ve had people from that group, which I never asked about, who have been like the white collar guys I listened to in the office. I guess because I’m so willing to help and they talk to me so much they feel they ‘know’ me and they have on occasion told me of their dislike of Clinton and Obama.
See, the first group I talked about, the low paying job workers, they are so concerned about their next paycheck, which they should be, they will not have the time of motivation to vote. They aren’t going to study the candidates or look at their policies. Let’s me be honest and say if you have people who have been so unmotivated in their job to think about improvements why would they take time in their busy schedule to vote, especially with bosses unwilling to allow them time to do so?
When I saw the announcement of Kasich getting out of the race and the comments by the men in the room, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. I don’t think this election will be anything like we have seen in modern times in America on elections. Just like the BP oil spill, or the kidnapped girls by the Boko Haram or any countless other events, we give a lot of talk, do a lot sharing memes and express outrage in hashtags but the vast majority of Americans will not learn about the issues and vote when the time comes. Every excuse in the book will be given when it is time to vote and so many people will assume their voting and efforts will not count. The truth is no amount of talking will convince them to expend real time and energy to support their candidate.
Part of the appeal of Trump with the men I heard yesterday was that Trump beat the system. Think about the Trump narrative for just a moment. When he started the race, going down the escalator and then, at his announcement, making the comment about immigration, there were so many pundits that thought he was a joke. He was a non-politicians going up against governors, senators and congress people. How many times was he called a mere reality star? People can talk all they want about the press giving so much free airtime to Trump, but the people heard what he and all the other candidates said and did and Trump is the last man standing for the Republicans. For all the talk about party elders wanting to stop Trump, they may have done too little too late but the end result still has Trump at the top of the ticket, a feat no one would have predicted when he got in the race.
There was another event I saw yesterday about Trump that was mystifying to me. There was a woman who was part of the Stop Trump movement and she was asked, since Trump is pretty much the nominee, would she support Trump? She gave a hesitant no, but it was a politician no. What I mean is, and this sounds so sexist, her mouth was saying no but her eyes were saying yes. This was confirmed when asked if she would vote for Hillary Clinton and she couldn’t say no quick enough. I have already seen that Republicans are holding their noses and aligning with Trump and the reason for this is simple. They don’t have respect for Trump but they dislike, no they hate Clinton. What I think is funny about this scenario is that the Republicans are in a winning position.
OK, you think that’s crazy but think about it for a moment. The Republican Party has made the Democrats, especially the Clintons, the demons of American politics for over 20 years. If someone from the inside of the party had gone up against Clinton and lost, there would be a good number of supporters who would conclude the Clintons are immune to the establishment Clinton attacks. Hillary Clinton herself has said on many occasions this election cycle that the Republicans keep attacking her and she survives stronger than ever. Any establishment Republican candidate that went up against Clinton and lost would have been a blow to the party’s image.
In geek terms, the strategy that might be playing out is similar to the Amok Time episode of Star Trek, when T’Pring, who loved Stonn and not Spock, chose Kirk to fight for her. Here is the line that explains the logic of T’Pring’s decision:
T’PRING: You have become much known among our people, Spock. Almost a legend. And as the years went by, I came to know that I did not want to be the consort of a legend. But by the laws of our people, I could only divorce you by the kal-if-fee. There was also Stonn, who wanted very much to be my consort, and I wanted him. If your Captain were victor, he would not want me, and so I would have Stonn. If you were victor you would free me because I had dared to challenge, and again I would have Stonn. But if you did not free me, it would be the same. For you would be gone, and I would have your name and your property, and Stonn would still be there.
Trump isn’t part of the party’s establishment and that has been his appeal to the voters. So, if Trump loses to Clinton, I could see where the establishment in the Republican Party could blame Trump and his outsider image for the loss, especially if the Senate returns to Democratic control, and could effectively advocate that an establishment candidate must be chosen to regain the White House. Now they have the perfect sacrificial candidate to face off against Hillary.
So if Trump loses, it could silence any opposition to outside candidates in future elections. Trump would be blamed for the loss to Clinton, and sense he’s a party outsider, the establishment can present clean hands in the loss, since Trump isn’t one of them. This would probably allow rise of an establishment candidate who will have little opposition in the next election. If Trump wins, the party can claim that victory over Clinton and gain further support among those in the party and outsiders against Clinton. If Trump does win it will probably come with a wave of winners in congressional and senate elections. The win would also allow for the Republicans to get a solid conservative base in the Supreme Court.
Yesterday, like it or not, Trump became the Republican nominee for President of the United States.