(source) by Forrest C. Kerr. November 9th 2016 took me by surprise. I’d stayed up watching the results of the election the night before, and I had a strong feeling it wasn’t going in the direction I expected, but the news that Wednesday morning still came as a shock. Every news source I trusted had told me Hillary had this in the bag. And now Donald Trump was president.
How could this have happened? A reality TV star was going to be handed the key to the nation’s nukes. “Good Lord” I thought to myself, “I sure as hell didn’t want Hillary, but now there’s a chance I’m going to get drafted to die in Northeast Asia because the ‘YOU’RE FIRED’ guy pissed off the North Koreans.” I was genuinely worried, it seemed like anything could happen in the next four years. But the one thing 2016 me could never have foreseen, is that I’d be happily voting for Donald J. Trump in 2020. How’d that happen?
I began 2016 a passionate fan of Bernie Sanders. In a sea of corruption here was a man who had been pushing the same points for years, which seemed indicative of a certain type of political backbone. I cared about health insurance reform, I cared about student debt, I cared about getting out of stupid wars, and I cared about American jobs.
I remember Bernie’s 2015 Huffington post op-ed against the Tran Pacific Partnership (TPP) reading like a breath of fresh air. A strong stance against trade deals that only benefited multinational corporations at the expense of the American worker — that’s worth supporting. I’d seen good, working-class people suffering in my hometown. Here was a man who cared about MY neighbors!
Like many millennials, I was naive. That naivete took a hit after I watched the DNC spend months undermining my candidate and came to a head in July of ’16 when WikiLeaks revealed the less than impartial attitude of the DNC officials towards the Sanders campaign behind the scenes.
By the time the Democrats began to fall into line behind Hillary, I was getting angry. Then Bernie endorsed his former opponent and I felt outright betrayed. When family and friends asked me about it I started to say I wasn’t going to vote for anyone. The system was rigged, and I wanted out.
Back to the day after the 2016 election. In my mind I had this moral high ground by not throwing my vote behind either candidate, but I’d had no doubt that the election was Hillary’s. Trump’s win shook me to the core. I started going over what I knew about our new president. This boiled down to: “Reality TV man is crass and crazy, oh God he’s got access to the nukes what in the world is going to happen next.”
Every single news source I trusted all told me Hillary had the election in the bag
But when I analyzed these “facts” I realized they only revealed how little I actually knew about Trump. I also had to wonder why this electoral result came as such a surprise. Every single news source I trusted had left me knowing next to nothing of substance about our new president, and they’d all told me Hillary had the election in the bag to boot. How had I ended up so wrong and confused? I had to face up to a bitter truth: something was up with the media.
Beyond my concerns about a reality TV star having access to our nation’s nukes, all I really knew about Trump was that he received a million dollar loan from his dad, and he said something particularly crass about women that one time. Okay, lets look at these “facts.” The Access Hollywood tape was over a decade old, and I’d had contractor friends receive loans for over a million dollars in their mid-20s. Why did these “facts” matter so much to me?
I’d always been aware that the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal had their respective biases, but it was beyond doubt that they were giving me pretty useless and inflammatory info on President Trump. It wasn’t like the presidential office was some sort unsullied place of purity before this election. From Bill Clinton to JFK, presidents have enjoyed the sexual rewards that accompany positions of power. I came to realize that expecting moral purity from the executive in chief was naive, and a standard that had hardly been lived up to in the past. I found myself gradually becoming agnostic on the Trump question. Sure he was a loose cannon spouting off on whatever he felt like, but he clearly wasn’t being treated fairly by the media.
Then Trump withdrew the US signature from TPP in January 2017. This was a watershed moment for me. When Bernie lost the DNC nomination in 2016 I assumed something like the TPP was guaranteed to pass, and the American people could enjoy a further streamlining of the one way “Send our jobs to Asia” pipeline. Seeing Trump stand up for American jobs shocked me.
It seemed impossible that a REPUBLICAN would go to bat for blue collar workers. That’s the Democrats’ job … right?
To a college educated millennial, it seemed impossible that a REPUBLICAN would go to bat for blue collar workers. That’s the Democrats’ job … right? But as I looked back at the past decade, I realized that sometime after Occupy Wallstreet the DNC had abandoned their focus on unions and the average worker for talk about privilege and racial resentment, leaving the position of “politics for the people” as unclaimed real estate. Bernie spoke about American jobs and manufacturing, and look at what the DNC did to him. The American worker had no representative … except for Trump. And here he was, doing what I’d hoped Bernie could do: set a match to the 5,600 pages of bureaucratic nightmare that was the TPP, once and for all.
Trump’s trade policies were winning me over, but seeing the effect of his presidency on the people I grew up with was what shifted me from neutrality to support. For the first time in my life I saw childhood friends experience real economic improvements because of a president. One of my best friends founded and runs his own carpentry contracting company, and he told me that since 2016 he couldn’t find an idle hand to hire in the carpenter’s union hall. 625,000 new construction jobs have been created since President Trump took office. Unlike most political spin, I could see the reality of that statement fact-checked in real time in my best friend’s paycheck.
By 2018 I had to face the facts. On one hand, I had some anecdotes from a flawed media machine (who couldn’t even properly predict an election!) telling me that Trump was evil. On the other, I could see real gains being made for good Americans in my hometown, and across the country. Who did I care more about, the opinions of the New York Times, or my friend’s contracting company? And the next two years drove the point home harder than ever.
1st president in my LIFETIME not to start new war
That reality TV star that I was terrified to see inherit the nuclear armament of the US military? He became the first president in my LIFETIME not to start new wars in the Middle East. For the majority of my life our nation had been at war in the Middle East, ensuring a steady trickle of high school friends limping back to my hometown, shell-shocked with PTSD and the odd missing limb. This president has staunched the flow of this fruitless waste of our military service men and women’s lives, and that alone is reason for every single person with an IED-scarred friend or family member to boldly check Donald Trump’s name at the ballot this November.
In the eyes of many, I’ve changed my beliefs radically in the past four years. And one ought to wonder if this is simply another example of a rootless millenial looking for something to be a part of — something transgressive, something “punk.” In many ways Trump provides that. There’s a communal buzz to his rallies that’s rarely found in politics, and there’s a reason Johnnie Rotten was caught wearing a MAGA shirt. There’s absolutely nothing “punk” about voting for the system of beliefs that Biden and Harris (brought to you by the Simpsons and John Legend!) represent.
When I look at the series of decisions and questions that led me to the position I’m in today, I don’t just see a yearning to flip the bird to the corporatocracy. There’s a thread that links all those conclusions, and that thread is people. As a Bernie Bro to Trump supporter, I’ve always cared about American jobs, my friends in the military, and the people who I grew up with and want to see inherit the world. Bernie Sanders said he would do great things, and his efforts were aborted by his own party before they saw the light of day.
I’ve seen the effect Donald J. Trump has had on the real lives of real people. In spite of the efforts of domestic and international media working 24/7 to discredit him, in spite of a horde of unelected faceless bureaucrats in the deep state throwing roadblocks up at his every move, Trump has demonstrated his concern and respect for Americans better than any other president in my lifetime, and he’s given us results. So when November 3rd rolls around, you already know whose name will be checked off on my ballot.