Bringing Trump Nation Down to Size

I’m writing this for all those feeling alarm and dismay at the prospect of a ‘Trump Nation’ propelled by the support of nearly half the country. But it’s also for those in a mood to celebrate.

A reality check, before anyone gets too carried away.

A time out for some numbers on what really happened—and did not—in the election of Donald Trump.

There are 235 million citizens eligible to vote.

Of those, 137 million went to the polls, and 98 million did not.

Of those who voted, 63 million voted for Donald Trump.

Which comes out to 26.8% of the total citizenry (that’s 63 million divided by 235 million).

Not half, not almost, not even close.

And that’s not all.

Exit polls show that 25 percent of Trump voters expressed the view that their candidate was not fit to be president, which lowers Trump’s unqualified support to 20 percent of the electorate. Which is on the high side, when you consider those who think he’s disgusting or dishonest or both but voted for him anyway. Or were more afraid of Clinton than of him.

It’s important to keep in mind, then, in these troubled times, that 73 percent of adult American citizens did not vote for Donald Trump. And a still higher percentage can reasonably be said to lack confidence in, not to mention enthusiasm for, his presidency.

It is true, of course, that a president Trump and Congressional Republicans will soon control the levers of federal power, and can do lasting harm.

But it is also true that controlling the government is not the same as controlling the country.

Which is what we have been trained to forget. That a nation and its future are to be found not in election results, but in workplaces and families and neighborhoods and schools and places of worship and everywhere else that people come together, through which a country reveals itself, as it happens, one day to the next.

It is found in who shows up and speaks out and for what and how long.

It is found in all the ways there are to organize the withdrawal of consent, to speak truth to power or block the door or fill the streets or just stand your ground and say no.

It is found in what brings out the best in a nation, in response to what brings out the worst.

Whether the United States is about to become Trump Nation is not up to him or Congress. It will depend on what citizens do, on whether we sit back and watch as if what happens has nothing to do with us, or we do what democracy requires, which begins in asking ourselves, every day, not only what are we called to do as workers or students or parents or members of this or that, but as citizens.

Every day.

And if we do not know what that means, that we make it our business to find out.

(P.S. If you were surprised by these numbers, perhaps you know others who’ll be surprised by them too. Pass it on.)

For related posts, see:
National Disobedience Day
The Myth of Peaceful Protest
What Can We Do? Becoming the Question

You can find election numbers at the United States Elections Project website.

For exit poll results, go to CBS News.

9 responses to “Bringing Trump Nation Down to Size

  1. Dogtowner Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Thank you for this essay, Allan. What amuses me is the search for someone to blame — anyone! anyone! just not the Democratic Party as controlled by the Clintons! We Americans have no love for soul-searching, for critical examination of ourselves, for critical analyses of anything.

    And what many people do not want reminding of is America’s racism, America’s sexism, America’s cruelty and barbarism. These aspects have been there all along — how else does a drunken thug like Paul LePage get REELECTED governor of Maine — but the Democratic Party has been brilliant at the pretense of fairness and equality (I would remind people that the U.S. does not have an constitutional amendment guaranteeing women equal protection under the law). It would seem that many of us simply do not mind our country bombing people all over the world, supporting violent coups, destabilizing nation after nation, creating endless streams of refugees AS LONG AS we can pretend we live in a post-racial, post-sexist society.

    And now that a white supremacist sex predator has been elected president, it’s rather hard to keep pretending. How uncomfortable!

  2. hmunro Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    “… a nation and its future are to be found not in election results, but in workplaces and families and neighborhoods and schools and places of worship and everywhere else that people come together, through which a country reveals itself, as it happens, one day to the next.” So beautifully said, Allan.

  3. Jules Maher Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Allan, do you know what is driving the hatred we see today from people of all political persuasions? I firmly believe that hatred never converted the heart of anyone. So if the aim of political zealots is not to convert the heart of their opponent then it must be to coerce, to force by domination. I cannot abide this approach. A new approach is needed. Unfortunately it involves loving enemies and suffering. Not many have the stomach for it. Your solution proposed above seems close to the mark still seems very oppositional.

    “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried” G. K. Chesterton.

    • Allan Johnson Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 8:09 am

      I’ll have more to say about this in upcoming posts.

    • Dogtowner Friday, January 13, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      I think we need some opposition in this country! For far too long we’ve been living under a one-party system, the Corporate Party, which Americans of all stripes do not seem to mind as long as they continue to live in luxury (and, believe me, we do live in luxury). As for loving one’s enemies, if this means wishing them well, to be given what they NEED (not what they want), I’m all for it. If it means sappy pablum — I cannot stand it when utter strangers tell me they love me — singing kumbaya will get us absolutely nowhere with the out-and-out fascists OR with the liberal fascists (Clinton, Obama, etc).

      • Jules Maher Thursday, January 26, 2017 at 6:52 pm

        I’ll admit that I’m politically naive. I don’t understand the framework of billions of dollars being spent by billionaires and millionaires to influence political decisions when that money could do more good (imo) being spent directly on childhood education, hospitals etc. Instead we have Private money being spent to determine the allocation of public money. Education of poor people in Australia grew on the back of religious congregations devoted to the cause. Same with hospital care. It was cheap and it worked. This was about personal sacrifice, personal freedom to be of service to others. What you do with your personal freedom can have a fremendous impact on the lives of others. And it is about giving people the opportunity to be a healthy, educated person. A free person. It has nothing to do with singing Kumagaya and telling people who don’t want to hear it that they are loved. It seems to me that the billionaires don’t release their money unless it comes with ideological strings. It’s nothing short of enslavement. I’m not a capitalist. I’m not a socialist. I consider myself politically to be a distributionist. I don’t want to be controlled or control. Let each be in charge of their own and don’t strive for more than you need. Most of my life has been spent around government funded, employed social service and the waste is enormous. It is spending 95% for a 5% benefit to the person in need. Just give 100% to the person in need and cut out the middle man.

  4. Kathy Meetz Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    Thank you Allan. .. Well said.. We shall see the real people rise up….and up and up!

  5. cheri warzecha Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Well said…. and before Obama’s last speech! I agree and I am heartened by the activity I see around me, in the people, who are
    beginning to rise even as we speak…
    Thanks for writing this. I sent it to my cousin who, in her youth, was an activist – I hope to revive her activist instincts.

  6. Jafra Thomas Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Dear Allan,

    This Post’s message is very much appreciated and inspiring. Thank you for your efforts.

    Grad Student in Kinesiology

To leave a comment, please use the space below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: