By Fred Benson
The Trump campaign that was perceived as a joke last summer became an embarrassment before the end of the year, a scandal in the spring and is now a looming disaster.
Current polls estimate that between 50 and 62 million of the 130 million U.S. citizens expected to vote this November will cast their ballots for Donald J. Trump. Not yet strong enough results to defeat Secretary Clinton, but these voters have found something to admire in a candidate who has mangled opponents, logic, truth and civility throughout the GOP nomination process. Who are these people? What are their stories? What do they see in a man thought by a majority of voters as someone unsuited to become president of United States? Meet three of them.
“My name is David M. I am 44 years old and consider myself fortunate to be a foreman in an established American manufacturing company. My plant, however, is surrounded by vacant buildings, as manufacturing jobs have declined drastically in my state. I support free trade, but it has to be fair. It isn’t. As a result, I have no confidence whatsoever that my children will have the same opportunities as I did.
“For the past 20 years, I have witnessed actions in our national government demonstrating reckless disregard for the wishes and interests of working class Americans. I am sick of both political parties. Members of Congress think first and foremost about permanently remaining in office, not tackling the challenging issues facing this nation.
“Enough! The time for change – real change – is now. I am sick of feeling powerless and voiceless. I want a leader who doesn’t owe anybody political favors and who will worry less about being polite and more about bringing this country up to the promise of better lives it has held for many decades. I am for Trump.”
“My name is Catherine L. I am a 37-year-old single mom with two teenage daughters. I have been employed for 12 years as a salesperson in a woman’s clothing store. I would love nothing more than to see my girls go to college. Try as I might, I can’t find a way to ensure that I’m going to be able to afford it. The money I make now is not enabling me to manage my money like I could just a few years ago, and I end up juggling bills every month. And last week, I just got a notice that the premium for my health insurance is going up 14 percent! I am considering dropping health coverage and hoping for the best. I am so tired of reading that the rich get special deals while I am struggling, I could scream.
“I am the granddaughter of immigrants and I am very proud of what they did for my family. But they were here legally. Those here illegally are a burden on our country. They’ve got to go. While I dislike intensely Donald Trump’s campaign behavior, I honestly do believe that life for me and my daughters will be better with him in the White House. Women say he treated them well in his companies, he is tough, and he gets things done.”
“My name is Sam W. I am a soldier; or I guess I should say I was a soldier. I had three tours in Iraq before I was messed up by an IED and got kicked out. My leg never did heal right. I am now just one of the 900,000 grunts getting shoveled around by the VA system, and my wife took off when she got tired of me acting ugly.
“How do you think it feels when you get wounded in a war that was going on so long but meant nothing? Iraq is still a mess, and we are putting more combat troops back there and Afghanistan.
“I have lost faith in our leaders who so easily send us off to war and then ignore us when we come back hurt. A job? Are you kidding? Who wants a guy like me? I am not alone. Veteran unemployment rates are double those on the outside. Trump has said he is going to do whatever it takes to make sure vets get what they deserve. And he said he isn’t going to be in such a hurry to send troops to fight in some god-awful place when it isn’t right. He will be good news for America – he’s gonna’ kick some butt.”
Buried in the craziness brought about by Trump in this election season is a harsh reminder that the burgeoning post-World War II opportunity enjoyed by middle-class Americans is fading. Trump has figured that out and successfully captured the support of millions of citizens who face difficult financial or employment circumstances. Whether Trump wins or loses, Americans need to hold firmly in their minds that it is time to demand a more effective and committed U.S. government; one that will act to enhance educational and economic opportunity for all, restore collective faith in this nation’s future and ensure that no demagogue will ever again be able to manipulate those who believe that the American dream has escaped their grasp.
Fred Benson is a resident of Mount Desert and publishes Capitol Commentary, an independent political newsletter.