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While my Democratic friends are busy trying to navigate their confusion and despair, my Republican friends aren’t saying much about Donald Trump.

It is awkward to talk about him, isn’t it? Maybe they’re being polite, maybe they worry Trump will do something to cause them to regret their votes, maybe they didn’t vote for him. I don’t know.

If we’re cautioned not to discuss religion or politics in polite company during normal times, what do we do in the age of President Trump? Nice weather we’re having today.

In Sonoma County, of course, Republicans are outnumbered. Only 1 in 5 local voters cast a vote for Trump in November. More people are registered as decline-to-state than are registered as Republicans.

Last week’s anti-Trump march in Santa Rosa, perhaps the biggest political demonstration ever in Sonoma County, testifies to the widespread fear and anxiety among Democrats — not to mention a palpable sense of disbelief.

Political views aside, Democrats remain flummoxed by the idea that millions of Americans would vote for a person who has so many unredeeming qualities.

In social settings and business meetings, too, have you noticed that people are reluctant to speak his name until they can’t stand it any longer? Then the same questions come spilling out: Is it OK to talk about this here? How could this happen? What do we do now?

It’s worth noting that we are only having this conversation because a relative handful of voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania didn’t vote or switched from Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump to 2016. In a divided country, small shifts in the electorate can cause dramatic changes in the way the country is governed, and if you don’t believe it, you’re not paying attention.

Despite all the hand wringing, we know a lot about the majority of Trump voters.

They tend to be older, white and male. Many have voted for Republicans for their entire lives, just as their parents before them and their parents before them.

Most Trump voters don’t live in big cities. Only 1 in 10 voters in Manhattan voted for him, and only 1 in 10 in San Francisco, too. Trump won Texas, but Hillary Clinton won Dallas and Houston.

Trump voters subscribe to what might be called the new Republican orthodoxy.

They don’t like the way the country is changing, whether the changes involve immigration, social programs, abortion, identity politics, regulation or corporate efforts to control costs (and prices) by offshoring jobs.

They blame politicians, and they want the government run by politicians to be turned upside-down.

You know the rest.

They think they pay too much in taxes. They want to roll back laws intended to protect health, safety and the environment (laws they view as wasteful and ineffective). They distrust efforts intended to level the playing field for women and minorities.

Some also believe a smaller government should still find the resources to round up and deport 11 million people. Some believe iPhones can be made in Petaluma (never mind that a minimum wage worker in California is paid three times what a worker in an iPhone factory in China is paid).

For more election coverage, visit pressdemocrat.com/election2016.

For PD endorsements, visit pressdemocrat.com/endorsements2016.

If Democrats don’t understand what Trump voters could be thinking, the same could be said for Republicans who could never imagine voting for Hillary Clinton.

To avoid dealing with some of Trump’s more incendiary statements, Trump voters say they “take him seriously but not literally.” In the coming months, they will find out whether their trust was justified.

All these are generalizations, of course. People carry around different combinations of reasons for voting the way they vote. But most of the Republican voters I know would agree with most of these characterizations. Many would also agree that while they voted for Trump, they worry about what happens now.

Oh, and one more thing: Trump supporters share the conviction that their critics in places like California and New York can be condescending jerks. This is important, I think. There is no reason to be surprised that people don’t like being called all the names — racist, xenophobe, sexist, homophobe, deplorables — that have been thrown at Trump’s supporters.

In a 2014 column, after exploring the Central Valley and eastern California, I wrote this:

“There is a sense of isolation in these towns, not just physical isolation, but economic and political isolation as well. Some choose to live here to escape the hustle, hype and conformity of urban areas.

“But there’s also a belief that their values aren’t shared by other Californians — a belief that government is denying to them the right to live as they choose.”

From Bakersfield to Alturas, no one should be surprised that these were the areas of California that voted for Trump. This was their opportunity for vindication and for pay-back — and they grabbed it.

Surveying the distance between Santa Rosa and Bakersfield, we are reminded again that there are two Americas now — one prosperous, one less so — each with very different ideas about the present and the future.

Pete Golis is a columnist for The Press Democrat. Email him at golispd@gmail.com.

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