Several weeks prior to Election Day a good friend approached me at a small social gathering and derisively asked if I still felt that Donald Trump could win the presidency. Most major polls were showing Mrs. Clinton with a sizable, and expanding, lead at the time. “Cautiously optimistic," I smiled. “Oh, and remember Brexit.”
By way of background, although Mr. Trump was not my first choice as Republican nominee, I liked that unlike other recent Republican presidential candidates who campaigned by gentlemanly Marquis of Queensbury rules while their Democratic opponents and their media acolytes viciously kicked, clawed, bit, scratched, lied, and impugned the person and their character, Trump wasn’t cowed. Harry Truman-like, he counterpunched and “gave ‘em hell.”
Treating Mrs. Clinton as an equal, he launched retaliatory rhetorical haymakers to counter her efforts to brand him a racist, sexist, xenophobe.
He reminded me of guys I grew up with in my gritty, blue-collar Philadelphia neighborhood. They were slow to start a fight, but quick to finish one.
In April, the size, enthusiasm, and diversity of a huge turnout at a Trump campaign stop at West Chester (PA) University evidenced that others were starting to listen and to like what they were hearing.
To those not too blind to see, the gathering storm was hiding in plain sight. Contrary to press reports of the typical Trump supporter as white, blue-collar, lower-middle-class, the crowd that day ran the gamut from high school and college students, to mothers with children, to white collar, professional, and blue collar workers, to senior citizens.
Men and women were there in comparable numbers. I chatted politics in line with a pretty twenty-something beauty contest winner. A few Blacks and Hispanics seasoned the predominately white crowd.
If the pundits and experts had stooped to listen, they likewise would have intuited early on that Mrs. Clinton did not have the “women’s vote” locked up, except perhaps among fellow pundits and experts.
Admittedly a small but telling sample, many of my female friends encompassing a range of ages, education, and occupations did not like Mrs. Clinton, her platform, or both.
These women aligned with Mr. Trump’s aversion to open borders, resented Mrs. Clinton’s stereotyping women as victims, and opposed her promise to continue and expand President Obama’s domestic and foreign policies, especially Obamacare.
They viewed her personal attacks on Mr. Trump as a transparent attempt to divert voters’ attention from the real issues. Living in the real world and knowing (and liking) that men will be men, my women friends were not about to reach for the vapors over locker room braggadocio.
Similarly, it was wishful thinking that Blacks would vote en masse for Mrs. Clinton as they had for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Few Blacks may have pulled the lever for Trump, but likewise were not about to go out of their way to vote for a white, rich, privileged career politician with whom they had nothing in common.
It’s been said that you can take the Philly guy (or girl) out of the neighborhood, but, my decades-long bucolic Chester County residency notwithstanding, you can’t take the neighborhood out of the Philly guy (or girl).
Next time, the New York Times might profit from hiring a few of us.