trump Supporters: A Breakdown

The day after the election I was distraught, angry, and ashamed of a whole section of the American population (some 62,979,636 people, to be exact). I couldn’t understand the type of person that would vote for trump*. So, I decided to find out. I talked with the trump voters that I know in my day-to-day life, I read several of the “Must Read This Book To Understand Trumps Win” books, I visited the websites a lot of trump voters depend on for their news. I listened to conservative talk radio, read as many articles as I could about the root cause of the anger and frustration so many Americans feel.

In looking back on all my research, on all the listening and reading that I’ve done, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are three main buckets of trump supporters**.

The trump Buckets

The Hateful

This is the simplest bucket to describe. These are the Neo-Nazis, the Alt-right, the misogynistic crowd, the overly nationalistic and xenophobic groups. They heard trump loudest when he yelled about a wall, when he called for a ban on Muslims, when he openly disparaged the women that accused him of sexual assault. They see in a trump presidency the normalization of what before had been fringe views. They are horrible humans.

The Desperate

This is the group you’ve probably heard the most about from the most sources. These folks are most often associated with other phrases like “rust belt” or “working class” or “coal country.” In recent years they’ve seen jobs leave their towns, they’ve faced harsh economic conditions, and they haven’t been able to see a way forward. They aren’t exclusively white, and it would be a stretch to call them racist. That being said, they do tend to live in very “traditional” lifestyles – focus on heterosexual marriage, male dominated society, distrust of outsiders. It’s with this group that “Make America Great Again” resonated the strongest. So, while they they have many outdated and harmful opinions about a great number of people, they aren’t driven by hate.

To be honest, this is the group that I have the most sympathy for. Not only did they get duped by trump’s campaign promises, but they are the group that will be most negatively impacted when he either fails to follow through (bring back manufacturing jobs, reopen the mines) or when he does exactly what he has promised (repeal Obamacare). This group is angry and scared. They, by and large, lack the ability or time to wade through the massive amounts of misinformation out there and made a decision in the election based on an odd combination of fear and hope. When, in one or two years down the road, you read about downtrodden trump voters regretting their decisions, keep these folks  in mind. They don’t deserve your anger and they’ll need your help – both for their sake and for the sake of our country’s conscience.

The Hateful are beyond reproach. They are sick and twisted and not worth your ire. The Desperate a reminder that our country has a ways to go, but that we should continuously strive to get there. They’ve been beaten down through a combination of pure, unadulterated capitalism and a raging selfishness. The root of the problem can be found in our third bucket.

The Greedy

Otherwise known as the Republican elite, this group has implored you to vote Republican for “the economy” and will often times describe themselves as more “fiscally conservative” than anything else. For them, trump represents deregulation and privatization – both opportunities for corporations to increase market share and drive up profits. For them, trump represents tax breaks for the wealthy, more focus on state legislature (which, due to their contacts at the state capital, often translates to greater access to power), and a focus on helping small businesses succeed.

Here’s the rub with this group. They are, due to their socio-economic status, largely immune from the worst of what trump will bring about. They either work at companies that supply health insurance or can afford to pay for their own. As a result, they don’t have to concern themselves with the repeal of the ACA. Their kids probably attend private schools so they don’t have to worry about the worsening conditions of public schools. Or, if they do send their kids to public schools, they can afford to move to the best school districts in their area. They work white collar jobs, they network with local and state politicians. In essence, they have barriers between themselves and the worst of the potential changes.

So, they vote for trump. Never mind that millions will lose their health insurance. Never mind that people of color, the LGBT community, and the working classes are afraid for their literal lives. Never mind that college is becoming increasing expensive and job prospects are dwindling. For The Greedy, the fact that others will suffer is always secondary to their own comfort.

And the thing that gets me the most is that THESE are the folks that have the best chance of changing things for the better. They have the money, the power, and the access. And they spend it all ensuring their own personal gain while the vast majority of the country suffers.

Despise The Hateful.

Pity The Desperate.

Hold accountable The Greedy.

*I’ve made the editorial decision to never capitalize trumps’ name.

**And, to be clear, not every trump voter fits firmly in just one bucket. It, like most things in life, is complicated and more often than not represents a sliding scale. I’ve put together a simple Venn Diagram with a handful of theoretical supporters to try and represent the range. Check it out here, if you’d like.

A Venn Diagram of trump Supporters

As reference to my recent breakdown of trump voters. I’ve come up with four hypothetical people that represent a solid range trump supporters – the three main economic classes and the Nazi.

As a quick reminder, the three buckets of trump supporters.

A quick sketch of our hypotheticals.

Working Class Wanda

From the mid-west, Wanda works (or worked) in a blue collar job of some sort. She’s a miner, factory worker, hourly employee, etc. She has noticed her wages becoming stagnant or falling and has seen an increase in what she views as “line-cutters,” those folks that are getting government assistance that she doesn’t believe they deserve. She lives at or maybe slightly above the poverty line and spends a lot of time worrying about finances. She bases a lot of her political opinion of feeling rather than fact (“I feel like there are a lot of people taking advantage of the system.”)

Middle Class Mike

Mike has a decent job at a company or is a small business owner that’s done pretty well for himself. He is worried about rising cost of insurance, having to pay employees more, or paying more in taxes if he does better than he currently is. He feels attacked and enjoys that trump is able to say certain things without reproach. He looks forward to better economic benefits under trump and a lessening of the PC culture that has so plagued him.

Well Off Wade

Read the post. I think I’ve pretty much summed up this jackhole.

Nazi Nick

This dude is a literal Nazi. Or possible a figure from the ever nebulous Alt-Right (a horrible troll out for the lulz, a “dapper” nationalist, etc). He hates minorities, women, LGBT … really anyone that poses any sort of threat to his status as a white man. And, let’s be clear, 99% of these folks are men.

 

Outrage In Perspective

I’ve heard a lot of the following, in some variation or another – “Can you imagine how outraged Democrats would be if Republicans had protested Obama’s election? They need to stop whining, get over themselves, and deal with it.” Let’s do a bit of a thought experiment. Imagine with me, if you dare.

Let’s say, that on the eve of Obama’s first inauguration, the following were true of Obama:

  • He has five children with three different women.
  • He met and was involved in a relationship with his current wife whilst married to his previous wife. Twice.
  • He admitted on tape to groping women against their will.
  • Has, for all accounts, received the backing and blessing of the Kremlin.
  • He had continuously questioned the legitimacy and citizenship of the sitting president.
  • He attacked celebrities, politicians, and private citizens on Twitter, calling them “losers,” “stupid,” “wacky,” “lightweight,” etc ad nauseam. These attacks include a Gold Star family, Meryl Streep, a union rep, most politicians, SNL, CNN, NY Times, etc. etc. etc.
  • He made fun of a disabled reporter by imitating his movements.
  • Settled a lawsuit against his for profit university.
  • Gone bankrupt, what is it, four times now? Oh wait, just checked. It’s six times. 

Umm. I mean, what else.

Associates with known racists and has the backing of hate groups. Refuses to divest his interests despite massive conflicts. Lies in the face of obvious truth. Condones violence at his political rallies. Verbally attacks military veterans. So on and so forth and so on and so forth.

The point is that we’re not protesting because we lost the election. We’re protesting because we’ve lost our country.

 

 

On the Nature of Glasses Half Full – Inauguration Poem 2

On the Nature of Glasses Half Full – Inauguration Poem 2

A look at one of the leaked poems that is to be read at trump’s inauguration this coming Friday.

This is one of the more complex poems I’ve read in … I don’t even know how long. On the one hand, it’s a poem that immediately conveys a sense of overt optimism. It’s right there in the title, after all. The playful rhyme scheme and short, punchy lines further lend credence to the overwhelming sense of hope.

On a deeper reading, however, an undercurrent of anger comes through. An anger that is largely directed at the previous administration and it’s policies, including the financial crisis, the sense of a lost masculinity, and the fragile nature of our day to day lives (and how quickly that life can be taken away, or “easy to crack”). In that dichotomy, that struggle between hope and despair, we find an ideal poem for a nation so fractured by a contentious election. It’s a sense that’s best summed up in the final lines – the poet, after having been torn between such extreme emotions, looks to the incoming administration as one that will provide a sense of relief.

I Sing trump’s America – Inauguration Poem 1

I Sing trump’s America – Inauguration Poem 1

A look at one of the leaked poems that is possibly to be read at trump’s inauguration this coming Friday.

An obvious inspiration

An obvious inspiration

As with all the best poems, “I Sing trump’s America” looks to the past whilst keeping an eye on the future. It’s a poem that’s perfect for an inauguration as it is clear that the poet has absorbed the best of American poetry and turned that influence into something new and strikingly beautiful. The title, a direct reference to Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing,” invokes that same sense of inclusion – a theme that is carried throughout the poem. And much like the poetry of Carl Sandburg, the poet isn’t afraid to shy away from the grit that is as much a part of the American tapestry as Whitman’s shoemaker or boatman. But through that grit and grime, a hope emerges – one of friendship, of battered optimism. And, ultimately, of love.

Jorge Luis Borges’ Recoleta Cemetery

The full text of Borges’ poem “Recoleta Cemetery”

the coming together of marble and flowers

…the coming together of marble and flowers…

Convinced of decrepitude
by so many noble certainties of dust,
we linger and lower our voices
among the rows of mausoleums,
whose rhetoric of shadow and marble
promises or prefigures the desirable
dignity of having died.
The tombs are beautiful,
the naked Latin and the engraved fatal dates,
the coming together of marble and flowers
and the little plazas cool as courtyards
and the many yesterdays of history
today stilled and unique
We mistake that peace for death
and we believe we long for our end
when that we long for is sleep and indifference.
Vibrant in swords and in passion
and asleep in the ivy,
only life exists.
Its forms are space and time,
they are magic instruments of the soul,
and when it is extinguished,
space, time, and death will be extinguished with it,
as the mirrors’ images wither
when evening covers them over
and the light dims.
Benign shade of the trees,
wind full of birds and undulating limbs,
souls dispersed into other souls,
it might be a miracle that they once stopped being,
an incomprehensible miracle,
although its imaginary repetition
slanders our days with horror.
I thought these things in the Recoleta,
in the place of my ashes.

Chicago From the Ground Up

My goal when shooting any of my personal projects has been to do my best to see the world from new angles or viewpoints. Like any major city, Chicago has its fair share of photos in the world. It was my intent, then, to attempt to get some shots that might not otherwise be out there. Below are my efforts for you to judge for yourself.