Insulting Voters for Political Gain and Other 2016 Strategies


While it has been nearly two weeks since our caucuses in Minnesota, I find myself still fascinated by the often conflicted interpretation of events surrounding the rallies preceding primaries in other states. For those not from here, a brief tutorial on Minnesota politics; we are the state that had a former pro wrestler elected as an Independent to serve as governor, we are remembered as the only blue state on the map during the 1984 Presidential race and earlier this month we allocated the majority of delegates to Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio for their respective parties. As a fiscally conservative and socially more liberal voter, I find I have to rely upon other states every four years to get my favored candidate their chair in the Oval Office. Currently this method has worked half of the time, November 2016 will be a tie breaker.

I am not trying to convince anyone to get behind a specific individual, my chance to support a candidate in making it to the ballot has passed. I am however asking people to take a step back and evaluate the sources of some of the most illogical reasoning and intelligence insulting media I have ever seen. I have shared with a new generation of voters, that to me this is the most divided I have seen this country since 1968. Issues which I thought had become non-issues, negativity and hatred I had believed were quelled are percolating. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction and that is being used by all sides in an attempt to persuade voters. When Secret Service agents jumped a protestor attempting to get to the candidate at a Trump event in Ohio over the weekend the individual identified himself as a Bernie supporter. When Trump publicly stated that Bernie supporters were part of the problem, Bernie denied it. All one needed to do was look at the Chicago Tribune which posted protestors at Trump’s event in Illinois on Friday, Bernie signs and buttons shown prominently. I find it hard to believe that there were no photographs of supporters for the other Republican candidates (who vocally oppose Trump) who came out or Hillary campaigners who attended. Did the Chicago Tribune opt to only show Bernie supporters or is that truly all who came to protest? Meanwhile MoveoOn.Org wishes to take credit for the Chicago rally being canceled.

One of the angles I find most interesting is that people want to call Trump a bully for his commentary but these same sources wish to goad him by saying he is too scared to stand up to ISIS if he can’t stand up to protestors in Chicago. Is that not considered bullying as well? They want to make him responsible for the actions of an attendee at one of his events (a 78 year old man punching a disruptive protestor who is being removed) but wish to take no claim for the bleeding head of a police officer during their “peaceful” protest. In all honesty, Trump’s insight and desire to not have a full-blown riot represent perhaps the most presidential thing that I have seen him do thus far. I personally don’t think Trump is any more or less responsible for his audience members behavior than Bernie is for his supporter trying to jump Donald. I however am a believer in personal accountability, an old-fashioned notion to many.

Those who went to protest and antagonize might have been disappointed that the event didn’t erupt into something uglier. Disappointingly, candidates from both parties used the situation to try to bolster their own standings. As though somehow a person’s opposition being uncivil should garner support for that opposition. It seems apparent that the protestors failed to give much thought regarding that in addition to  Trump supporters, there were  many others there simply to listen to him prior to making their decision. Just like the kid in the viral video last week, it’s disappointing when you plan to go somewhere and end up somewhere else. While some might not like it, a Trump rally is no broccoli farm but the protestors turned it into a circus! Rally attendees didn’t get to see and listen to Trump and protestors didn’t get to be part of an epic riot. Link to video: http://mashable.com/2016/03/08/broccoli-farm-circus-video/#LH9Z_UTDesqJ

My husband (who did not attend a caucus and has not declared support for any candidate) found himself playing devil’s advocate over the weekend via Facebook with a high school classmate. When she ran out of factual claims to back her opinion she retaliated with “I know of no intelligent people who support Trump.” I asked my husband if she still lived in Le Sueur (the town they attended high school in) which she does. Having been to Le Sueur many times during my marriage I realize that if you were not to leave town (population 4000) you would likely miss out on much of the diversity the world has to offer. Despite whatever your political views regarding him might be, I would be hard pressed to claim that Dr. Ben Carson who endorsed Trump last week is not intelligent. Such is the rhetoric this election cycle.

Over the past few years I have noticed methods of trying to garner political support that I don’t recall while growing up. I think that this approach is actually a contributing factor to the divisiveness which seems more apparent in our current race. It began with the vilifying of “The one percent”. Those who were raised trying to win with a roll of the dice in Monopoly were being told that people who achieved what was once referred to as the “American Dream” are somehow inherently evil. Mathematically you can at least understand why a party or candidate might choose this particular tactic, an “us” against “them” with the risk of only alienating 1% of the population and perhaps gaining new ground with the other 99%. Take a look at the German census in 1933 and you will see that is the approximate percentage of people identifying as Jewish that year. So despite my personally not being accustomed to this sort of political practice, it’s not a new one. Blame a small minority.

The most recent version of this which I find even more bizarre is the polls showing that Donald Trump is leading among the “uneducated”. This is likely the talking point my husband’s classmate was attempting to utilize. One news source reporting the poll results with the dire statement “Donald Trump supporters did not have a very flattering picture painted of them by a new poll”. The qualification for “educated” was actually college and in a numbers game using that criteria, 68% of Americans are “uneducated”, that’s enough to win any election. What people were attempting to elude to is that the supporters lacked intelligence. Those reporting either lacked the education or intelligence to recognize those aren’t the same thing. At the same time we have candidates running on the promise of providing free public education, this holds less value to the already educated and it would seem obvious that insulting those who have not chosen or been given the opportunity for higher education is a bad campaign strategy.

While I have a bachelor’s degree I know many highly intelligent people who do not. Having worked among college students for over twenty-five years I also know many people who are not the most intelligent who do have degrees. I am the grandchild of an Irish immigrant whose formal education ended at the eighth grade, he arrived in the United States at nineteen. By the time he retired he was the Vice President of Foreign Marketing for Pillsbury. My recently deceased father in law also dropped out of school to assist his father in running the family farm. Only after a brother who remained in school got TB (forcing him to remain home) did he ask his father if he could return to school. He graduated from high school, went to college, had a career in the Air Force and returned to school for another degree upon retirement. While his opportunity for an education made him more educated, he was no more intelligent than he would have been if he had stayed on the farm. Walt Disney did alright despite leaving school at 16, Wolfgang Puck left school in Austria at 14, Milton Hershey had a fourth grade education and Henry Ford didn’t go to college. John D. Rockefeller Sr. dropped out of high school  and Andrew Carnegie’s formal education ended in elementary school but access to reading materials to self-educate himself led to him contributing to the construction of 2509 libraries throughout the world. Some of our best known fast food and franchise developers either did not finish high school or attend college; Colonel Sanders (KFC), Ray Kroc (McDonalds), Dave Thomas (Wendy’s), Debbi Fields (Mrs. Fields Cookies) and many others. I write this across the room from a framed Ansel Adams poster and the beauty of the photograph is not sullied by him being a high school dropout. When I stay at a Holiday Inn, I am not negatively impacted by the founders lack of a high school diploma. Next time you see a Frank Lloyd Wright designed building perhaps you will recall that it was designed by someone who never attended high school. Locally, the founder of Best Buy did not go to college. For a truly inspiring read I encourage you to look into Rob Kalin the founder of Etsy and his educational path after flunking out of high school, too much good stuff to summarize here. Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson also fall into the “uneducated” classification; intelligent enough to be president, just not educated enough to choose one, some imply.

I’m not suggesting that all of these “uneducated” people I’ve profiled are Trump supporters, typically the Democrats garner more of the deceased votes (that’s sarcasm, for those who don’t know me well). I am simply pointing out that the implication that education somehow makes a person superior or that lack of education should be something to be ashamed of is just as demeaning as being dismissive of an individual based upon their faith, where they live, their skin color or any other identifying characteristic of birth or personal choice.

So for those of you who are still in a position to make a decision, I encourage you to do what you believe is right for your country and not simply your current situation. Sometimes it is tempting to find a quick-fix appealing and not think about the long range impact. When the media is telling you loudly who is being a bully, step back and question if their very method of reporting isn’t bullying itself. If you are being instructed to be against a percentage of the population, take time to evaluate if that is a construct you are comfortable with. If you are being told that you are better than some other group of voters based on some arbitrary criteria, it’s a good idea to to take stock of your values and also the values of the candidate or media source who is trying to win over voters by telling them they are superior. Really? When it comes down to it we each get one vote in November. Why is that?

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” -Declaration of Independence






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