Editor’s Note: Palmer Moe is a longtime San Antonio business and civic leader. He retired as the managing director of the Kronkosky Foundation after 17 years in 2014. During that time the foundation made $219 million in charitable grants in the four-county metro area.
Rivard Report Director Robert Rivard suggested that I summarize the views of a President-elect Donald Trump supporter after I commented on Rivard’s recent piece, where he indicated that character is no longer important to American voters.
As background, I am a conservative and I voted for Trump. In addition, I contributed to his campaign after he was selected as the Republican nominee. I am neither an expert, nor am I active in politics, and I do not participate in political committees and the like.
I was as surprised, just as many others were, when Trump won the election. I voted for him principally because I strongly believe in the Constitution of the United States and in the intent of our founding fathers.
When Hillary Clinton described her basis for nominating a Supreme Court Justice in one of the debates, she did not mention the Constitution. This was alarming to me and many others. I think too many judges are legislating from the bench, Chief Justice John Roberts included. The Supreme Court issue was a principal factor for many voters in my view and, in particular, for the “Never Trumpers.”
While Trump resonated with thousands of Americans who made up the large crowds at his campaign events, I concluded that many of his remarks or positions were contentious because he was not articulate in expressing his views during early campaign speeches. Many have tried to “soften his views,” but I see much of that as clarifying his views.
I do not believe the character of each candidate was overlooked by voters nor that racism was a meaningful issue for them. It seems to me that one or several of Trump’s campaign themes resonated with voters throughout America. In my view, both candidates have serious character flaws. I am sure there were many votes cast against one or the other, and that some were not excited by either candidate and consequently did not vote.
So why do I think Trump won 26 states and a super majority of the counties in America? Hillary Clinton was perceived as representing a third term of the Obama presidency – as Obama himself suggested while campaigning for her. Many Americans are suffering from low wages, lack of jobs, living from paycheck to paycheck, and minimal upward mobility. In short, today’s economy is not working for them, and these voters wanted to see a change in policies that affect their lives and livelihood.
I believe another large group of voters was not happy about the direction of America with open borders, huge deficits, governing by executive order, leading from behind, and an entrenched governing elite more concerned about power than the interest of the country. For many American voters, the hope that an outsider could somehow alter the workings of our government and change its focus was a motivating factor in their decision. So, change was on their minds as well.
Many Americans living in the Rust Belt of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan have personally experienced unemployment or had friends or relatives who have lost jobs as companies moved operations out of the United States. Trump’s opposition to trade deals, illegal immigration, and excessive regulations of small business hit a nerve with these voters. I think they felt that, finally, a politician was listening.
Building a wall on our Southern border with Mexico to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking is a popular view many Americans share. Whether it is jobs, crimes, security, lax deportation policies, or simply lack of enforcement, I believe that existing laws, procedures, and policies need to change. Immigration is a difficult and heart-wrenching issue, so we need a national dialogue on solutions that are acceptable and affordable.
Trump often addressed law and order issues in our communities, particularly minority communities. Personal safety is a basic need in any society. The riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, murders in Chicago, and gang activity everywhere concerns all of us. I assume that Trump’s increase in minority voter support stemmed from these concerns, which are shared by all Americans.
Another issue directly affecting the pocketbooks of voters was the announcement, shortly before the election, of the significant increase in Obamacare premiums on top of extremely high deductibles. Obamacare was never widely popular among the public at large, so I assume that many individuals who got news of their higher premiums found the motivation to vote for Trump.
In sum, I believe these and other issues were of utmost concern for voters, with each individual having his or her own motivation for voting for Trump. Cutting to the chase, the status quo was not an acceptable alternative to any of them.
I expect Trump will surround himself with capable, dedicated people who will work to fulfill the promises he made during the election. I recognize that unknown events and circumstances will impact actual accomplishments. I hope he, alongside the Congress, will be able to expand the U.S. economy and create more jobs and opportunities for all Americans.
I am glad we will not have the same old policies, while hoping for a different outcome.