One of the most important and under-discussed facts about the US presidential election:
Only 19.7% of Americans voted for Donald Trump.
The math: 63,000,000 Trump voters / 320,000,000 Americans = 19.7%
That means ~80% of Americans (75% of voters) did not vote for him.
And within the 19.7% who did vote for Trump, people surely had many different reasons for doing so. I think the biggest reasons had to do with people believing Trump will address economic decline, keep terrorists out of the US, and/or “shake up” a broken government. Statistics confirm, in fact, that the economy and terrorism were the top issues for voters this year.
But this reality is not being communicated in much of the anti-Trump backlash that’s sweeping the Internet.
There’s a lot of propaganda out there right now. A lot of people are saying things like, “Half of Americans just revealed themselves to be racist sexist homophobic transphobic xenophobic Nazis!”
This is simply untrue, dangerously misleading, and toxically divisive. Don’t forget: only 19.7% voted Trump, and they did so for many reasons.
I don’t say this to excuse all Trump supporters, because certainly a percentage of them do support the most odious things he said/did, the disturbing ideals he now represents in the eyes of a lot people.
But many, many of them of them do not. Many voted for him in spite of these traits, because he promised them some kind of hope for a better future. And many, I’m sure, were hardly aware of some of his worst traits due to the filter bubble phenomenon—i.e. that thing where search engine and social media algorithms only show us content we agree with or want to see.
I absolutely agree that anyone who voted for Trump should understand that in doing so they have implicitly condoned despicable traits in a presidential candidate. Though, to be fair, all of us who voted for Clinton also implicitly condoned her most noxious aspects.
I made no secret of the fact that I opposed Trump and supported Clinton. I am deeply troubled by, among other things, his total lack of experience, his apparent openness to the use of nuclear weapons, his denial of environmental issues, and the sheer symbolic implications of electing a person who, for many, represents hatred. I think we need to scrutinize this man very, very closely and do what we can to continuously let him know how we, the people, feel about the issues.
What I don’t think we need to do is demonize and dehumanize anyone who voted for Trump, or claim that “half of Americans just admitted they’re part of the KKK!”
Because look: I’m from a small town in Iowa. Many of my family members voted for Trump. I promise you they’re not Nazis or Klan members. They’re good people who think their country is heading in the wrong direction. Why would they think that? David Wong summed it up really well:
“The truth is, most of Trump’s voters voted for him despite the fact that he said/believes awful things, not because of it. That in no way excuses it, but I have to admit I’ve spent eight years quietly tuning out news stories about drone strikes blowing up weddings in Afghanistan. I still couldn’t point to Yemen on a map. We form blind spots for our side, because there’s something larger at stake. In their case, it’s a belief that the system is fundamentally broken and that Hillary Clinton would have been more of the same. Trump rode a wave of support from people who’ve spent the last eight years watching terrifying nightly news reports about ISIS and mass shootings and riots. They look out their front door and see painkiller addicts and closed factories. They believe that nobody in Washington gives a shit about them, mainly because that’s 100-percent correct.”
There are legitimate reasons why a lot of people think we need to “make America great again,” and we’re a lot better off trying to understand those reasons than simply writing all Trump supporters off as “deplorables.”
And at the same time, Trump supporters are better off trying to understand the many legitimate reasons why so many people abhor Trump and are upset and scared right now.
We need more understanding, not less, on both sides of the aisle.
After all, at the end of the day, we all still live in the same country. Like it or not, we’re building its future together.
And believe it or not, huge numbers of Americans on both sides are concerned about the very same issues. They just disagree about how best to address them.
I don’t know how to bridge that gap of disagreement and find a common vision, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t by demonizing and dehumanizing each other.
 Believe it or not, 115 million Americans chose not to vote at all.
 If his 100-day plan is any indication, those of us who care about addressing the environmental crisis have our work cut out for us. We also need to keep a close eye on how he handles immigration, healthcare, women’s reproductive rights, and other contentious issues for which he has proposed dubious solutions.
 On the whole, the world seems to be getting better in some key ways. However, there are valid reasons to think the US is moving in the opposite direction, especially for the rural working class. The economy, for instance, hasn’t really recovered from the ’08 crash. To further understand why many Americans think the country is getting worse, definitely read this.
 If you’re interested in understanding why people voted for Trump, I recommend above all that you read this. And if you want more, this. More still? Listen to this. Read this. Watch this.
About Jordan Bates
Jordan Bates is a Lover of God, healer, mentor of leaders, writer, and music maker. The best way to keep up with his work is to join nearly 7,000 people who read his Substack newsletter.
I am pretty shocked that this reasoned approach movement can’t see the actual change that has happened. Schoolchildren were not chanting heil hitler 5 days ago. White men are now feeling empowered to stop and harass black women on the street and brandish weapons — due to political reasons. Liberal denouncements of protest violence are not good enough: all protest is illegitimate. When I see the entirety of a shockingly far right government actively denouncing these things, I will be more amenable to singing kumbaya with you.
This is the worst use of statistics. You claiming we should chill because only 18% voted for trump means that roughly only 19% voted against him. In a democratic republic likes ours, I believe that anybody who didn’t vote doesn’t get a say in whether people say they voted for trump or not. I can never, and will never, defend people who choose not to vote. I have to disagree with you that inaction is inaction. Inaction, at its core, is a choice not to take action and that in itself IS an action. The people who chose not to… Read more »
THANK YOU. I have been reading a couple of your articles and I’m already a fan. You are very reasonable and I can see that you are good at weighing both sides. I always say the truth is somewhere in the middle. The dehumanization of these voters is just a political identity politics method to divide the people and gain allegiance to one school of thought. Case in point, the comment below by Leo Eris. While, Trump has some repulsive ideas, so did Hillary. He said some misogynistic things but as if that’s unheard of in politics. His exclusive and… Read more »