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Dear Trump Supporters: Let’s Talk

“We owe it to each other to listen and understand what’s driving our fears.”

November 10, 2016

Dear Trump supporters,

Until Tuesday night, I didn’t even really acknowledge or understand that so many of you existed. But there you are: many, many of you. And I refuse to believe that all of you are racist, or bigoted, or misogynistic, or head-in-the-sand climate change deniers.

What I think you are is extremely frustrated. You see a country that is rapidly changing — not just in demographics, but in its economy — and people like me are not paying attention to how you’re getting left behind. Well, I’m listening now.

Fifty-nine million people voted for Donald Trump, despite his rhetoric that categorically alienated so many Americans. He railed against elements of my own identity as a Muslim, as an immigrant, as a minority and as a woman. I assumed that most people would be as turned off by those messages as I was, that his was not the idea of America that we collectively back.

But that assumption came from one understanding of America, an understanding that is far removed from the reality of many Trump supporters.

As I watched the election results come in on Tuesday, I recalled a different change that swept the country eight years ago. After President Barack Obama was elected, I began reporting on the Tea Party movement that emerged to protest his health-care policies and, perhaps, his very presidency.

While much of the media discounted Tea Party protesters as racist rabble-rousers with no clear agenda, I was tasked with trying to make sense of their movement. To their credit, the leaders welcomed me to their rallies, flattered that a journalist wanted to take them seriously. I watched them storm congressional offices, attended their concerts on the National Mall (cue Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”), followed them around at conservative conferences where they booed establishment Republicans, appeared on Fox News to talk about them and traveled to Phoenix to cover their national convention.

Many Tea Partiers began taking me into their confidence, speaking to me as if I must surely understand their perspectives. Truthfully, I was very ideologically removed from their beliefs. Over time, I realized I was also very tangibly removed from their realities.

I don’t have a single family member who has served in the military (though my mom works for the VA). I grew up in coastal cities and have never lived in a place with fewer than 500,000 people. I don’t come from blue-collar lineage; I’m not the first person in my family to go to college; and I don’t feel like the country is changing in a way that doesn’t reflect me and the people I know.

Perhaps most importantly, I don’t feel scared about my job prospects in this rapidly changing economy. I feel equipped with the skills and technological know-how to survive. I live in rapidly growing Seattle, where we are building an expansive public transit system, the skyline is littered with cranes and snarling traffic is evidence of the tech sector’s many new hires. The future looks prosperous.

Just a few months ago, I spent time in St. Louis, where I felt the difference the moment I landed. The airport was poorly maintained. The hotel where I stayed, not far from Ferguson — so recently a hotbed of racial tension — was having issues with hot water and functioning air conditioning. I felt like I was back in Pakistan, not Middle America.

What does it feel like to live in that America? What does it feel like to be unsure of your economic prospects as the world changes around you, and as global trade deals help accelerate growth in sectors in which you can’t partake?

We owe it to each other to listen and understand what’s driving our fears. The bedrock of America is its inclusivity, and our belief in this country unites us.

It’s clear now that Trump won in large part because he was able to turn economically downtrodden parts of the Rust Belt from blue to red. It’s easy to live in Seattle and forget places like that exist, but our silos exist beyond geography. In this age of social media, when algorithms tailor news to us based on our clicks, we are becoming less and less exposed to people who disagree with us.

I don’t know if President Trump will actually be able to address the anxieties that led his supporters to back him. He can’t undo the technological progress of our society or stop the demographic shifts that are happening in the United States, despite his promises to build walls and reject refugees. Those changes are already afoot.

What can help us move forward is dialogue. We owe it to each other to listen and understand what’s driving our fears. The bedrock of America is its inclusivity, and our belief in this country unites us.

You raised your voices on Tuesday, Trump supporters. Now let’s talk.

Top image credit: Gage Skidmore


Ambreen Ali

Ambreen Ali is a freelance writer and mother of two based in Seattle. She worked as a congressional reporter for five years at CQ Roll Call, has covered the White House for Bloomberg and written about politics for The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She is also an editor of digital media news for SmartBrief.

More stories by Ambreen Ali

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Amazing article.  Thank you for your insightful commentary. 

College educated, former Democrat/millennial here. I live in Tennessee and I work for a major corporation that designs/develops/manufactures biomedical radiology equipment. I do not feel left behind, I feel awake. During college I recall thinking that  mainstream media felt like watching state TV, I became very skeptical of the messaging, so I started researching who owns major TV networks and who is controlling the narrative in our media. This lead to a political awakening. The Democratic Party is a rip off, bought and paid for by the financial industry. The agenda of the Democratic Party is to create policy that increases the wealth and power of donors and politicians. The same is true for Republicans. They are one in the same. The biggest difference between the two parties is who they're appealing to/manipulating for votes. Democrats have historically appealed to minorities and young people. They create a very powerful narrative that makes you feel like "how could anyone not want equality and justice for all?!" The problem is that they don't actually care about their voters. Trump supporters know this and the powers that be know that we know this. They are trying to make Trump supporters seem like racist white supremacists so that minorities will believe they have nothing in common with us, because the worst possible outcome for the Democratic Party isn't just losing the election. The worst possible outcome is for liberals to realize how American politics actually works and then join Trump supporters in the fight to expose and take down the 1%. In the meantime they'll keep trying to give Hillary supporters reason to believe that Trump and his supporters are the problem.

Savannah has spoken well for probably most Trump supporters.  We are awake.  We are aware of the lying mainstream media (MSM) and how cable "news", TV, and Hollywood movies manipulate and even brainwash people.  We are aware that most Democrat supporters of Hillary get news only from the controlled MSM, never considering other sources, hypocritically consider themselves to be the only people who care about others, and seldom use their rational brain, much less intuitive discernment, but go directly along with whatever they are told to believe or disbelieve.Most Trump supporters also are aware of the degree of control, even enslavement, on this planet.  Trump seems not to be a part of that.  It seems he really cares about the country and is powerful enough to affect our shared reality. I guess you might call me New Age, but somewhat left brained and awake to the world situation.  Many spiritual people are overly right brained and pay little attention to governments and finances until it's time to vote.  They believe that caring about people means you must be Democrat, so that's how they vote.  I see how shocked many New Agers are over Trump, but I say it's all a sign of where we are headed in New Earth.  Hopefully Trump will help pull us out of control by the "dark side", but if not, it will happen without his help.  Here's my article on it: Accelerating Expansion of Personal Consciousness Has Increased Co-Creative Power of Our Collective Consciousness. 

I'm only one person (I cannot speak for others as obviously Trump had many different people groups voting for him). I actually live in a "blue" voting state. I am evangelical (not just by name but because I actively share the gospel of eternal life thru Christ). I am a married woman, college educated with a mix-raced family. I voted for Trump, despite his horrible rhetoric, because I hope that he puts in a socially conservative Supreme Court Justice (what I considered the most important issue to keep the country from falling further away from what is pleasing in the Lord's sight). Again, I had to overlook things I hated about his personality, but for something that I believe would last longer than four years, and for something that was direct opposite of what Clinton promised to do - so it was policy over personality in the end that won my vote. 

Savannah is exactly right.  Trump supporters understand Republican and Democrat politicians alike have sold ordinary Americans down the river in favor of the slavemasters, their globalist billionaire donors.  There were many reasons to support a candidate, Donald Trump, who was not part of that cabal of traitors.  A very important issue was immigration.  With 95 million Americans out of the work force, we do not need one million legal immigrants every year, and countless illegals, competing for American jobs.  With half of American STEM graduates unable to find jobs in their fields, we do not need any H-1b low-cost immigrants from India replacing  high-tech American workers at Disney, SAIC, Facebook, and Silicon Valley in general.  We have serious problems with crime, drugs, and terrorism.  We don't want a porous border penetrated by MS-13 gang members from El Salvador, Mexican drug cartel operatives, and jihadists from all over the muslim world.  Another important issue was foreign affairs.  I believed Trump was much less likely than Clinton to get us into another costly and pointless war where no important American interest is at stake.  Trump will repair our relations with the Russians who believed Clinton would provoke World War III.  By the way, I am a 75 year old retired lawyer, very well off financially, and an American history buff, not exactly the uneducated and impoverished redneck of Democrat propaganda.  I am also an unabashed admirer of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution, and trust Trump to restock the Supreme Court with justices who will be faithful to our founding document.  

I am very interested in these replies by Trump supporters.  I'd like to hear more from them, including what backs up their facts.  I agree that the news seems to be controlled the very rich, but I'd like to be able to fact check other things being said.  For example, Thomas says that the Russians were afraid that Clinton would provoke World War III.  If I knew where to research that and found it to be true, you'd really have my attention.  Please write more.