If pre-election polls were so wrong and exit polls were so wrong, why does any credibility remain with those same sources now providing post-election analysis of the 2016 Trump victory? With Election Day just two weeks behind us, there’s been no shortage of articles featuring deep dives into the minds of the expected and unexpected Trump voter. It seems that by interviewing the voter blocs beyond white working class men, for instance the women and minorities who voted for Trump, the media is trying to account for what they so blatantly missed. However, these interviews, just like polls, rely on people going public with their private thoughts to what is often an inhospitable climate for particular viewpoints. Therefore logic would suggest that these articles are highlighting more or less the same vocal people who were counted in the original pre-election polls. This gives us only more hot air.
The truth is that we’ll never really know the exact makeup of the Silent Majority who tipped Trump over the top. The reserved Trump voters, those who did not make their opinions or leanings known to pollsters, realize that private voting in a democracy is the prudent and productive form of action. They realize that revealing their candidate of choice only makes them vulnerable to attacks from vocal liberals, empowered by celebrity endorsements and mainstream media, who believe the only “right” answer is “Left.” For many Trump supporters (which includes those who held their nose in a decision against Clinton), the cost-benefit analysis of publicly sharing their privately cast ballot does not calculate in their favor. The costs include wrongful accusation of racism, defriending on social media, defriending in real life, or possibly a job loss (here’s to you, Seamless/GrubHub). So it’s only rational that the Silent Majority stays silent; it’s simple self-preservation.
The one overarching theme that can be noted when combing through the Trump supporters who have boldly come forward: they came to their decisions through a diverse array of paths. For many, the priority was a matter of bringing jobs back to the U.S. For others, it was about eradicating terrorism, reining in debt, controlling illegal immigration, and the list goes on. For some, yes, sadly there were some motivated by their own internal bigotry, satiated by some of Trump’s indefensible rhetorical sound bites. But thankfully, the fact is that there simply are not enough bigots out there to elect anyone for the presidency of the United States. Calling Trump supporters “racist deplorables” would be akin to generalizing Clinton supporters as “self-righteous insufferables” – it’s unfair, untrue, and unproductive to opening up thoughtful discussion.
I’m familiar with the Silent Majority mindset given that this op-ed was written with much hesitation. In spite of feeling strongly enough to put my thoughts to paper, I do not feel comfortable going public as anything other than a Clinton supporter. Even conscientious abstainers are frowned upon in my area, a large city which overwhelmingly voted for Clinton. While it was “morning in America” on November 9th for most areas of the country, it was “mourning in America” over here. Luckily, it was easy for me to fly under the radar during the “aftermath.” I’m a millennial, a minority, college-educated, and a mother. I may be at the center of Clinton’s voting bloc Venn-diagram if I weren’t a Republican. That said, it’s no secret that Republican Party affiliation in 2016 did not imply the same as it has in past elections. The Never Trump movement, largely led by Republican establishment leaders, was another vocal group which the Silent Majority heard but decided to move past. Well, the Never Trump movement is irrelevant now; and what’s relevant now is the reality of the election results.
Despite the ugliness of the 2016 campaigns, I remain a Republican for a number of reasons; a central one being that I’m a realist, not an idealist. Let me explain: I understand that reality can get ugly, so it’s critical to work within the realms of reality to move towards the ideal and get as close to ideal as possible. In an ideal world, we get to have it all and give it all; but in the real world we have to make choices. For instance, as a mother I believe we need to address environmental issues for the next generation… but I believe job and wage growth for the middle class family is a more pressing priority today. There are dozens of other policies where I lean Republican and I’ve come to these opinions after much reflection and research. So why, as a thoughtful, respectful, civic-minded citizen, am I uneasy voicing these opinions?
I imagine this is how the Silent Majority feels, and due to their silence we’re left to speculate on what many of these voters expect will come in the next four years. I suspect the Silent Majority is anxiously optimistic that a Trump administration will do what has to be done to live up to his campaign slogan of making America great again. Our country’s upside scenario: Trump will become a rhetorically different person from the one who campaigned for most of 2015 and 2016. His attention and energy will be fixed on the state of the union, currently plagued with increased poverty, welfare dependency, joblessness, wage stagnation, terror threats, indebtedness, and stifling government regulations. In this sanguine prediction, he will surround himself with cabinet members serving as pieces of the puzzle who collectively will improve our country’s economy, security, foreign relations, and other ails. Just looking at the past eight years, we’ve seen the rise of Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, Black Lives Matter, Students Against Debt; Americans of all sorts of backgrounds have not been happy. So I ask us all to join the Silent Majority in looking for upside from here. Secretary Clinton and President Obama have both said they want to see Trump succeed because that means that the country succeeds – let’s root for the country to succeed.
In President-elect Trump’s acceptance speech, he asked for all Americans – the Silent Majority as well as those who did not advocate for him – to support and guide him during his presidency. This is how we can all reinvigorate the greatness that has always been America. Hopefully, Left-wing pop-politicized culture, media, and academia will soon understand that their own narrow-minded views are not as universally accepted as they believe. Once this cultural check takes place, those who have been silenced will again openly participate in free speech and discussion within the citizenry. But sadly, until our country finds its way back to a state of legitimate free speech, we’ll never know the entire demographic makeup of the Silent Majority. Those who tipped the Trump ticket over the top will remain silent. They will rely on their elected officials to speak on their behalf and to shape a nation of which one day all Americans can again be proud.
Allison Lee Pillinger Choi
Author, Bleeding Heart Conservatives: Why It’s Good To Be Right