Those "Left Behind" Have Decided

I am a big supporter of Pres. Barack Obama. Indeed, I have a scrapbook with pictures of the man taken from newspapers over the last several years. But, I'm aware that much of what Obama has accomplished has probably been overwhelming for voters on the other side of the aisle. It has left them feeling left behind and the recent is election is their way of saying "enough."

And like everyone else, I didn't see it coming, even though much inside me said that a campaign largely grounded in shoring up the middle class really felt wrong on many levels. I kept asking myself, "what about the poor and working class?" And when Trump was campaigning in rurual U.S.A., I was wondering why. I do believe that Roger Ailes supplied Fox News data to Trump's campaign telling them where the base was. That's my suspicion.

One of the articles that I found most intriguing articles that I've read recently was about the executive orders he's signed during his tenure. While I felt much of it was healthy for the nation, I also realized it was quite liberal-leaning. A lot of it addresses issues, such as how airlines publish fares or how long aircraft can idle on a tarmac, that most Americans, including myself, are either unaware of or unconcerned with. These issues are not the concern of people who voted for President-elect Trump.

However, these changes affect how companies do business. They often cost companies more to implement. Higher costs of doing business tend to trickle down. That means people lose jobs. Trade deals that force companies to produce or export less also cost jobs. Higher unemployment in rural communities and cities means lower quality of life. It makes people really unhappy.

Those people who have been left behind for the last three administrations are very unhappy and they have decided. They decided that enough is enough and they can't take it anymore. While the Hillary Clinton campaign tried to make Donald Trump's "unfitness" the issue, the Trump campaign ran on jobs and distrust of Clinton. Those left behind decided on the latter, voted as such, and won. Was it their faith that got them through?

Other prominent issues for the Left Behind were: the Supreme Court, immigration, trade, and law enforcement. Did I mention jobs. One article that I read reported that NAFTA, Pres. Clinton's signature trade deal, is responsible for "the net displacement of 682,900 U.S. jobs." That is from trade with Mexico. Overwhelmingly, those jobs losses were concentrated in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and California. Four of the five swung for Trump; three flipped.

My close friend, Mike W., and I were talking about the election results. We discussed the Left Behind. We agreed that if we, who are members of the professional class, have grown accustomed to not getting raises, imagine what people who are working class who haven't gotten raises in 20 years must feel like. They are probably in significant financial, emotional, and vocational pain.

I, as a minister, formerly a finance professional, have grown accustomed to few raises. It doesn't make me feel good about myself. I remember working for the government (non-appropriated funds), then the private sector, before I went into the ministry. I and my co-workers looked forward to promotions and cost-of-living increases. Not only were those bumps important for our financial viability, they also provided affirmation that your career and hard work were moving in a forward direction. Moreover, you felt you were growing. That does wonders for your self-esteem.

When I look around me at some of my professional class and white-collar friends who have remained in positions that provide them steady upward mobility, I often feel that I've sacrificed something important. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do now. But, I imagine that if I feel the way I do, working class families or those living paycheck-to-paycheck have really felt it bad during the Clinton, Bush (43), and Obama administrations.

While I realize that many Americans are feeling the pain and disappointment of the Trump election, and I empathize with their emotional suffering, I'm also imagining that the Left Behind are feeling some redemption. The Trump win signals that their plight has finally gotten the attention they feel it deserves and their plight has been acknowledged.

When I've presented this position to my liberal friends, I sense that it is hard for them to hear. I also sense that they'd prefer not to listen to this side, and rather, focus on what Trump said during the campaign. I understand this, too. On many levels, the shock that someone who has said and done what the facts (historical records, interviews, videos, etc.) reveal and can be elected to the highest office of the land is hard to comprehend, let alone move past. But, as another colleague said to me, "We need someone to blame for this loss."

On the other hand, the election results also say, "What a special country we live in!" What an electoral process we have. A person like Donald Trump goes from The Apprentice to the White House. As Pres. Obama has said, "You can't put that genie back in the bottle."

I've been telling my friends that we're (the country) going to be okay. This comes from my experience as a black person. Throughout my life, I have had many defeats. Some of it race-related; some of my own responsibility. African Americans are are accustomed to loss, especially with regard to political defeat. This election of Donald Trump is not the worst of what we've lived through. Not even close.

Many historians consider Pres. Lincoln to be our greatest president. He dismantled slavery, a horrific institution and living nightmare for blacks. His successor after his assassination was Andrew Johnson, who supported white supremacy in the South and later vetoed a bill to extend the Freedman's Bureau in 1866. Indeed, Johnson blocked black suffrage and other legislation for civil rights. Black people endured this and other socio-economic and political policies that have been handed down since then.

I wonder if the African American survival instinct has played a factor in black voter turnout. It was down in both Florida and North Carolina, two states that had massive get-out-the-vote campaigns. I wrote earlier about young African Americans that I met during voter registration efforts who declared their votes didn't matter. If we, African Americans, are going to deal with whoever wins, anyway, does our survivalist nature preempt our necessity to vote? The answer is no.

Now that the Left Behind have decided, where do we go from here with brother Trump, the president-elect? I believe we keep our faith alive. Persons of faith need to put their faith muscles into action. We, as Americans, should trust in the democratic process, hope for a smooth transition of power, and hold the president-elect accountable on his promise to be "president for all people."

Many feel such an attitude, or approach, is a stretch given the content of Trump's speeches during the campaign, his history of racism, sometimes corrupt business practices, and alleged violence against women. I don't suggest you should forget this past. I do encourage a posture of faith, relying on what you consider your most cherished values to guide you through this coming transition.

The renown religion professor, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, in his book, The Meaning and End of Religion, defined faith as "a quality of human living that takes the form of serenity, courage, loyalty, and service." This quality defines both religious and human life. Even if you are not at that place now, I encourage you to use this description as a destination. Allow your faith to be your center.

Namaste,

xolani