Last night, after paying my mechanic, I asked, “Are you happy with the results of last night’s election, or not so happy?”
“Happy,” he said. Ryan is a White Anglo male, about 35. He wears a beard and baseball cap.
“Hillary is a crook,” Ryan said, “. . . and Trump is a crook. But I trust Trump more because he won’t have outside interests.” I was all ears.
“We all want the same thing,” I said, “to make things work better.”
Ryan said that Hillary would have continued a program under Obama to make more and more people dependent on government. “When 50% of the people depend on government,” Ryan said, “it can control them by threatening to take away their benefits.” Ryan said he wants Obamacare abolished. Instead, Ryan would like free health care for everyone like in Canada and Western Europe. I said, “I don’t think either Trump or Hillary promised that. Maybe Bernie Sanders would have . . .” Ryan tossed his hand to his side.
I told Ryan that I, too, would like free health care for everyone. “A problem before and after Obamacare,” I said, “is rising health care costs. Unlike Western Europe, in the US we have a difficult marriage of government and corporations. We have regulated monopolies, like it was with railroads and oil. Now it’s pharmaceuticals and insurance driving up costs.”
Ryan said we need to spend much less on national defense. I reminded him about Russian and Chinese territorial expansion, for example, the South China Sea.
Ryan talked about the benefits of hemp for many useful purposes. And how DuPont invented nylon and then quashed the use of hemp.
I told Ryan that I did not vote for Trump but that I hoped that Trump would keep his word on some of his promises. The one I was thinking of was a balanced budget.
Ryan said, “I hope he does, too, and . . .” he grinned, “. . . I want him to build that wall!” I looked at him skeptically and said goodnight, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Ryan said, “Take care. Goodnight.”
For the last eight weeks, knocking on doors for Hillary, I had been yelled at “Get out of here” by Trump supporters, heard Hillary called a “bitch,” that I was “fucking crazy for supporting her,” and “she should be in jail,” and I was chased out of a patio by a Trump supporter.
Amazingly, last night was the first time I had a real conversation with a Trump supporter.
Ryan’s hopes don’t make Trump’s promises believable. Trump doesn’t care for Ryan, or for other people like Ryan who voted for him, or for anyone but Trump himself. I don’t even know if Hillary cares for Ryan. But I do know that a Hillary Clinton administration would have responsibly delivered for Ryan, and others who voted for Trump.
Despite the conflicted logic on Obamacare and wanting—but not wanting—government dependency, Ryan showed honest support for Trump who he believed spoke for him. Emotionally. At the gut level.
Moving forward after emotional recovery, we Democrats need to go to places in Florida and find the 119,490 extra votes we needed on November 8th. We need to talk to people like Ryan and listen carefully. Broward and Miami-Dade Counties delivered very well for Hillary Clinton, our best election performance in absolute margin. Our two counties delivered a margin for Hillary Clinton of 577,775 votes, dwarfing by almost five times Donald Trump’s statewide margin of 119,489 votes over Hillary Clinton. But we could not have squeezed out enough more Democrats to vote in Broward and Miami-Dade. GOTV in Democratic areas can’t do enough.
Instead, we need to build our base in other Florida counties by listening carefully to people’s real concerns. Americans want to do what works, on health care, national defense, and infrastructure. We are divided but not too divided. You don’t have to agree with Ryan. But you need to respect him. And that starts by listening.