Af­ter­math: Those not grat­i­fied are hor­ri­fied

Trump’s election vic­tory high­lights U.S. cul­tural di­vide

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Noah Bier­man, Joseph Tan­fani and Jenny Jarvie Los An­ge­les Times’ Chris Mege­rian con­trib­uted.

MI­AMI — A man eat­ing fruit salad at a posh Mi­ami cafe Wed­nes­day ques­tioned whether the election was rigged as he joked about stab­bing Don­ald Trump sup­port­ers, while his friend wor­riedly checked the stock mar­ket in­dex on his lap­top. A young barista at a nearby cof­fee shop won­dered how her friends, and the data-driven web­sites she read, could have been so wrong.

It’s a safe bet that none of them had ever trav­eled to Stan­ley, a North Carolina rail town of 3,600 where con­struc­tion work­ers, plumbers and an off-duty sher­iff’s deputy watched Hil­lary Clin­ton’s con­ces­sion speech from Pete’s Grill on Main Street.

“I don’t know any­one who would vote Hil­lary Clin­ton,” said Terry Brown, a 55-year-old plumber, as he walked in.

“She should be locked up,” an­other diner said un­der his breath.

The fis­sure re­vealed in this election was as wide as any in re­cent his­tory: be­tween those who be­lieve Trump will de­stroy ev­ery­thing that Amer­ica stands for and those who are cer­tain it has al­ready been so de­stroyed that only Trump can fix it.

“Maybe I have a skewed van­tage point be­cause I live in a city,” said Han­nah Rat­cliff, the 25-year-old barista in Mi­ami, still shak­ing her head Wed­nes­day at the thought of vot­ers se­lect­ing a man her friends called an “id­iot” to rep­re­sent Amer­ica around the world. “I just don’t think they run into the same sort of ex­pe­ri­ences. I know a lot of peo­ple that im­mi­grated to this coun­try and they’re just hor­ri­fied.” Don­ald Trump’s sup­port­ers feared the en­croach­ing so­ci­etal changes and their ef­fect on jobs, immigration and se­cu­rity.

Trump’s election proved that Amer­i­cans are not liv­ing the same ex­pe­ri­ences, shar­ing the same no­tion of Amer­i­can iden­tity or even trust­ing each other to un­der­stand their dif­fer­ences.

Clin­ton won the pop­u­lar vote with sup­port­ers packed tightly into di­verse ur­ban clus­ters, with heavy im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tions, looser re­li­gious af­fil­i­a­tions and greater ed­u­ca­tional and eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Trump’s elec­toral path spanned the coun­try, largely by­pass­ing those me­trop­o­lises as it me­an­dered through re­li­gious South­ern towns, the vast ru­ral heart­land and the old in­dus­trial belt in the north that once pro­vided the bedrock of the Demo­cratic union coali­tion.

Trump’s sup­port­ers said through­out the cam­paign that they felt ig­nored by coastal elites whose in­flu­ence over me­dia, politics and culture seemed over­whelm­ing. Many rev­eled in Clin­ton’s de­scrip­tion of them as a “bas­ket of de­plorables,” see­ing it as proof that they were looked down upon.

They wor­ried about the en­croach­ing so­ci­etal changes and their ef­fect on jobs, immigration and se­cu­rity — so wor­ried that they were will­ing to take what many knew was a risk.

“We’re en­ter­ing the unknown,” said Tommy Mor­ri­son, 55, owner of a drain and grease trap clean­ing com­pany in Stan­ley, who also voted for Trump. “The more ed­u­cated, col­lege­bred, lib­eral-think­ing, pro­gres­sive in­di­vid­u­als see this coun­try go­ing back­ward. I see it pos­i­tively: We’re go­ing back to the roots and Christ i an val­ues we were founded on.”

Trump seized on that nos­tal­gia for a ver­sion of a post-World War II Amer­ica, when over­seas vic­to­ries and the path to eco­nomic se­cu­rity for work­ing- class whites were more clear-cut than they are in a mod­ern world, with messy for­eign clashes and fewer paths to eco­nomic pros­per­ity for those with­out a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion.

He said re­peat­edly that his election rep­re­sented a “last chance” to re­claim past great­ness, and de­clared in his ac­cep­tance speech: “The for­got­ten men and women of our coun­try will be for­got­ten no longer.”

Clin­ton’s sup­port­ers said they could not quite grasp the fury of Trump’s back­ers, which some blamed on racism or xeno­pho­bia. Many said Wed­nes­day that they con­tin­ued to un­der­es­ti­mate the other side’s frus­tra­tion.

“There was just that sense of anger,” Richard Bloom­ing­dale, pres­i­dent of the 800,000-mem­ber Penn­syl­va­nia AFL- CIO, who said he was shocked at the in­dif­fer­ence many vot­ers ex­pressed when his mem­bers knocked on their doors and called their homes. “They didn’t care that he was a misog­y­nist, or that he in­sulted dis­abled peo­ple. They just didn’t care.”

He pointed to the largely white, fad­ing in­dus­trial coun­ties around Scran­ton and Wilkes-Barre, where Clin­ton fared far worse than Pres­i­dent Barack Obama only four years ear­lier. In Luzerne County, she won nearly 13,000 fewer votes than Obama.

The cam­paign trail laid bare a mu­tual be­lief from the two sides that the coun­try would not just de­cline, but fall apart, if their ri­val can­di­date won the election. Yet each was cer­tain that their can­di­date would not lose. Their so­cial me­dia feeds and the peo­ple they saw at the gro­cery store told them so, no mat­ter what polls said.

“I have a lot of friends on Face­book that are just pray­ing for him,” said Bon­nie Zink, a re­tired teacher from Sylva, N.C., who drove an hour from her home near the Smoky Moun­tains to see Trump at a fair grounds in Western North Carolina last month.

She and her hus­band, Jim, had tried to at­tend two prior ral­lies but could not get in be­cause de­mand for tick­ets was so high.

Zink was cer­tain the coun­try would col­lapse if Clin­ton won, as was Cathy Mur­phy, a 54-year-old prison su­per­vi­sor, who drove 50 miles to at­tend the same rally.

“I’m ter­ri­fied to even think in that realm,” she said, when asked about a Clin­ton vic­tory. “I’d prob­a­bly get sick on your shoes.”

Many of Clin­ton’s sup­port­ers, par­tic­u­larly mi­nori­ties, say they are the ones who will be left be­hind in Trump’s Amer­ica.

“I’ve been try­ing to process it all morn­ing,” said Julius Hayes Jr. a 69-yearold African-Amer­i­can Air Force vet­eran.

“He said all the things he said, and he was sup­ported by the KKK and the Nazi Party. You lis­ten to the pun­dits, and they say peo­ple wanted a change in Wash­ing­ton — OK, but not this kind of change.”

In Latino house­holds, Trump’s vic­tory touched off tears and hushed con­ver­sa­tions. Jose Martinez, 30, came to the U.S. from Puebla, Mex­ico, a decade ago, and runs a cor­ner gro­cery in a blue-col­lar neigh­bor­hood in South Philadel­phia.

All morn­ing, he said, his cus­tomers talked about what Trump would do. Some friends had chil­dren who came il­le­gally and won tem­po­rary pro­tec­tion from de­por­ta­tion un­der an Obama pro­gram that Trump has vowed to end. Martinez has two kids who were born in the U.S.

“My daugh­ter was cry­ing,” said Martinez, who has been stay­ing in the U.S. on a se­ries of tem­po­rary visas. “She thought we could get in trou­ble, and he would throw out ev­ery­body, and we’d have to leave.” He told her: “Don’t worry, we’ll be happy any­where.”

CHRIS WALKER/CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

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