I’ve heard a number of explanations for why Donald Trump won the presidential election—racism, sexism, bigotry, isolationism, [insert derogatory description of your choice here]. There’s an old saying that goes something like this “Never attribute to malice that which can as readily be explained by [other reasons].” The original saying had the word “stupidity” in the brackets, but I think that there are other explanations which serve better than stupidity for why Trump got elected. Here’s one of those explanations:
I had a conversation today with a blue-collar worker, a man from the demographic that purportedly helped propel Trump into the White House. I didn’t ask him how he voted, but I did mention the election. He said he didn’t follow the election news much, but he was looking forward to one thing in the Trump presidency—the repeal of Obamacare. He told me that he had a wife and three children, and that the cheapest insurance he could get under Obamacare consumed half of his weekly paycheck. After payroll deduction of the insurance premium, he took home around $250.00 per week. The copay for a doctor’s visit was $125.00, and there were some catastrophic illnesses that the insurance didn’t cover. One of his children had such an illness. Once every six months the child had to see a specialist, and the specialist didn’t come cheap. He said that he tried to get that child on Medicaid, but the child didn’t qualify because he made $5.00 a paycheck too much. He had been dreading the expected 25% jump in the cost of insurance premiums next year.* Under Trump, he now hopes that (1) the uninsured penalty will be abolished, and (2) whatever replaces Obamacare will allow for some competition among insurers and drive premiums down rather than up.
Take my acquaintance’s situation and multiply it by several million. Trump said he was going to get rid of Obamacare; Clinton promised more of the same on Obamacare. Who are these millions of people struggling with huge Obamacare insurance premiums going to vote for? Will they say “Well, Trump’s a sinner, so I’m going to vote for Saint Hillary and continue to pay exorbitant prices for near-worthless insurance”? Or will they say “Trump’s not a nice man, but I’m voting for him because he says he’s going to take this half-ton weight off my shoulders”?