The below is from a dear friend who recently won a Presidential Award for his scientific research at Harvard from President Barak Obama. He was given the medal by the President.
This is one of the best explanations I have read on the issue.
Sandra Lora Cremers, MD, FACS
I, like many others, have been trying to understand how someone like Trump could win the Presidential election. There are many valid and thoughtful analyses out there that provide partial explanations. I have not seen, among the many considerations, the two points I would like to raise here.Given our Electoral College system, the election came down to a few hundred thousand votes (a fraction of 1% of all votes cast) in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, Arizona, Ohio and North Carolina. You could argue just a few of those swing states were the key.This means that any small slice of the demographic had a decisive impact on this election.I am particularly curious about to one group I feel close to, and have some insight into: church-going Christians, whether committed Evangelicals or practicing Catholics (Mormons would fall in the same group but they are less consequential, as the states where their vote may count are not in contention). As a block they tend to vote Republican based on social issues, but in this election they have been torn over a GOP candidate whose personal life and belief system seems particularly at odds with their moral tenets, e.g. in terms of his views of women, his public conduct, his vulgarity, his uncharitable stance on immigration, and his confrontational approach to the adversary.This group has been seriously conflicted, and many have been alienated by the perceptions of a fundamentally and deeply flawed candidate. But a fraction of them did bring themselves to vote for him, and potentially enabled wins in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida that handed him the White House. Many of them are college educated. Why?Some of these of our fellow citizens do vote on single issues, of course. If you are convinced that the deliberate elimination of a million defenseless unborn human beings each year is the American sin of our time, like slavery was in 1860, you may vote under the defensible understanding that nothing else trumps that overriding concern; and to the extent that the Supreme Court enabled such a practice to take hold nationwide, and that the two candidates have clearly defined positions on Supreme Court appointments and Federal funding for abortion, that may have been all they needed.I can think of two other factors that may have influenced this crucial shift.The first can be traced back to Bill Clinton. There was a time in U.S. politics, which distinguished it say from European politics, in which the moral standing of the candidate had an impact on his popularity and ability to get elected. From the foundation of this country there had been an understanding that personal virtue was tied with the search for the common good when in a position of leadership. Thus personal shenanigans were kept under wraps (e.g. JFK), and when made public they ruined political careers (e.g. Gary Hart, Mark Sanford). There was a sense that the dignity of the office and the inspirational role of a President also applied to the personal sphere, and personal character affected one’s policy decisions.Bill Clinton proved that, at least as far as the Left was concerned, this need not be the case. Democrats argued vociferously that his performance and legacy as a President had nothing to do with how he viewed marriage, sexual relationships with subordinates, ensuing cover-ups, or his explanations under oath. Hillary’s attribution of the public outcry over his affairs to a “vast right-wing conspiracy”, and the enduring popularity Bill Clinton has enjoyed since, transformed the landscape by which public figures are judged. The new wall between personal morality and public office, erected to protect the likes of Bill Clinton or Jesse Jackson, has taken hold in public discourse, and the pro-Trump camp adopted it, with the clearest exponent being his invitation of alleged Clinton-aggrieved women to the second debate, in a crude attempt to level the playing field at its most debased common denominator. I suspect that the rationale may have permeated some religious voters who were tired of embracing a standard that placed them at a disadvantage, and used the Clintonian argumentation to hold their nose in regard to Trump and throw it back against Hillary.The second factor had to do with the angry electorate, to which I believe Obama contributed. In 2010 Obama had a choice to make: elected as the unifier and as the builder of the great American multicolor coalition, there were high hopes that he was a different kind of President who could bring everyone together – the only person to earn the Nobel Peace Prize preemptively. He set out to leave a grandiose legacy, with a key achievement being a sweeping reform of health care. Minority Republicans were galvanized in their opposition.At that critical time, he was confronted with the dilemma of jettisoning his landmark legislation for the sake of compromise, trying to get it through in a bipartisan manner piecemeal, or leaning on his narrow majority to ram it down the divided country’s throat. Perhaps there was no hope of negotiating with Republicans, although I believe there were sensible legislators who could have been engaged; perhaps there is no way for the ACA to stand in isolated pieces, as you may need the whole to make it viable. But the perception was one of hubris, of a desire to leave a personal mark, of capitalizing on a subjective sense of national mandate and let the other side have it. So he chose to proceed, after twisting the arms of some Republican Representatives who were promised that there would be protections for conscience.The outcome, and the subsequent betrayal of these legislators who had been elected by religious voters, was an immediate backlash in the 2010 midterm election, heralded by a the remarkable special election of a Republican Senator for Ted Kennedy’s seat! This caused a divided government (Executive vs. Legislative branch), and the result was a more recalcitrant White House and a more aggrieved Capitol Hill. The intransigence with groups such as Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor (for whom a compromise could have been easily offered), the Executive directives to ignore federal law (DOMA), and the governing by executive decree reinforced the perception of a President and a party who had given up on half of the country.The result has been the resurgence of electoral strategies that polarize the extremes rather than reach out to the large middle where most of us stand. Sanders and Trump are results of the same phenomenon, and this explains the lack of enthusiasm for Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Kelly Ayotte, or any of those who are willing to engage the other half.So the angry vote in 2016 is not just from the economically disadvantaged or ethnically threatened; it is from those who have been culturally marginalized by an Administration that, whether by choice or by circumstance, has been playing exclusionary politics for the last eight years. And so the committed Evangelicals, practicing Catholics or Mormons who find the GOP candidate personally unfit, when confronted with four more years of what appears to be ideological imperialism without respect for conscience, were placed in the position of realizing this was their last line of defense, however imperfect.To me, the ensuing tragedy is that a strategy that caters to the extremes has proven victorious, and this may represent a fundamental and dangerous shift in the fabric of our Republic.