I GUESS IT IS COMFORTING to say that Donald Trump won the presidency because of a wide swath of racist haters across America. I know that the support for Trump has its roots in much deeper and complicated issues, and former Sen. Rick Santorum had a lot to do with the issues that brought Trump victory.
I brought Santorum to town in 2014 to discuss his book Blue Collar Conservatives: Recommitting to an America That Works with my listeners. I had no idea until much later that Santorum had visited with Trump in New York and discussed Santorum's main contention that Republicans such as Mitt Romney were not reaching blue-collar workers. I'm convinced that billionaire Trump agreed with Santorum and focused on bad trade deals, overregulation that has dried up jobs, and a focus on union workers that have long supported Democrats.
While all this was going on, more and more people were writing about white working-class Americans and their diminishing life span. In many states, such as New Hampshire, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, they were in the center of the opioid crisis. I've interviewed Charles Murray, who wrote Coming Apart, and J.D Vance, who wrote Hillbilly Elegy, and both tell the story of vast numbers of people losing work, dignity and ultimately hope. These people might have their own failings and demons, but they also are a neglected group of Americans.
Arthur C. Brooks, of the American Enterprise Institute, writing in the Wall Street Journal after the election, said that progressives have emphasized the "income gap," but they missed the real gap.
"This was half right," he wrote. "There is indeed a gap in this country, and it now has led to a political revolution, a significant realignment in American politics. But the relevant gap wasn't income. It was dignity."
Trump was seen as someone who will bring back jobs and strike back at the elites of both major parties and the media elites who mock and disdain the working class.
Trump overwhelmingly won the white working-class vote. In a CNN exit poll, he also won the Catholic vote over Hillary Clinton by 52 percent to 45 percent. Are these voters also mainly bigots and haters? Maybe they heard about the emails among top Clinton subordinates that diminished many Catholics as "backward."
One immediate result of the Trump win is a renewed focus on illegal immigration. Anticipating this challenge, Philadelphia Mayor Kenney has now started talking about changing the designation of Philadelphia from a sanctuary city to the "Fourth Amendment City." Kenney can try this name change, but on Monday in Harrisburg, the Legislature is scheduled to vote on Rep. Martina White's bill to strike at the funding of sanctuary cities. I was told that this vote was not supposed to happen, but the legislators are reacting to the surge of Trump voters in Pennsylvania over this issue. Of course, I believe Trump and the Congress will move swiftly to stop sanctuary cities.
As a conservative, I support Trump on this and probably a lot of other actions, but I probably will oppose him on any number of things. I also clearly call out anyone trying to hijack the Trump movement and steer it toward any racist or anti-Semitic positioning. The point is that opponents of Trump need to be introspective and to figure out how they lost a lot of their moderate Democratic base. It also would help to not go around slurring all Trump voters as "dummies."
Finally, a lot of Trump voters, along with many Democrats, voted to re-elect U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, despite the political dance played around whether he was supporting or voting for Trump. I was glad to see that. Toomey is among the smartest and most detail-oriented public figures I've ever interviewed, and he fits Pennsylvania perfectly.
The biggest surprise to me was that I was only running to be your 9 a.m. to noon radio-host choice. However, in the Pennsylvania State Senate race in a district that includes Center City and South Philadelphia where incumbent state Sen. Larry Farnese ran unopposed, I got a write-in vote. I've always said Philadelphia voters know talent when they see it.
Teacher-turned-talk show host Dom Giordano is heard 9 a.m. to noon weekdays on WPHT (1210-AM). Contact him at www.domgiordano.com