Much of the country has slowly moved past the realization that Donald J. Trump will be America’s next president. Democratic leadership in the House and Senate, while certainly not agnostic about Hillary Clinton’s loss, are saying all the right things about moving the country forward and working with President-elect Trump when they can. It’s a healthy attitude to take: sure, they did everything in their power to prevent Trump from entering the White House, but now that he’s won fair and square, it’s time to drop the grudges and do something good for the nation.
Unfortunately, much of this is lost on many of my fellow New Yorkers, particular in Manhattan, where over 87 percent of voters cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton. New York City has long been a Democratic stronghold at the national level with a boatload of votes that Democratic presidential candidates can rely on, but even Barack Obama didn’t break 85 percent. Manhattan is doom for GOP presidential nominees in general; for Trump, it was even worse (ironic, given that New York has been his home for 70 years). Mitt Romney, for instance, did terribly here in 2012, but he still performed better than Trump by about 13,000 votes.
In short, New Yorkers don’t particularly like Trump as a person. And with the exception of Staten Island, they think he’d make a horrendous president.
All this helps explain why tens of thousands of people – mostly college students and Millennials – have been protesting in the streets of Manhattan for weeks against a Trump presidency. The fact that Trump hasn’t even been sworn in yet doesn’t matter to these people. In their mind, he’s such a racist – such an unethical, Mexican-bashing, Muslim-hating womanizer – that even the thought of him making difficult decisions about foreign policy and tax breaks is jarring.
I can sympathize with this sentiment because I understand where many of these people are coming from. The vast majority of New Yorkers, like tens of millions of others across the nation, turned on the Election Day television coverage with the expectation that Hillary Clinton would wipe the floor with Trump and hand the billionaire the most humiliating public defeat of his life. When that didn’t happen, they were shocked, then upset, then pissed off, wondering what the hell the rest of America had done.
In a normal election cycle, Americans tend to accept the results and get on with their lives. Not so in New York. Walking into people on the street and overhearing their casual conversations with friends in parks and bookstores, you could be forgiven for thinking that the result two weeks ago was a cancerous tumor. Sentiments like “how could those rednecks ruin this country by voting for such an idiot” are common, as is a disbelief that voters in the flyover states and the Rust Belt weren’t smart and sophisticated enough to see that Trump doesn’t have their best interests in mind. How a New Yorker who probably has never traveled through the Midwest can know what’s in the best interest of a small business owner in Wisconsin or a farmer in western Pennsylvania is anyone’s guess.
There are real divides in this country along racial, geographical, and class lines, which were exposed during the Trump vs. Clinton saga. But many of my fellow New Yorkers aren’t helping the situation by casting aspersions on whole sections of the country and labeling them as uninformed stooges who got bamboozled by Trump’s magic. It smacks of Acela Corridor elitism and, quite frankly, it reinforces a stereotype that those who live in the big coastal cities are out of touch with the economic pain that many of their fellow countrymen are feeling.
So here’s my unsolicited advice for my liberal friends: continue to protest – that’s well within your rights as an American, and all the power to you – but lets tone down the generalities. The country could really use some unity right now.