Divided We Stand, Divided We Fall


Many of us are asking a perfectly reasonable question: how could something like this happen? To the self-proclaimed rational thinker, Donald Trump’s rise is absurd and defies all explanation other than the simplest of conclusions; namely, he rose to prominence by tapping into the basest and most reprehensible emotions of white-America. But it’s less the accuracy of that notion that’s in dispute than the implications of that notion. And in a democracy, a nation’s people have the power to choose the person they feel should represent them for at least the next four years. We had that power on Nov. 8 and, when presented with a clear-as-day alternative, still opted for Trump. So the real question should be “where did we go wrong?”

The answer lies within the two choices we had for president and our respective perceptions of them. Hillary Clinton has spent the last 30 years of her life in politics and flaunts none of Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric. Her supporters describe her as the most qualified candidate in history, while her detractors dismiss her as a slave to the establishment.

Trump, on the other hand, has no relevant experience for the presidency, as a businessman who’s never held public office. He makes no effort to be inoffensive, targeting everyone from women to immigrants with despicable language and policies that range from unspeakably inhumane to logistically impossible. Trump’s supporters laud his status as an outsider; to them, his political inexperience is a plus because politicians are inherently corrupt. His detractors have compared him to various dictators and no less an authority than Hillary Clinton, who dismissed his supporters as deplorable. These candidates could not be more opposite. There’s seemingly little to no room for overlap between the two schools of thought. And where the liberals failed was in fully recognizing that.

Much of the arguments for Clinton’s candidacy consisted not of building her up, but of tearing Trump down. In most cases, supporters of Clinton resorted to mocking Trump’s buffoonery and leaning on Clinton’s experience in politics as her infallible right to the oval office, ignoring how undesirable that made her to naysayers. Far too much was made of her existing as an alternative to Trump. It proved a fallacy that helped feed the notion that both candidates were equally flawed and thus two sides of the same problem.

However, the liberals’ strategy on Trump was their biggest misstep. It won’t take an expert to inform you that Trump received a great deal of support from Americans who hold views that are racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic. To many of these people, the possibility of a leader who understood their concerns was a golden opportunity. The liberals were right to be disgusted by that fact. Where they got it wrong, however, was in thinking they could change anyone’s mind. With candidates this opposite, there’s simply no middle ground. On one end, there are those who agree with Trump’s bigotry, or who are at least willing to sweep it under the rug. On the other end, there are those who are genuinely and justifiably appalled.

For those well-intentioned enough to want to fight against bigotry and naïve enough to believe that, with enough explaining and whistle-blowing, no one would be willing to feel differently, it would be almost impossible to see Trump’s rhetoric as virtuous. But to the millions who finally felt their voices were being represented, Trump’s beliefs on women, immigrants and Muslims were among his best qualities. Opponents of Trump could have better spent their time challenging his competence as a leader and his knowledge of America’s affairs, aiming to stump him on key issues that he hadn’t had time to cram for.

Moreover, the constant condemnations of Trump’s behavior, while well-deserved, served no practical purpose. Those who dislike Trump are already well aware of his problematic beliefs and don’t need their intelligence further insulted by having it brought to their attention repeatedly. Meanwhile, those charmed by Trump are simply being reminded of why they like him so much. The man himself said it best when he joked that he could shoot someone in broad daylight and not lose support. While he was obviously exaggerating, one could hardly be blamed if, at various points in this election season, they wondered just how far that was from the truth.

Appropriate for being at the mercy of a former reality TV star, all we can do is wait and see what happens next. Presidents are often judged by how many of their campaign promises they keep, but with promises that include building a multi-billion dollar wall on the Mexican border and mass deportation, we’d be better off if Trump kept a low percentage of his promises. Our only option is to hold out hope that Trump was merely saying anything necessary to get elected. You know—like a politician would.

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Joseph Catrone is the former editor of Farmingdale Observer, Hicksville News, Levittown Tribune and Massapequa Observer. He is also a contributing writer to Long Island Weekly and Anton Media Group's special sections.


    I read in your November 16th edition of the Observer, the “Divided We Stand, Divided We Fall” editorial page submission by a very youthful Joseph Catrone, and couldn’t help but wonder how this “self-proclaimed rational thinker”, concluded that anyone who voted for Donald Trump, did so with the “basest and most reprehensible emotions of white America”. As one of those reprehensible voters I’d like to respond to this young man’s concerns, and more directly to his core beliefs that anyone who voted for Trump is inherently a “racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic”.
    Mr. Catrone, first let me tell you that many of us who chose to vote for Trump did so in part as a result of the actions and character flaws we’ve come to learn about your “most qualified candidate in history”, Hillary Clinton. Your most qualified candidate has a very long list of indiscretions that in almost every case has led to some form of official investigation, from White Water to the most recent missing and deleted private server’s State Department emails. Character does matter, and you believed, “both candidates were equally flawed”. Many of us “older Americans” know firsthand the actual character flaws Hillary Clinton has displayed over her long political history. You never mentioned a single one of hers in your article, perhaps because of your youth, but you were resplendent with all of the things you see as wrong with Trump. You never once mentioned Hillary’s inability to tell the truth and lying to the families of the four American’s murdered in Benghazi, telling them that a video caused their deaths and not a terrorist act. If she lied to America and the families of four murdered Americans about Benghazi, how then could anyone trust her to tell the truth about anything? Your own words were right on point about her failures to tell the truth when you ended your article with “saying anything necessary to get elected. You know – like a politician would”. I know you were referring to Trump but those words are precisely what Hillary did, and these are facts Mr. Catrone, not beliefs like those you shared in your article.
    Trump voters are not inherently racist as you seemingly believe. If that were the case how did Obama get elected? Mr. Catrone, despite your reprehensible preconceived youthful beliefs about individuals who voted for Trump, let me assure you that I am not a racist, sexist, homophobic nor xenophobic, and your insinuation that any Trump voter is, is just deplorable. Yes, I said deplorable. Despite your belief that Hillary Clinton had an “infallible right to the oval office”, she was not the right democratic candidate for that Office. You were also right to say that the democratic campaign was based on bashing their opponent and not on the issues that Americans wanted to hear about from their candidates. Yet you did exactly that in your article by labeling Trump voters with name calling and insulting rationalizations like racist. Clearly your candidate of choice lost this election. How that happened is simple, it’s called the Electoral College. This process allows all 50 States equal input into who will lead this Nation. It’s inclusive so that everyone’s vote counts. That was the rational thinking of our founding fathers and it has been working for over 2 centuries. So to you and those millennials who received participation trophies and never learned that there are winners and losers, welcome to the real world where many of us voters pay taxes, rent, mortgages, and work hard to make ends meet to raise a family here on Long Island, and voted for a new direction, and can only hope it is better than it’s been for the past 8 years. I hope I’ve helped answer your question of “how could something like this happen?” God Bless America.
    – Kevin D. Hassett


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