Notes on nation’s Capitol, pre-inauguration Trump

(Having returned to New York City after two days of meetings in Washington, D.C., with progressive groups to discuss the surprise election of President-elect Donald Trump, I thought I would share my random thoughts on how we move forward. Like many Democrats, I still haven’t come to terms with what happened and didn’t happen on Nov. 8.)

Just returned from two days of meeting in nation’s Capitol with like-minded liberals. Progressives are manic but determined to protect their policies from Donald Trump. Few think he will moderate his campaign positions.

I’m old enough to remember Ronald Reagan, George Bush I and George Bush II. I fear President-elect Trump will make some nostalgic for those Republicans again. We should not forget the undoing of the safety net for the poor and their other misguided policies.

I was totally into the D.C. scene, catching up with friends, until suddenly I realized I’ve been to this picture show before. In 1988. In 2000. Not only that, I realize I’m talking to myself, again – hundreds of people just like me, moving in and out of hotel conference rooms to the bar and back again.  

It dawned on me maybe somebody should have invited some different-minded people.

Possible Agenda Topic: 40-something working class white men from Wisconsin tell us why they switched from Barack Obama to Donald Trump.

Another Agenda Topic: 20-something Trump protestors hot off the streets tell us what they would do if in charge.

Interactive Exercise: Identify what working class white men and Trump protestors have in common.

Conversation Starters:

Working class white men say they need secure, good-paying jobs with opportunity for growth. Less economic anxiety.

Anti-Trump protestors say they need racial justice, gender equality, less hate, more love and tolerance. Less income inequality.

If we reduce economic anxiety – say, with much-needed, massive investments in highways, transit, energy, water and sewer – don’t we, at least, start to deal with income inequality?

Good jobs don’t cure all of our societal ills by any means but …

Fewer young men of color end up in unjust justice system. 

Fewer white men will feel need to blame their anxieties on people of color and immigrants.

All women will be in better position to fight for equal pay for equal work.

Most of America will worry less about health care and college costs.

Follow-up Questions:

How do we ensure Democratic candidates don’t run toward working-class white men, ignoring the protestors, and vice versa? It can be done. Bill Clinton did it. Barack Obama, too. It wasn’t always pretty, but significantly better than current outcome.

How do we communicate the fact that all Trump supporters are not racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic?

Should we care who Trump really is? When it serves him, he acts like all of the above, but the end result is the same.

Did racism and sexism contribute to Hillary Clinton’s defeat? Certainly. Is it the reason we will not have a woman president in the White House in 2017? No.That said, Hillary Clinton deserved better. Her whole life has been dedicated to good public policy. Her whole life she’s been a victim of bias that women can’t be ambitious like men.

My main takeaway?

We shouldn’t have to choose between Trump supporters motivated by economic anxiety and protestors motivated by racial (otherness) anxiety.

Trump support came from areas where whites die younger and have less economic mobility. Does one group deserve more respect and attention than the other? Is it good people versus bad people? Isn’t that a false choice?

To redeem himself, Trump should go right at income inequality and the economic anxieties such inequalities create. To defeat him in four years, Democrats should do same.

The broader the prosperity, the stronger the economy. The stronger the economy, the less divisive the nation.

Karen Hinton is a communications consultant and the former press secretary to Mayor Bill de Blasio.