Why the coal miners voted for Trump instead of Clinton
The other day, a friend forwarded a link about the condition of Appalachia 50 years after Robert Kennedy visited there in 1968. The article compared that time with Trump time now. The reporter interviewed a man who had been a coal miner. This was eastern Kentucky. The area went Democratic in 1968, but flipped to Trump in 2016. The reason why sheds light on the challenges of spiritual growth.
The man said Hillary Clinton came through and told them that environmentalism would in fact cost some of them their jobs. She told them the truth. Donald Trump showed up and told them he was going to save the coal mines, bring coal back. The man said they all knew he could not bring coal back – they all knew Trump was lying – but they voted for him anyway.
Now here’s the thing: Why was that? The man said it had to do with the culture of coal country. There, he said, the coal miner is considered a hero. What Trump did was connect with their affection for coal and the coal miner and, even though they did not believe him, their vote went to him.
The truth here was irrelevant. What mattered was the way the two candidates made the coal voters feel. They felt elevated by Trump, and they felt their concerns were elevated, to the level of national dialogue. He validated their worth, even though he may have been insincere.
For some reason, human nature can only absorb so much truth at once. Somehow humans fear the truth when it might feel like criticism. It makes many people cringe.
A lyric from Jesus Christ Superstar comes to mind: “Just don’t say I’m damned for all time.” A lot of people feel as if the truth comes as a disguise for impending doom. It affronts the Ego. And this is the core problem. The truth confronts the Ego and the human trembles in the face of it.
None of this is necessary. It’s not necessary because the embrace of the truth leads us through the fear and out the other side. What is on the other side is all that we seek: beauty, goodness, justice, wholeness and peace.
Jesus told us “Do not be afraid, little flock, it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.” It’s a gift. It’s a given.
So let us not fear to face the truth and grow.
Bill O’Brien can be reached at billobrienconsciousnesscoaching.com and by email at billobrienconsciousnesscoach @gmail.com.