The electoral year in review. Getting Trumped.

The electoral year in review. Getting Trumped.


Trumps “State of the Union” from the 7-Eleven Donald Trump Boxing and Talking Pen


Like so many, I didn’t see Trump’s victory coming. I drank too much Upshot polling koolaide with its list of organizations giving Clinton an 85 % chance or better to win.


Sign in Greece, NY. Greece voted for Trump. I spent too much time in my blue Brighton neighborhood (24% for Trump) where I saw only two Trump signs. Perhaps more indicatively, I did see Trump stickers on trucks of contractors who came into town to work.

And like every daily subscriber to the New York Times and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, I was bombarded by op-ed articles — from conservatives, liberals and moderates, from Krauthammer to Wehner to Douthat to Friedman to Eagan to Kristoff to Blow to Brooks to Gerson to Krugman to Bruni — that psychoanalyzed, debunked and generally made unflattering comments towards The Donald.

In the vast majority of the pieces, the pundits wrote: Clinton will likely win, is strongly favored to win, will most probably win, will win.


Alas, the Times got it wrong.

We were all wrong.

Today, we look back at the electoral year in review (focusing on Trump). Alas, you already know the ending.


Letter sent to paid New York Times subscribers

Our coverage began in January with Why Peter Wehner will not have to not vote for Trump. In his NY Times op-ed piece, the conservative Wehner echoed worries that Trump was turning the Republic party into “an angry, bigoted, populist party.” Wehner also feared that Trump presented himself as alternative to our constitutional system.  Throughout, the campaign Wehner wondered if liberals were right about the darker sides of the Republican Party.

Back then, I wrongly reassured Wehner he would not have to not vote for Trump. I approximated the number of Trump’s true blue supporters at 11 million, a number too low.

The February 12th’s If Donald Trump becomes a footnote in political history, he will become William Randolph Hearst. And maybe Bernie Sanders is William Jennings Bryan, hazarded that if — at the time I expected when — Trump’s campaign fizzled out, he would resemble billionaire William Randolph’s Hearst failed 1904 Democratic nomination bid.

The February 27th, “G.O.P. Fears What’s Next If Trump Can’t Be Stopped” New York Times, February 25th, 2016 discussed Republican leader’s misgivings in the wake of Trump’s primary victory in Nevada. Lindsay Graham said the problem with Trump was that he isn’t a Republican.

The essay compares the current attempts of the G.O.P. to derail Trump with similar attempts by the Republican establishment to thwart Barry Goldwater during the 1964 primaries.

The February 29th Remember, the Italians voted for Mussolini. And what Europeans are saying about Trump looked at how pundits and world leaders were comparing Trump to Hitler and Mussolini (could Tojo be next?).

Now it seems Trump might be closest to the Italian business man turned Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, a comparison Berlusconi yesterday said was quite obvious.

Following the theme of totalitarian dictators, in March, “I would sooner vote for Josef Stalin” Max Boot, “I foresee very lively election campaigns” Josef Stalin, 1936 looked more closely at Max Boot’s statement that he would sooner vote for Josef Stalin than Donald Trump.

In March, Professor Josue Ramirez, author of Against Machismo: Young Adult Voices in Mexico City, commented on how Trump’s southern border wall building rhetoric resonates within the Mexican historical and political imagination.

The 180th Anniversary of the Alamo and Trump’s Wall with Dr. Josue Ramirez 

In March, I experienced the first puncture of my Brighton blue state bubble. At a Bernie Sanders rally at the Big Jar following a march at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Hillary Bialecki described young men in passing cars on Monroe Avenue honking at her and her Bernie sign, yelling Trump, Trump, Trump. Athesia also reported hearing passerbys near Archimage shouting “Trump 2016!” And a few seconds later, “White power!”

On seeing my first Trump supporters outside the Bug Jar

Next stop Albany. On the road with the Trumprenuers, written after Trump’s April 10th rally at the airport, was a missed opportunity to more deeply understand the mood of the country.

The story was about the “Trumpreneurs,” vendors who crisscrossed the nation selling Trump merchandise at rallies. Mostly white — but not exclusively — the vendors were mainly from the southeast. In addition to selling merchandise, most supported Trump, although they didn’t come across as true believers.

The vendors were very much the “forgotten people” for whom Trump supposedly speaks.  They were friendly and down-to-earth, but not the kind of people — so the current cliché goes — who are taking their children on college visits.

I wanted to tell the vendors they should vote Bernie if they really wanted to rattle some cages. But left wing populism never captured the Trumpreneur’s imagination. They didn’t even like Bernie rallies because it was all college kids who didn’t buy the big ticket items such as the huge American flags.

When the Trumpreneurs moved on to the rally in Albany, they fell out of my electoral calculations, forgotten. They returned on Tuesday all over the Great Lakes rust belt.

Jessica Rowe (pictured) is a member of the Air National Guard and lives in Scottsville not far from the airport. Jessica liked that the rally had both “patriots and liberals.” I owe Jessica a congratulatory email. I thought the liberals were sure to win.

A Trumprenuer on the road at Trumpmania is about Trumpmania. Trumpmania is a travelling art exhibit collected and curated by former Syracuse University media professor Anthony Rotolo. The exhibit stopped at the Art Museum of Rochester on Monroe Avenue on April 18th, the eve of the New York primaries.

The exhibit reveals how thoroughly — even in the winter and spring of 2016 — artists of various stripes (mostly striped against Trump) were grappling with the Trump phenomenon. Over the next four years, as Trump becomes firmly etched in popular culture, Trumpmania will seem like the tip of the iceberg.

In May was  “The Agony of the GOP” The Cow Palace, July 1964, written as Trump had just about sown up the nomination. Then, the Never Trumpers were still searching for a way to prevent Trump’s coronation just as the Establishment had tried and failed at the convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. The essay looked back at 1964 and the last ditch efforts by the Republican establishment to hold back the Goldwater wave, as well as historian Richard Hoftstader’s take on the 1964 election.


from Talker interviewed by Channel 8. Knowledgeable supporters back Cruz’s gold standard

In June’s Trump the fool backs the gold standard, we ridiculed Trump for advocating the return to the gold standard.  Returning to the gold standard was consistently championed by Ted Cruz. The Cruz’ supporters I met at M.C.C. loved the idea. Parroting Cruz to win over his supporters, Trump gave lip service to the gold scheme.

The gold standard never became an issue during the campaign. In retrospect, maybe Hillary should have taken Trump to task for his fool’s gold stance.

 The elimination of sanctuary cities was another proposal that Trump advocated, as had Cruz. As with the gold standard, criticizing sanctuary cities was another bone thrown to Cruz supporters. July’s Trump denounces “sanctuary cities.” Where will that leave Rochester? looks at how in 1986 the city council made Rochester a “city of sanctuary.”

If Trump is serous about eliminating sanctuary cities, the city council 1986 declaration could become a point of opposition. Some who read the article suggest the city council should revisit and reaffirm the 1986 declaration.

On August 23rd, I attended a talk and book signing by Brighton’s Pulitzer prize winning author (and Talker subscriber) David Cay Johnston at the New York State Teachers Union’s office on, yes, Union Street. David discussed his recently released biography, The Making of Donald Trump, a critical account (based on public records) of Trump’s business dealing from the 1980’s onward.

At the talk, not surprising given the audience, I was not able to find a single open Trump supporter. During the talk, David asked us to show The Making to anyone still considering Trump. David said, if you read the book and still vote for Trump, that’s fine. But at least you’ll know exactly what you’re buying. Alas, I am guessing not enough Trump supporters read it.


David Cay Johnston (left) after his 8/23/16 talk at Union Place.

In the October 23rd Rochester 7-Eleven coffee drinkers narrowly favor Clinton 101 – 97; most are independent the close results of my poll, 101 -97 in a blue state, perhaps gave clues to the real outcome. Since 2000, the 7-Eleven coffee poll correctly predicted the popular vote percentages. In 2016, the poll was right again, yielding Clinton 32% against Trump at 30% with 38% non partisan. Clinton actually won 48 – 46%.

For the Election eve’s RIT’s John Roche offers “Orange Golem” and “Trumped.”And the Donald’s parting shots., for $10.99 I bought 7-Eleven’s cheesy Donald Trump Boxing and Talking Pen whose crappy battery already died. I imagined fondly looking at it years from now, like an old Romney/Ryan campaign button pinned to a wall along with a McCain/Palin. Now I think I’ll donate the creepy pen to Trumpmania.

In “The process of [the Electoral College] election affords a moral certainty” The Federalist Papers, Number 68. And a Petition. I signed a petition encouraging the Electoral College electors pledged to Trump to either abstain or vote for Clinton. My claim that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia — the original originalist — would concur with my argument is valid but fruitless.


from “The process of [the Electoral College] election affords a moral certainty” The Federalist Papers, Number 68. And a Petition.

Like so many of the op-eds I read in the New York Times, our pieces more or less assumed Trump would lose.  A few days afterwards, I harbor wishful hopes that Trump might actually rattle some cages that need rattling. Maybe his ego is so huge and his desire to be loved so large that he might actually do something good for the rust belt besides lowering taxes on the super rich. But today Mr. Outsider made RNC Chairman Priebus his Chief of Staff and alt-rightist Bannon his Chief Strategist. It’s going to be a long four years.


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About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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