But the truth is this: These white working-class voters have never been forgotten, while those who truly are forgotten still don’t have a voice.
If Trump really wants to speak for forgotten Americans, he would travel to the Mississippi Delta and the rural Black Belt of the American South, where conditions are so wretched and dire that even a struggling Rust Belt factory town might seem like a bountiful paradise of opportunity and wealth.
There are many in this country who are shell-shocked, angry, aghast, and, yes, afraid of what the future holds in this moment. This nation stands on the precipice of great, unknown challenges, and the specter of the impending Trump presidency looms over all of us.
But as I watch in disappointment and pain and anger as a man I find to be impossibly unqualified for president sweeps the electoral map, I have steeled myself to this commitment:
I shall not be afraid of this man. I shall endure.
No wonder Trump is preemptively depicting himself not as a loser, but as the victim of a rigged election. You know he won’t go away quietly. Nor will his base, whose fire he has recklessly stoked. I can’t believe he’d give a gracious concession speech, a call to come together and support the one president our nation has. He’s more likely to summon a retributive movement – a fifth column of Trumpistas.
Now Hillary Clinton is a public figure, and in an era of wall-to-wall PR it’s hard to argue that she’s not playing the game. But perhaps she simply backed into it. Perhaps she’s that Sixties activist at heart who preferred behind-the-scenes advocacy and the humility of action — but got drawn into politics as a result of her husband’s career. Perhaps she is a reluctant politician, not a Machiavellian schemer.
What First Lady Michelle Obama gave us was a gift, a way to imagine America differently, a reaffirmation of the American Dream drawn from the experience of those who should have every right to be bitter about it. And she transformed politics from a blood sport about our wants and needs and anger today into a sacred promise we hold with our children to shape their lives and their futures.