As the shock of the 2016 U.S. presidential election results is morphing into acceptance, discussions continue regarding the reasons for the surprise outcome. Reflecting on my grandparents motives to relocate to the Soviet Union during the Great Depression, I see similarities between their actions and the election of Trump.
“Desperate men do desperate things.”
The road to immigrating to America in 1913 was no easy task for my Russian grandparents, and for years, it was clearly the correct decision. They had purchased a lovely three-bedroom home, were the proud parents of six children, had a growing circle of friends, and my grandfather was gainfully employed as a laborer at an iron factory.
After the stock market crash, my grandfather lost his job but did what he could to keep food on the table, even sending several of his children to work to supplement the family income. In the end, he was lured away by the words of a man promising jobs along with free education and health care.
What my grandparents learned after arriving in Leningrad was that housing was tight and the lines to buy food long. Within a few short years, it was evident that the move was a huge mistake. Their freedom was restricted, books and the media were censored, and the man who enticed them to move—Joseph Stalin—was soon revealed to be a paranoid ruthless dictator.
My grandfather was like the unemployed in the United States, such as the coal miners in West Virginia and the jobless factory workers in Middle America. When you have no money to put food on the table for your family, you look to the person who promises to dig you out of your hole of despair.
I believe that for many Americans who elected Donald Trump as the next President of the United States, his conflict of interests are meaningless as are the racist words or the details of how the Mexican wall will be built. Like my grandfather who followed the man who promised him a job when no one else would, many of the Trump voters followed the man who they saw as being a job creator. I hope he can deliver.
I will be watching very closely.