In today’s episode, we start (*ahem*) peeling back the layers of the 2016 presidential election. (Listen to episode 2.)
This week I talk to Brad Matthews. Brad and I were classmates at Wake Forest. I spent an hour reminiscing with Brad about our tipsy hijinks at frat parties… and trying to navigate issues we’re sharply divided on. Brad shares with us:
- his motivations for voting for Trump (and against Hillary),
- the history that led to these positions,
- and how the negative portrayal of the average Trump supporter led to a populist revolt.
We’ll also explore the shadow side of pure political dialog: the fact that politics is a sport, and policy is about aesthetics.
Brad Matthews is a lawyer in Wilmington, North Carolina. We went to college together at Wake Forest University and he is married to another one of our classmates, Katherine.
Brad and I reconnected after Donald Trump was elected President.
The students attending Wake Forest, like many colleges, are largely left-leaning. Brad is right-leaning, and we discuss how we definitely saw each other through a political lens.
Growing up, Brad was influenced by his father and grandfather.
Brad’s father introduced him to sports – Brad’s grandfather introduced him to politics.
I kind of became a Republican at age seven. For whatever reason, I was into politics at a really young age and kinda knew the issues just because we talked about it with my grandfather.
Brad’s political philosophy was also heavily influenced by two political events:
- The Bill Clinton Trial. Bob Dole was Brad’s favorite Presidential candidate. (In 5th grade, he dressed as Dole for Halloween.) He thought Dole was going to win, and seeing Dole lose to Clinton was frustrating. After the Clinton Trial, Brad felt vindicated, for a little bit, that Clinton was getting in trouble for his misdoings. That started his dislike of the Clintons, and he could never support Hillary after that.
- 9/11. Unsurprisingly, 9/11 was a huge influence. Brad was a sophomore in highschool and he saw the community unite behind a common goal. He could feel the effects of the event throughout the following decade.
What Politics Are About | For Better or for Worse
There’s a lot more to politics than policy. Maybe there shouldn’t be, but unfortunately there is.
In decreasing order of importance, politics is about
Sports and Aesthetics are the cake of politics – policy is just the cherry on top.
Barack Obama’s campaign succeeded because they understood the sport and aesthetics of politics. None of the the 2016 presidential primary candidates from the Democratic party demonstrated this understanding.
Should it be a sport?
It’s hard to say for sure, but the competitive nature of democracy makes sport seem inevitable under this system.
Brad doesn’t blame the nastiness of this election on the competitive nature of politics. He blames the quality of the candidates. There wasn’t overwhelming support for either candidate, so the best strategy for both candidates was to bash the other.
Brad believes that, if you have two good candidates that people like, then you can have good, competitive sport politics.
Brad & The 2016 Election
If Brad ranked the 10 Republican candidates in the Presidential primaries, Cruz was his least favorite and Trump was his second least favorite.
The negativity of the campaign, as a whole, made Brad want to revolt against the system. He got behind the populist revolt – but not the person, his policy or his candidacy.
Brad wrote a Facebook post after Trump won.
America showed some onions
The Democratic party promotes tolerance, but the 2016 presidential election did not clearly demonstrate tolerance.
The narrative of Trump voters as savage, racist bigots frustrated Brad. He made his decision in revolt, not out of support.
You just can’t label half of America, because they didn’t like Hillary Clinton and they liked a more Republican government, as racist and savage … For that ideal to be as widespread as it was amongst the media and mainstream America was not good for democracy.
A good cause
First, I want to plug a charity Brad is involved with: The Boys & Girls Club of America. hearingUS is all about healing, and I want to give our guests an opportunity to promote their causes.
Listen to episode 2
- Boys and Girls Club of America. Donate.
Production & Development for hearingUS by Podcast Masters