In a passionate piece published on November 13, in the opinion section of Ireland’s Sunday Independent newspaper, Bridget McIntyre discussed a 40 year journey that saw her travel over 5,000 miles from her home in Ardfinnan, Co. Tipperary to cast a ballot for Donald Trump in Florida. The election result, which saw Trump winning by a wide electoral college margin over Hillary Clinton, was a shock to many, but to people like McIntyre this result was seen as the culmination of years of being forgotten and unheard by those in power.
McIntyre, who spent 40 years working in a Florida hospital, mostly as a trauma nurse, outlined her view of why Trump was the only candidate who she believes showed compassion to the working class and never lost touch with the people.
“The journey to that vote was not all about the miles. It took 40 years of living and working, mostly as a trauma nurse, in America. I worked beside whites, blacks and Latinos, as friends and colleagues, witnessing the decline of America for the ordinary working man and woman. Indeed, I witnessed that decline at the bedsides of my patients.
"Back in the 1970s, most of them could sustain a family of five or six with their salary. But in the 2000s they were working two or three low-paid jobs and were still unable to afford their mortgage payments. Furthermore, I was seeing more sick, young people in the hospitals due to stress, burnout and the resulting family breakdown.”
McIntyre believes that these views are the reason why historically Democratic stronghold states like Pennsylvania and Ohio voted Republican. These and other states in that region of America known as the Rust Belt, was once home to many major industrial manufacturers and is home to millions of the blue collar working-class who think their government has lost touch with the people.
“It all began in the 1980s under massive deregulation and corporate greed. I will add to that the deregulation and disrespect for the traditional family and the rise of neo-liberalism. It was a perfect storm. It was lazy politics practiced by lazy politicians pandering to special interests at the expense of people who contribute enormously to society. It facilitated this awful divide in America today.”
Speaking on Irish radio station Newstalk, McIntyre spoke of the divide between the “liberal elites” she believes run the country and the people. “I would say that the Democratic Party did lose touch with them. Donald Trump employs tens of thousands of people and I would say by my observations that most of them are minorities. The Democratic Party now really represents the East coast and West coast; it has lost touch with the center. I suppose it felt it suited it to move forward and they took these people for granted.”
In the highly contested state of Florida, where McIntyre cast her vote, Trump eked out a razor thin victory, gaining the votes of 49.1% of the electorate compared to Clinton’s 47.8%. This ensured 29 electoral votes that Trump needed and played a key role in his becoming the President-elect. Florida is a major swing state and has played a key role in past presidential elections as it consistently provides close contests. Florida voted for the Democratic Party the previous two elections in similarly close contests.