By Michele McPhee – Boston
She fought the law and the law won.
Stunned Hillary Clinton supporters wept openly as the electoral map shifted in ways no one could predict and collapsed onto each other’s shoulders decrying the so-called uneducated white male vote that catapulted the most unlikely candidate in American history into the White House. But it wasn’t just the hardscrabble deplorable who had a clear message for the Washington establishment – frankly, on both sides of the aisle including the Republican leadership – it was the cops.
The vote that didn’t show up in the polls, the secret groundswell of support that stunned the media establishment and the pundits and those who proudly stood with her, was not about race or gender or ethnicity. It was about blue.
So far in 2016 a staggering 119 police officers have been killed in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. That number includes 54 shot dead, and many of those fatal blasts were delivered by killers who targeted cops based on nothing other than the blue uniforms they were wearing. Five in Dallas, Texas; three in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; two in Des Moines, Iowa.
Right here in Boston it is believed a troubled man lured two of our officers, Richie Cintolo and Matt Morris, to a house in my own neighborhood where they were shot and nearly killed last month.
Donald Trump, love him or hate him, has been unwavering in his support of police officers. He poses for selfies with every single cop assigned to protect him at every single event. He told me on my 1510 WMEX radio show that he supports capital punishment for cop killers, a statement that helped prompt the board of the New England Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association to endorse him early on, one of the first police unions to do it.
Trump then promised Chuck Canterbury, President of the National Fraternal Order of Police, that he would back legislation authored by Republican Congressman Ken Buck of Colorado called the Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016 [https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4760/text] filed in March with little fanfare. In return Canterbury delivered a significant endorsement from the FOP’s 330,000 members, an endorsement that Mitt Romney did not garner in 2012.
Then came the historic endorsement from the National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents border patrol agents, a union whose 18,000 members which form what they call its green line had never endorsed a candidate for President. Shawn Moran, a border patrol agent and spokesman for the NBPC told me that Trump was the only candidate who met with its board, heard its concerns, and “promised to give us the support that has been sorely lacking.” Moran said their support had nothing to do with the wall Trump has boasted about. Their support was rooted in stopping what has been dubbed by agents as “catch and release,” which the NBPC said has become an alarming problem along the southern borders. Agents catch, but cannot hold, immigrants streaming into the country. Many who enter illegally are given the equivalent of a desk appearance ticket, make a pinky-swear promise to show up for a hearing with immigration officials, and are never seen again.
For other cops, the silent majority who have watched Hillary Clinton embrace some members of the Black Lives Matter movement, whose fringe members have burned down entire neighborhoods, law enforcement officers who were horrified when Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez was interrupted with rude shouts during a moment of silence for her fallen brethren at the DNC Convention, Trump’s win was vindication for the tens of thousands of officers who are doing their jobs without engaging in racial profiling or excessive force.
Even firefighters in the International Association of Firefighters did not endorse Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump for that matter. IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger explained the unusual move to his members at the union’s annual conference in August this way, “we have two candidates who seem to have trouble telling the truth. Their rhetoric and rancor is over the top.”
The slight is noteworthy, however, because of the IAFF’s newly elected General Secretary-Treasurer, Boston firefighter and longtime Local 118 President Ed Kelly, prompted Boston firefighters to become among the most vocal supporters to help elect US Senator Elizabeth Warren.
I have long predicted that the true Trump voter is not the angry white guy. It’s the civil servants, many of them combat veterans, who have delivered a message to Washington elites on both sides of the aisle: Donald Trump might be crass, he might even be a bit of an ass, but he’s going to take care of us.
That sentiment was summed up in a mid-morning text I got after Clinton’s call to Trump to concede. It read, “score one for the good guys.”