I remember the precise moment that I realized I regretted voting for Donald Trump.
It was during his 60 Minutes interview after the election. I was, like everyone else, shocked that he had won. It seemed so unlikely based on the polls and the confidence the media had that he would lose. It was a pleasant surprise, and I went to bed on election night thrilled that he would be our president.
But sitting on my couch, sipping coffee as I watched the interview, I saw with my own eyes who Trump really was as a person. He backtracked on one of his signature campaign promises: pursuing an investigation into the Clinton email scandal. It’s not that I want Clinton to be crucified or “locked up” — it’s the nonchalance with which he went back on his word after hammering it repeatedly during the campaign. The ease and quickness with which he reversed his position shook me to my core. I realized in that moment that I had voted for a demagogue. And it was sickening.
I didn’t want to vote for Trump or Clinton — but I had to make a choice
I’m a former law enforcement officer in my 50s, originally from Texas but currently living in a small Midwestern town. I’m a real political junkie, spending much of my day reading news and watching C-SPAN, and issues like immigration enforcement, pro-life laws, and health care are important to me. Though I tend to fall on the conservative end of the political spectrum, it’s important to me to remain open-minded, and I’ve cast my vote for Democratic candidates like Al Gore in the past.
Last year was a particularly tough choice. I hated both candidates, wishing every day that Washington had offered up different options. I would have voted for Marco Rubio or Bernie Sanders any day over those two. I swore I would sit out on this election, unable to vote for either Trump or Clinton in good conscience.
Most of my decision came down to my poor experience with Obamacare. In the ’90s, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic illness that causes fatigue, memory loss, physical aches, and soreness. I found myself increasingly unable to perform my duties in law enforcement due to these symptoms, and eventually had to leave the job completely. After a stint working part-time for the government, helping to distribute food stamps and other services, I eventually was unable to work at all. I lost employer-based health insurance when I left the workforce and had to pay my health care costs out of pocket.
When Obamacare first came into effect, I was excited to get what I thought would be financial help with my costly medicine and treatments. But when I signed up, my premium came back at an astronomical price, more than my monthly mortgage payment. This happened because I had to declare my husband’s salary as part of our household income, which put me in an earning bracket too high to qualify for any financial assistance. My husband works for a small business, and while he gets paid fairly, his company does not offer spousal insurance. I’m left with a premium of $893, an extremely high cost, due to a combination of my husband's salary, my age, and my health conditions. I searched for a better option for a long time, but this was the best option I could find. The cost is so high that I can no longer afford the cost of my medicines and treatments on top of the monthly premiums. I wish I could opt out completely, but the penalty for not signing up is much too great.
In the end, I voted for Trump because he promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, and that was the most important issue to my own life. Looking back, I realize what a mistake it was. I ignored the pundits who repeated over and over again that he would not follow through on his promises, thinking they were spewing hysterics for better ratings. Sitting on my couch, my mouth agape at the words coming out his mouth on the TV before me, I realized just how wrong I was.
Trump isn’t even president yet, and already he’s not keeping his promises
Since that 60 Minutes interview when Trump went back on his promise to investigate Clinton, I haven’t been able to look at him the same way. Witnessing his open admittance that he made promises simply because they “played well” during the campaign was disturbing. He has shown himself to be guilty of all of the same things he accused Hillary of — lying to the public, refusing to do press conferences, putting himself and his business interests above the American people.
Since the election, Trump has repeatedly spat in the faces of those that cast their ballots for him. I did not cast my vote for his Cabinet members, many of them rich millionaires and billionaires, despite Trump’s lambasting of Hillary Clinton on her association with Wall Street. I did not cast my vote for his sons who sat next to him during his meeting with tech titans, potentially representing the vast business interests of the Trump company that they now run. I did not cast my vote for Ivanka, whose clothing brand was working out an ongoing deal with a Japanese clothing company when she sat in on a meeting with her father and the Japanese prime minister. I did not cast my vote to enrich the very swamp that Trump promised he would drain.
News that the Republicans in Congress are prioritizing the repeal of Obamacare is a step in the right direction. But Trump’s lack of clear plan to replace the system is troubling. He doesn’t seem to be showing any interest in the mechanics of a new policy — he’s just out there making promises to the public with nothing to back it up. It doesn’t do much to offer me faith that he really wants to fix the problem.
Trump’s retaliatory and impulsive behavior, which I think I assumed was a campaign tactic, have carried over into his actions as president-elect. He now has the power to reward companies or countries that flatter him and destroy those that don’t with a simple tweet — just look at how he praises L.L. Bean and criticizes Boeing, causing their stock values to swing like yo-yos. His tweets about foreign powers lack restraint, and his treatment of the press whenever they say something he doesn’t like shows his vengefulness. He promised that he would be a president to all Americans, but all he has done is divide us.
As I witnessed the first rally of the post-election Thank You Tour, watching him soak up the praise and applause from the live feed on my computer, I felt my heart fall into my stomach. These supporters, many of whom populate my small town and my Facebook feed, have invested so much hope in him. They believe he has their back and will put them first. But all he cares about is himself. And he will betray them, as he has already done.
I know I’ll be ridiculed for voicing my regret
It’s not easy for me to come forward and say all of this. I feel humiliated already, and I know that going public with my story will open me to ridicule. But I don’t know what else to do to try to oppose him and his actions. I’m too sick to participate in peaceful protest. All I can do is try to spread the word, publishing editorials, signing petitions, and posting on Facebook, trying to do what I can to change the minds of my friends and families who continue to support him.
I hope that by coming forward, I can encourage other Trump voters who feel the same regret to speak out as well. Together we can send a message to Washington: All of you Republicans in Congress, I know that you are excited to pass your legislation, but you need to rein in this dangerous cult of personality or I will begin advocating against your party. I’m ready to switch sides to stop him.
My peers who voted for Trump still don’t get it. They tell me to give the man a chance, that it’s still too early to tell and that I shouldn’t listen to the media. They aren’t willing to let go the hope they have that he will keep their best interest in mind. They tell me, what were they going to do, vote for Hillary, of all people?
I wish I had. I wish I had done anything else but vote for him. I know my one small vote doesn’t make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, but this one feels so personal. The decision haunts me every day. And I’ll do whatever I can to help reverse it.
—as told to Karen Turner
Sherri Underwood lives in the Midwest with her husband, three cats, and one dog. She began her career in law enforcement shortly after high school, working her up from a dispatcher to county jailer and then peace officer before changing her career to social services as a disabled adult jobs counselor, state JOBS program case worker, and eligibility specialist, assisting clients in applying for public assistance programs. Sherri is a self-described “news junkie” and an avid reader. When her illness allows, she pursues her hobbies of painting, writing poetry, and crocheting and treasures time with family. She first shared her story in the the Facebook group I Regret Voting For Trump in 2016 and encourages other regretful Trump voters to do the same.