I have honestly been unsure whether to write a reaction to the election of Donald Trump to the office of the President of the United States, as I did not really have any intention of doing so, either way the election went, as I really have more fun with predictions and talking about things before they happen...
However, then I was reminded that I had essentially said a year ago that Trump was not going to win the election (on the PODCAST, right around the time that he declared his entry into the race, when he seemed like a 2012 style publicity stunt again), and that, coupled with my prediction of Hillary Clinton winning before election night...I could maybe address where I (like seemingly everyone else who didn't work for the Trump campaign) went wrong.
To start with, I would like to point out that in my predictions, I did give Trump a 1/3 chance of winning the Presidency, which was a lot higher than a lot of other places I was seeing (although I'm going to address some of that media bias in a bit), but in the end, I was just as wrong as everybody else....
Why were you wrong?
As I am Canadian, a lot of where my predictions came from was a combination of looking at/reading the polls, and trying to get an overall sense of what was going on in the country...it seemed that the Clinton campaign was feeling rather confident, as were the stock markets, which is usually a good sign of the way things are shaping up...however, as it was with Brexit, it appears that polling is not what it once was--the sheer fact of the matter is, the predominant demographic (rural white voters) turned up in very, very large numbers, and Clinton's turnout was low (particularly when compared to Obama) where she needed it to offset the conservative swing.
I think part of this has to do with the fact that, at the end of the day, Clinton was an incredibly flawed candidate, but nowhere near as flawed as Trump, and I felt/thought that enough of the American people would see that, see the many problems, and vote accordingly, then pushing to create change in 2018 and 2020.
I was wrong on that.
**yes, I do acknowledge the fact that Clinton won the Popular Vote by over 1 million votes, but at the end of the day, we always have to remember that despite what they always say, the United States is not a true democracy: they are a Republic.
And no, I do not think that getting rid of the Electoral College is the answer as some liberal Americans have been suggesting (yes, it is old, but that does not make it outdated, or archaic)--the reason for the Electoral College's existence, the prevention of cities dominating every election thanks to the higher conglomeration of people, still matters. 100% matters. I don't care what angry Californians (to pick a random example from this election) think--the issues that face cities are not even close to similar to those issues faced by rural, small town, or even small city voters, so this balance, while not perfect, should mean that candidates attempt to appeal to both.
And I will address more on that in a minute.
Why do you think Trump won?
The thing is, I did not think that this was a completely crazy outcome....so I can actually answer why I think this happened:
- Again, Clinton was not a "shining city on a hill" candidate: she has a lot of problems, most of which stemming from the fact that she is probably the most "establishment" candidate the Democrats could have found, who has deep connections to corporate interests, Washington elites, and big money people. This means, in an election where a large portion of the electorate is feeling angry at the government for being ineffective at helping them (thanks in large part to a Republican led, do-nothing Congress, on top of globalization, healthcare costs, job loss, etc), having someone who is completely part of the establishment is a problem. Add her scandals, her (at-best) centrist positions, long voting history (which can easily be twisted)....
- In some cases, I am sure misogyny played a factor.
- Trump appealed to people who had lost their jobs (isolationism, changing trade to bring jobs back, especially in the rust belt--a notoriously Democratic area that Clinton practically ignored), were angry at "losing" their chance at the American Dream, and those people who were tired of being talked down to, told what to think, and taken advantage of; he tapped into a lot of bubbling under the surface anger (unfortunately, that also means he tapped into (and fanned the flames of) a lot of racist, bigoted, sexist, anti-LGBT, and anti-Islamic energy as well...and those folks also showed up and voted)
- A grinding, and I would say poor campaign by Clinton...I know I said Trump's campaign wasn't good either, and I stand by the fact that it was not a good campaign..but Hillary Clinton is no JFK, no Obama; it felt like a slog at times, and looking back, it's easy to see how her campaign would not mobilize the independents she needed to win...she reminds me of an actor who doesn't audition well--they would do a good job, but convincing you of that fact is hard for them...and at the end of the day, they often don't.
- The 2-party system (don't kid yourself Gary), coupled with the largest population of single-issue voters means that both parties always have a strong, large base of voters to appeal to. This ties into the "you've enabled a bigot and a racist" talk...which is true (based on the wave of hate-crimes that have been reported since the election), but what if your main issue, like taxes, jobs (wanting your job back), or being Pro-Life is only being presented to you by one party? Seems to me like a lot of them bit the bullet and voted Trump, and a whole pile of them didn't vote at all (because how do you betray everything you think/believe in? Better to do nothing at all...)
- "Drain the Swamp" is appealing--Washington, regardless of who is in charge, is broken as fuck, so why not elect someone who isn't a politician? The Democrats didn't give you the option, so if you want change, change was the Trump ticket.
- Echo-chambers and the media. The massive amount of free air-time Trump got as a candidate (because he was good for ratings, you know, being a reality TV star) was obscene, and really demonstrated an erosion of responsibility on the part of the press in holding a candidate accountable for the many lies, and just outrageous, illegal things Trump said on the campaign trail...however, thanks to social media, and the sheer failures of major press outlets, has pushed a lot of people to partisan, and often poorly constructed, never fact-checked "news" blogs (on BOTH sides) for news...so in the end...facts did not matter, because you can make your own
What happened to the Democratic Party?
After last week, The Democrats are weaker than they have been at any time (in all levels of government) since Reconstruction...which means that this election was not just a "drain the swamp" as many incumbents returned to Washington as well.
- They conspired to work against a very popular (particularly with a younger generation of voters) candidate in the primaries in order to get Hillary Clinton in office (whoops), thus alienating a segment of the liberal base of the party, and essentially anyone who considers themselves progressive (again, Clinton is a centrist at-best, considering if you actually look at her policies, and Theresa May (the Conservative Prime Minister of the UK) looks further left than she does. I'd have trouble voting for her if I was American (I'm a Progressive Canadian, which means I have a few choices).
- They fell into the old trap that liberals of all sorts do (which has been especially prevalent in the week since the election): they talk down to people, and attempt to tell them what the best way to think is. Liberals often do not see this, because they are in their own echo-chambers, but it's pretty much a guarantee that no one likes to be told what to think...case in point: "we need to fix the education system so something like this cannot happen again" reads as: "you're stupid for not agreeing with me". Awesome job guys, I know I like being talked down to so much that it makes me change my mind all the time...
- Who were they appealing to? Minorities (barely, relying on not being Trump to win the day there)...and...progressives (by cheating to make sure the progressive candidate didn't win, because you know "progressives will vote democrat regardless"...and...uh...
It really started to feel like the biggest appeal that the Democrats had this year was "Experience" (not good in a rejecting establishment election), "First Woman" (would be awesome, but not really enough), and "Not Trump" (which means what to people who lost their jobs?)
- I heard more and more about the Clinton campaign on election night, and in the days after, and...I'm trying to fathom how a Candidate for President wasted so much campaign time on celebrity endorsements, speeches about staying the course, and not bothering to go to states that seemed safe. Like a chunk of the usually Democratic states that she lost (I didn't know she never campaigned in Wisconsin...how do you not go to talk to people you want voting for you? What is this, the Alberta PCs?)...but hey, I bet that trip to Arizona in the last week of the campaign really paid off while Trump was in Michigan.
- Exuding that much confidence in winning probably didn't help...and I don't mean because it came off as smug, I mean because if you think your candidate is going to win easy, and it would be a pain to go out to vote...why bother? Well....
- I honestly think that Clinton pulled down-ticket Democrats down with her, with the lowered turnout...which led to the Republican Senate--I never really thought the Democrats would take the House back...but they could've made a dent...
Since the election?
First things first: Hillary Clinton fucked up with her concession. Having some random guy come out at your rally to say "nothing is happening tonight", and then we find out you conceded to President-Elect Trump like a half an hour later over the phone? That's awful. That's weak...and that's a terrible look. I don't care how upset she was (you lost the Presidential election, we expect you to be upset), nothing about that was OK.
Thankfully, she made up for it with a tremendous concession speech the next morning, which really demonstrated a great deal of tact, and leadership (again, I think she would've made a fine President), but for me, the damage was already done.
The rise in hate crimes? The swasitkas? The harassment?
I think it's both a good and bad thing.
Obviously bad, because people are getting hurt for no other reason than being who they are, and that's just the realm of people being terrible (because they are empowered to feel like they can act on their awful nature by some terrible things being said at the top).
The good? There's only one reason I think it's the least bit good:
The United States has been deeply fractured for a long time, and these terrible, racist, bigoted, hate-filled people were there the whole time, but they were in the dark.
Now they are not.
Now, hopefully, people on BOTH sides who find this deplorable (I'm using that intentionally) must stop them. I know P-E Trump came out and called for it to stop, but this is going to have to happen on the ground level. This can only be solved by honest to goodness people on the ground--ordinary folks have to take stands, and have to make this reprehensible. And that must happen for the United States to survive, because it won't if they cannot find a way to fix this, and return to being able to discuss things.
And that's not going to happen in government.
The safety pin thing? Great. It's a start, as it shows those people who are being harassed that you are someone they can go to...but it's just a start. ONLY a start--if you care passionately about things, you are going to have to fight for them...not just wear a thing on your coat. That means engagement, that means donating time and money, and that means PAYING ATTENTION.
The protests? Do it. You feel you need to, you're part of the over half of the people who voted who didn't vote for Trump, and you're mad that this man won? Protest, make your voice heard, and stand by it, peacefully. You have every right to...and anyone who talks about "paid protesters" awesome, if you know someone who can hook me up so I can go for walks with a sign and hundreds of other people, let me know...because that's ridiculous.
You're out there to riot? GFY: you're not proving anything other than you're not ready to adult yet.
How will Trump do as President?
I'm not sure.
First, I don't think, based on the early talk of positions for Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and Reince Priebus (who has already been named chief of staff), and the number of Lobbyists on the Transition team, the "drain the swamp" idea is... going to happen...hard to get more establishment than naming the head of the Republican Party your chief of staff...
Honestly, I think a lot of what Trump talked about is not going to come to fruition...there's already talk that "The Wall", a cornerstone of the campaign as far as anyone who listened to him can tell, is at best going to be an improved fence with more border agents. He has said in interviews that he is going to be keeping parts of Obamacare, and that Gay Marriage is Federal Law...but at the end of the day, he has seemingly changed his mind so many times, I have no idea what he is going to do.
Based on how scared he looked in every White House visit photo, I can't say he's relishing the position:
I also think it's going to be very hard for him to govern, because half the people did not vote for him..and are in the streets making that very clear. He has the mandate with Congress and the Senate, but even there, there are moderate Republicans who may block some of his extreme promises, and half the (voting) public raging against "the establishment"...which is now him.
I think he's going to struggle internationally, and I've seen nothing to make me believe otherwise yet. The Environment is also going to take a beating if people who care about science don't get organized and supported by regular people, and fast.
Like Homer Simpson winning Sanitation Commissioner, putting everything you've said you're going to do into practice may be impossible...and that means compromise...and bureaucracy...and letting a lot of things go that GOT Trump elected, which means he may even lose the basis of his own support...especially when it comes to returning manufacturing jobs to the Rust Belt (I hope people there get work, I really, really do...but...)
I think the next 4 years are going to be hard for a lot of people in the United States, especially in minority and LGBT communities, especially a the top...but I hope it isn't at the ground level; I hope that people remain vigilant, and engaged in politics beyond the election and fight for their beliefs, and protect their neighbours from harm, maybe starting out by talking with them.
I really do.
I hope the DNC pulls their head out of their asses, swings younger and back into the left, and before Trump is sworn in, gets united and ready to fight, and become relevant again in 2018, because a 2-party system sucks if there's only 1-party at the dance.
I hope Rep. Ellison is the new DNC chair, and that the party finds a direction; there are few "stars" left in the party, but there are a few, and it's time for them to rise up.
I hope that the office calms Trump down and makes him a realist when it comes to governing, and that my suspicion that he only really wanted to do the campaigning side of politics isn't true.
I hope that everyone who says "you need to give Trump a chance" remembers the way Obama was treated for 8 years.
I hope that everyone who is calling Trump the "Worst President Ever" picks up a history book (there's been some out-and-out awful men in that office), or at least goes quiet until he's actually President.
I hope that Trump's Fraud trial is solved before Inauguration Day...as that would be awkward.
I hope that Steve Bannon is removed from all offices. Like today.
And at the end of the day, I hope that actual American citizens find it within themselves to be good to each other again, reaching across the aisles, and talking to each other about things that matter so that compromise, and calm can be in that country again. We in the rest of the world always smirk inwardly when we hear an American say they're "The Greatest Country in the World", because we're well aware that you're not (as there isn't one; it's a silly thing to say, and every explanation I have ever heard to "why" is...well...silly), but it would be really, really nice if You The People could start taking steps to make the rest of us believe that you could be.