A country that has been divided for years feels tired. It feels done and in some parts, hopeless. With protests scathing the nation, half of the populous feels a renewed faith in the political system, the other half is left asking, “how did this happen?”
I think there is a litany of reasons why Donald Trump won: the political establishment alienated half of its constituents for decades. The Republican Party brought issues like immigration, trade deficit and the national debt to the forefront of their conversation, but neglected to do anything about it; something their constituents noticed. Meanwhile, Democrats ignored half of the nation with the impression that they didn’t need their vote to win. That the conservative’s line of thinking was out of date, and therefore irrelevant. They didn’t matter anymore.
It all begins there. We look at Donald Trump winning the presidency and say “this cannot be real.” Perhaps it’s not that shocking at all. The name attached to the man surely is, but the ideas he preached for 18 months aligned with the way his voters were taught to view the world.
More specifically, it’s the effect of telling people for years “your country is being taken away from you.” That our country is being stripped away and sold for parts to other countries. Illegal immigrants are bringing drugs and crime, and taking our jobs. The military is being weakened. Countries like China are using the US for their personal slush fund. Crime is rising.
This kind of rhetoric angers and scares people, no matter how untrue. It’s the kind of rhetoric the right side used for years, but never offered solutions. Low and behold, a man offers a wall, saying he’ll kick out the illegal immigrants. He’ll bring crime down. He’ll represent the working class the way the democrats had, but don’t anymore. It’s not that his ideas were good. Rather, his supporters had a laundry list of things they were told time and time again were problems, and he was the only candidate providing ways to fix them, no matter how terrible.
Then there’s the candidate offered on the other side: Hillary Clinton. The candidate during the waning hours of the election night the Young Turks called “the worst politician in our history – at least in our lifetime.” It makes sense. Despite having more support than practically any candidate in history, she still lost. Hollywood, the political establishment, the donors, the campaign (in terms of size), the media, experience, her party in the primaries. Even absolute buffoonery from her opponent, it didn’t matter. She had more in more areas than Trump could have ever asked for. Trump didn’t even have a good portion of his party. She still lost, and to tell you the truth, she lost badly, with all things considered.
Maybe there is some truth in what President Obama said earlier this week. She didn’t work as hard for it. After all, Clinton did not spend near as much time on the campaign trail as Obama (when he was running) or Trump. There were days Trump was hosting multiple rallies, visiting as many as four states a day. Clinton didn’t do that. Clinton for example, didn’t even visit Wisconsin, despite her husband (who was elected to two terms) saying she should. She thought she was going to win it. She didn’t.
After seeing that, it’s quite frustrating to hear Clinton pin a large part of her loss on James Comey. She blamed the letter he sent to Congress 11 days before the election. That did damage, but this election should have never been close. If Clinton had done what she was supposed to, it would have never been an issue. It’s not the voter’s faults they didn’t show up and vote for Clinton “like they were supposed to.” Clinton didn’t offer anything new. She didn’t excite people. And frankly, she didn’t seem like she cared to. The easy argument against that line of thinking is “this isn’t entertainment. This is politics.” I agree. Clinton on paper was much more prepared for this job than Trump. But if Clinton truly was attuned to the political climate and cut out to be a presidential candidate, this shouldn’t have been news to her. She, along with the rest of the world, knew what it took to win an election. She didn’t do it.
Looking at the groups that didn’t vote for Clinton like they were expected to, it’s fair to ask why. Blacks, Hispanics, and women; none of these groups showed up for Clinton the way the polls suggested they would. Perhaps black voters didn’t show because her track record with them has been shaky, to say the least. Perhaps Hispanic voters didn’t turn out because Obama deported over 2.5 million illegal immigrants; more than any president ever. Perhaps some of those voters had family members and friends who were in that 2.5 million. Where Trump struggled with saying vulgar, offensive things, Clinton struggled with having been in the political limelight for 25 years. Voters, namely the ones around during Clinton’s tenure, didn’t like her, or a lot of what she did. And they gawked and booed at the idea that she could be the face of their country.
The great tragedy of this is how broken both major parties have revealed themselves to be. And while the Democrats loss will force them to reflect and change, a winning Republican party is in theory exactly where they need to be, which means change seems unlikely. It’s ironic, considering the system seemed to work in their favor, even though they contributed to this hellhole of a political system just as much as the Democrats. I suppose it’s fair to say this election didn’t create divides, it just revealed them.
The good news is for the next four years we will have the opportunity to criticize this party, and this establishment. We have to be there and challenge them at everything they do. I’ll do that. I hope you will too.
Until then, we need to take a good look at our politics. The Democrats need to assess where they went wrong. They need a new message that is inclusive to everyone; that’s how they can beat the Republicans in the 2018 midterms. We can blame Trump supporters all we want. We can call them misogynistic, racist, bigots, but the loss is on the left. They need to rectify their problems before blaming anyone else.