Thoughts on 2016 Presidential Election

I rarely find myself in the position where I feel it necessary to discuss anything other than music on this blog. Honestly, if this election when in the other direction, I definitely would not be writing this. But the truth is here, whether people would like to actually admit it, Donald Trump is going to be the 45th President of the United States. You can tweet #NotMyPresident all you want, but the truth is that the next four years we will be hearing the term “President Trump” on a daily basis. To make things worse for Democrats, they were far from able to take control of the House of Representatives, the GOP currently has a 238-193 majority, and came just short of taking the Senate where the GOP occupies 52 seats. To add to this, unless President Obama is able to work a miracle and get Merrick Garland through, Republicans will get to nominate the next Supreme Court Justice.

But everyone already knows that, I cannot add much to those facts, they speak for themselves. What I can speak on, which has been the big question running through everyone’s mind, is how Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. Before I give my input, I want to throw out that, while I will try to stay away from personal bias for now, I did vote for Hillary Clinton. I was not super thrilled about voting for her, I strongly oppose how hawkish her policies seemed, her ties to Wall Street and big businesses made me uncomfortable and she just generally does not come across as progressive as I would like my President to be. This being said, I see choosing a President as voting for a direction, not a specific car. This means while I liked some of the rhetoric used by candidates like Jill Stein, and might even consider her more in line with my beliefs, I knew I could not vote for a perfect candidate, just vote against the threat that I saw Donald Trump as. I knew Clinton was not exactly what I wanted but I knew she was a hell of a lot closer than Trump.

This brings me to my first reason as to why Clinton lost. She just did not thrill the majority of Americans. According to an ABC/Washington Post poll done a week before Election Day only 43% of Clinton’s supporters said they were “very enthusiastic” about their candidate, as opposed to 53% of Trump supporters who felt “very enthusiastic.” While neither are amazing, the difference is there and it definitely seemed to impact who actually came out to vote.

The reasoning for why people were not enthusiastic about her are clear. You can argue all day about the validity of her various scandals involving the private e-mail server, the leaked speeches from Wikileaks, the DNC putting their thumb on the scale for the primaries, they have all been covered to death. Among all the controversy, there lies on simple truth, all this pissed people off. Sure there was a small percentage of her base that would argue that she was without flaw but most people knew something was off about her. It’s why she consistently polled as being more untrustworthy than Donald Trump. Personally, none of these scandals disqualified her from being President, but clearly I did not make up a strong majority of the voting base.

I am also seeing people direct outrage towards third party candidates like Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. Do I think they hurt the election? Honestly, no. People knew what they were getting into when they voted third party, they clearly did not want to vote for Clinton or Trump, if they did, they would have. Yes, if you took all of Jill Stein’s voters and half of Gary Johnson’s voters and put them towards Clinton, she would have won swing states and the Presidency. But you can play that game all day, reallocating votes where you want, it does not change the fact people did not want to vote for her. This all goes back to enthusiasm. If Donald Trump was so bad, why could Clinton not get enough support around her, as opposed to these relative unknowns? I do believe if all ballots had just been Clinton vs. Trump, the outcome would be the same.

As ignorant as people like to make it seem voters are about policy substance, I do believe it played one of the biggest factors here. One of the most irritating things I think I have been hearing from Trump’s critics is that they are all racists, xenophobes, homophobes, etc. While I would say it is true they voted for a President and Vice President who embody those ideals, many of them did not vote with malicious intent, even though I do want to state there are obviously plenty of his supporters that I would categorize as “deplorable.” The issue that I believe really won Donald Trump this election was trade.

Personally, I do not see Trump as the champion for the working class American. Despite spending his campaign going off against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, NAFTA, etc. his own products are made using foreign labors, his towers are made with Chinese steel, the hypocrisy is evident. Still, Trump would go off against these trade deals, and while Clinton said she is now against TPP, everyone knows it is just window-dressing, considering that she pushed for it over 40 times and picked a Vice President who was also for it, as did Trump. Also, no matter what she could say, her husband will always be known as the guy who signed NAFTA and shipped away all steel and coal jobs that were so crucial for many living in the Rust Belt.

This would explain how Trump was able to flip so many states that have been going blue, in some instances for decades. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, and as of now Michigan were all crushed by NAFTA and they all went to Trump. It is now coming in that among voters who said international trade cost them jobs, 65% of them voted Trump. I could go on all day about if Trump is actually the best choice for these voters but it is clear they felt he was, and Clinton was not able to convince them otherwise.

This also contributes to the faulty polling in a few of these states. Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were all seemingly locks for Clinton according to polling. According to Real Clear Politics Average of polls, she was up 1.9 points in Pennsylvania, 3.4 in Michigan and 6.5 in Wisconsin. How could they be so off? It comes down to the fact these are polls of likely voters, or people who usually vote consistently. When someone like Trump comes out and runs a populist campaign like he did, unlikely voters come out, and they make a difference.

Finally, the last major reason Clinton lost votes, and the one everyone should be most upset about, regardless of party, is voter suppression. For the first time in over 50 years, Americans were not fully protected by the Voting Rights Act that had been neutered back in 2013 by the Supreme Court. This allowed states to reduce to amount of polling locations and cut back on early voting hours. This was most clear in North Carolina where Republicans were thrilled that early voting was in their favor, leading to an eventual Trump victory in the state. What is not thoroughly reported is this was done due to the sharp 8.5% decrease in African-American voters. This is likely thanks to the state cutting Sunday early voting and closing polling sites early in minority areas.

This can also be seen in Wisconsin, where voters were disenfranchised due to new voter ID laws that prevented several registered voters from being able to cast a ballot. While the debunked theory that people without ID will vote as someone else, or several times, exist, it should not be enough to cause thousands of Americans to lose access to their vote. I do take pride in my right to vote, and I believe it is everyone’s right to vote. If I am being honest, this is one area in which my views are a little extreme. I think every American citizen over 18 should be automatically registered to vote and that voting should be a requirement. If you truly believe in the rights that are being protected for us like free speech, religion, etc. you should be out there protesting stuff like this that prevents Americans from having this right.

This is the part of the article where I will admit, I will get bias. I will express my opinion. If you are a supporter of Donald Trump, whether I know you or not, I have no hate in my heart towards you. We disagree on some fundamental things, but I know you vote in your own interest and I would expect Americans to do nothing less. If you do not mind reading what I have to say about our next President, please continue. This is intended to help those who feel hurt by this choice.

I am not going to lie, there is a reason it took me a couple days to get this article out here. It is because I was so sickened by these results that I could not bring myself to the reality of what had happened. I despise so much of what Donald Trump stands for and to see him win like he did, broke my heart. I felt fear for my fellow Americans, but for the first time, I felt ashamed to even be an American.

Even with this shame, I know I will not go anywhere. I will not move to Canada, like many have joked, even if I could, I would stay here. This is my home and I want to make it better and leaving would certainly not do that. I will allow Trump to be my President, because he won and I will hope every day that he succeeds. Not because I like him, I hate him, but his success will mean our success. That is as positive as I can be during these times.

If I am being honest, I do not think President Trump will succeed. At least not in the way I would want him to. I fear that one day I will wake up in a country where health care has been stripped from 20 million people who benefit from Obamacare. I might find myself in a country having to restart a fight for reproduction and marriage rights, look at Mike Pence and tell me that is not a legitimate concern.  Donald Trump has declared a ban on all Muslims from entering the U.S., he has said he wants to deport all undocumented citizens, he has called to take out the innocent family members of terrorists, he said we should torture even if it does not work. I do not care what he has and has not taken back, these are ideas he has thrown out and the idea that he is just saying this stuff scares me. I cannot trust a man like this with the military, the idea terrifies me.

He will do damage, that is what I believe. All the struggling lower-to-middle class workers he attracted will get hurt, his proposed tax cuts on the rich are a disaster, the debt will rise, and regulations will be destroyed. This is a bleak future.

As of now my stomach is still in knots and I am still trying to recover from the shock. I have slept less than 10 hours, in total, since these results and I do not know when the anxiety will fade. The sad part is, I know I am not alone. I am not the one worrying about losing health insurance, I am not the one worrying about being deported, I am not the one worrying about being shipped overseas to commit acts of terror.

There is a light at the end of this dark tunnel that I would like to end this article off with. All the damage can be fixed, if not prevented. They can take away rights if they want, but it is up to us to tell them what will happen if they do. We continue peaceful protests, we continue voting for what we know is right, we continue to love one another and that is how we win. Yes, I am mad that this happened, but never let anger lead to hate and never let fear lead to silence. Be smart, be careful, be kind, let the world know what actually makes America great. These times will not only be remembered by what the leaders did, but by how the people reacted.

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