I spent just under five hours watching the election results roll in last Tuesday night, Nov. 8, 2016. As the night began, I was under the impression that Hillary Clinton had a secure chance at winning the election.
This was mainly because for the past month, I had been checking The New York Times’ predictions—informed by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website—on the election. For most of October, The New York Times poll held at a strong 88 percent chance of Clinton winning the election. Even two weeks ago with Clinton’s email investigation opening back up, her chances barely faltered.
But as the night continued, it slowly became clear that Donald Trump was likely to become the next president of the United States. I was stunned for about half an hour, but then I realized it had been inevitable.
We deserve this. We deserve to have Donald Trump become our president.
This election is the result of decades of political polarization. The divide between Democrats and Republicans gets larger everyday. The concept of working across the aisle has become more difficult because the size of the aisle has gotten wider.
A Pew Research study in April showed that more than 85 percent of Democrats and Republicans have unfavorable views of their opposing party, and around half of each party said that the other party “made them feel afraid.” These feelings have increased almost 20 percent since the mid-1990s.
This is unacceptable. Democracy cannot function properly if one is unwilling to work with half of the country. I consider myself politically moderate, and I find very few people who share my views.
Complacency also had a major factor in the results of the election. Many liberals got overconfident; they could not fathom the possibility of a Trump presidency. The vast majority of polls strongly projected that Hillary was going to win. Hillary herself even took her foot off the gas by holding less rallies than her opponent, who held eight rallies in less than 48 hours before election day. This was shown when Trump was winning counties and even states that Clinton was projected to win.
Clinton failed to appeal to a population that has been economically struggling for years, and Trump capitalized on it by focusing a sizable portion of his campaign around it. He tapped into rural areas’ residual anger from the Great Recession of 2008.
It makes sense to focus a campaign on certain demographics and areas. However, outright ignoring groups of people is not going to help you win an election.
Clinton’s supporters often argued that not voting for her implied that one was sexist. Clinton herself often tried to leverage her own gender as a positive trait. Whether or not these accusations and claims have basis does not matter. What matters is that, by making these accusations, Clinton alienated large rural blocks of voters—specifically white working-class males —which allowed Trump to easily scoop them up. This attempt by Clinton to play identity politics failed.
Of course, most rural voters vote Republican anyway, but when you have an unorthodox candidate like Trump, Clinton could have adjusted her rhetoric to try and pick up some people left in the middle, meaning that she would take a more moderate stance on many issues such as gun control to try and gain support from left-leaning Republicans.
The effect of Clinton’s alienation of working-class whites and the danger of political polarization was shown through Gary Johnson. Johnson polled more than 2 percent in the three key states of Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan. If Johnson had not run, Hillary would more than likely have won. Many voters did not like either candidate enough to vote for them or had been Bernie supporters in the past. When election day came, they decided to vote for him instead of Clinton.
Now it is time to look ahead at the next four years. I am personally somewhat optimistic. I feel like Trump has a lot more bark than bite. Many worried that the economy would take a large hit because of the uncertainty of a Trump Presidency. The Nikkei—the Japanese stock index—fell over 5 percent Tuesday night and the value of the Mexican Peso plummeted. However, as of noon on Wednesday, Nov. 16, the New York Stock Market have not fallen as far as expected, but that could change at any minute.
One thing that has worried Americans for the past week has been Trump’s cabinet picks. So far Trump has chosen many industry insiders to lead departments. For example, Trump is very likely to nominate Steven Mnuchin, a 17-year employee of Goldman Sachs, to become the Secretary of the Treasury. This is very contrary to Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp” of industry insiders in Washington. Another worrisome pick is Myron Ebell, who is poised to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Ebell is a known climate change denier, and putting him in charge of the EPA could set back the fight on climate change by decades.
On Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 Trump was interviewed on CBS’s 60 Minutes. Trump seemed to backpedal on some of his more controversial stances. For example, Trump said he has no plan to overturn gay marriage, mostly because he has no power to do so. However, he does still plan to replace Obamacare with a different system as smoothly as possible and is trying to back away from the idea of building a wall by suggesting that we build a fence instead.
Whether we like it or not, Donald Trump will be president of the U.S. We must come together as a people and try to help him leave a positive impact on our great nation.