A year ago I thought this whole Trump thing was mostly a joke. I bought in to the whole “every time a Republican drops out, those votes will be divvied up among the other non-Trump GOP contenders” narrative. It wasn’t until Marco Rubio called it quits and Ted Cruz remained far behind the eventual nominee that I could see what was happening. Only then did a sobering realization of my ignorance slap me in the face: I don’t know a damn thing about so many of my compatriots.
While it will be toughest to chew on for those most upset by Trump’s win, here is what we can all learn from his once implausible victory.
- Obama has failed
Hope and change was the goal. Division, anger, and fear was the result. Obama had eight years to show some humility to the half of the country that hated him. He had eight years to seek out common ground. He had eight years to connect with them on a human level. And eight years later, they have chosen his antithesis to take his place.
With a Republican Congress, Supreme Court, President, and thirty-three of fifty governorships, Obama’s legacy will be erased in a fraction of the time it took to create.
- The media cannot be trusted
How about those polls, huh?
And, sadly, I don’t just mean the Brexit-like difference between the predictions and the results in the presidential race. The man who got my vote, Libertarian Gary Johnson, wound up with only 3-4% of the popular vote despite polling higher than that since becoming a (somewhat) household name. Johnson received about 3 million more votes than he did after running in 2012, which is a modest but welcome improvement.
Jill Stein of the Green Party only collected around 1% of the vote, which is also lower than the polls had suggested.
- Americans have had it with policing the world
Of the four parties that received over a million votes (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, and Green), only one nominated a candidate who is comfortable with our current involvement in nations abroad. Trump, Stein, and Johnson all made it clear that they supported normalizing relations with Russia and ending our interventionist policy, particularly in the Middle East. Clinton is the only one of the four to support overthrowing Assad and declaring a no-fly zone over Syria. Even Clinton’s surprisingly successful rival in the primaries, Bernie Sanders, stood in strong contrast to her hawkishness. With no neo-con Republican coming close to Trump in the GOP primaries, it is abundantly clear that the vast majority of the country wants our government to focus on rebuilding our nation instead of paying to imperialize our neighbors.
For a crude but somewhat empirical perspective on this, note that Sanders received 13 million primary votes, and Trump received 60 million votes in the general election along with another 4 million combined from Johnson and Stein. That’s 77 million votes altogether. Clinton received 60 million in the general election. If you assume that every Bernie supporter wound up voting for Clinton (and I imagine that that is something more than a stretch), anti-intervention beat world policing 77 million to 47 million. That’s no small margin. We’re ready for a change.
- Obamacare is unpopular
Obviously, massive gains for Republicans in the executive and legislative branches (which means the judicial branch soon too) as well as governorships across the country shows how displeased half the country is with the Affordable Care Act. What’s even more telling is how few Democrats came out to defend Obama’s signature legislation. Compared to his reelection in 2012, which may as well have been a pro-Obamacare referendum, Clinton lost about 6 million votes for the Democratic Party (Trump lost less than two million on the Republican side). Had the left had much desire to keep Obamacare in place, they surely would have come out in droves to vote to protect it.
- Illegal immigration and the threat of terrorism worry Americans
Personally, I don’t care about illegal immigration, and I do not see terrorism as a real concern in America. Sure, there have been terrorist attacks from Radical Islamists, and there will be more. But there are also lightning strikes and shark attacks, and I’m still happy to frolic in the rain and swim in the sea. As far as illegal immigration goes, the real problem is our gigantic welfare state, not people crossing an imaginary line in search of a place to build a better life for themselves.
Many Americans feel differently. Trump discussed a wide variety of issues in detail, but no issue distinguished Trump from the bunch like cracking down on illegal immigration and closing the door to potential terrorists seeking entry to American soil.
As I wrote about several months ago, a more sophisticated concern with a lax immigration policy is the effect a changing demographic would likely have on our Democratic process and electoral results.
Trump’s victory shows how seriously much of the country takes these issues, justifiably or not.
- There is no public consensus on Global Warming
97% of climate scientists, blah, blah, blah. Yes, Climate Change is real, and all mainstream scientists say so. But America is not a Scienctocracy. This country was founded for We the People. And We the People decide whether or not we’re so scared of future weather forecasts that we’ll give up our freedoms and risk our quality of life to allow the governments of the world to try and change the climate for us. Evidently, not enough are buying into the fear of the apocalypse to vote against a man who has said Climate Change is a hoax.
- It is possible for a voting majority to overcome the wishes, pleas, threats, and shame-tactics of the political elites, media elites, academic elites, Hollywood elites, and international corporate elites combined
Essentially all of the most wealthy, famous, and powerful people on planet Earth united against Donald Trump. They assumed that their place atop the ivory towers entitled them to supreme influence in political matters. And they were sorely mistaken. Some of the rich and powerful who didn’t get their way are:
- 6 presidents and vice presidents (Obama, Clinton, Carter, Biden, Gore Mondale)
- 5 current cabinet officials (Julian Castro, John Kerry, etc.)
- Over 40 former cabinet officials (Eric Holder, Robert Reich, Colin Powell, etc.)
- Nearly 70 governors and former governors (Andrew Cuomo, Howard Dean, etc.)
- Nearly 100 current and former Senators (Warren, Sanders, Reid, Feinstein, etc.)
- Nearly 500 current and former U.S. Representatives (Cummings, Gutierrez, Waters, etc.)
- Tens of thousands of executive officials, state legislators, municipal officials, legislators, ambassadors, bureaucrats, and other government workers
- Heads of state from seven foreign nations (France, Italy, Sweden, etc.)
- Seven former heads of state (France, UK, Australia, etc.)
- Parliament members and lawmakers from dozens of foreign nations
- Hundreds of members of the largest media networks
- Hundreds of business leaders
- Hundreds of scholars
- Hundreds of academics
- Hundreds of artists, writers, film producers
- A seemingly endless list of actors, actresses, musicians, comedians, professional athletes, and media personalities
- Dozens of organizations, business groups, and labor unions
- 234 daily newspapers (New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, etc.)
- 148 weekly newspapers (Queens Chronicle, La Raza, Capital Times, etc.)
- 15 magazines (The Atlantic, New Yorker, Vogue, etc.)
- 77 college newspapers (Florida, Yale, UNC, etc.)
- 17 international newspapers (Economist, Daily Mirror, Toronto Star, etc.)
If you’re happy about the election results, good for you. If you’re not, I hope things get better soon. If you haven’t taken a moment to reflect on your worldview and your perception of the values and wishes of the people around you, I don’t know what to tell you. The 2016 election has been the most educational experience anyone could ever ask for. I hope no one has chosen to waste it.