Turns out Lindsey Graham was wrong, in 2016 America thinks Crazy trumps Dishonesty (forgive the pun). Turns out the GOP is at war with itself but it does not matter. Turns out almost all the polls were wrong. Turns out Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin were the wild cards to Donald Trump's election. Trump conquered the Electoral Map in grand style, thanks largely to angry voters. But, more significantly, Trump won with fewer voters showing up in major cities like Milwaukee, Detroit, and Philadelphia. Had the turnout been higher in these three cities it is very possible that Clinton (who benefited from higher urban voter participation) would have carried these three respective states that she lost to Trump. That was the election in a nutshell.
Hillary may have won the debates, she may have been more favorably perceived by the news media, but in 2016 the voters were anti-establishment, anti-media, and anti-logic - a perfect storm for a candidate like Trump.
This absurd election gave us the most absurd president in American history and it gave the Republican Party complete control across the board. This will impact the Supreme Court, the environment, privacy rights, foreign policy, healthcare - it affects everything.
Hillary's characterization of Trump's supporters as "deplorables" was an enormous misstep on her part. Since that comment was made Trump only gained among blue collar workers and others who are resentful of the Washington elite. Clinton may have helped galvanize Trump supporters by being so critical of them. As was revealed in my review of Hunter Thompson's book on the 1972 election (see mention of Ed Muskie in Florida), you should never, never, never criticize the electorate. That just pisses people off and makes them more likely to gravitate against you.
Kellyanne Conway, the person most responsible for this stunning victory, says Trump "has been given a mandate." Maybe so, but how does she explain the fact Hillary won more votes than Trump? Even more importantly, fewer Americans voted in 2016 than in 2012. Trump won the presidency with fewer votes than Mitt Romney received four years ago. My guess is because our two-party political fetish in this country gave us two very unpopular candidates. None of that sounds like a "mandate" to me (except for maybe a mandate to give us someone decent to vote for next time).
If such a mandate does, in fact, exist then it is a reflection of the "real" America. 2016 proves we are far from being a progressive nation. I suspect the next four years will mostly be about disassembling the last eight.
Our future course as a nation is uncertain. One thing is for sure...the voters will get the kind of government they deserve. Trump has revealed many qualities of the America that voted him in - the danger of a democracy is acute mediocrity. With each election cycle our elected officials become more inept. If that happens long enough in a democracy you get the absurd - in this case, the absurd is now the leader of the free world. Mission accomplished America.
In a sense, this election was not about Donald Trump at all. It was about who we are as a democratic nation. The message is clear. Most American voters are fed up with business as usual in Washington. Most are not happy with the direction the country is going in. Most don't care if you are racist or sexist or neurotic as long as you promise to keep us "safe" and tell us we are "great." We are a terrified people, without defined principles. We prefer our facts to be shallow and simple. If the situation is complex it is best to avoid it entirely. We will let the world fester into a climate chocked, crony capitalistic, well-spring of narcissism and greed as long as you leave us and our television programming alone. This is who we are. This is the lesson of the 2016 election.
May you live in interesting times, is the old saying. And so it is.
The Tightrope Walker Falls: 1889 – 1900
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