Thoughts on the The 45th US Presidential Election
Most Canadians were sitting at home November 8th 2016 wondering how such a disgraceful man could ever become the president elect. CNN anchor Jack Tapper captured the despair when he uttered the horrifying words “It was Donald Trump against all the experts and right now it looks like Donald Trump was right.” Trump’s former campaign manger, Corey Lewandowski, himself even seemed taken aback by the success of Trump. Some polls even had Clinton’s chance to win as high as 92%. This election was certainly unpredictable however it wasn’t a stroke of luck.
From a more literal standpoint Donald Trump won the election by winning the swing states. In fact, he did more than win the swing states, he won blue (Democratic) states. The night was expected to be a short one, some had called the election to be practically over by 7:15pm. For the first hours this appeared to be accurate. The crucial state, Florida, was polling in Clintons favour. Within two hours the status quo was broken as Trump had flipped Florida, was winning in Virginia (a blue state) and early polls out of Ohio had Trump winning. There were no alarm bells yet. Florida had to be a Trump state to even give him a chance of winning, the rhetoric went. Virginia always swung blue late, the experts said. No republican has ever one without Ohio, the statistics demanded. Already the analysts had started to shift their thinking, North Carolina came out republican as well but Virginia started to swing back to blue. Out of the ambiguity the death sentence was called, Michigan and Wisconsin were polling Trump. Soon Pennsylvania and Iowa had also fallen to the red tide and with that result Donald Trump would be the 45th President of the United States of America.
Donald Trump, as all republicans do, won off the rural vote. Even further he dominated the south and middle America. The female vote didn’t come out nearly as strongly for Hillary as most experts expected. Donald Trump won his voters in the, white, male, middle class bracket, a rather large demographic in the US. The older you are the more likely you are to vote conservative, therefore Trump also possessed a large elderly support base. He also controlled a nearly 2-1 majority of ballots casted by veterens. The media was so convinced that Clinton would win that Hillary herself became lulled into complacency. She ignored her own campaigns poll coming out of Wisconsin claiming that she would lose. This failure to respond to advanced analytics can be devastating in elections. One theory even states that many Trump supports refused to admit their position even on anonymous polls, this coupled with an above average voter turnout saw a swarm of unexpected Trump ballots being casted.
Perhaps the strongest tool of Donald Trump is his ability to evoke an emotional response. This can be used to disastrous effect by alienating voters but it can also encourage irregular voters to turnout and cast ballots. However, Donald Trump didn’t inspire more voters to come out as the voter turnout rate was the lowest since the 2000 election, what he did do was discourage democratic voters from coming out. Donald Trump’s entire campaign was based off the slogan “Make America Great Again”, this allowed any dissatisfied voter to apply their own meaning to the slogan. Whether it was poverty, corruption, or immigrants, Donald Trump managed to connect to many voter’s deepest fears. Trump won the sound bite war by a landslide and that landslide was replicated in the election. “Crooked Hillary” and building a wall became popular topics of conversation, regardless of whether or not Trump has the ability to achieve what he claims. Trumps ability to “Drain the Swamp” of Washington, DC is certainly a huge plus to many American voters, especially due to Trumps apparent position as an outsider. Clinton failed to inspire as much hope as Trump did dissatisfaction with the “system”. Trump promised a vision whereas Clinton’s slogan of “Stronger Together” promised toleration and temperance.
As Canadians many of our concerns over Donald Trump are based in human rights violations. From sexual assault to abortion, homophobia, sexism, and racism, Donald Trump is quite far from being a paragon of virtue. His new position as president will allow him to select the replacement of Justice Scalia on the bench of the Supreme Court. It is important to remember that Supreme Court justices are appointed for life. It is unlikely Trump will appoint someone as disgraceful as himself as he needs the backing of his party. Could our southern neighbours be so incredibly conservative to agree with Trumps horrific human rights track record? As with anything the answer is Yes and No. With any extreme position there are always those who will agree with you, however the majority of America isn’t as conservative as Trump. Trump didn’t become elected on his moral character; he became elected on his monetary profile. The United States has been consistently under economic bombardment from the 2008 recession to Brexit, increasing job loss to Asia and Mexico, loss of industry and manufacturing, and cheap immigrant labour there is becoming an increasingly disparaging difference in the wealth gap. The average American is falling behind in economic development. It is incredibly difficult to worry about the moral character of the President when you are worried about putting food on the table. Trump’s billion-dollar company coupled with his promises to deport immigrants and bring home industry have inspired many working class Americans to dream of a better life, to dream the American Dream.
For many Democrats the idea of a Republican controlled, House, Senate and Presidency is a nightmare. However, there is room to be cautiously optimistic. Although Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has finally got behind Trump, there is reason to believe his government will be more difficult to whip. In a sick twist of fate what got Donald Trump elected could also weaken his Presidency. Despite Trump’s inhumanely boring ability to name drop his connections he has very few in DC. What made Trump a great campaigner will make him a weak president. Being an “Outsider” may have made him attractive to voters but it also means he has very, very, few allies on Capitol Hill. Since he is an outsider to the Republican party; he is effectively an alien to the Democrats. His success in the election has protected him from having to sway any democrats however he still has to convince his own party of his merit. There is a chance that the Republican party will fail to back their president and an utter lack of executive legislation will be passed.
It is premature to speak of impeachment before the President has taken office however with such a spotty track record it is pertinent to mention. Donald Trump will finally have to learn basic civility and keep his hands to himself if he wishes to stay in office. He also must take care to continue to try and bridge the gaps caused by such a divisive campaign, as many people are already protesting his victory. Too many controversial comments could lead to full scale demonstrations. Other grounds for impeachment could also come from his foreign policy. If he tries to leave NATO or the UN he may be investigated for endangering the safety of the United States.
Since the Civil War, two Democrats have never been elected back to back without previously having held the presidency. When Roosevelt died in office he was succeeded by Truman who won re-election. After JFKs assassination Lyndon B Johnson also won re-election despite a questionable policy in Vietnam. The original statement stays the same. A Hillary Clinton victory would not have just been historic for women it also would have been for Democrats. The last president to have never held political office was Dwight D Eisenhower, an American hero who served two terms as president. Trump certainly had historical precedent on his side.
America will be plagued for the next four years at least. Trump’s election will set back the progressive agenda by at least four years however it will probably be closer to 12-16 with his determination to undue all of Obama’s policy. For many Canadians and Democrats our only remaining course of action is to wait him out and hope Paul Ryan can keep the Donald in check.