Forty eight hours after Trump swept to victory, I feel that I may be at the point where I can offer up some preliminary thoughts on the election.
To start I voted for neither Clinton or Trump. I had a slight preference for Clinton over Trump, but Clinton did nothing to inspire me during the election. Being a great admirer of Tolstoy’s thought, I recognise that choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. With that thought in mind, I left the top of the ballot empty. I also must admit that I was momentarily shocked by Trump’s win, although I now realize that I should not have been.
Alright, in no particular order, here are my thoughts post election 2016.
Random thought 1: To some degree this election was about race and gender. Eight years ago I recall folks saying that they did not agree with most of Obama’s platform, but they would vote for him to usher in the first black president. Likewise this year, many folks chose Clinton because she is a woman. This is called identity politics, voting based on what a candidate is rather than their competence and policy positions. Now we are supposed to act surprised when white males play the same game?
Random thought 2: This election was not wholly or even mostly about race. Trump took nearly a third of the Latino vote. Trump did better than Romney amongst both Latinos and Blacks. I am fearful that this election will be chalked up to racism with every other explanation ignored.
Random thought 3: We were given an impossible choice. Clinton’s negatives have been above 50 percent since forever. Trump’s negatives hovered around 60 percent. The majority of the nation wanted neither of these two as president, yet we were presented with a binary choice. Among voters who had a negative view of both candidates, they broke two to one for Trump. For many, a very sizable minority, they were given a choice that was similar to being asked to choose between having a stroke or a heart attack.
Random thought 3: I hope the Democratic Party does some deep soul searching. This was the year of the outsider but they nominated the ultimate insider and then acted surprised when she lost. Let’s be clear, these were both terrible candidates, neither of them should be allowed within miles of the White House. However, which Party is more culpable? Trump won with populism, and was nominated despite opposition from his party. Clinton won through backroom mechanizations and was nominated because of her party. With this in mind the Democratic Party is responsible for the election of Trump.
Random thought 4: The educated are elites, and like elites the world over, they are out of touch. Sixty percent of America does not have a college degree, and those are the folks who sent Trump to the White House. While we certainly must do everything in our power to make our nation tolerant of and accessible to minorities, we ignore the majority at our own peril. The problem with being educated is that you start to think that you are smarter than everyone else. The college educated in the United States view the world through a liberal paradigm. With the decline of the liberal arts, many college educated don’t even realize that they view the world through a specific philosophical lens. They are long on facts and figures and woefully lacking in knowledge. Very little of the differences between the educated and the non-educated have to do with facts but instead are rooted in norms and values.
Random thought 5: The media does not elect the president. If they did, this post would be about president elect Clinton. The media were in the bag for Clinton the entire campaign. Clinton got the endorsement of 57 of the nation’s 100 largest newspapers, Trump received 2. This didn’t matter to the voters as the media are made up of educated elites, see above.
Random thought 6: People did not vote against their interests. Clinton prevailed with large margins amongst those earning less than $50ooo/year. Conversely, Trump won among those earning more.
Random thought 7: Clinton failed to inspire. Turnout was low amongst those needed to carry her to victory. Trump only did about as well as Romney did, Clinton under-performed.
Random thought 8: Polls are just statistics, and statistics can say whatever their manipulator wants them to say.
Not so random thought: Trump is our president elect. We should give him a clean slate and judge him by what he does from this point forward. We should wish him well and hope mightily that he succeeds.