We all now have had to time to digest the presidential election results from last month. Judging by the news, some of us still can’t get over it but at some point we are going to move on (assuming of course, we believe in democratic elections).
So what are we to think of the totally unexpected, and possibly unprecedented, results? Thinking Man has some reflections on the outcome, more on the politics of it all than the outcome itself.
First of all, a disclaimer: I come from no ‘perspective’ of one candidate or another. I thought it was so disappointing, to the point of being downright troubling, that the two major party candidates that we had to choose from were from the bottom of the barrel of what I would hope we would aspire to as individuals and as citizens. (And, yes, I realize that I have probably just alienated both ‘sides’ and blind stalwarts of both political parties). However, no matter what your perspective you would have to say that the election was noteworthy in several respects.
If nothing else, the election was a shock to all but the most devoted backers of now President-elect Trump. Toward the end of the race, polls showed the election tightening but no major poll or set of state polls ever showed Trump ahead of Clinton prior to Election Day. For the whole of the presidential campaign, never once did polls show Trump beating Clinton. Yet as the night wore on it became clear that Trump would not only win but would sweep the historically strong union Rust Belt states and would waltz to a comfortable victory with more than enough of a margin to become President elect, in quite possibly the biggest Presidential election surprise in a century or more.
It has become pretty clear that the Presidential election was a reaction. (Well, I should say it’s clear except to a number of those to whom it was a reaction against—certain groups still can’t imagine that the election could possibly go any way but the way they thought it should.) The surprising result was a visceral reaction by a large segment of the electorate to what it viewed as an effort to marginalize them and the things that were important to them. It was a reaction to the ‘politically correct’ hysteria, the arrogance of certain segments of society that felt they knew better and regularly told you that they did, and the media throwing off all pretense of objectivity and publicly asking themselves (in a made-for-public display of self-reflection) if it was moral for them to remain ‘objective’ or if they should tell the ‘truth’ about Donald Trump (of course they never had the same dilemma about the other equally immoral candidate, apparently). It was a reaction to being told the problem with higher education is a lack of taxpayer money, while at the same time those same academic institutions now almost routinely churn out increasing radical pronouncements. And having done that they then spend what supposedly little money they had on things like creating ‘safe spaces’ and counseling for students who were hurt by something they heard or by paying professors to study such things as gender theory and sexuality in the media and Lady Gaga’s impact on culture. And after all that, they then give those same professors pretty much lifetime job security by giving tenure. (The temptation to get off on a tangent on all of the ways modern US academia as become a tax payer funded breeding ground for the promotion of radical thought is strong, but suffice it to say that finding ways to save large amounts of money among American universities should be pretty easy).
The 2016 Presidential election was an election about ‘enough’. A still large segment of the population had simply had enough of years of being told that they didn’t know what was best for them and that their moral and religious beliefs were reason they couldn’t realize it (because they are “clinging to their guns and religion”). And not only that, but that they were not allowed even to talk about their beliefs without being criticized by politically correct elites. They felt looked down upon if they didn’t like the whole conversation about ‘transgender friendly” bathrooms or, for that matter, that taxpayer’s were being forced to fund sex change surgeries. They felt looked down upon if they still said “Merry Christmas”. And it was becoming clearer that academic and media elites felt that certain things should be ‘settled’ and need not—indeed, shouldn’t–even be discussed anymore. Further, those that did should be ridiculed and silenced, such as the efforts to ban even discussion by anyone that didn’t agree that humans were causing global warming and that global warming was one of the biggest security threats the US faces, bigger even than terrorism according to Secretary of State John Kerry.
The final nail in the coffin may have been the majority of the media’s obvious and often self-admitted bias in the election. It was clear to even the most casual observer which candidate the majority of the news outlets favored, despite the fact that both candidates had significant and longstanding ethical and moral shortcomings. It was as if the media was trying to tell the voting population what they should do, which was what Trump was playing to and highlighting when he talked about how the system was ‘rigged’. The media was doing exactly what Trump said they were and because they were so out of touch they just weren’t smart enough to realize it and the fact that teir bias pushed many away. In many respects, Donald Trump was the anti-candidate: he was railed against the media, raged against the refusal to even admit that there were legitimate concerns about lax immigration rules (both from Mexico and the Middle East), lashed out against the Federal Reserve and the governmental coziness to Wall Street. He was against seemingly everything. But surprisingly the candidacy that no one said could succeed, kept winning.
I am sure that a large number of people who voted for Trump do not approve of his morals or some of his more outlandish statements, of which there have been many. One only need to look no further than some leaders of Christian groups who endorsed one of the most un-Christ like candidates in history, who once said in an interview that he never felt that he needed to ask for forgiveness, which is the basis of evangelical Christianity. So why then did they come out publicly for Trump? Because they had enough and this year not much else mattered.