Election night has come and gone. To many there is resounding joy, and to others there is an overwhelming chagrin to the close of a night that gave way to our newest president-elect, Donald Trump. In a political upset that many are still in utter disbelief from, the Republican candidate with absolutely no political experience (a trait that much of his constituency consider his defining asset) managed to defeat the Democratic, and then shoe-in candidate, Hillary Clinton. Everyone has an opinion on the election and I am no different. To say that the choices presented in this election were easy to choose and distinguish between would be a complete lie. Most of the electorate seems to have had to make a choice akin to the “It’s complicated” relationship status on Facebook in terms of how they voted – making it the first time that particular relationship status was particularly helpful in clearing up anything to anyone on the outside. As expected there has been a great deal of divide concerning the election outcome, just as there was plenty of divide before the entire process began. I’ve soaked up nearly a week’s worth of anger, fear, vitriol, sadness, confusion, and glee from the ordeal. In my observations I’ve come across a few talking points that have been brought up more than most, and I’d like to examine them point by point in closer detail. I’d like to also state that as in almost everything I do in life, I try my hardest to see both sides of the argument. Oftentimes, it is a lack of clarity and vision that leads to either downfall or unnecessary mistakes. If the pang of uncertainty felt from the outcome of our election this past Tuesday is an indicator of anything, it is that a lack of vision and focus was instrumental in the feelings of most Americans on both sides.
Third party votes/protest votes: Perhaps more so now than any other election I’ve participated in, talk of third party voting was at an all-time high. In all honesty I was very excited for this to happen, as I believe the current status quo of the existing two party system is exactly what created this political upheaval in the first place. I was intrigued early on in the presidential race when Independent Bernie Sanders ran under the banner of the Democratic party in order to gain mainstream support for his progressive agenda. After his defeat during the presidential primary race, I heavily considered voting for one of the lesser known third party candidates that offered what seemed to be refreshing alternatives to the stagnant same-ol’ left and right. But after a bit of soul searching and some faux pas from some of the alternative candidates, I decided against it. It just wasn’t for me this election cycle. However, for many other Americans looking to cast their vote for anyone but the two mainstream choices, the third party alternatives were exactly what they were looking for. It was a chance to break away from the dismal choices we had on the left and right, choices that left us with two candidates who were not particularly inspiring and held nothing to revere. In an election cycle where we were literally told on both sides that a third party vote was a vote for either “Donny the Pussygrabber” (Okay, I might stretched that nickname) or “Killary”, it’s not wonder so much of the electorate voted the way they did. If these “protest” votes were of any distress to either side, then the fault lies directly on the shoulders of the party that pushed away that population of the electorate in the first place – they are directly responsible for the distress.
Bernie Sanders: Bernie was a candidate after my own heart. After a few years of seeing some decent progress, but still feeling as if politicians did not have the interest of the American people at heart, Bernie came as breath of fresh air to someone looking for actual change for our country. In a manner similar to Donald Trump, Bernie was an anti-establishment candidate that promised to make our country better by putting more power into the hands of the American people. During his time in the House of Representatives from 1991-2006 he passed a total of 90 amendments, a feat that earned him the title of “Amendment King”. In terms of his honesty and integrity to serve the people, anyone would be hard-pressed to find someone more fit for the position. In short, he was someone who could get the job done when it came down to reaching across the aisle. When news came that Sanders had lost the primary elections to Hillary Clinton, and later that the DNC had been corrupt in its handling of the primary elections in favor of Hillary Clinton, there was a deep wound cut into those (myself included) that felt the system truly was rigged all along. Worst of all, Hillary supporters fought feverishly against those that felt there might have been foul play involved. Regardless of the outcome, Sanders was as noble and true to his word as ever, coming together to coalesce behind Hillary – and he urged his followers to do the same for the sake of the greater good. Many Bernie supporters were none too pleased to support Hillary, someone that had been exposed to be untrustworthy and just another establishment politician. Running a campaign that focused primarily on the issues at hand and sticking to his guns was something that should have earned Sanders praise, but even now in the wake of the election we still find those that blame him for Hillary’s electoral upset. Even just a few days following the election, CNN anchor Don Lemon claimed that Bernie Sanders and his supporters damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign even more so than Donald Trump did. As if the wound couldn’t get any deeper. Perhaps if the Democrats had run an inspiring and exciting candidate, such as Bernie Sanders, there would have been little to stop them in their victory. Running a tired candidate from 2008 that offered more of the same just wasn’t going to cut this cycle. Truth be told they failed to listen to the needs of their voter base. It was in forcefully sweeping Democratic primary nomination in the favor of Hillary Clinton that the DNC accomplished two things: the alienation of supporters that would have voted for their party, and the slow, eventual loss of their preferred nominee.
Everyone who voted for Donald Trump is racist/sexist: Of course, there were plenty of people who did vote for Trump purely on his stance on immigration, Muslims, and his throat-slicing attacks of Hillary “Nasty Woman” Clinton. “Pussygate” even seemed to add fuel to the fire of his supporters, some aligning with Trump’s position to grab women by their genitalia was just “locker room talk”. Supreme shitbags, the Klu Klux Klan, have announced a parade in North Carolina to celebrate The Donald’s election win. But saying that everyone who showed their support for Trump’s candidacy is racist is taking the easy way out. Some may have been frustrated with the price and shoddy coverage of their health insurance plans, others may have been dissatisfied with the ever-widening gap between the lower class and the upper class. Many simply felt their cries were falling upon deaf ears. These fears and frustrations were certainly not quelled when the only other choice for president was a member of the corporately-influenced political elite who made it known that Trump his basket of deplorable voters meant to run the country into the ground. To them a vote for Trump was a desperate choice, but voting for someone who wasn’t a career politician just might elicit a change. Much in the same way that a snake’s venom is used to create an antivenom for its bite, so too did some of Trump’s constituents seek to use the vitriol of his poisonous campaign to cure the wound left by the establishment powers that be. A vote cast for Donald Trump was a Hail Mary pass at best, but it was the best play in their book.
Contesting a fair election: This one is pretty simple. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by anywhere from 400,000-1,000,000 votes, but she lost the electoral vote. The electoral vote is actually the vote that matters in our elections, so even winning the popular vote wasn’t enough to nail down the election. On the same note, this has happened three times before this election. As recently as the year 2000, George W. Bush managed to win the presidency despite losing the popular vote all due to the results of the Electoral College. The Electoral College is an archaic system that is arguably no longer necessary for today’s world, but at the time being it is how our election process determines a winner. While I would love to see the electoral college abolished for the popular vote being our deciding factor in determining an election, signing a petition to ask the electors to vote against their electorate consensus is a swift kick in the balls for our democracy. Despite 157 instances of “faithless electors”, electors who do not vote for their pledged candidate chosen through the electoral college, not one of these instances actually affected an election. Asking the electoral college electors to affect the 2016 election in favor of another candidate is simply a breach of our values.
Protesting a fair election (Pt 1): I’ve seen the argument that protesting a fair election is silly and just a waste of time, and I don’t agree with said statement. “Donald Trump won the election fair and square, so why is it worth it to protest against it? ” is a statement (though worded much harsher) I’ve seen time and time again this week. The amount of times I’ve seen others call the protesters “cry-babies” or “whiny millennials” is almost innumerable. Allusions to the millennial generation’s need for “participation trophies” are also laughable – which generation do you think instilled us with those values anyway? And of course there’s the right’s call that the Republicans would never protest the results of an election. Are you sure about that? I find it almost hilarious how quickly people forget history, as I clearly remember the results from the 2008 elections bringing about protesters from the far right. Effigies depicted President Obama hanging from nooses, and signs were made that either insinuated that the president was a Kenyan citizen or some sort of Hitler-comparative. Let’s not also forget the ever-vigilant conservative Tea Party movement that came to fruition right as Obama was taking office in early 2009, a group that scheduled countless protests of the then newly elected president. Perhaps some may even say that there was never any sort of rioting that occurred, but that, too, is also a lie. In 2008 in the state that I now call home, Massachusetts, a predominately black church was torched due to outrage at our nations first black president. Violent attacks against minorities and minority owned property also occurred. Even the Tea Party movement was guilt of such as vandalism and threats of violence against their opponents on the other side of the aisle. But I suppose all of those instances were different, weren’t they? As for being a millennial, my circle of friends which is mostly entirely made up of millennials, encompasses some of the most hard-working young men and women that I’ve ever met. Even in the midst of dealing with a shit hand that we inherited from the previous generation, I’ve seen a dedication to strengthening their characters and improving their lives and the lives of others around them that is unmatched. Besides struggling with crippling student loan debts put on us by a system that is actively working against us in, and inheriting a planet that is steadily approaching environmental crisis, we’ve got to deal with assholes who think it’s OK to mistake passion for histrionics. Whether you think there’s anything to protest or not, you cannot deny anyone the right to do so. Our first amendment rights guarantee us the right of free speech, and protests fall under that category. That being said, I don’t think violence in protests is ever acceptable. If you have something to say, then by all means say it. Just don’t hurt anyone in the process.
Protesting a fair election (Pt 2): So what exactly is there to protest about? Well, I guess not much if you’re not a minority, an illegal immigrant, a member of the LGBTQ community, a woman, indifferent to the need for basic human healthcare, or don’t really give a hoot about the environment. We’ve made a fair amount of progress in the past eight years, and many members of the aforementioned communities fear that the progress that was made might all be lost in just a few short months. Whether the president-elect follows through with it or not, Trump is a man who ran his campaign appealing to the lowest common denominator to garner attention. He used fear and hatred to propel his rhetoric throughout the sea of red baseball-cap wearing people he called his constituents. His rise to presidency is unlike any we’ve ever seen, and in short his tactics undermine the entire political process up to this point in time. Regardless of what the former ‘Apprentice’ star might think, words carelessly spouted on a campaign trail matter. Accountability is of the utmost importance, especially when such sensitive subjects as deportation, permanent bans on certain religious groups, or the revocation of certain equal rights is concerned. “Make America Great Again” might just be another mindless campaign slogan, but the implications it may have on a good portion of America is worth speaking out over for many.
Our candidates for this election were surely not great in any sense of the word. It’s really no surprise that this election season was one of the worst that our country has ever seen. Vicious attacks were launched by both sides, and in the end those attacks helped fuel the intense hatred and division that every American now feels. Whether some want to believe it or not, unity is the key to fixing the divide we’ve allowed our political figures to create. However, I feel that unity will only be possible if we’re all willing to have in-depth conversations about uncomfortable and sometimes unpopular subjects with people from all walks of life. Learning to listen to the concerns and ideas of others is the only way we’ll be able to move forward as a nation, and it is why we must encourage open dialogue for all to participate in. It is because of this that I am willing to let our new president-elect show his willingness to help unite a country that has been severely damaged by the strain of this last election. It is because I have hope that our country is never truly irreparable that I will allow President Trump to prove he is capable of leading.