Header Image Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
I’m going to get serious for a second.
This isn’t gloating or hand-wringing; I voted for Gary Johnson in the election because I identified with his platform of freedoms being paramount. I couldn’t find myself voting for a rabid misogynist or a formulaic politician.
But America had to make a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but why? Why Trump over Clinton?
Americans Crave Reality Shows
There’s a reason why shows like Big Brother and Survivor exist, and have thrived.
Americans crave drama.
We’ve been force-fed this crap for years. We even watched our President-elect on his very own show, “firing” business-oriented hopefuls and celebrities alike. We love watching people get verbally attacked, emotionally leveled, and berated endlessly. Hell, I’m just as guilty of it as anyone else (those Gordon Ramsay shows are addicting).
It’s little surprise that this mentality has spilled over into our politics. I noticed it especially when watching the second Presidential debate and hearing Trump’s quips against Clinton.
Clinton: It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.
Trump: Because you would be in jail.
In case you didn’t watch that debate, the crowd cheered like they just heard Jerry Springer tell Cleetus that he’s the father of the baby after denying it for the entire show.
My jaw dropped…
But this is what Americans love. This is what we love… So it’s only natural that we’d elect a President that exemplifies this trait.
This Is The Trend
Just go take a look at our list of Presidents the years. Since Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Executive branch has almost always changed parties after a two-term rule. It was bound to happen because people desire change regardless of whether it is good change or not.
United States voters have a short attention span and want something shiny and new. The Democratic party shot themselves in the foot by not nominating Bernie Sanders; he was a fresh candidate.
The fact is that Clinton is a known-quantity. She’s a Washington insider, a career politician, and Americans know what to expect from her. That may sound better than someone unpredictable but the fact is that the electorate got bored.That’s just how the United States’ election system works.
America Wants Less Of The Same
“I believe we all have a role to play in building a better, stronger fairer America; building on the progress that we have enjoyed under President Barack Obama…” -Hillary Clinton at Independence Hall on November 7th, 2016
Many of Obama’s litany of promises didn’t come true in his term of office, and the great deal of ones that did had massive caveats. Many voters didn’t want a repeat of that line of thinking. Clinton ran on the platform that her presidency would be a continuance of President Obama’s legacy, which was the first sign that she was going to lose. Some people may be okay with that, but that isn’t the point.
Many people tend to take the stance of either “President X did such a good job! Things are better than ever!” or “President X was terrible and the reason why things are worse than ever!” The fact of the matter is that neither of these cases are 100% true.
Whether you like the current administration or not, President Obama hasn’t been a completely positive influence. The Affordable Care Act has led to higher healthcare costs than we’ve ever experienced (which is what happens when you hand the keys to the system to the insurance companies). Our foreign policies have hurt our image overseas. Americans are still feeling the pinch of a decimated economy despite the rosy outlooks that have been presented. Couple all of this with the partisan atmosphere that he himself had a hand in creating, and you’ll see why maybe people don’t want more of his style.
Americans have picked up on this after the last seven years of the Obama administration. Clinton presented herself as the heir to the throne, the standard-bearer of the established party line, and unwilling to change the status quo.
Democrats Alienated The Voters They Needed
Ever since the Democratic primaries ended, and Clinton took the nomination, Sanders supporters have struggled to find a candidate to identify with. Many ended up siding with Clinton, but enough were so fed up with the Democrat establishment that they chose candidates like Johnson, or even Trump in protest.
In reality, the only establishment candidate in this race was Clinton. Sanders was the progressive-leftist candidate that resonated with millennial voters (mostly by pandering to them), Trump represents the angst of the majority that’s tired of the modern political culture and wants a return to “greater” times, and third-party candidates like Johnson and Stein appealed to the rest.
What’s perhaps more damning is the fact that the Democratic party was revealed to have shoehorned Clinton in as the nominee. This little tidbit helped harden supporters of Sanders against Clinton to the point that they began protesting at her engagements and derailing her efforts to gain support.
Democrats Misunderstood The Political Climate
Remember the scene from The Dark Knight where Alfred is talking to Bruce Wayne about the Joker? Not the famous “some people just want to watch the world burn” bit, but the beginning.
Alfred points out that Bruce Wayne forced the criminals of Gotham into trusting a man they didn’t understand. Now, consider this:
For years the Democratic party has looked down their noses at the Republicans and treated them like the scapegoat for everything they’ve never been able to accomplish. What many forget however is that the Democratic party controlled Congress after Obama’s election and had free reign to enact whatever legislation they wanted to, which culminated in the signing of the Affordable Care Act into law.
Regardless of how you may feel about the Republican party, you have to consider this: If your party was shut out of decisions and then later blamed for every failed plan to create new laws, wouldn’t you be upset?
That sentiment gave rise to the Tea Party. Conservatives grew tired of being treated like second-class citizens in Congress by Obama and the Democratic party. They were tired of watching laws getting forced through with nothing they could do to stop it. Reactionary Republicans seized this sentiment as a method to propel themselves into power, citing that since Democrats wouldn’t listen, they should replace the Democrats.
Trump seized this sentiment for his own ends.
I’m not saying that what they did, or are doing now, is right. Many Republican policy decisions are downright baffling to me. However, when you discount someone’s opinion to the point that partisan politics takes over, you’re done. Nothing will ever get done.
And look what happened. Republicans took over the House, then the Senate, and now the White House.
The Big Picture
The fact is that the Democrats made a series of fatal mistakes leading up to their defeat in the election. They took their base for granted, refused to reach across the aisle (which Republicans are just as guilty of), and grew arrogant after enjoying massive wins with the help of Barack Obama. This is a mistake that I’m sure they’re likely not going to make again soon. They’ll come out swinging in the midterms and make a massive push for office in 2020 without Clinton, I’m sure.
Sadly, this election shouldn’t be surprising. Almost anyone could have won against Clinton. The entitlement that we’ve seen afterwards though, the #notmypresident bullshit going around, is the embodiment of what’s wrong with out electorate today.
We’re stuck in the mindset that since we didn’t vote for someone, we don’t have to recognize the position they hold. We’ve reverted into behaving like children, throwing a fit because we didn’t get our way. The truth is that we’ve created these conditions and are dealing with the consequences. We’ve fed this partisan behavior and the ones who are being vocal about the election results are the ones that have embraced that mentality to its fullest.
So here’s my call to action. Let’s dispense of this partisan bullshit. How about we start working together to find common ground instead of fighting tooth and nail to shove our opinions down each other’s throats, because this constant political drama is exhausting.
Maybe then we’ll start getting politicians into office that actually give a damn about things instead of riding the populist wave into office and capitalizing on our emotions.
Now I’m going to get back to playing video games so I can rant about them.