How Was That Election Possible?

Lauren Zimmerman   Politics are a matter of opinion formed by the way we learned to see the world and our experiences in it. The results of the 2016 presidential election challenged everything we had learned growing up in the developed perspective of a primarily democratic environment. After election day a wave of mourning, confusion, and fear altered the dynamic of usual mid-November at Latin, in Chicago, nationally, and internationally. For many, the election of Donald Trump seems like the worst kind of joke to have ever been played in our lifetimes. As we come out of the initial haziness of shock, the current state of events takes shape more clearly, and we begin to ask ourselves the question: how is this possible? The fundamental questions now facing non-Trump supporters are how could Americans still have voted for him despite the slew of racist, homophobic, sexist (to name a few) remarks? How could a bully with such values ever become president of a supposedly progressive country? The 2016 election produced the two most unpopular candidates in American history, which is the primary reason for the lower than expected voter turnout (55%) compared to the three most recent elections. Hillary Clinton took part in another historic moment when she became the first woman to win the popular vote in the election, but spending her entire campaign firefighting the actions of Donald Trump, she failed to win the electoral college. The electoral college disappointed about half of the country, and revealed its increasingly outdated system to the nation. Many fear that an institution initially designed to help avoid tyrannical rule and an influenced popular vote will drive away an even larger percentage of voters in the next election. When asked, Mrs. Gallagher (US Social History and Honors American Politics teacher) added that we need a “thoughtful national discourse about the electoral college” and that the “worst thing we can have is decreased voter turnout in a republic.” In addition to concerns regarding the use of the electoral college, the controversial candidates resulted in an aggressive protest against the eight years of the Obama administration. Many voters strongly disliked one of the candidates; therefore, they voted against said candidate while not necessarily agreeing with the other option either. In addition, many were willing to overlook Trump’s insults because he promised to keep jobs in America, which resonated with voters in the Rust Belt of the United States. With very little support from the country and his own party, Donald Trump was able to appeal to the white working class who felt like they were unrepresented and unheard in previous administrations, and felt portrayed as poor and ‘lesser’ in the media. Now called “white-lash” by the media, the surprising movement behind the new president elect not only reveals the polarization of the United States, but also the need for open discussion between parties and state lines. Politics are a matter of opinion, and everyone has a right to their opinions, but only by being respectful and looking through different perspectives can we truly produce change.]]>