It would appear, at the moment, that the United States of America has elected a narcissistic buffoon to it’s highest public office. That’s unfortunate.
Thankfully, by itself, that is not the existential disaster that major sections of social media seem to think it is. It certainly isn’t the first time we’ve placed a staggeringly unqualified individual in the Oval Office. And although there’s a very real concern over what sort of presidency Trump might attempt to craft, last Tuesday’s results are hardly the apocalypse the fine citizens of Portland (apparently) seem to think it is.
Now you can call that position white male privilege if you’re inclined to, and you wouldn’t be completely wrong. You’d be a facile jackass, but not completely wrong. Unquestionably, it IS easier for me to remain ungripped by fear when my chances of being victimized over race/religion/gender/sexual orientation/etc. are relatively low. So no, I’m incapable of speaking to or for the primal reactions people are having to the very real (and dare I say deplorable) uptick in hate crimes following the outcome of the race. Whatever his actual disposition, Donald Trump ran on a platform that true bigots found empowering, and that is both disappointing and disturbing.
However, it’s worth remembering one key fact: Donald Trump is a goddamn liar.
He lies, gets caught in lies, and changes his lies to suit his mood or the weather or whatever-the-crap else at a rate that most of us perspire. And the only legitimate fear on the horizon is that a Donald Trump presidency will be exactly what the Donald Trump campaign promised us it would be. And the only logical way I could be afraid of that is to take the man at his word.
And I’d be a fucking moron to do that at this point.
So yes, I’m outraged that the neo-nazis have fresh hate-boners and there’s been an uptick in juvenile douchery. And I will PERSONALLY jack-slap anyone I happen to see engaging in such disrespect in my presence, laws be damned.
But America’s Hitler? Yeah, we ain’t there. Yet. Maybe it will come to that, but I personally doubt this asshole has the required ambition. The election was a titanium-cased shit show, certainly, but it isn’t the quite the fall of the Republic. If Trump’s current trend of appointing closet goose-steppers to key offices continues, then we’ll see. Until then, I’m gonna hold off on retrofitting an attic with secret rooms for the kindly Muslim family down the street.
What we have, however, is the first time in modern memory that the winning candidate’s public persona has been comprised quite so completely of provable bullshit. The sum total of Trump’s campaign was toddler-level fibbing and a tough guy act so absurd it wouldn’t make it past the writer’s table of an 80’s Saturday-morning cartoon.
The depths to which our first Twittering, pro-wrestling, reality TV starring President-Elect sunk in order to garner votes was unprecedented, but hardly surprising. We live in an age of pride in ignorance, or worse yet pride in false knowledge. So it was really only a matter of time before an avatar of some simplistic shit like the alt-right mounted a major campaign.
But to win? No one thought that was possible. Certainly not me, and not the vast majority of pollsters, pundits, and statisticians who make this kind of thing their job. Even as august a voice as Nate Silver, who was getting in Twitter-fights with someone over at Huffington Post for low-balling Hillary’s chances, was still giving her somewhere around 70%. Interestingly, the reason for his relatively gracious outlook on Trump’s chances were probably the exact reason the election went the way it did, albeit dramatically underestimated.
So what the fuck happened, exactly? Well, that’s the 18.6 trillion dollar question, and right about now you can’t throw a meme on the internet without it bouncing off five conflicting opinions. I’ve thus far read every possible explanation from “lack of young voter turnout” to the always-popular “Illuminati”. But the fact of the matter is, literally no one can reasonably answer that question at the moment.
It’s important to remember just how balls-out huge the process of an election is. Calling a winner is the easy part. Examining where and who and (most importantly) why people voted for one side or the other will be a months-long process, and the only fully accurate information will be yielded long after most people have stopped giving a shit. So I’m not going to sit here on my lonely little blog and pretend I know why Donald Trump was elected president. I was wrong about his chances to begin with, so the height of hubris would be to try and tell you how this went down while there are still absentee ballots being counted.
However, there are a precious few pieces of information which seem credible. And from them, we can probably determine what DIDN’T cause Trump’s victory, at least in a few instances. It should come as no surprise that a few of these are being recited by commercial media as the current narrative, seeing as how their narrative has been horseshit recently.
First and foremost, a rise of racism didn’t cause Trump to ascend to (in)glorious victory. Nor did a rise in authoritarianism, economic stress, disenfranchisement, or any other kind of “ism” you could name. This man did not become President-Elect by the dramatic upswing of any one singular social force. He didn’t ride on any tides to a wave of victory, he didn’t “tap into” anything people were feeling that hadn’t already been mined by a fuck-ton of politicians before him. How is this evident? Well, as of this writing, Donald Trump is sitting on about 61,500,000 votes, give or take a couple of cheering rallies. That puts him at roughly half-a-paltry-million more votes than were earned by this guy:
So once again, doing some actual counting tells us something important. It tells us that after two years of campaigning, hundreds of swing-state Nuremberg knock-offs, and about sixty thousand batshit psychotic tweets, Donald Trump managed to JUST barely outperform Mitt Romney. Romney, it should be noted, was the least exciting Presidential candidate since Walter Mondale, someone who managed to get electorally slaughtered while failing to unseat a man that used to make movies with a trained chimp.
Trump did not “rise” on anything. He didn’t rise at all. He barely got a bump higher than the last guy the GOP nominated. To be fair, he did it with major sections of the Republican establishment refusing to back him. But all that proves is that voters don’t give a shit if other politicians are backing a candidate or not, a fact that that seems to be obvious to everyone on the planet except politicians.
The second thing that didn’t cause this outcome was a lack of support for Hillary Clinton. It IS true that she has more than three million votes less than Obama got during his last run. And it’s also true that this most likely reflects voter apathy, combined with a sense of distrust inside her own base, particularly after her obvious hatchet job on Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
However, what is also true is, and this is important: SHE WON THE GODDAMN POPULAR VOTE. More Americans, at the end of the day, have voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. Like, over a million more so far, and that number is generally expected to rise. So as much as I personally don’t care for the woman’s politics, and as much as I held my nose when voting for her myself, to say her “lack of support” played into this as a general statement is ludicrous. Her loss was a strategic one, boiled down to demographics on a county-by-county level that favored her opponent within the rules of that obsolete clusterfuck called the Electoral College.
On the same note, and fully realizing how much shit I give them, it probably wasn’t third-party voters who caused this outcome either. A lot has been written about how many votes Jill Stein got in Michigan or whatever, and maybe future data will prove me wrong on this. But in a situation where no one knows whether a third-party voter would even VOTE without the option to cast their useless little protest ballot, it’s a stretch at best to blame this outcome on Johnson and Stein supporters.
And finally, with some reservation, it PROBABLY wasn’t Russian hackers who fucked this up either. Probably. I mean, it is seriously difficult to put anything past Vladimir Putin, who I honestly think is the most dangerous person on the planet right now (at least until January 20th).
Given the piecemeal nature of our election process, it’s CONCEIVABLE that this race could have been flipped by targeted subterfuge in a collection of key counties. I would thoroughly support a full-scale effort to investigate any reliable evidence that someone meddled in an American election, and that may yet happen. But I’m pretty sure Putin’s ego is on a scale large enough that he’d have confidence in his ambition whether or not he was dealing with a President Clinton or Trump. Pretty sure. Maybe.
So, barring intervention by Boris and Natasha, what DID cause this upset? Dare I even speculate? Of course I do, it’s me.
From the looks of things, a lot of the same white people who voted for Obama in the last two elections jumped ship to Trump. These would be people who are keen on the whole “change” thing, and don’t much care who promises to bring it so long as they seem earnest in doing so. Unfortunately, these are people who, for whatever reason, tend to live in swing states.
And it would appear, at this early stage of analysis, that the Clinton campaign simply didn’t reckon on those people. That they paid lip-service to places like Michigan and Pennsylvania and North Carolina, on the assumption of a “blue wall” that never really existed. I suspect that part of this assumption was a complete inability to imagine a white voter who would cast for Obama in 2012, then turn around and vote for an evident racist in 2016. Within the narrative of Hillary’s campaign, that kind of person wouldn’t exist, let alone actually show up to the polls and vote with the deplorables.
Well I hate to count the chickens before they’ve all come to roost, but it certainly looks like A: not only does that kind of voter exist but that B: there are apparently enough of them to throw a fucking Presidential election.
So, in the end it wasn’t racism on the right or lack of energy on the left. Barring some extraordinary discovery of Russian chicanery, it would appear what we have here are the results a strategic misstep meeting the vagaries of the electorate.
It was, in other words, American democracy.
It was loud and messy and boisterous and pretty shitty. It was nastier than the usual round, and it might have elected a fascist. Or maybe not, because the confusion continues no matter how badly we all wanted this to be over.
But it was what it was BECAUSE it worked as we the people designed it to, not in spite of it. If we don’t like that (and I don’t, and we shouldn’t) then we should fix it. We should stop thinking about politics once every four years and spend one day weekly writing our congressperson about whatever is on our minds. Why?
Just. Fucking. Because.
We should let them know that the bill we’re hearing about on the news is bullshit. We should TELL THEM to stop arguing over the topic du jeur on social media and fix the pipes and bridges. And if Donald Trump starts putting anyone on a motherfucking registry list, we should remind them how much firepower is lying around the streets and homes of America.
You want to abolish the Electoral College? You want to put an end to the longest war in American history? You want to get paid a living wage in a town where opiate addicts can get some basic goddamn medical aid?
Terrify the state. Be scarier than they are. Make some fucking noise in one direction, at once, instead of against each other on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll say it loudly because I’m as guilty of it as anyone.
At the end of the day, the Republic is NOT falling. It’s not even on life support. The stupid, scary thing about this election is that IT WORKED EXACTLY THE WAY IT WAS SUPPOSED TO. It worked based on systems we’ve allowed to continue, and it worked because we’ve been too busy fighting each other to create the kinds of changes we all agree on.
The system in not broken. But it does need our maintenance.