I unofficially called the election on February 28th, 2016: The Day Donald Trump won the 2016 presidency.
In that article I embedded a piece from Current Affairs, which included this remarkably prescient paragraph:
Here, a Clinton match-up is highly likely to be an unmitigated electoral disaster, whereas a Sanders candidacy stands a far better chance. Every one of Clinton’s (considerable) weaknesses plays to every one of Trump’s strengths, whereas every one of Trump’s (few) weaknesses plays to every one of Sanders’s strengths. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, running Clinton against Trump is a disastrous, suicidal proposition.
Still, there was more than one occasion where I reneged on my prediction. Because how could Hillary Clinton possibly lose to Donald Trump in a general election?
How could the Vegas odds be so wrong?
How could all the polls be wrong?
And in turn, how could I, as a reasonable person who believes in math and the comforts of statistical probabilities, throw all of those (extremely relevant) items out the window and go with my gut?
With last night’s outcome, it turns out that my original instinct was the correct one. Donald Trump is indeed the president-elect of the most powerful country in the history of the world.
I’m guilty of possessing a serious Internet tone. I’m not above the occasional sensational comment. And I have proven to romanticize the boring minutia of everyday life. In part, everything I have written is more pointless now than it was before the presidential result, at least to the extent that there is zero doubt a Donald Trump presidency is more serious than my tone could ever be, more sensational than any idea I could think up, and that my life and everyone else’s has serious potential of being a lot less boring, and a lot harder to romanticize over, in the coming days and months and years.
What’s most devastating is we did it to ourselves. The America I was born into, raised in, and grew up in, was in one of the poorest areas in Southern California. My classes were filled with hispanics and black people and asian kids and honestly I never really considered the thought that I — as a white person — was any different than they were. I have a history of discriminating against stupid people, but being colorblind makes me a fair arbiter. I am an equal opportunity hater.
The contrast was even starker considering I came from a conservative family, one that more or less bought into the right-wing myth that Democrats were all looking for a handout, that only people who voted for the red team had jobs and weren’t relying on welfare or what have you. Meanwhile, the heavy majority of students I went to school with — maybe four kids out of five, or as many as nine out of ten — received state-subsidized free lunch while I always had to pay for it. I was constantly surrounded by the same kids who benefitted from those handouts.
But for me, this was never a moral issue. The fact that they got free lunch didn’t give me a feeling of superiority, or that their parents were wrong and mine were right. Everyone was the same to me in the classroom and on the playground, and I left it at that. I had an asian best friend in 4th grade, a black best friend in 5th grade, an hispanic best friend in 6th grade, a different hispanic best friend in 7th and 8th grade.
But I apparently had a unique perspective growing up in the place I did, in the time period I did. And this was shown throughout the country, not only on election day but during the primary season as well. Young white people happen to be quite a bit different than their white parents and white grandparents.
The 2016 election, as my older brother put it, was when “the angry white man turned out.” They were out to take back a country that was never theirs to begin with. Rural Americans, mostly white, mostly old, and mostly men, who sat out election after election out of spite, got out to vote for the race-baiting candidate.
Of course not all Republicans are racist, but if you are a racist then you don’t have to look far for a political party.
For full disclosure I did not vote for Hillary Clinton. I cast my ballot for Jill Stein, though the presidential race was what I cared least about. I was more interested in the assortment of down ballet stuff, like passing weed legalization and eliminating the death penalty (not that California would ever execute someone on death row, anyway).
As far as electing Trump goes, America can no longer claim to be the world leader. No longer can we claim American exceptionalism, the idea that we are better. We aren’t. People are people, and people in the United States have proven to be no different than people anywhere else in the world.
And we can’t forget that aspect: America is the laughing stock of the globe. Americans should be embarrassed by the result of the 2016 election, because it says so much about our culture and our roots that we elected the guy who represents the worst this country stands for.
Nonetheless, I’m willing to do my patriotic duty. Just as when Bernie Sanders lost to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, I can set aside the depressing realization that the better candidate does not always win. The Democrats had to pay for that in losing this election. The people who supported Trump will have to pay for it when they see what he does with the country.
But the time for arguing is over. My side lost when Bernie Sanders lost. Hillary Clinton was just an awful candidate, and the DNC made their bed when they protected her throughout the primaries.
That’s one of the problems with a democracy: sometimes the voters elect the wrong person.