I stopped writing about the 2016 Presidential election as it seemed to be talked about, pontificated about and debated in every medium available to people to communicate with. Now that it’s over, and the initial shock has worn off, I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts for posterity’s sake.
With a TV celebrity and real estate mogul upending the race and creating a worldwide phenomenon, culminating in his capture of the throne, it can give the impression that the United States of America has been remade, or that a dark undercurrent that has always existed rose to triumph over the forces of light. For the tens of millions of Americans who never thought it could become reality, the landscape has changed, and not for the better. But did the United States suddenly become Trumpland? Let’s break it down:
There is a percentage of the American populace that, although eligible to cast a vote in the electoral process, chooses not to. Fortunately or unfortunately, it is a large percentage. 45% of eligible voters in the United States did not participate in the 2016 election. That’s a lot of people. Of those that did, more of them voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, warts and all, to be the next President than those who voted for former beauty pageant owner Donald Trump. However, those Trump voters were geographically distributed in such a way as to give Trump the Electoral College victory, despite receiving less votes. Rather than bemoan the Electoral College, which will undoubtedly be on the receiving end of much scorn again this election year, I thought I’d take a broader look at what could have caused the upset victory that will give the keys to the city to what I consider to be a domestic enemy of the United States.
The US population currently stands at almost 325,000,000 persons. As of last tally, about 242,470,820 of them are adults. A few million of those are incarcerated, so let’s call it 240 million adult Americans who could theoretically cast a vote in our election process. 62,979,636 folks choose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton for President. That’s 26% of all American adults. To show just how close this election was, 27.4% of American adults chose Hillary Clinton. That’s about 2,864,974 more people who voted for the ultimate loser. So 1.2% of American adults made the difference between 4 years of Clinton vs. 4 years of Trump.¹ To downtrodden Americans for whom a Trump Presidency represents a nightmare from which they can’t awaken, my message is that yes, it’s a nightmare and there’s no telling what kind of chaos, madness and upheaval are in our immediate future from the decision of 26% of your neighbors. However, as you walk about in your daily life among the gas stations, Walmarts and Targets, at the office or the gym, the world around you isn’t filled with Trump supporters, no matter where you may live. 74% of the folks you will see didn’t vote for Trump. That’s right, out of any group of 10 people you might run into, only 2 or 3 of them took us down this path. Who are they? I have some thoughts on that too.
- Republican voters who vote Republican no matter who is on the ballot voted for Trump.
- Voters who responded to Trump’s message of hyper-nationalism, racism, bigotry, misogyny and sexism voted for Trump.
- Voters fascinated by, and in admiration of wealth and celebrity voted for Trump.
- Voters who despise politicians in general voted for Trump.
It’s really not much of a mystery, even though it is disturbing to contemplate. One would think that common sense and thoughtful reasoning would have overridden bullets 2, 3 and 4. It’s quite apparent that the man who once pretended to beat up Vince McMahon at a WWE event and then helped shave McMahon’s head, who has never held office of any kind at any level, and whose working knowledge of the basic rudimentary facts of the world we live in rival those of a grade schooler, should not take on what is arguably the most demanding job in the world. But for a small segment of the population, it didn’t click. A man who bragged about sexual assault, whose business record is filled with bankruptcies, cronyism, tax evasion, debt delinquency or outright refusal to pay, one who has displayed blatant racism and bigotry without shame became the champion for just enough people to win the US Presidential Election through a quirky, antiquated, geographic system of vote parsing.
Life as we know it has not ended, and there is much we can and must do for as long as Trump heaves his bulk into the leather chair in the Oval Office. But I’ve got lots of time to write about that. I leave you with this, from the next President of the United States.
¹ Final official vote counts as of 12/20/16