Congratulations America, you just elected the most disliked, distrusted person to ever enter the oval office. I knew I was going to write this headline leading up to the election but I honestly thought I’d be writing it about Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump. I, along with just about everyone else, was wrong when it came to predicting the outcome of the election, but the headline is still accurate.
We just witnessed the most contemptuous campaign in modern times and no matter who won history was going to be made. History could have been made by electing the first woman president or it could have been made by electing the first person with zero political experience. My focus however, was that we made history because our nation elected the most disliked, distrusted person ever.
Make no mistake, each side can rationalize why their candidate was the better choice and each can make the case why the other was the potentially the end of our existence. Intellectually honest people will realize virtually everything that was thrown up as a reason to not vote for the other candidate applied to their own candidate as well.
- It’s hard to dispute that Hillary Clinton has a perceived history of dishonesty and deception. Donald Trump was also viewed as dishonest because of things like Trump University and stiffing workers.
- Hillary was talked about as a criminal for various reasons although defenders say she was never convicted of anything. Donald was considered a criminal by many people who pointed to all the lawsuits against him. However, his defenders argue those were civil, not criminal, and lawsuits are to be expected in business.
- Donald was painted a racist for many things he said. Hillary was considered racist having called black teens “super predators” in the 1990s and Bill Clinton was responsible for mass incarceration of blacks.
- Donald is sexists and perhaps worse. Bill Clinton was every bit as bad and Hillary defended him knowing he’s been unfaithful.
The list could go on and on with each side calling the other hypocritical. Sad truth is both candidates were so flawed many Americans found themselves voting against a candidate rather than for a candidate.
How did either side justify voting for their candidate? Confirmation bias. It’s human nature to look for evidence that confirms what we believe and discount information that is contrary to our beliefs. We all do this to one degree or another.
So how did Donald Trump win? There are lots of theories on that. Detractors say he appealed to the worst part of people. That oversimplifies the problem because there are many good people who voted for Trump just as many good people voted for Hillary.
Trump and Hillary both used scare tactics because politicians and their handlers know fear works. I wrote about this in The Politics of Fear: They’re Trying to Scarcity the Hell Out of You.
Both candidates resorted to manipulation by telling outright lies, half-truths and using lies of omission. Each side will contend the other was worse but no doubt each side used manipulation in an attempt to win over voters.
When it comes to voting people tend to focus on a few issues and those become their rationale for choosing a candidate. To find out more about that line of thinking take a look at Values, Voting and Other Decisions. With so many negatives about each candidate people held their nose and made choices based on the few issues that were most important to themselves.
What is shocking about Trump’s victory are the following:
- He was his own worst enemy, saying and doing things much worse than others who’ve seen their political careers end over such things.
- The media was against him. With the exception of Fox News all major media was clearly favoring Hillary.
- The polls all said he would lose which could have caused people to stay home rather than wasting their time voting.
- He didn’t have the backing of his own party, let alone a prior president, the current president, or major celebrities.
- His spending was significantly less than Hillary’s.
- He had no political experience to help him be seen as an authority.
So how did he overcome such long odds? He was certainly a more passionate, motivating and persuasive candidate. But he also benefitted from timing. If his Entertainment Tonight sex talk video had come out days before the election rather than the FBI disclosure he probably would have lost. I say that because we have short memories and even shorter news cycles. What’s most prevalent in our minds tends to cause us to act in the moment and Trump was darn lucky about the timing of his revelations versus Hillary’s.
I have to admit, when I saw Hillary lost I was happy. But, when I realized Trump won I was sad. I didn’t vote for Trump in the Ohio primary and I didn’t vote for him in the general election. People say my Gary Johnson vote was wasted. Some accuse me of helping Trump while others said I would be helping get Hillary elected. Each line of reasoning is crap! In good conscience I couldn’t vote for either so I didn’t. If our country is to get out of this false choice – the belief that we can only have a republican or democrat become president – it has to start somewhere.
People are saying our nation has never been more divided but that’s not true. Ever hear of The Civil War? I think we were a tad more divided when we went to war against our brethren. We’re not at that point right now and hopefully we never get to that point again.
Here’s what I believe Americans need to focus on. We live in the United States, the U.S. It’s about “US” as in we, me and you, all of us together. We need to begin focusing on what binds us together as opposed to what separates us. We always seem to be able to do that when tragedy strikes (WWI, WWII, 911, etc.) but we don’t have to wait for that to happen. We need to learn the art of comprise and quit depicting candidates as evil and the next Hitler because if we don’t we’re only heading for more division, difficulty and hatred.