Going into the early evening of November 8th, I don’t think anyone yet truly believed that Donald Trump would be our next president. Hillary’s poll numbers had been gaining again after FBI director James Comey sent out his second letter to congress to inform them that there was nothing to see here. That, after sending a letter to congress, and therefore the entire country, 11 days before the presidential election to say that he had maybe found same emails that possibly related to a case that he previously said “no reasonable prosecutor” would press charges for. He reiterated that in his second letter, which was delivered only 2 days before the election.
I guess I should start by making a few notes regarding my political leanings. I’m a registered libertarian – what that essentially means to me is social liberalism and fiscal conservatism. The party has a full platform, which you can look at on their website, but that’s what I’ve boiled it down to and that’s its overall theme. Bottom line, however, is that it puts me in a position where I’m generally looking at both republican and democratic candidates as valid (or not) choices. Frankly, it’s something that everyone should be doing, but we don’t live in that kind of a democracy anymore.
The Primary Election
Throughout the primary elections, I was kind of just sitting on the sidelines. I was watching the debates for both sides, wanting to see how things would pan out. Never in my wildest dreams did I think Donald Trump would even be taken seriously as a primary candidate. He was bombastic and rude, and he had no political experience at all. Standing on a stage with 11 other republican candidates, 9 of which came with a combined nearly 60 years of political experience in the federal government or as the executive leaders in their respective states, I didn’t think he stood a chance. Looking back, however, I should have taken into account the fact that three of the serious contenders for the highest office in the land, one fourth of the field, had never held political office in their lives.
America wanted an outsider. That was pretty obvious when you looked at the democratic side as well. Bernie Sanders, though also a career politician, has spent his entire career being the outsider. Why? Well, to be entirely honest, he doesn’t belong in the democratic party. Bernie Sanders is pretty clearly a socialist, which is such a big no-no in American politics. Apart from the fact that Americans are immediately turned off by the term, he wouldn’t have been taken seriously if he ran as a third party candidate because our two party system discourages it. Late in the game, it was made apparent by an email dump brought forth by WikiLeaks that the DNC actually preferred Secretary Clinton and was helping to spread negative press about Sanders to improve Clinton’s chances of winning. Setting aside the fact that that was clearly unethical and it’s for the best that Debbie Wasserman Schultz stepped down as a result of the scandal, let’s get one thing straight: Bernie Sanders was never going to win the Democratic primary.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the demographic of people who would have voted for Bernie Sanders (or did) and lives in an echo chamber of fellow white millennials who would have (or did) too and you’re sitting there turning red and shaking your head. The fact of the matter is that Hillary beat Bernie by over 3 million votes (about 23%) with democrats who voted in the primary. She absolutely destroyed Bernie when it came to black voters (76% to 23%) and perhaps more importantly, she crushed him with voters 65 and older (71% to 27%), AKA the people who are most likely to show up on election day (citation).
So those of you who are posting your stuff on Facebook saying that Bernie would have beat Trump, you’re probably right and we’ll get to that, but it’s irrelevant because he lost in the primary election and he was always going to.
Hillary Rodham Clinton v. Donald J. Trump
The thing about the 2016 general election is that by the time each of the candidates had received their party’s nomination, they were both the most widely disliked and polarizing candidates in American history. In late August, Clinton and Trump each had unavailability ratings of 59% and 60%, respectively, making them the most unfavorable candidates ever. Both of them were the only person that the other could beat. A perfectly bland republican like Andy Harris or perfectly bland democrat like Tim Kaine would have probably won in landslides against this year’s nominees from their opposing sides. And yes, even Bernie Sanders would have probably fit into that mold (or Martin O’Malley, for that matter).
When it comes to the two candidates, there’s honestly no contest in my eyes: Hillary Clinton was/is the better person to be president. The only true negative that I can find about her (unrelated to policy) is that she keeps lying about changing her mind on things. I don’t get it, but she’s certainly not the first politician to do it. In fact, Donald Trump’s twitter is written proof of things he said that he claims to have never said. Everything else is just policy-related or (excuse the pun) trumped-up claims of her incompetence or corruption. Admittedly, there are things about the Clinton foundation that look fishy but there’s literally no proof that the pay-to-play schemes that the right keeps talking about ever happened.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a real piece of work. From the very beginning of his candidacy he has been picking out different factions of our country and alienating them. First he went after Mexican immigrants, claiming that they account for a great deal of crime in the US, which is super untrue. Then he made the explicit claim that we should filter out people who want to immigrate to the United States based on their religion – our protestant forefathers had a group rolling-over in their respective graves. Among plenty of other things that he has said and done, he finally ran out of marginalized groups to offend and went ahead and just said he’d grab ’em by the pussy.
Let’s get one thing fucking straight: that’s not locker room talk. That’s sexual assault talk and it has no business anywhere at any time because it’s disgusting and it really doesn’t require any other explanation because it’s just genuinely terrible.
Somehow, this was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back and we saw tons of GOP leaders denouncing and even retracting their support for Trump. Apparently they all had forgotten about this a month later because everything seemed to be business as usual at the grand old party on November 8th.
So anyway, I decided that someone who is racist, has made threats against liberty, bragged about sexual assault, whined at every sign that he might lose the race saying that the whole thing was rigged, advocated war crimes, and has a running mate whose views toward the LGBT community could be best described as ‘hostile,’ is probably not fit to be our highest ranking diplomat.
Even if I didn’t care about all of the minority groups that he outright attacked, which I do because I’m not an asshole, we now have to worry about him starting a war when he inadvertently insults the fuck out of a foreign leader who looks different than him.
Wednesday morning I woke up in a world where America had chosen hate and oppression over inclusion and freedom and it broke my heart. At about 3am on Wednesday morning they were able to confidently say that Donald Trump had defied the odds and won the presidency.
I drove to work that morning listening to NPR politics where they played his acceptance speech in which he said, “Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.” When I heard that I honestly just started crying. This, from a man who has spent the last 9 months calling her “Crooked Hillary” and a “nasty woman.” Now that he’s gotten what he wanted, it’s like it never happened.
He goes on to say, “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. We have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents in this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people; it’s time.” Now I’m just outright weeping. The man who had spent his entire campaign causing the division was now saying it was time to come together?
Does anyone actually believe that someone who spent an entire presidential election preaching hate and “us vs them” is suddenly ready to be a president for all Americans? And more than that, does it really surprise anyone that starting that day we have seen a huge spike in hate crimes across the country? His victory validates the white supremacists. His victory vindicates those who previously lived in the fringe of society. Now they feel brave enough to spread their hate because the people have spoken and apparently that’s what they want too. Our leader speaks for them.
Voting for Donald Trump for his “policies” (seriously, lol) doesn’t give you a pass. The hate comes with the package.
Look, I’m probably going to be fine – I’m a white cisgender straight man – and my privilege has never been so starkly apparent; I just fear for everyone else who isn’t.