America Elects Trump, What this Means, How it Happened, and Who is to Blame

© Josh Sager – November 9th, 2016

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Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States.

This short, yet terrifying, sentence marks the day that the United States elected an orange fascist con-man and reality TV star to head the most powerful military on the planet, influence the world’s largest economy, and have the final say on policies that affect the welfare of 300 million Americans. If the next 4 years go as many of us fear, this could literally be the day where the flaws in our country’s political system begin to swamp the nation in much the same way that all past empires have fallen.

We are officially living in the unscripted sequel to the now-documentary Idiocracy.

There is no silver lining in this election. Trump won a commanding victory against Hillary, capturing just under a majority of the popular vote and between 290 and 306 electoral votes (270 required to win). The Republicans retained their control over the House of Representatives and the Senate, giving them virtually uncontested control over the federal government.

For a minimum of two years after he is sworn in, Trump will have the ability to pass essentially any demented policy that the GOP wants to support. Realistically, there is little chance that the Democrats will be able to regain any real political power until 2020, where they will have to beat an incumbent Trump while dealing with the gerrymandered electoral map.

The Impact of a Trump Presidency

A Donald Trump presidency represents a great many changes, none of them positive.

  • Trump will eliminate the Affordable Care Act, throwing millions of Americans off of their healthcare and destroying all of the progress that the ACA has achieved;
  • Trump will deregulate Wall Street banks by repealing Dodd Frank and letting them continue the very same disastrous policies that led to the 2008 crash;
  • Trump doesn’t believe in climate change and will not only fail to address the crisis (e.g. the Paris Climate Accords are essentially dead), but will actively make it worse by deregulating polluters and pushing more carbon energy consumption (e.g. increasing fracking).

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  • Trump may decide to enforce draconian anti-drug laws and prevent states that have legalized marijuana from continuing with their successful legalization programs. Even medical pot isn’t safe from him and there is a possibility that these programs will be stopped as well.
  • Trump will try to torture terrorist suspects and couldn’t care less about the number of civilian casualties we inflict in the “war on terror.” Additionally, his incompetence may result in the decay of international organizations like the UN and the NATO, destabilizing the international community.

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This is only an incomplete list and there is a near-endless series of terrible policies that Trump may decide to pass into law. Millions will be harmed in multiple different ways and there is virtually nothing that the Democrats can do to stop these consequences in the short term. Even if progressives rally during future elections, some of these consequences are irreparable (e.g. waiting 4-8 years to address climate change) and we will be dealing with them for generations.

How Hillary Lost

Hillary lost because she is a terrible candidate. While she is experienced and intelligent, she has been on the wrong side of a number of issues that make her politically toxic (e.g. NAFTA and the Iraq War). Additionally, Hillary has demonstrated enormous arrogance in her pursuit of big money, giving millions of dollars in speeches to big banks (most of which were inculpated in the destruction of the US economy) mere months before she was set to run for office.

The morning of the election, I wrote an article detailing my worry that African American and young voters may not turn out, while disaffected white voters in the working class would be hyper-motivated to turn out. These fears were proven correct, although I was actually underestimating their impact on the election (I identify Florida, North Carolina and Michigan as danger zones, but failed to predict that Wisconsin or Virginia were up for grabs).

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The polling was clearly wrong in many of these states, possibly due to the social desirability bias that I wrote about last month. In short, Trump may have beaten his poll numbers because a lot of Americans who support him are unwilling to claim him publicly, thus voted for him even after declaring their intention not to. While this is extremely hard to confirm scientifically, it does appear that either the polls dramatically misjudged the electorate (and this was the case with some polls) or this effect had a significant (maybe as much as 4% in some areas) impact.

It is important to note that Hillary’s loss is not a function of some genius plot by Trump (he is an idiot), but by self-inflicted wounds that can be avoided in the future.

During the Democratic primary, Hillary worked with the DNC to depress the millennial vote in several states (e.g. New York) and supported closed primaries because both of these policies benefited her over Bernie Sanders. Sadly, this may have contributed to the significant drops in millennial turnout in many key states, as well as the defection of nearly 10% of young voters to 3rd party candidates. Put simply, the very tactics that helped her win the primary weakened Hillary in the general and alienated key groups that she needed to win.

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Additionally, 2016 was a clear outsider’s year in politics, and Hillary’s choice to run as the establishment “no change” candidate was a truly horrible choice. Americans may have rebounded after the 2008 crash on paper, but wages are stagnant, employment numbers don’t take into account those on the bottom who have dropped out of the labor pool, and Americans are angry.

As previously mentioned, Hillary also fell into the trap of assuming that her support among the moneyed elites would necessarily translate to victory. She and Bill took millions from big money before the run in personal income, focused much of her summer campaigning on fundraising rather than rallying, and ran her campaign using large amounts of dark money. While most Americans cannot articulate the specifics of this corruption, there is a general sentiment that this big money is screwing the average American. Unlike Bernie, Trump is actually no better on this issue than Hillary (merely less competent in arranging big money donations), but he managed to latch onto the anti-corruption sentiment in the nation to hit Hillary hard.

I think that the totality of the reasons why Hillary lost was succinctly summarized by Michael Moore several weeks before the election:

“Trump’s election is going to be the biggest “fuck you” ever recorded in human history—and it will feel good…Whether Trump means it or not is kind of irrelevant because he’s saying the things to people who are hurting, and that’s why every beaten-down, nameless, forgotten working stiff who used to be part of what was called the middle class loves Trump. He is the human Molotov cocktail that they’ve been waiting for, the human hand grenade that they can legally throw into the system that stole their lives from them.”

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Assigning Blame

There is a great deal of blame to go around in this disaster, and it can be apportioned in a roughly tiered manner:

On the highest tier of blame are the Americans who voted for Trump in the primary and general elections, directly leading to his election. These people may be foolish, racist, ignorant, misguided, or simply crazy, but the impact of their vote is the same regardless of their reasons—humanity as a whole will suffer from their mistake (e.g. failing to react to climate change) and history will look back at these people very poorly.

On the 2nd tier of blame are the establishment figures who helped create this disaster. This includes the GOP establishment tools who refused to call Trump out for his hatred and stupidity; the Clinton campaign and Democratic establishment tools who conspired to give the election to Hillary (who is now demonstrated as the weaker candidate in the general) and who worked behind the scenes to “elevate” Trump because they thought they could beat; and the media elites who gave Trump billions in free advertising and legitimized him to the millions of Americans who ended up voting for him.

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On the 3rd tier of blame are the disinterested Americans who refused to vote in contested races during this election cycle. Regardless of how much they may be disgusted with the system, these people took the cowardly way out of abstaining from the process and letting other people decide their fate. Anybody who refused to vote has no right to complain when Trump causes a disaster that affects them—they had a chance to stop him and they refused to take it.

On the lowest tier of blame are the Democrats and progressives who worked against Trump and the embattled liberals in red states—these people bear virtually no blame for Trump’s election, yet will still face some of the worst consequences of his presidency (e.g. African Americans in the south and young college students with debt). Bernie and Stein supporters who worked against Hillary during the primary but who bit the bullet anyways and voted for her in battleground states deserve to be in this tier, despite the media working to paint them as guilty for pointing out real flaws in Hillary’s record that may have hurt her.

What Progressives Need to Do Now

Put simply, now it the time for progressives to fight like hell and hold a line against the insanity that the GOP is about to unleash on the American people.

In the short-term, progressives need to prepare for 2018 state and Congressional fights to possibly wrest control over state governments and vulnerable Republican House districts. In addition to targeting Republicans, progressives need to purge the corporate candidates within the Democratic establishment, primarying them and replacing them with progressive populists.

In the middle-term, progressives need to draft a strong politician to run in 2020 against the GOP and corporate wing of the Democratic establishment—personally, I support Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard or Keith Ellison for this position, but it is simply too early to speculate who will step up. Additionally, progressives need to build upon any 2018 gains at the state level, while making a massive push to gain control over purple states so that we can reverse the 2010 gerrymandering that the GOP pushed after the last census.

Regardless of the 2020 results, progressives need to keep mobilizing on all levels (federal, state and local), gradually replacing corporate Democrats with progressive populists during primaries and picking off vulnerable Republicans during general elections.

3 thoughts on “America Elects Trump, What this Means, How it Happened, and Who is to Blame

  1. Interesting analysis. As usual I agree with much of it and disagree with some.
    1. Lest we forget, for the 2nd time in 16 years the Democratic candidate was selected by more people than the GOP candidate. While this does not change the electoral college outcome, it is a disturbing trend. It also demonstrates the built in bias toward the smaller, rural states. (Trump was right, the system IS rigged). That fact makes Trump’s electoral victory much less impressive.
    2. The seeds of this Trump victory were planted under Ronald Reagan. He was the first POTUS in my lifetime to use executive power aggressively to destroy labor unions. He also started the mantra that “government is bad”. A mantra that many today have been raised and lived under.
    3. The GOP, since Bill Clinton, have made a concerted effort to destroy the national government in all areas except national defense. They have been responsible for massive gridlock, making sure government does not work. Then, they use the argument that “government does not work” as a means of defeating candidates who are actually interested in good government.
    3. The end of an independent and thoughtful media. In the 1980s or 90s the public airwaves were reconstituted, especially radio. Religious and corporate businesses were allowed to use much larger transmitters to overwhelm smaller local and public stations. This has lead to the dominance of a few entities (Christian Radio is one) which was able to spread its message and destroy many smaller stations. Of course cable news and Fox and the internet have all contributed to the disinformation which bombards us every day.I long for the days of ABC, NBC and CBS. When real journalists sifted through the news and would not report a story without sources and evidence. To do so would have destroyed their reputations. Today, unsourced gossip is the BULK of the news,
    4. The Democrats laziness in midterm and gubernatorial elections. The GOP was able to take control of state houses across the nation. Using state power they enacted gerrymandering, voter suppression laws, anti-women laws, etc. and were able to secure control of the machine of voting. We see now how the SCOTUS decisions on the elimination of the Voting Rights Act emboldened these states to remove millions of voters from the rolls. North Carolina and Florida and Wisconsin are key states were this voter suppression had the desired effect.
    5. The progressive movement is not going away. In the Senate, Chuck Schumer is the new leader of the Dem minority. While I personally do not care for his kow towing to Israel, on other issues he is liberal. And tough. He will be a much more formidable foe to the GOP than was Harry Reid. It is quite possible that the Dems may decide that turn about is fair play, and that they have a responsibility to use whatever means necessary to block legislation. After all, Mitch McConnel had his “Make Obama Fail” policy in effect when the shoe was on the other foot.

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  2. Dear DNC.

    You allowed corruption in your front door when you selected Hillary instead of allowing the Primaries to run its course and represent Us. You chose deceit when you crowned Debbie and Donna to be your voice. You tried to manipulate Us through scripted reports in the media, you tried to deceive Us through fake polls, belittle Us by blaming your downfall on our refusal to accept corruption, and then ignore Us as if we had no value at all.

    Liz then Bernie and so many others bowed to you.

    We didn’t.

    Are you listening now?????

    We hate your unscrupulousness. We hate your fraud and fake face. We hate your greed and arrogance.

    Make bold changes now or we will leave you.

    Sincerely,

    The New Voice of Democrats

    On Wed, Nov 9, 2016 at 3:13 PM, The Progressive Cynic wrote:

    > jsager99 posted: “© Josh Sager – November 9th, 2016 Donald Trump has been > elected the 45th President of the United States. This short, yet > terrifying, sentence marks the day that the United States elected an orange > fascist con-man and reality TV star to head the most pow” >

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  3. I like your choice of words for the title of this article. “America” did choose Trump. For the second time in 16 years, the Electoral College saved this country (and the world) from itself. The main difference this time is that the Democrats did not win the popular vote either. This election saw massive illegal votes cast by non citizens, felons and deceased people and registered voters who voted for Democrats two or more times. There is also the likelihood that many Republican votes went unreported in several blue states. This is why Clinton conceded the election so early and didn’t demand a recount. She knew that this would require an investigation that would uncover voter fraud. You must also realize that votes don’t always equal support. The people who voted for Trump did so because they believe in him 100 percent. One quarter to one third of the people that legally voted for Clinton did so not because they wanted her to be the President, but because they were naïve and believed the liberal media hype that Trump was going to lose. This is why many other people didn’t vote at all. We are going to see Congress get even more red in 2018 and Trump’s reelection in 2020 is going to be a historic Republican victory. This is the ONLY positive thing that Obama has accomplished. Trump may seem to have backed off from his intention to see Clinton prosecuted for her illegal activity, but rest assured that this is just a tactic and the special prosecutor will be appointed on 01-21-17 or shortly thereafter. We must never forget that we have Bill Clinton to blame for Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Had Al Gore been POTUS on 9-11-01, the U.S. would never have reacted and terrorism would be even worse today than the levels that Obama let it rise to. Gore is also a global warming fanatic who believes the climate change hoax and would have pushed disastrous legislation that would have devastated our economy, increased our dependence on foreign energy and made our enemies stronger. Gore would have probably endorsed Hillary in 2008 and the U.S. wouldn’t even exist today.

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