I’ve spent the last several days trying to take everything in. To say I was shocked at the election results on Tuesday night would be a gross understatement. Like the vast majority of the media, politicos and the country as a whole, I truly believed that Hillary Clinton would become the 45th president of the United States.
Boy were we wrong.
The results haven’t fully sunk in yet. I feel like I’m living in an avatars body in some alternate universe waiting to wake up and realize this entire election cycle was all a dream. But I know that’s not the case. We obviously don’t have all of the answer yet and won’t for quite some time, but here are some of my initial thoughts about what will surely become known as the political upset of our lifetime.
The polls weren’t wrong. At least not entirely. Everyone’s first reaction was to go after pollsters and try to pin the blame on them. But I think that’s a mistake. The polls weren’t wrong. We just interpreted them incorrectly. For quite some, they told us point-blank that Trump beat Hillary when it came to voter enthusiasm. We saw further proof of this at his rallies. (Yes, I know large rallies doesn’t necessarily mean large turnout. But in Trump’s case… it did.) Democrats saw all of these polls saying Hillary would win the election no matter what. I think for a lot of them it justified staying at home and not voting for a candidate that they really didn’t like all that much. This ended up playing in Trump’s favor because low Democrat turnout meant Trump could beat Hillary with fewer votes than Romney lost to Obama with in 2012.
Obama’s high approval rating couldn’t help a candidate people really hate. I think a lot of people fell prey to the belief that because President Obama has such a high approval rating— 56 percent– that Hillary would win. The thing is, people don’t hate Obama the way they loathe Hillary. A lot of Republicans and Democrats I know may agree or disagree with Obama’s policies, but the majority of them like him as a person. He’s young, down to earth and honestly a pretty likable guy. Hillary doesn’t have this going for her at all. She’s been around the political arena for so long and has a track record of playing dirty. People don’t like that. The words most associated with Obama? “Good” and “incompetent.” With Hillary? “Liar” and “untrustworthy.” The average American really, really dislikes Hillary Clinton. I think it’s pretty accurate to say that Donald Trump didn’t win this election because people like him, but because people simply hate Hillary.
No, the results don’t mean America is racist. Over the past nearly two years, I’ve been very adamantly #NeverTrump. I didn’t support or vote for him in the primaries, nor in the general election. I have no plans to turn that tide now that he will be president, although I do wish him well as every American should– after all, he’s the soon-to-be president of the United States. However, I think it’s vastly inaccurate to conclude that his successful election means all of his supporters are racist because of things he has said in the past. This assumes that everyone who voted for him 1) agrees with everything he’s said and 2) voted for him with a smile on their face. A large portion of the Republicans I know who voted for Trump did so not because they like him, but because of the Supreme Court, immigration and the economy. Instead of realizing that the government is set up to have a wide-range of checks and balances, a lot of voters went to the polls with the thought in mind that the Supreme Court is the only check. It may be the ultimate check, but it’s definitely not the only one. But Trump, his surrogates and supporters really hammered in the importance of nominating conservative Supreme Court justices and it worked. Evangelical voters came out in droves purely because of the Supreme Court. You can most likely thank last years legalization of same-sex marriage for that.
Democrats didn’t defend eight years of victory. To say the Obama administration hasn’t achieved a long list of accomplishments in the eyes of Democrats is foolish. They passed Obamacare, legalized same-sex marriage, ended the war in Iraq, eliminated Osama bin Laden, got rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” pushed through the Iran Deal and a host of other successes. But they got cocky. Democrats, in their complacency, didn’t show up at the polls and now it’s safe to say just about every accomplishment of the Obama administration will go down the drain. For eight years, Republicans have had these accomplishments thrown in their face. And their anger found hope in Trump’s Washington outsider, anti-political correctness abrasive personality. A lot of people didn’t publicly announce their support of Trump, but voted for him because they were tired of Democrats succeeding and Republicans losing. Now that’s about to change.
I genuinely feel bad for Hillary Clinton. I know. I can’t believe I said it either, but it’s true. Hillary truly believed she was going to win– I think that was evident in her demeanor during her concession speech. This was supposed to be her time. But much like 2008, an unforeseen force prevented her from breaking the– well, you know. Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with her on just about every policy issue there is. However, I have to respect what she’s done. Hillary Clinton dedicated her entire life to a cause she believed in. I may not agree with it or how she went about it, but that path brought her an incredible of pain, suffering and personal attacks. It came at a great cost. I can’t even begin to fathom how she feels right now as the words “President-elect Donald J. Trump” are said on TV about every three seconds. Hillary always had the Democratic Party’s back and when she needed them the most, they didn’t have hers. That has to hurt.
We’re all going to die. No, no we’re not. The presidency of Donald Trump may not be what a lot of Americans pictured or wanted, but it’s a reality we have to face. As a lifelong Republican and staunch Trump critic, I’m pretty annoyed that I can’t feel happy that a Republican just won the White House. You have no idea how much I want to be able to be happy. But I can’t. I disagree with Trump on more issues than I can count on both hands. I think he’s said some pretty disgusting and inexcusable things. I think he surrounds himself with extremely shady people and that really concerns me. I think this election and his presidency will spark a flame of retaliation in the Democratic Party like we’ve never seen before. The president-elect might do good things when he takes office, and he also might do some pretty bad things. Either way, it’s important for both parties to work together for the good of America and hold President Trump accountable. And this isn’t the end. Not for Republicans and not for Democrats. These results simply will prompt both sides to work harder. More people will realize that every vote matters and going to the polls even when you aren’t excited is important.
Finally, I’ve been were Democrats are right now. In 2012, I was an 18-year-old first time voter who proudly supported and believed in Mitt Romney. I was crushed when he lost. Not because I didn’t want a black president or because I hated all Democrats, but because I agreed with the policies he would put in place and the direction he would’ve taken our country. After his loss, it hurt. A lot of conservative media had me convinced the world was going to go down in flames. This time around, Democrats are feeling that pain. As someone who’s been there, I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy. It sucks. I hope one day we can have a political system where even if the candidate of our choice isn’t the one heading to the White House, we can be disappointed but know that everything’s going to be okay. As President Obama said on Election Day, “No matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning.” Remember, only 1,454 sunrises to go until Election Day 2020.