Written by: Aymen Sherwani – Grade 12
On November 8, 2016, the world waited and watched and refreshed their Google search “election 2016 results” with bated breath. To say that it has been a tense campaign season would be a gross understatement. It was, after all, a race between a man who not only has not held a single government position, looks like an expired cheeto puff, and is so truly deplorable that he is backed by the Ku Klux Klan, and a woman not anywhere near as terrible as him who stood the chance of being America’s first female president.
The polls were highly favorable of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s chances of winning were thinner than those gross breath mint paper strips. As it got closer and closer to election day, the call to vote gained an almost feverish note, especially when coming from the mouths of minorities as everyone was terrified to even imagine what a world in which Donald Trump was elected to be the president of the United States would look like.
Well, it seems that we no longer have to imagine. As I am writing this, Donald Trump is the president elect of the United States of America. So far this year, Alan Rickman died, Britain left the EU, Harambe died, Brangelina broke up, there’s been an international killer clown epidemic, and now this. If you needed any more proof that 2016 is officially the worst year since the birth of time itself, I am positive you are now placated.
If you’re like me, you probably relate to the picture above, still sitting in somewhat of a numb shock, repeatedly shaking your head asking “Why?! How?! What?!”. Buckle up your seat belts and let me walk you through some of the reasons that can shed light on how this result came to be.
When Donald Trump first announced that he was running for president, no one, save for the first groups of Americans who latched onto him immediately, thought that he was actually being serious, and he literally became a meme. This attitude initially surrounding his campaign was so pervasive that news outlets essentially gave him hours and hours of free press, with CNN running his speeches in full, unedited and uncut. In May, a media analysis firm by the name of mediaQuant stated that Donald Trump had received about 3 billion dollars in free advertising compared with rival Hillary Clinton’s 1.1 billion in April.
One of the reasons this election sets an astounding precedent is the fact that the polls predicting the winner were off. By a lot. I remember almost immediately after the win was announced, CNN showed a video of Anderson Cooper asking the former top advisor to President Obama, David Axelrod, what “went wrong” in the polls to which the man replied “Just the numbers.”
…No. Really?! The numbers. In the polls. Shocking. I couldn’t have guessed without a professional. Thank you.
The reason why the incorrect statistics shown in the polls could have contributed to Trump’s win is that it created complacency among supporters of Clinton, which is one of the reasons she had a much lower voter turnout than expected.
This final reason is going to be the most difficult and challenging one to swallow. Despite all of the derogatory things that Donald Trump has said, white America believed in his message of nationalism and patriotism, of making “America Great Again” so much that they were willing to either full on support or sweep his wrongdoings under the rug. The most truly shocking thing that the post-election numbers show is that it was not only angry racist rednecks from middle America that supported Trump, but everyday people that you talk to and are friends with. People who you would never think would support such a man and yet they voted him in as President-elect.
Post-election America is already an incredibly more tense and angry one. Protests sprung up in major cities immediately after the result was announced, with hundreds of people swarming streets chanting “Not my President”. On social media, there was a large increase in discrimination and sometimes violent abuse experienced by minorities at the hands of Trump supporters, and reports of violence towards Trump supporters as well.
Coincidentally, when Trump was questioned about violent racist/ islamophobic/ sexist/ homophobic acts being performed in his name, his response was that people should “stop it”. The eloquence of this man never fails to astound me. Do his words not inspire confidence and hope? No? I’m not surprised. Especially considering Trump’s history of supporting violence at his rallies, whether in jest or not.
If all of this makes you want to curl up into ball and cry for your mother, I completely understand. However, there are two things that are crucial to remember at this moment. Firstly, and I believe this is the most important, even though Donald Trump may not be our president (and thank god for that), it is essential to note that his actions as the future leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world will affect everyone, whether indirectly or not. Trump sets a precedent and example for everyone who is watching and at this moment, the entire world is watching. During this time, we have to remember that a man like Trump should never have been allowed into office. His hateful rhetoric is not acceptable, it is not normal and it never will be. To accept Trump is to accept his bigotry and his hate and those are two things that should never be normalized.
The other thing to remember is that all is most certainly not lost. Don-Don has already begun to go back on key ideas which allowed him to win the election in the first place, which did of course rouse the speculation about whether “he was playing everyone all along”. That of course is not the case. Most likely Americans now have a leader who’s walking on eggshells, trying not to cripple America, because he has no idea what he’s doing. Thus, he won’t make any major changes which would give him any trouble. This interview with ABC News really does shine a new light on post-election Donald, and how much more vulnerable, soft spoken and compliant he looks in comparison to his well acquainted with aggressive demeanour in his campaigns.
To be completely honest, as a Canadian I felt that keeping up with election polls was like watching the season finale of a series, knowing well that the turnout is going to be bad either way, yet still being glued to it instead of studying for Chemistry. At this point I’m just thankful Canadians have Trudeau.