Here’s What Happened In The 2016 Election, And What *Needs* To Happen Next

Flickr / Oli Goldsmith
Flickr / Oli Goldsmith

How did we get here?

The President-elect of the United States of America has no previous political experience and is best known for parroting “You’re fired” into millions of American households on a second-rate reality television program.

There’s so much to unpack. There’s so much to think about.

At the end of the day, what we’ve seen is a fundamental break down in the way American politics work. The media, the polls, and the candidates themselves – nothing worked.

The Media

The media worked in Trump’s favor from the very day he announced his candidacy. The political circus was a show that none of America could turn away from, and Donald Trump was its star. At each step along the way, Trump’s miscues were met with unprecedented publicity. Mock a reporter with a disability? The networks will run it for a week. Fire your campaign manager? No bother, CNN will pick him up right where you drop him off. Talk about grabbing any woman you want by the pussy? We’ll skewer the other person in the video but won’t even push you on the topic when given the chance. The hands of the media are implicit in this crime; not just as Trump’s “dishonest media,” but as biased, unethical, ratings-hungry idiots.

The Polls

What happened with the polls? Through about 3pm on Election Day everything seemed fine. And then something flipped. Donald Trump was quickly gaining steam. He took Florida. He took North Carolina. He took Ohio. How was none of this predicted? Polls aren’t ever going to be perfect. That’s an impossible request. The most we can do is figure out why the polls were so off. One might also ask why we focus so much on the polls. They allowed us to become way more confident in victory than we probably should have been. I don’t know many people that were anticipating it even being close, much less a loss. We’ve got to figure out how to forecast the outcomes of our elections, if only because we all want to avoid the gut-punch that came late Tuesday night.

The Candidates

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump couldn’t be more different in their campaign strategies. We can argue day and night about what each camp did right and wrong: Clinton should have gone to the rural parts of the country more, Trump’s rhetoric really hurt him with inner cities, et cetera ad infinitum. What we do know is this: Clinton and Trump are both polarizing figures to huge chunks of the nation’s populace. Whether its emails, or Benghazi, or simply being a woman in power, there are people that truly dislike Hillary Clinton. Likewise, Trump has his own dissenters for a ton of different reasons: xenophobia, sexual assault, and that damn leathery-orange skin chief among them.

One candidate won, the other lost. That’s how contests go. What I don’t want us to forget is that one election does not make or break the country. There are people that feel emboldened to go out and show their bigotry to the nation, using Trump’s election as validation. We can’t let that happen, no matter what side of the line you fall on.

The “let’s be united” rhetoric is tiring, especially in the wake of an election that so many people just wanted to be over. But we can’t pretend not to see bigotry and hatred and call it out. We can’t sit by and watch as our friends, our family, our neighbors, our coworkers are targeted and attacked. Call it out. Be a voice for those that don’t have one. Amplify voices that need amplifying. Work with people and groups that fight for what you believe in. Change doesn’t have to come from the top. The top can’t stand without the supports at the base. Be that change at the bottom, and help send it through the entire system until the top has no choice but to change.

This is not the time to abandon America. This is when you hold on, hunker down, strap in, and fight for the America you want her to be. She’s twisted out of shape, and her screws might be rusted, but she’s weathered 240 years of crazy shit before. I think she can handle 4 more. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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