Ethan Kim (International Relations
of The University of Chicago)
As the clock ticked through the dying hours of November 8th, the petrified and horrified faces of Clinton supporters could only watch as what was supposed to be an easy victory had slowly become their worst nightmare. To them, a man who had done nothing but preach hatred, sexism, and racism was now in possession of one of the most coveted positions of power in the world. How did Donald Trump win the presidential election? There are countless ways to answer this mystery, but the central reason lies in the swing states. Swing states are regions where the population is neither clearly Republican nor Democratic yet holds enough votes and momentum to shift the race to one side should one candidate gather enough of these swing states.
Yet, many newspaper projections and predictions did not have Donald Trump winning a majority, if any, of the swing states. Many across the United States uttered the same question: how did we allow this to happen? The answer is not as black and white as some would think it to be. Donald Trump did not win the election on the sole support of misogynists and racists. Likewise, Hillary Clinton did not lose because voters in swing states were “uneducated rednecks” and “white supremacists.” However, this belief is shared especially among millennials as the only plausible reason for Trump’s victory. It is this exact type of condescending way of thinking that heavily contributed in bringing about President Donald Trump. It was this over compensation from the side of the liberals and the politically correct that had sparked an equally ferocious rebound.
Prior to the election, there had been and continue to be a wide variety of issues that plagued the nation. Whether it manifested itself in the form of the terror attacks in San Bernardino and in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the constant flow of illegal immigrants from Central America, or the social warfare between African-Americans and the police, the United States was clearly at one of its lowest points in terms of national unity. Among the voting population, it naturally came to occur that millennials have proven themselves to be the most active on social media and across college campuses. However, simply being the most vocal group does not equate to constituting a large part of the overall American population. While it is for this very reason that Clinton was able to easily win larger states like California and New York, she failed to perform in the swing states that truly mattered. To many, Clinton represented the very essence of what was wrong with America. She had an e-mail scandal connected to Benghazi, played dirty against Bernie Sanders, and was connected to a wide plethora of scandals that the FBI conveniently leaked shortly before the election. But above all, her downfall would be her inability to venture outside of her comfort zone.
At the end of the day, Donald Trump connected more with the key voters than Hillary Clinton did. His campaign path targeted those who felt shunned and forgotten by the Democratic Party, left for dead in favor of globalism and leftist elitism. His promises to reject globalism in the form of the TPP and to “Make America Great Again.” They resonated with many who felt betrayed by both the Republican and Democratic Parties, who they felt, was needed a reality check with someone who did not conform to the common political system. Regardless of whether or not President-Elect Trump will truly separate himself from the establishment is yet to be seen, but what is evident is that his message was believed by enough to vote him into office. Elections were won in the swing states, particularly in the Rust Belt, the Midwest, and Florida. This was self-evident with Trump’s campaign path taking him through Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio. Losing even one of these states was supposed to spell the end of Trump’s campaign, yet he even pulled of the implausible task of taking Pennsylvania from the Democratic Party.
There had been a theory floating around of the “hidden majority,” an idea that many people who were Trump supporters would say otherwise due to fear of backlash from their peers. Many scoffed at this notion, stating that no logical person would vote for Trump if they had any shred of dignity. However, to many, political correctness was becoming an epidemic where one had to be so cognizant of every little word they were saying so as to avoid becoming a social pariah. This constant barrage by the liberals and those pursuing their own convoluted form of “social justice” in the form of public persecution only alienated neutral voters farther, leading to the formation of those who reject this liberal way of thinking and harkening back to the “older days” when issues were not as contentious as they are today. Yet in the end, Clinton’s failure to separate herself from corruption and her subsequent crucifixion via the social media has created a situation bizarrely similar to that of current South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
The United States of America is more divided than ever. This election has seemingly only further exacerbated the issue. But perhaps above all, if the United States desires stability and unity, they must follow this fundamental rule: you cannot change what has already happened. If people are unwilling to even give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt and continue to return hatred of their own, relations in America will remain a gaping chasm. What America has been missing all of this time is the willingness to understand the other side’s viewpoint. In an age where extremism of all forms dominates societal thinking, perhaps it is time that people learn to view things from a more neutral standpoint by offering a hand and giving a chance to understand the other side. Unfortunately, as things stand now, it seems that such unity only exists in the realm of fantasies and wishful thinking.
Ethan Kim email@example.com
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