On November 9th, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States of America. Now the rest of the world is wondering how it happened, what it means for the future and what the public should do now.
Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama both urged Americans to unite behind Trump and support his policies, but that advice is profoundly controversial, which is perfectly illustrated by footage of conservatives celebrating Trump’s victory in bars and auditoriums while liberals protested and rioted in the streets, shouting slogans like, “Not my president.”
Although 60 million people trusted Trump enough to vote for him, the stock market dropped the moment the election results came out as investors panicked. Around the world, non-Americans reacted with extreme degrees of fear, joy and confusion. How can so many people see the same man so differently? And what does it say about Americans that the majority voted for him?
It’s difficult to find useful answers to these questions, especially for anyone living outside of the USA. As an American who spent over 10 years living overseas, and who doesn’t identify with Trump, Clinton, Republicans, Democrats, conservatives or liberals, I can offer an insider’s explanation of American culture to outsiders, that isn’t clouded by reverence for the left or right.
The first thing non-Americans need to understand, before they jump to any conclusions about the American people based on Trump’s victory, is that he had the lowest approval rating of any presidential candidates in modern history, second only to Hillary Clinton, and he won with only 60 million votes in a country of over 300 million people.
Most Americans didn’t vote. So if you’re going to negatively stereotype Americans based on how they vote, then you can label about 20% of them as poor, rural, gun-clinging, Christian conservatives. About 20%, privileged, liberal, neo-hippie, social justice warriors. 10%, conspiracy theorists, anarchists and other reactionary idealists. The other half of America is made up of people who either didn’t have the freedom to take off work on election day, weren’t allowed to vote, or don’t give a shit about voting, because they have no faith left in the system. Based on that, if you must stereotype Americans, then label them oppressed and dejected.
Of those who did vote for Trump, most of them were older, white men who say they voted for Trump because he’s anti-establishment, and they’re tired of being marginalized by big government and naive liberal do-gooders. These statements may be true, but they’re not the whole truth.
It’s no secret that many people voted for Trump simply because he’s not Hillary Clinton, who has earned herself a reputation for lying, corruption, incompetency and malevolence for decades. If you only read American conservative news sources, you might get the impression America is divided into Trump supporters and Clinton supporters, but the percentage of Americans who voted for Clinton says otherwise. The paradoxical fact that Hillary lost to the least popular presidential candidate in modern history, just goes to show how much the rest of America dislikes her.
Some liberals fear her so much, they voted for Trump as the lesser of two evils, just to prevent the inevitable 4-8 years of standardized corruption she would bring to the White House. Why would they vote for someone they didn’t want? Because from their point of view, it was their patriotic duty. It’s a mainstream belief in America that voting for the lesser of two evils is less evil than not voting.
On a similar note, it’s fair to say that a major reason why some conservatives voted for Trump, is because he was the Republican party’s candidate, and not the Democrat’s. To be fair, Democrats are guilty of this too. Loyal Clinton and Obama supporters dismissed, ignored and made excuses for just as many of their leaders’ flaws as Trump and George Bush Jr.’s followers. Not all Americans are so closed minded, but this mentality is mainstream, because America’s two party political system has indoctrinated Americans to view political affiliation in terms of “us versus them.”
In order to understand the conservative American mindset, you have to understand that the main source conservatives get their news from is Fox News and its echo chambers, which couldn’t exist before 1987, when the FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which required media broadcasters to present fair and balanced political editorial. Despite Fox News’s claim to be “fair and balanced,” their journalism is patently subjective, one-sided, sensationalized, fear mongering and dubious. To be fair, all American news companies have become entertainment-centric, but Fox News is the only one whose CEO and reporters have openly admitted it.
Ironically, Americans still rank Fox as their most trusted news source. The inevitable result is that Fox’s most loyal followers trust anything Republican and vilify anything Democratic with intensity proportional to the sensationalism of the “news” they watch. This is why they defended Bush while he was doing everything they want Trump to fix, and why they smeared Obama for 8 years, even though none of their apocalyptic predictions about him came true. If Trump had run as a Democrat, or if Obama had done any of the questionable things Trump has done, conservatives would have run either of them out of town.
Blind faith in the conservative/Republican identity blinded many voters to Trump’s character, which partly explains why people who believe in family values support a misogynist who has been accused of sexual assault. People who believe in less government support a fascist who has repeatedly advocated oppressing minorities. People who want money out of politics support a billionaire who has admitted to bribing politicians. People who want a strong businessman support a CEO who has bankrupted multiple businesses, exploited legal loopholes and swindled his customers remorselessly. People who feel disenfranchised support a political opportunist who made a name for himself by disenfranchising minorities.
Not every Trump supporter has looked at these issues straight on and used logical fallacies to reverse engineer excuses for them. I’ve personally asked Trump supporters what they think about Trump’s failings, and they expressed surprise and disbelief, because it was the first time they’d heard of them. Some of these individuals were ignorant of this information because they’d never done any research, and others had done plenty of research, but they never looked at any sources outside of the conservative echo chamber.
The same can be said about many Clinton supporters, who only watch CNN or MSNBC, as well as foreigners who are trying to understand Trump and his followers by watching their local news stations.
Watching Trump’s hate speech and seeing Americans respond to it euphorically, it’s easy to stereotype Americans, or at least Trump supporters, as ignorant, racist, misogynistic, homophobic xenophobes who voted for a man who represents their bigotry.
I personally know people who voted for Trump and are none of those things. However, the internet is full of evidence that many bigots did vote for Trump because they were inspired by the racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic things he’s said and done. You can find other conservatives claiming to be egalitarian and peace loving, while praising Trump’s divisive policies using thinly veiled hate speech.
To say the conservative base doesn’t have a racism problem requires ignoring eight years of prejudice against Barack Obama. Not every conservative called him a nigger, but he got called that every day for the past 8 years.
It’s crucial to understand that conservative American racism is just a symptom of a bigger issue that was of paramount importance in this election. In the past 20 years, America has become increasingly more politically correct and tolerant of diversity. In the past 8 years, America got its first black president, legalized gay marriage, partially legalized marijuana, created laws protecting transgender people, embraced atheist celebrities, flirted with socialism and rejected American exceptionalism.
These are all signs that conservative Christians have lost their choke hold on American culture, and with it, the political power to force their values on everyone else. They view this as a sign that they’re being persecuted and America’s moral fiber is decaying, and Trump’s promise to “make America great again” is a euphemism for returning America to its conservative Christian roots. So when some people voted for Trump, they were voting to save their culture, and were so desperate for hope, they put their faith in Trump’s hands.
Given all the different types of people who voted for Trump, and all their nuanced reasons, if you’re not a little confused, you’re probably not looking at all the information. There are two things everyone who voted for Trump have in common though. They either ignored information that contradicted their preconceived conclusion, or they didn’t have all the information. Many people will take offense to that accusation, but based on the evidence, it’s frankly impossible to come to the conclusion that Donald Trump is the best man to lead America, especially conservative Christians.
This isn’t to say Hillary Clinton was preferable. The problem isn’t that Americans voted for the wrong candidate. The problem is America’s two party system is so flawed and corrupt, it weeds out politicians who aren’t corrupt sociopaths. The solution to a broken system isn’t to vote for the lesser of two evils. The solution is political reform. Americans shouldn’t have voted at all in 2016. Instead, they should have been protesting outside the White House for the right to choose their own candidates instead of waiting to see who the DNC and RNC let them vote between.
There are millions of other potential candidates who conservatives would have voted for over Trump if they were given the opportunity, and there are millions of candidates who liberals would have voted for en mass to defeat Trump, if they were given opportunity.
If Hillary Clinton hadn’t committed voter fraud, and if the DNC hadn’t conspired to help her defeat Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination, Americans probably would have voted overwhelmingly for him against Donald Trump. So if you’re going to praise or blame anyone for Trump’s victory, the people who deserve it most are the leaders of the DNC and RNC, who designed and manage the presidential primaries.
Those second most responsible for Trump’s victory are all the major news companies in America who gave him more air time than any other candidate, allowed the DNC and RNC to dictate how they covered the election, sensationalized their editorials and led Americans to believe the whole charade was completely normal and legit by going along with it and never questioning the rotten fundamentals that led to two of the worst Americans alive competing for the most powerful political position in the world.
The third group that tipped the scale in Trump’s favor is the far left: radical feminists, social justice warriors and all of Hillary Clinton’s supporters who refused to look at her flaws objectively. They were so concerned with getting a woman in the White House, they refused to acknowledge how deplorable the person attached to the vagina was. Their heart was in a good place, but their short-sightedness caused them to nominate the one candidate in America who could lose to Donald Trump. If Donald Trump had a vagina, they would have followed him to the grave too and smugly taken the rest of America with them.
In my next blog post, I’ll discuss what Trump’s presidency means for the future of American, the rest of the world, and how that will affect the chances of Americans fixing their political system.
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