Imagine that you are waking up on November 7, 2016, with the gut-wrenching knowledge that Donald Trump has won the election – either by a hair or a landslide – and will now be the president of the United States. How did we get here? What happened to make this insane proposition which was once laughed off-screen into a hellish reality which we must all now face?
Here are a few ideas:
- Establishment elite, disassociated from most of middle and lower-class America, completely underestimated the dissatisfaction from the millions of white voters nationwide. While we scoff at the racist, bigoted Trump supporters, there is a root of anger and confusion which no elite pandering or name-calling will dispel. For better or for worse, Trump captured these voters and gave them something to believe in.
- While Democrats ignored working-class voters, those disenfranchised white voters put their trust in a Republican party which focused on evangelical support, conservative values, and traditional beliefs. Though the party wouldn’t advance their economic concerns, their social beliefs have long lined up with the conservative party.
- Though the Republican party doesn’t pay attention to working-class needs, Trump does – or at least he pretends to. Despite building his fortune on the backs of working Americans, he has managed to convince millions that he actually cares about their economic future and will make things better – even “great” – again.
- A general frustration with the entire political system has many choosing to support Trump because he offers such a drastically different view. Whether they feel he will break the entire government and start over anew, or if they believe his outsider perspective might actually bring about real change, they are willing to gamble on the orange demagogue.
- Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton, despite her experience and competence, represents everything voters despise in a candidate. Her insider knowledge is less of a badge of experience and more of a handicap in this historic year. Clinton is likely the only candidate distrusted and disliked enough to make Trump seem a decent alternative.
- The general other-worldliness of this election means that whenever Trump says something especially egregious, most voters say “so what?” Trump has somehow built a nearly impenetrable barrier between himself and scrutiny by setting the bar for ridiculous so very high, it is nearly impossible to make voters raise an eyebrow any more.
- Unpredictable turns of events like another Clinton health scare, a terrorist attack, or another revelation about Trump’s business dealings or tax returns could make a massive difference in polls and election results. If the election focuses on foreign relations and national security, Trump would inevitably pull ahead. Trump’s entire campaign predicates on making voters fear the “other,” and if that particular “other” adds even more fear to white voters, Trump may waltz into the White House.
If Clinton loses in November, there will be a million-and-a-half takes about what went wrong and what could have been done differently, but truly this year is an incredibly unique one which created a perfect storm to make the reality of a Trump presidency a very immediate – and terrifying – prospect.
You can read more about this at The Huffington Post.