Tyler Lewis, University of Maryland Baltimore County:
I was stunned. It was roughly 10:45 p.m. and Ohio had just been called for Donald Trump. The news would only become more shocking as the night grew old and the electoral map red, with Trump winning Wisconsin, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. At 2:35 a.m., Hillary Clinton phoned Trump to concede.
It was over. The businessman who was projected to lose in an electoral landslide shocked the world and became the president-elect overnight. How did we get to this point?
This was a brutal election, with campaigns focused more on casting negativity and doubt on their opponents rather than discussing their own ability to generate positive change.
On Sep. 9 at a fundraiser in New York, Clinton said, “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” And during the third presidential debate, Trump interrupted Clinton as she talked about raising taxes to chime in, “Such a nasty woman.”
Mud was slung on a consistent basis, and many Americans watched the sparring with glee – until we realized we had overindulged.
Basic economics says that where there is a demand, there will be a supply. We were the consumer and the media was the supplier. But by the end of the election cycle, people were worn and weary. The maximum capacity to consume such hostile entertainment had been, for maybe the first time ever, reached. The media kept selling us the ‘beverages’ because we kept buying them. Eventually, though, we became drunk on the Kool-Aid we had once so vehemently demanded.
And then election day finally arrived and approximately 6 million fewer people voted than in 2012. Over 43% of registered voters didn’t bother casting a ballot. A low-turnout election had long been acknowledged as favorable for the Republican nominee, and he prevailed.
Now there are protests happening across America in cities such as New York, Baltimore, and Portland. According to The Oregonian, “Police Chief Mike Marshman (of Portland) estimated that the damage reached more than $1 million and called for protesters to take a break from demonstrating to allow his force to regroup.” As a result of Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote, petitions have been initiated to abolish the Electoral College. There have been hashtags and social media movements created such as #notmypresident.
Here is the hard truth, America.
Donald Trump will be our next president. Mike Pence will be our next vice president. The Republicans own the House of Representatives and the Senate. The ideology of the Supreme Court will also tilt conservative in the near future.
This is scary for many of us. Tears have been shed and hearts have been broken. Concern for the future at both a micro and macro level is pervasive and non-partisan. Blame is a viral disease being passed around by liberals across the country.
But as the fictitious news anchor Will McAvoy said in The Newsroom, “The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.” Liberals laughed at Trump. They scoffed at him. They were smug with his supporters and those who considered voting third party.
“He can never win.”
The cold truth is that Donald J. Trump received nearly 60 million votes on Tuesday. He did win. It is understandable that Trump, along with his platform and rhetoric, is problematic to many Americans, but what should equally be problematic is how out of touch with reality the media, pollsters, and Democrats were.
Perhaps the surprise-factor of the outcome rubs salt in the wound. But for everyone who is angered, upset, or saddened by it, I advise that you allocate such frustration efficiently, remember that you are empowered, and objectively reflect on what went wrong.
There is a saying that goes something like “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
In two years there will be another round of Senate elections. In four years there will be another presidential election. Time seems to move slowly only while we are watching a clock. Find productive ways to express your frustration and fight hard for the causes Donald Trump will not. Do not be complacent and do not limit your passion to social media, a place where people think they are making a greater impact than they really are.
Malcolm X put it better than I could ever hope to: “There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”