November 10, 2016
[UPDATE: So much has changed since I wrote this, that I don't know which reality we are living in anymore.]
[WARNING: Regardless of which way you lean, this post might hurt your feelings.]
I usually do not write about politics here, but this event is big enough to warrant an anomaly. What is about to follow is my assessment of why this election turned out the way it did, and the bigger picture. Buckle up, it's a long one.
Apparently Trump won with 1.1m less votes than McCain and 2m less votes than Romney in their respective losses. Clinton got 7m less votes than Obama in 2012. This suggests Clinton would have lost to the last 3 Republican candidates (depending on their distributions across the electoral college of course, but 5-6m less votes is hard to beat).
First things first. I have been a Bernie Sanders fan, ever since I read about his track record fighting for civil rights, his voting record showing him to be on the right side of history, and for the integrity I've never seen before in a politician.
The 2016 election in a nutshell:
GOP nominated the only damn candidate who could lose to Hillary Clinton. Democrats nominated the only damn candidate who could lose to Trump
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) November 9, 2016
The Democratic National Convention tried to sabotage Bernie Sanders campaign, to favor Hillary Clinton, despite the evidence that Clinton's favorability numbers were not that great. While Bernie had found a message that resonated with the voters, Clinton was still searching for one.
The Democrats put up a terribly flawed candidate who was aligned with the establishment's will instead of a true Progressive. They missed the point behind Bernie's huge following, behind his grassroots movement. They made the HUGE mistake of assuming the blue states will stay blue.
Hillary underperformed President Obama across the board, even among women, according to exit poll data.
It is a fact that Hillary wasn't as likable, inspiring or trustworthy a candidate in people's eyes. And it was visible from the beginning. But the DNC chose to ignore the fact that the election, indeed, is a popularity contest.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the then-chair of the DNC and a close friend of Hillary, had to resign when the email leaks showed that the DNC was actively plotting against Bernie. And was conveniently hired by the Clinton Campaign instantly.
There were aspects of the Clinton campaign that were laughable, such as the Buzzfeed-esque '7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela', to which there was a backlash, rightly so. When you think of the President, your grandma should not come to mind. Grandma, while an image of love, is also an image of being old and weak.
And that is what bothered me from the start. There was this façade to make her look likable. And it was transparent.
no joke I'm begging liberal Democrats to discover a tactic other than wealthy celebrities mugging in a camera about how dumb the GOP is— Freddie (@freddiedeboer) November 9, 2016
The Clinton campaign thought it was enough to tell people why not to vote for the other side (probably the least inspiring way to reach out to voters). Clearly it wasn't.
Then there was Correct The Record, a PAC with money dedicated towards making the online message Pro-Hillary. The CTR people posted positive things about Hillary, downvoted and removed any negative references possible. The clear example of this in action was /r/politics, which had turned completely Pro-Hillary in the last few months. Anything posted against her would be removed under one pretense or the other. The blatant propaganda machinery did not help instill confidence of transparency in the minds of people.
Hillary's USP was that she is the lesser of the two evils. And then her fans started alienating everyone who was not voting for her. It was as if the campaign was run by a bunch of egoistic people with myopic vision.
This election season, I saw civility thrown out the window. On one hand, there was the Trump crowd, some of which used very inappropriate language; on the other, were the Hillary followers who were acting like rabid dogs at anyone even squeaking Trump's name. When I tried to talk about Bernie with people, they accused me of supporting Trump because I didn't like their favorite candidate.
This fostered a climate where people were afraid to speak what they thought, or even have their questions answered; and it might have something to do with the inaccuracies of polls.
Name-calling seems to be a running theme of the Clinton campaign.
I'm not sure who decides that using such terminologies is a good idea, when you're clearly labeling people as "them". The only thing it does, is polarize further.
If you don't support Hillary, you're sexist, racist, you hate LGBTs, you hate immigrants, and you're a bigoted piece of shit and we hate YOU!
– (The general sentiment portrayed by Hillary supporters)
Both sides have made a stellar use of sexism to further their agenda, and divide people. The Trump campaign had its own vocabulary ranging from 'c*cks', 'bad hombres', 'nasty women' and others.
It was as if the Clinton Campaign was preparing for a coronation, not an election.
They had assumed it would be a landslide victory.
They had assumed nobody would vote for Trump.
They had assumed it will be a cakewalk.
They did not take Trump seriously.
Love trumps hate. (Love Trump's Hate?)
Iconographically speaking, it is a terrible idea to mention your opponent in your slogan. It is almost as if they were trying to remind people of Trump with that slogan.
Speaking of slogans, here are the slogans of three major candidates:
Notice that one of those is focused around an individual, while the other two are about the people or the country.
Everyone must stop saying they are "stunned" and "shocked". What you mean to say is that you were in a bubble and weren't paying attention to your fellow Americans and their despair. YEARS of being neglected by both parties, the anger and the need for revenge against the system only grew. Along came a TV star they liked whose plan was to destroy both parties and tell them all "You're fired!" Trump's victory is no surprise. He was never a joke. Treating him as one only strengthened him. He is both a creature and a creation of the media and the media will never own that.
– Michael Moore
The media gave Trump billions of dollars worth of free air time, while completely cutting out Bernie. At the same time, it kept showing that Hillary is winning.
Apparently, Exit Polls don't work anymore either.
Operating for profit, the media's interests lie with stories that get them more views; and as the master of controversies, the Donald made it rain clicks and views, because it entertained people.
I honestly think that the mass media echo chamber is a large part of what handed this election to Trump. When you stop talking policy, stop listening to people, and make constant personal attacks you turn off the majority of Americans.
The Ivory Tower political commenters reiterated the will of their masters. This made people feel left out, so they turned to fringe media sources like Breitbart and Infowars to gather information, which fed their insecurities, served them fake and biased news to rile them up. These publications are Fox News taken to another level. And they had people eating out of their hands just because the mainstream media did not represent the citizens.
"How can he keep winning when 100 percent of the comedians and smart commentators have nothing but derision for him? How can he keep finding voters when everyone on my Twitter feed thinks he's a monster?" Well, we can stop being confused. That invisible hand on the dagger belonged to a forgotten entity called "Most of America."
The media did not want to believe Hillary could lose, so they lied to themselves and to everyone else.
The media is always taking Trump literally. It never takes him seriously, but it always takes him literally.
– Peter Thiel
Trump followers had a different approach.
Social Media is front-and-center in today's world, and plays a bigger role than the mainstream media. People pick and choose who and what they listen to.
On the note of social media riling up people with fake or distorted news:
How is a Tweet or a Facebook post more credible than a guy shouting in an alley, or a graffiti in a bathroom stall?— Bhashkar Sharma (@BhashkarSharma) November 26, 2016
The poor feel disenfranchised. They feel that nobody in Washington listens to or cares about them. 50% women voted for Hillary. It is not about sexism. The big cities, where all the media is at, were blind to them. It is the same America that twice voted for Obama, in much bigger numbers than Hillary. It is not about racism.
"But how could they vote for someone like Trump?". When you feel your way or life or existence is threatened, political correctness doesn't seem to be that big an issue.
In this election, most people were not voting for their candidate. They were voting against the other candidate.
Plus, selective blindness is a thing. Democrats have it too when their side does drone strikes, indulges in wars etc.
Lest we forget, the Republicans have done everything possible for voter suppression – Gerrymandering, pushing voter id laws, effectively disallowing the backwards sections of the society from being eligible to vote. This might have helped them in the end.
UPDATE: Hillary now has 1.7 million more votes than Trump. However, Trump still wins because of the Electoral College.
What can I say about Trump that he hasn't already said about himself? He has the best words, after all. #Bigly
I am extremely unhappy that a birther, and unqualified buffoon is the President after a brilliant gentleman like Obama.
The Clinton Campaign, the DNC and the media ignored the anti-establishment sentiment, calling it fringe; calling the people lunatics; and patting each other's backs. This was a prime example of what Carlin would have called an American Circlejerk.
So they stroke the kid, and the kid strokes them, and everybody strokes each other, and they are all stroking each other, and they grow up fucked up
– George Carlin
The media turned a blind eye to the people. Only Wikileaks seemed to be the one doing serious journalism this time.
There is a gap. And it might be growing.
Civility used to be a thing expected in politics. Your opponent used to be someone like you, with a different opinion on how things must be done. Now it seems like the dehumanization of the other side has been taken too far.
"I'm smart and you're stupid" - pretty much everyone this election season.
If people are afraid to say what they think, the polls will not reflect the facts. They only reflect what the politically correct crowd approves. We have to nurture the freedom and equality, so people can speak their mind; without being vindictive. Once you demonize someone, they are unlikely to talk to you about how they are feeling, or what they are thinking.
Shutting them out might have prompted them to go with the guy that was "speaking their language". This is not very different from how religious extremists and terrorists recruit. They are on the lookout for unhappy people, who feel nobody respects or listens to them. When the people without hope find an ear that would listen to them, they open up and share. A camaraderie is established. The new people find themselves at home, and get comfortable with the crowd. The subtle brainwashing then turns stronger, and an "us" and a "them" is established. Where they go from here, is up to their goals.
Everyone wants their precious comfort zone where they're only surrounded by people who agree with them, and those who don't are vilified. Because of this there's no exchange of ideas. There's no mutual respect. Division leads to ignorance, which leads to hate, which leads to Trump.
Not every Trump voter was a white racist. And this labeling and pigeon-holing people into the box we don't like is one of the reasons they became 'the silent majority'.
Next time you come across someone who has a disagreement, sit down and listen. Discuss, don't denigrate. Talk about things instead of turning it into a blame game. Try to understand why they feel the way they do. They probably have concerns. See how valid they are.
Nuance is a thing I feel we are completely missing in politics lately. This is one of the reasons an educated and open-minded electorate matters. The ability to listen to and understand others, and share your opinions in a democracy is critical to its functioning.
The Clinton fans refused to listen to the other side. The mindset had been poisoned to not indulge in conversation with "them".
Many Liberals are becoming the anti-thesis of what they should be. Liberalism – the idea of liberty and equality is turning into left-leaning extremism.
Trump haters elected Trump. Without trying to understand the sentiment, or the context, they marched on, blindly shutting down anything they didn't like. The Liberals, in their apparent attempts to fight bigotry, have become bigots themselves.
As a technologist, there are some concerns I have about Trump's technical understanding – he doesn't seem to have a lot.
I am also petrified about what this might mean for the ever-increasing surveillance state. It is times like these you have to think about when designing a secure system, and the reason we need to fight back against surveillance. Just because you like the current guy in power, doesn't mean that will not change in the future.
It is a huge problem. I have a son - he's 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers. It's unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe, it's hardly doable. But I will say, we are not doing the job we should be doing. But that's true throughout our whole governmental society. We have so many things that we have to do better. And certainly cyber is one of them."
(Presidential debate, September 2016)
Make of it what you will. Then there is this:
Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2014
This election showed that the citizens truly control the election and are not manipulated or controlled by media bias, pundits, and corrupt politicians. It showed that money doesn't always win.
Some pundits now say that it was a 'flip' election. Regardless of what anyone did, the Republicans would have won.
I'm concerned about President Obama's legacy. With the House, the Senate and a SCOTUS appointment available to them, the Republicans can go crazy undoing everything that has been a step in the right direction. They have been seething to dismantle Obamacare since forever.
The DNC needs to do some deep soul-searching instead of pointing fingers. Today's Democratic party has the values of 1970's GOP. They are the neo-liberals; weakening unions, supporting corporations over people.
It would be interesting to see how the RNC behaves now, after most of the leaders had rescinded their support for Trump.
The role and nature of the media has completely changed. The pundits can throw away their rulebooks, because everything they knew didn't work this time. Even Five-Thirty-Eight was off by a huge margin, presumably owing to the unreported silent majority.
The few Democratic leaders who remain are going to say that it was just a bad note struck here or there, or the lazy Bernie voters who didn’t show up, or James Comey, or unfair media coverage of Clinton’s emails, are to blame for this loss. I am already seeing Democrats blaming the Electoral College, which was hailed as the great protector of Democratic virtue for decades to come, and Republicans were silly for not understanding how to crack the blue "wall".
We need to get better at taking jokes. The environment is tense, and people seem to take things too seriously too often.
This "us" vs "them" shit needs to stop. We are all together in this.
Don't engage in hatred and blaming the other side. Hatred is the reason we are here. Labeling someone a sexist or racist because they have a different opinion is what put Trump in office.
In the end, it is not the end.
Nothing much has changed. The American people are still the same.
Idiocracy, one of my favorite movies, is now officially a Prophecy. If you haven't watched it yet, do it now.
To be honest, I'm still reeling from the news and hoping it is all just a bad dream.
Somebody wake me up.