Never Underestimate America’s Ability to Vote Against its Own Self-Interests

President-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech.
President-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech.

Well it’s the morning after the 2016 election and as President Barack Obama said in his final speech before Americans went to the polls: “The sun will rise again.” Although it’s a tinge of orange more than usual.

Donald Trump’s presidential nomination is prime example of democracy in action, despite conspiracy theorist claiming ‘Oh if voting mattered then they wouldn’t let us.’ That’s why it may come as a shock his supporters that the 2016 general election was not “rigged” like so many, and The Donald himself, had so ostentatiously claimed when polls and the news coverage did not go their way.

If anything is for certain, Trump’s presidency is uniquely American; not because he embodies the values of the country he will lead after taking the oath of office in January, but because he’s the gun in which America used to shoot itself in the foot.

The Deplorables

The great Greek philosopher Plato once said ‘Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.’

Plato is essentially equating democracy with mob rule and once the mob latches on to an idea, it’s hard to get rid of or modify their ideology, whether it be to kick out millions of undocumented immigrants or ban followers of the second-largest religious denomination from entering the country.

Did Trump create hate? Maybe, but it’s more so he tapped into the hate that already exists across this self-fulfilling nation. Like so many capitalists before him, Trump stepped on the most vulnerable in society to climb his way to the top and his supporters obliged. Fitting for a country founded on slavery and genocide.

The media should have held him accountable, instead they laughed at him as if he was a harmless buffoon stepping out of his lane. Outlets like CNN and MSNBC also condescendingly repeated Senator Hillary Clinton’s moniker ‘The Deplorables’ to describe Trump supporters. Trumpeters gladly accepted the opportunity to plaster a new tagline on T-shirts and memes because it emboldened these alt-right ‘Republicans,’ who for the first times in their lives did not have to hid their racism. Long having to wait in the shadows and while mercilessly railing online against their number one enemy — social justice warriors.

Making fun of Trump’s supporters only gave them more justification to see their movement as a fight against their perceived overlords. A fight characterized by average Joes blaming their dubious position in society due to their low income, or simply wanting to once again be able to “say it as it is” at the office. Whatever brought these millions of people to come together and vote, many for the first time in their lives, it was in order to blame Muslims, Mexicans, black Americans, and women’s yearning for equality as the reason for America’s woes...

‘Whitelash’

The hatred spewed by rural white Americans comes as consequence of stark income inequality. A consequence of unabated globalization and the astronomical cost of college tuition.

Take the pitch-red state of Mississippi for example. The poorest state in the union with an average income of $36,000, yet continue to run head first into the wall at full speed every four years at the polls. It’s not because Mississippians have an affinity for brain injuries, but because they just don’t know any better; evident by its history of voting Republican since 1980.

The Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare, was an especially hot topic this election, no more so than in the South. Ironically, they are the states that receive the most federal aid annually in the form of welfare and food stamps, in which the majority of recipients are white.

Mississippi also has the highest black population in America – a fact the state’s ruling whites despise. This is partly why the state is notorious for having the most reported hate crimes in the U.S., incredibly telling of the deep racial divide that still exists across the region.

That’s why CNN commentator and political activist Van Jones referred to Trump’s nomination as a “white lash.” Jones says it was protest vote against a changing America and against the first black president. Over the last eight years, southerners were more offended by Barack Obama daring to be a polite and progressive black leader, than their own destitute and used the President as the lightning rod for their vitriol of the establishment. Again, the irony is lost on the silent majority in voting for a billionaire, who has undermined the working class (many his own employees) for decades, just as establishment figures like Hillary Clinton have done for years, but with zealous language and a gaudy pantsuit.

Michigan on the other hand, begrudgingly voted for Clinton in the general. A state that is still reeling from massive unemployment due to the collapse of the American auto industry and NAFTA, a trade deal signed in 1994 by her husband while in office. Michigan was one of the crucial battleground states this year, partly because of Trump’s advocacy for the state’s auto workers, who’s message resonated with many. At a campaign stop in Detroit, he claimed he could bring back manufacturing jobs from Mexico and promised a 35 percent tariff on automakers that sent jobs overseas.

Michigan also surprised the Clinton camp when it voted for Vermont senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. The surprising result should have signaled to the DNC that this really was an anti-establishment election and a sign of the impending doom that was to come in the general if they did not heed the Millennials’ warning.

Clinton’s loss is because her campaign showed the same disdain for white working class Americans as Trump did for minorities. She ignored the plight of so many rural whites that felt disenfranchised by the political system since the signing of one-sided trade deals that destroyed the manufacturing sector, a staple of the American middle class. However, Clinton’s privileged lifestyle was what disconnected her from the people, and in turn, the people’s perception of her. That’s why Tuesday’s devastating result in rural counties came as a wake-up call that she had slept through since embarking on the #imwithher tour.

Regardless of her scandals, it’s white feminism that was catalyst in her downfall. A white superiority ideology in which white women should be atop the social pyramid along with white males without lifting up everyone else. This did not seem to resonate with the electorate, with 53 percent of white women voting for Trump.

A similar white privilege is prevalent in the tens of thousands of Americans claiming they are moving to Canada because of Trump’s victory. How can so many ignorantly believe the Canadian government should unscrupulously allow American political refugees into the country ahead of the millions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees that are the real losers of America’s culture war?

Bernie Sanders was America’s chance to truly be ‘Great Again’

Sanders’ bid for the Democratic party nomination was propelled by the same populous sentiments that sparked Trump’s movement. The senator railed against the gross inequalities of the country and sought to bring free college education and health care to all Americans no matter their race, religion or creed. Yet, his support was comprised largely of white college-educated Millennials. A demographic that had been robbed of prosperity by the effects of the Great Recession brought on by the unceremonious marriage of Wall Street bankers and corrupt D.C. politicians – the same enemy of rural Republicans.

Trump sought a different grassroots campaign. He chose to appeal the uneducated whites, mixed in with the KKK and neo-Nazis, whose motives are not for a better country, but to protect and spread their own misguided ultra-conservative agenda. Ultimately, Trump’s presidency will not benefit whites, far right extremists, or the working class; his inadequacy will be a burden on America collectively for the next four years.

It’s not the first time a man like Trump has ascended to the highest office in the land. History shows fascist dictators like Hitler, Mussolini and Franco all used the same bait-and-switch campaign tactics to hoodwink a desperate electorate longing for a goofy-looking outsider who has all the answers.

If there’s one lesson America has learned, it’s that the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’ will march into the unknown with optimism. Only to find themselves walking over a cliff, leaving supporters on both sides of the aisle to collectively sigh “I miss the good ol’ days.”

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