As the wildest political year in recent memory comes to an end, it’s time for politicos across the spectrum to take stock of what worked and what didn’t in our modern political era. What victories should be hailed and what mistakes should be avoided in the future? Whether you agree or disagree with any of these, everyone can acknowledge they played YUGE roles in an election year that will be talked about (and studied) for years to come.
Donald Trump and The Alt-Right — Even if you think he’s just an “Orange Hitler,” you have to admit Trump’s unlikely campaign won by the rules as they were written and broke all the others. Plus he didn’t do it alone — the “alt-right” showed up in droves, generating news content, posting on social media and going to the polls in key swing states. Trump is our next president, and for good or ill, you have to give his campaign credit for winning “so big.”
Bernie Sanders and The Progressive Movement — As with many things Bernie Sanders has fought for during his career, he’s often vindicated by hindsight. 2016 is no different, as Bernie and his movement of progressives and millennials may have lost the battle, but they’ll eventually win the war. Sanders was the outsider the Democrats needed to beat Trump — and he likely would’ve — but like his fights in Congress, he faced too much big-money opposition. But hindsight is 20/20, and if Bernie can last, it’s likely he — or his movement — will be back.
Vladmir Putin and The Russians — As more reports emerge that the Russians “hacked” the election with anti-Hillary headlines as well as simply hacking emails, we must again give credit where it’s due even if the actions disgust us. Whether it was because of a “personal beef” with Hillary or avoiding war in Syria, Vladimir Putin now has a much more likely ally in the White House for the next four years — and the world will be very different because of it.
Alternative Media Outlets and Citizen Journalists — While much fuss has rightfully been made about “fake news” this election cycle, alternative media outlets played an enormous role as well. On the left, outlets like The Young Turks, The Intercept and Democracy Now! took the left to task, and on the right, Breitbart News, Infowars and James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas made (and probably created) plenty of headlines. Couple this with more citizens shooting news events on their phones, and it’s clear journalism in America has changed forever.
The Libertarian Party — Yes, their presidential candidate bumbled his way out of relevance by October, but America’s largest third party also grew by leaps and bounds, almost quadrupling their previous high vote total and securing ballot access in 37 states in 2018. And while some blame their ballot presence for Trump’s win, most understand they statistically drew more Republican voters and will be the main conservatives — along with some libertarian-leaning members of Congress — to oppose Trump’s potentially unconstitutional agenda the next four years.
Hillary Clinton and The Democrat Establishment — No campaign blew a sure thing harder than Hillary Clinton and The Clinton Machine this year. Their arrogance and disrespect for the electoral process was on full display as they colluded with the media and Wall Street, only to lose because their candidate couldn’t connect with middle-class workers in key swing states. Naturally, since their loss they’ve blamed everyone — from the Russians to “fake news” to James Comey — except themselves. America deserves to never have to hear from any of them again.
John Kasich, Jeb! Bush and The Republican Establishment — There were plenty of losers in the Republican party this year as well (16 to be exact!) but only a few kept chips on their shoulders after the primary and even planned on a Trump loss to revitalize their careers. When that didn’t happen, it thankfully sealed the fate for such political monsters as The Bush Family and Ohio Governor John Kasich. Barring anything crazy sinking Trump’s presidency (which is totally possible) don’t plan on hearing from any of them again either.
Mainstream/Corporate Media — No group got the election more wrong more often than our major news outlets. From The New York Times to The Washington Post and CNN, the established newspapers and networks blatantly wore their biases on their sleeves, but none of their analyses mattered in the end. While most of them bashed Trump, they still covered him relentlessly, only making him the political Frankenstein they all feared. Like The Clinton Machine, their credibility with average Americans is severely damaged, and they still don’t seem to realize it.
Saudi Arabia — While a lot has rightfully been made about Russia’s influence in this election, lost in the din was how much the Saudis were hoping — and banking — for a Clinton victory. Money flowed from Saudi Arabia to The Clinton Foundation before the election, and The Podesta Group took in plenty as well. The Saudis also lost important lobbying battles such as blocking 9/11 families from suing the country and keeping 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report (focused on the Saudis potential role) classified. Needless to say, it looks like the Saudis will have much less pull in U.S. politics for the next four years.
The American People — From closed primaries to superdelegates to the two-party system and the Electoral College, the American people have been subject to a “rigged” election process that’s controlled by those at the top once again. That’s not to say the American people are exempt from sharing the blame — in a crucial election year, just over 50 percent of the eligible electorate even bothered to show up. If anything is going to adapt in our country and Americans want to prevent another 2016, we can’t just demand change — we need to make it happen ourselves.