Despite his obvious lack of experience, temperament, or any semblance of ethical standards, Donald “Drumpf” Trump shocked the world one week ago. Well, not the whole world. Some of us had our suspicions this might happen. Those of us who many would describe as “cynical” have long known never to underestimate the motivational power of loudmouth assholes. Right or wrong, some people will always follow loudmouth assholes because they mistake their bluster and aggression for confidence and strength. That’s how we get fast food restaurant shift-managers and high school football team-captains.
Pundits, political strategists, and pollsters all predicted a President Hillary. And while you’re all still enjoying the way that sweet alliteration tasted (or still groaning over it), you may as well admit to yourselves that you predicted she would win, too. On some level we all did.
There was simply too much. Too much scandal, too much orange makeup, and too much pussy-grabbing for anyone to really believe Drumpf could pull this off. I seriously doubt even he really thought he could. That’s why he began laying the groundwork for his post-defeat excuse that he was buried by liberal media bias. As it turns out, liberal media bias is probably why he got elected.
If you chose a 24 hour cable news channel at random at any point in the last several months you would be guaranteed to find heavy coverage of that day’s doings of the Trump campaign. Even though the theme of the reports was often negative, Trump’s message was still spreading. Like a cancer, pervasively and without a hint of reticence, his angry, anti-establishment, anti-intellectual, non-conformist rhetoric grew so large and malignant as to completely dominate the election coverage.
Of course, the Clinton campaign did itself no favors by adopting the strategy of laying back and letting Trump do himself in with his own behavior. Hillary never had the hearts and minds of her supporters the way Trump did. Whether that’s because of her past or due to a fundamental difference in charisma is debatable but ultimately irrelevant to the question of how or why he won.
The reason Donald Trump is about to move into the White House has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. I believe Trump would have beaten Bernie Sanders just as handily. Trump won because instead of focusing on what’s necessary to move forward as a country he focused on telling people he would slam on the brakes and throw the car in reverse. We’re going to undo all the terrible mistakes and awful decisions that brought us here. We’re going to go back. We’re going Make America Great Again. Like it was before. When that is exactly is relative, depending on your age and which group (or groups) of people are enjoying a degree of happiness and freedom you find excessive. Obviously, this tactic is historically popular (see also every dictator ever).
What Trump is about is appealing to the smallest, most vindictive, selfish, and petty aspects of human nature. He tells you he’s going to improve your life by making the lives of others worse. While other “politicians” may imply that, they always leave room for a later denial or flip-flop. Not Drumpf! No wiggle room in his explicit promises to deport illegal immigrants and convince Mexico to pay for the “Great Wall of ‘Murica” he’s promised.
This unambiguous ugliness is something many of us would like to believe is not true to the identity of the country. That it’s something Americans are above. Clearly, that is not the case. Clearly, we have not come nearly as far as we thought. There is obviously a long way to go. Let’s hope four years later we aren’t too far behind to recover.