By Tom Demerly for tomdemerly.com
November 9, 2016:
In one of the most divisive presidential campaigns in U.S. history, news outlets report that Donald Trump has won the 2016 presidential election.
How did a non-politician with a sensational and even salacious history win the top elected spot in U.S. government?
A forensic examination of U.S. political and social trends over the previous decade predicted a Trump win, however unlikely the idea sounded when his candidacy was proposed two years ago.
“You’re Fired!” Americans Were Tired of Politics- and Politicians.
A pervasive argument in the last decade has been “how much government is too much government?”
Trump’s campaign was built on rhetoric (if not reality) of less government. This follows two administrations that expanded government in the U.S. A swing in the opposite direction was predictable.
Americans Are Afraid.
A widening gap between upper and lower classes, stagnant wages, the looming threat of domestic and foreign terrorism and structural changes in the European economic environment have left Americans with a sense of uneasiness and fear.
The current political environment, both domestically and internationally, is extremely nuanced and complex. While Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was undoubtedly more experienced at both understanding and navigating this environment Americans were attracted to a more guttural approach.
Can Trump deliver on promises of enhanced security, refined immigration and more conspicuously decisive foreign policy? Only time will tell.
Americans Had Difficulty Visualizing Globalization.
Most Americans can’t find Syria, Libya, Iran or even China on an unmarked world map. They perceive foreign trade and increasing international commerce as a threat to the U.S. economy and to their personal economies. Trump’s isolationist doctrine rang true with them.
Few Americans are students of history, and the ominous portend of Trump’s isolationist doctrine is that, in previous eras of U.S. isolationism, global conflict has followed. There is an argument that increased global connectivity during the last decade will subvert another conventional global conflict and instead trend toward increasing insurgencies as opposed to a conventional war. Trump leveraged a patriotic, “America First” doctrine that was comforting to middle America.
Trump Is a Great Salesman, And Americans Were Susceptible to a Great Pitch.
The effusive lethargy of American government in everything from the postal service to the judicial branch and the war on terror has made Americans increasingly impulsive and impatient. They were susceptible to Trump’s pointed sales presentation on being President. Trump was the perceived “one click” button for change.
It’s unlikely Trump will be able to execute on much of his “Being politically correct takes too much time. We have too much to get done!” doctrine, but it sounded good, and it’s what people wanted to hear. Trump understood his market and tailored his political product to that consumership. It got him the Whitehouse. Now we’ll see what he does with it.
Clinton Did Not Play Well in Media.
Having lost the Democratic nomination in one election already in 2008 Americans perceived her as a perpetual “first place loser”.
Interestingly, Clinton lost the nomination in 2008 to former President Barack Obama when he began to pitch a doctrine of “change” as opposed to Clinton’s continued emphasis on her political experience. Obama’s “change” narrative won then in a similar way to how Trump’s message of political change won this election.
While both candidates had a wake of scandal in their pasts, Americans seemed accepting of their respective violations but ultimately forgave a brash Trump for either owning his transgressions unapologetically or denying them categorically, but never waffling. Clinton’s responses to Benghazi and the classified e-mail question were measured and political. This did not play well with voters who quickly sensed the “Potomac Two-Step” from Clinton. And while Americans have forgiven the Clintons for dishonesty in office before, they have grown cynical now. America was ready to overlook Trump’s transgressions from legality in the name of business.
Clinton played the gender card, leveraging an opportunity to become “Our first female President”. This had some appeal but ultimately was sexist in and of itself, suggesting gender- male or female- ought be a determinant for political office. This shined on one side, and was abrasive on the other. Stacked against the other factors it was one more minor straw that ultimately broke the back of Clinton’s campaign. Gender was never an issue for Trump because, well, like it or not, he’s the gender all U.S. Presidents have been and voters were comfortable with that.
Record Voter Turnout.
The silent American voter roared in this election, across the plains and into the swing states. People who did not vote before voted this time, and most voted for the perceived change that Donald Trump pitched.
In a haunting similarity to the coup in Egypt and election unrest in several Middle Eastern countries the electoral college, who controls the outcome of the election, was put on notice by the popular vote; follow the popular vote or face the consequences of an increasingly divided nation.
Americans Are Broke and Don’t Want Higher Taxes.
Incomes have not kept pace with expenses for most middle class Americans. Few Americans understand the true extent of their tax burden. But Americans do understand they are working more for less, or for the same, and that many things either cost more or there are more expenses than a decade ago. There is an axiom that people vote their pocket books, and Trump ran on a doctrine of lower taxes, while Clinton’s doctrine was heavy on social programs that would drive tax burden even higher. America didn’t want that, so they voted Trump.