Thoughts on Election 2016


So, it’s finally over. The campaign season that never seemed to want to end has mercifully reached a conclusion. The result was shocking. Regardless of who you voted for, it was genuinely shocking. I have some thoughts on the matter. Prepare for lots of text.

Trump’s Campaign

Trump’s campaign was astonishingly run. Or it could be a case of blind squirrel finding a nut, maybe both. Whether you like the result or not, if you’re a fan of political science like me, you have to give props to how he played his hand. He found a new way to win. And that fascinates me. He pulled off an election victory that I am confident we will never see again in our lifetime.

Some random thoughts:

  • He managed to take down the incredibly well-oiled Clinton machine. He was vastly outspent in advertising and was woefully behind in fundraising. But that helped his message as an underdog.
  • He literally pissed off the entire establishment of both political parties. Had very little endorsements. But that helped his message as a political outsider.
  • The media was almost totally against him. And he used this to his advantage. I think the old adage of “bad press is good press” comes into play here. Trump was able to stay in the race by getting the equivalent of BILLIONS of free advertising. And the click-bait media couldn’t resist feeding the troll.
  • He literally has no experience in politics. At all. He is not a very good debater and basically spews stream of conscious rambling most of the time. But this is his charm for his supporters. He doesn’t play by the rules. He’s an outsider. He tells it like it is.
  • He managed to evade damage from decades of politically incorrect statements by, basically, desensitizing it by saying crazier things in the present. Nothing stuck. Nothing. It’s remarkable.
  • But, let’s be honest, not all of this was a master stroke of political campaigning. This was very much trial and error…he fired and replaced key members of his campaign staff several times. He continually shot himself in the foot by attacking unrelated 3rd parties. But in the final week, he shut up. And people got a chance to generally reflect on their choices…and enough of them voted for him. But that doesn’t mean he was not an awful, awful candidate.

Clinton’s campaign

For a candidate with as much baggage and unfavorable ratings as Trump, surely there must be other reasons why he won. … Yes, there are. And it’s because Clinton was arguably worse. You literally could not have two worse candidates.

Look. I try to read and follow as many sources of news as I can to get a balanced view of the world. I listen to Glenn Beck (he hates both candidates). I listen to Hannity (he hates Clinton). I watch the Daily Show (they hate everybody; but mostly Republicans). I also watch John Oliver, Colbert, Samantha Bee, and other left-leaning talk show hosts (they pretty much just hate Republicans). I watch CNN, ABC (I like Stephanopoulos), and rarely Fox (I like Chris Wallace). I have heard all viewpoints. I try to hear both sides as best I can with the information I’m given. But what was disappointing for the last year was…Hillary Clinton generally was untouchable. Why?

More random thoughts:

  • Much like Obama in ’08, the media ran with the whole “omg first woman president” card the entire campaign season. It’s a great story…I guess? But does it not matter that, you know, umm, vet the candidate before anointing them? When the media latches onto their favorite, it’s sickening. It’s annoying. It’s unfair.
    • As a Cleveland fan, you know how annoying it was for me to hear this year about how great the Warriors are or how great the Cubs are…they’re cursed, they deserve to win. This is basically how I imagine a Trump fan feels. Like they’re getting shitted on daily. Like you’re a forgotten voice. This is what leads to the passion that his supporters overwhelming bested Clinton at. That the media wants a particular outcome to happen so they’ll fight for it. This is how I felt the entire campaign season. The media wanted Clinton to win and were willing to shrug off any criticisms of her candidacy. 
    • I’m sure Bernie Sanders fans feel/felt the same way. THIS SHOULDN’T BE HOW IT IS. Let the people decide and make up their own mind. People are tired of being force-fed lies and half-truths.
    • Trust in media is at an all-time low. Only 32% of all Americans trust the media to be fair and balanced (only 14% of Republicans). When the media fails to vet and take serious several allegations on one-side, it further cements these feelings. When Clinton continually is under FBI investigation or caught blatantly lying or being disingenuous, you would expect the media to dig deeper. But they did not.
      • It would not shock me that a year from now, the FBI finds pay-to-play shenanigans or money laundering connections with the Clinton Foundation. This is serious stuff. But I cannot say I ever heard any major news agency go any deeper than a passing reference to any of this. How is this possible?!
  • Clinton is an awful, awful candidate. And she ran an awful, awful campaign. She had no message. “Stronger Together”, “I’m With Her”…What the hell does that even mean?! “Make America Great Again” at least means something. It has tenets that can be explained. It resonates with people. Instead her entire campaign centered around, “hey, wouldn’t a woman president be great!?”. It was all vanity. When I watched the Morgan Freeman narrated Democratic convention, I was just like…”What in the hell is this?”. This isn’t real. It was an illusion. The celebrity endorsements were just cringe-inducing. No, I don’t want to see you have a concert with Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, and whatnot. It was political pandering at its worst. I want for you to give me an actual reason to vote for you.
  • But there are no real reasons to vote for Clinton. She is lying, corrupt, say-anything-to-get-what-she-wants awful person. I wouldn’t in a million years vote for her. It has nothing to do with being a woman. It’s that I don’t trust that she has the best interests of the people at heart.
    • You could say that Trump is playing a similar con, could be, but it’s just not the same for me. Clinton is on a whole ‘nother level.

How I voted

I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to say this in public, but…I voted for Trump. It was not an easy decision. I literally heavily contemplated voting for Sweet Meteor of Death. But I couldn’t. I could not screw with a decision of this magnitude. I knew it couldn’t be Hillary, so I had to make a case for Trump. Here’s my rationale:

  • I lean conservative generally speaking anyway, but I’m pretty moderate on many social issues. But economic issues are far, far more important to me. Unfortunately, Libertarians aren’t really an actual party at this time, so this is the best I’ve got. I don’t believe in big government, and I’m not sure Trump can do anything about that, but I do believe he can and will lower my taxes.
    • This is issue #1 for me. I’m tired of paying taxes to a government that wastes my money. I pay a shitload in taxes and I’ve had enough of it. I have had aspirations to open up a small business, but the regulations and red-tape of government have strangled the desire to do so.
  • I don’t actually believe Trump when he says he wants to do the radical things he wants to do (i.e. I don’t believe we’re going to build a giant wall; I believe maybe hiring more agents / drones / surveillance could be a “wall”). Maybe this is a bad case of Russian Roulette, but I generally believe he is opening with the most extreme position to compromise with something in the middle. He is a deal maker after all, this is what you do.
    • The best quote I’ve seen on this is, “the media/non-supporters takes his words literally, but not the candidate seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not his words literally”. This sums up how I feel as well. Could be wrong, I guess we’ll see.
  • I do generally agree that illegal immigration is a SERIOUS problem. It is not xenophobic to suggest that, *gasp*, people follow the freaking LAW! This is something that needs to be fixed and he is the ONLY person in politics that has had the balls to make it a central issue.
  • I condemn his words toward women and minorities. He can be brash, arrogant, and rude. But, other than hurting people’s feelings, I don’t view these as deal-breakers. He has been accused of groping people. But I find the timing suspect. I do not LITERALLY believe he grabs people by the pussy. He was joking. It’s slimy, but he was joking.
  • It boils down to words over actions. I’ve seen what Hillary has done. I haven’t seen what Trump can do. Would I vote for Trump over anyone else? No. But this is the turd sandwich versus giant douche I had to pick from. And I am a student of history and politics. The American system of democracy has checks and balances. He does not have unlimited power. He cannot unilaterally nuke countries. Military personnel cannot abide to unlawful acts. What if he screws up significantly? He’ll be impeached. What if he just really sucks? He’ll be gone in 4 years. We aren’t electing a dictator.
  • I will own this decision. If he fails, I will accept it. But here’s some food for thought: do you really think Trump *wants* to fail? In my mind, losing is the worst possible thing for him. I feel like he will work his ass off to “win”. Because that’s what he wants to define him. He wants to boost his brand. Clinton? She just wants power. I don’t trust her. At all. Again, maybe this is naive and Trump is just power-hungry too…but what the hell else choice did I have?
  • I truly believe Trump has the higher ceiling of the two. He seems like the most unstable, but the parallels to Reagan and the potential to unify the country seem higher to me. Say, you know, Trump doesn’t do crazy shit, and actually passes strong reforms that help many people. Is that so impossible to imagine?
    • With the Clintons? Hillary evading getting arrested / mired in scandal every week or Bill sticking his dick somewhere it shouldn’t go (I could go on and on about how baffling it is that Bill is basically near Cosby levels of predator stalking, but again, the media couldn’t care less).
  • Trump *seems* like the more Libertarian candidate, honestly. He is, well, basically very liberal / moderate on many social issues. Again, I just care about the conservative economic side…because, I’m very freaking responsible with my money. I’d like the government to be too.
  • I voted for the underdog. I’ve done it all my life. I like the story of the underdog better than the *expected result*.

Final thoughts

What I did *not* do was vote Trump because I’m: misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, or anti-woman. I’m not these things. People that make these arguments need to stop making strawman attacks. 60 million Trump voters are not racist. If you’re left-leaning or a Clinton supporter, you have to understand not everybody sees it your way. Life is infinite shades of gray. But holy crap with the temper tantrums. Let Trump actually screw up before you freak out.

Do I think Trump is an asshole? Yes. Is that worse than a perpetual liar and fraud? No. Not to me. Oh, and Obamacare. Not a fan. Analyze the exit poll data and make your own decision on what happened. The way I read it boils down to:

  • People wanted change.
  • They don’t like Obamacare.
  • They don’t believe Trump will / can devastate the country.
  • Latinos, youth, minorities didn’t show up. That, to me, is a problem with the Democratic candidate.

Insert generic Republican or generic Democrat and I think the whole thing changes. But that’s not what we got. We got a douche and a turd sandwich. And we get to do it all again in four years and hope for some better choices. We have the best system in the world and we should be proud of that. 

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