THE 2016 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: NORMALIZING MADNESS
By Mildred Robertson
As Americans attempt to sort out the chaos surrounding the 2016 election, an effort is underway to normalize occurrences that are anything but normal. In this era of political correctness, it is amazing that an amoral, racist, misogynistic despot has acquired the most powerful position in the world. The words I have chosen to describe Trump are words frequently used to describe him on the internet. Yet the mainstream media, deferring to the office and not the office holder, is imploring us to accept the will of the people and to give the president-elect a chance.
The problem with this reasoning is that were we to accept the will of the people, we would be heralding the election of the first woman in America’s history and not this lewd, mean-spirited huckster. At a tune of 1.7 million and counting, more Americans cast their vote for Clinton than for Trump. My vote in North Carolina had less weight than the vote of a citizen in Wyoming or Nevada. The archaic Electoral College has literally changed history, not once, but twice in my lifetime. First, when Al Gore lost the election by several thousand votes…a bitter pill; but with that kind of margin it is a pill you can swallow.
But this election will take much more than a spoon full of sugar to go down. Clinton throttled Trump by much more than a million votes, and yet it is his transition team that is preparing to take the White House in January. It is his team and not he himself, who will take up residence in the White House. Apparently the White House digs do not afford the opulence to which Trump and Melania are accustomed. There are no gilded toilets in the White House, I suspect.
There was so much that went wrong with this election. First, there was the beguiled media, which saw Trump as no real threat to democracy and a boon to the bottom line. Driven by ratings, they hung on each outlandish word Trump spoke. Early on he was able to establish his false narrative with very little opposition or fact-checking by the media. He garnered millions of dollars in “earned” media which is just another way to say that by being outrageous he could be guaranteed the lead on the nightly news casts and the daily headlines at no cost to him or his campaign. By the time the media comprehended that they were being used, they had already played into Trump’s hands. Progressive media outlets began to fact-check Trump real time. But, to his supporters, it just looked like harassment. It also helped his image as a supposed outsider.
Then there was Bernie Sanders' campaign and the other third party candidates. Bernie had a platform and a message that resounded with millions of Americans. His campaign had an impact on the Democratic platform and gave voice to many who felt the Party did not adequately reflect their values. Bernie had every right to run…but he ran too long. Time and effort Clinton could have expended sharing her detailed platform with the American public, she spent beating back Sanders and his vociferous followers.
And of course, there were the spoilers…Stein and Johnson, with no chance in hell of making any kind of impact on the political dialogue. Never mind that neither had anything substantive to say. Their campaigns accomplished the only thing they could accomplish…they gave the election to Trump.
Clinton too could have done things a little differently. She could have talked more about her platform rather than Trump’s lack of fitness to occupy the office of the Presidency. Frankly, that discussion should not have been necessary in that it was patently obvious that he was and is ill-prepared, emotionally unstable, and temperamentally unfit to lead the free world.
And then there was the electorate. God love them. There were poor (and not so poor) white folk who felt that all would be right with the world if only the black, brown, and yellow folk would just get out of the country. They probably don’t think they are racist. They just believe America is for Americans. And to be American you have to be, well…white.
There were the suburban white women who valued white superiority over gender equality. The Trump coalition also included a fringe that proudly accepts the racist banner and the ugly, hateful and violent behavior that goes with it. And there were the ultra-progressive Democrats and the mainstream Republicans who would rather see Trump win than to vote for Hillary.
And, of course, we cannot forget the Black folks and other people of color who just decided not to bother to vote at all. This mixed bag of coo-coo resulted in an unpredictable campaign which was miscalculated by journalists, pundits and pollsters at every turn.
For good measure, let’s just throw in Vladimir Putin and Russian espionage, Assange and Wiki-leaks and FBI Director Coomey and the email server. All of these entities tugged at the very fabric of our democracy, and we began to unravel. And, of course, we must not forget the Electoral College, where victory is based upon whether you appeal to the urban masses or the homogenous middle country.
There was absolutely nothing that was normal about this election. The system says Hillary lost, but technically and in fact, she won.
There is nothing normal about accepting this outcome.
We have been poorly served by this electoral process. It is a problem that must be solved. It is an outcome that must never happen again.
If America really is the light of the free world, this cannot be our new normal.