A Trump Presidency Never Should Have Happened. Here’s why it did.

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It was apparent that this was a “change” election due to the popularity of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, and yet the Democrats trotted out the most status quo, establishment candidate they could have.  Additionally, Democratic strategists incorrectly assumed that Obama’s very high approval ratings would translate to a landslide for Hillary Clinton. Regardless of the legitimacy of Clinton’s email server issues, it was a sticking point for Trump and the Republicans all the way through the campaign. One of the lowest points for Hillary was after the release of the Wikileaks emails that showed the attempted collusion of the DNC to ensure Clinton would be the Democratic candidate. Even though Clinton got more votes in the primaries, it is obvious now to Sanders supporters that the DNC did not want Bernie to win.  

Trump’s campaign rhetoric was vague, off-base, and offensive. But he paid lip service to people who had been ignored by both parties for 30 years: white, working class people, especially males and especially people in the Rust Belt. According to Bernie Sanders’ platform, NAFTA caused the loss of 700,000 jobs, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would cause the loss of hundreds of thousands more. Despite most Republicans supporting the TPP, Trump rabidly opposed both NAFTA and the TPP. Meanwhile, Hillary supported the TPP, and her husband was the man who signed NAFTA into law. Trump had an enormous number of hiccups throughout his campaign, but he preyed on the sentiments and feelings of Middle America almost perfectly. Certainly, Trump’s success was due in part to his appeals to misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and his selection of a decidedly homophobic running mate in Mike Pence. But supporters of Trump had more than just hate speech as reasons to support Trump.

Instead of focusing on the blatant holes and lack of clear policy positions of Trump’s platform, the media as well as individuals on social media, focused on ostracizing and dismissing anyone who dared to support Trump. The demonization of all Trump supporters served only to anger those who were on the fence. Instead of pushing her well-developed policies that could help Americans, Hillary took Trump’s bait, calling his supporters a “basket of deplorables.”  We are in a time in America where people are more ideologically liberal than ever before, where registered Democrats hold an edge over registered Republicans.  However, many liberal-leaning media outlets created an echo chamber in which they all declared that it would be unconscionable to vote for Trump, ignoring the possibility that Trump had a very real chance of winning. Trump held rallies that were often times much larger than Hillary’s, but the media ignored this fact, instead choosing to point out that Clinton’s ground game would be much stronger because of the much better infrastructure and organization of the Democrats across the states.  

Liberals and conservatives have become more physically separated than ever before. Democrats in cities and college towns looked around and saw that there were hardly any Trump supporters and concluded that the election was already decided for Hillary. But they failed to go to the hinterlands of America and see the true groundswell of support for Trump. I’ve seen it firsthand in the past year: the panhandle of Florida, the old manufacturing sectors in North Carolina, the beaten down economically stagnant towns across Michigan and Pennsylvania, and even here in West Central Indiana. So many of these working-class voters became so tired of the Washington establishment that has betrayed them on both sides of the aisle, either through trickle-down economics lowering their wages or NAFTA taking away their jobs. They were willing to look beyond Trump’s prejudiced words and lack of political experience just so they could stick it to the establishment.