Donald Trump wins an election that wasn't about choices, after all

Trump wins an election that wasn’t about choices, after all

U.S. election night revealed two Americas. The one that believes in an American dream for all was in the minority.

Carol Minor (centre) along with other supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump cheer during the election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown on November 8, 2016 in New York City. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Carol Minor (centre) along with other supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump cheer during the election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown on November 8, 2016 in New York City. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This was not an election, it was a census. Elections are about issues and choices, but this year there wasn’t much of either.

There was no clash of ideas. During their evening news broadcasts, the major TV networks devoted only 32 minutes to substantive coverage of either candidate’s platform throughout the entire campaign. And perhaps even that was too much. Trump offered precious few details about how he was going to make America great again. And even those particulars disappeared as his campaign marched on and his message became more and more vague. The night before the election, Trump simply told his supporters a vote for him would “make every dream you’ve ever dreamed… come true.”

And, truthfully, few voters made actual choices. After the Republican and Democratic conventions in July, the aggregate polling numbers for both Trump and Clinton were remarkably firm. The odds of who would ultimately become president swung wildly, due to subtle shifts in certain key states, but overall, the headcount for both candidates remained roughly the same, always within only a few percentage points of each other.

No, this vote was decided by identity. This was a census that measured the size of two very different and very distant Americas. The first is a nation composed of those who believe America is still great. This included lower-income voters who know welfare programmes and health insurance aren’t abstract policy ideas, and they could only vote for someone who promised to protect them. It included African Americans, who rightly feel the country has a long way to go, but still value the hard fought gains of the civil rights movement, and could only support a candidate who feels the same. And it included Latinos who could never support someone who emphasized race over citizenship and who promised to stop immigration.

The second group being counted was those who believe America’s best days are behind it. These are people who are fundamentally scared. On the surface, they might be doing well, with a job and a big house. But they’re worried new trade deals or more taxes could take it all away. They are also less educated, and feel threatened by an economy with fewer factory workers and more programmers. They are overwhelmingly white; and they are concerned immigration will eventually make them a minority in their own country. This group blames “the establishment” for taking America down the wrong road and they are so demoralized about the state of the nation, they could only support someone who promises to tear down the status quo.

So, tonight the census results came in, and they found that more voters fell into the second category: people fearful of modern America in all its liberty and diversity. Those who still believe in an American dream for all, this was the minority.

Over the last few decades, U.S. political races have increasingly become less about democracy and more about demographics. When Mitt Romney lost the last presidential election, the Republican post mortem warned that the party needed to expand its base. Trump himself had views on this and predicted that without immigration reform, the party was doomed in 2016.

But Trump changed his mind and decided he didn’t need to widen the base, he needed to deepen it. He began in his very first speech, announcing his candidacy, by vilifying Latinos. He described Mexicans immigrants as criminals and rapists, and it went downhill from there. His gambit worked. He won the vocal support of the KKK, and the silent support of enough Americans to give him the White House.

A lot of people will be saying a house divided cannot stand. The shock of a Trump presidency will have many declaring the end of the American experiment. And there are reasons to fear this. These two Americas live in different worlds, have different values, and increasingly live separate lives. And the men and women they send to Washington reflect this. Bipartisanship is at a historic low, and the scorched earth campaign of Trump will make it even worse. There are bad days ahead.

But, America has seen bad days before. When Abraham Lincoln was elected, he faced a divided nation too, one on the brink of civil war. He ended his inaugural address with a plea that is as relevant today as it was in 1861:

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

I promise you, eventually, Americas will once again be touched by the better angels of their nature.


Trump wins an election that wasn’t about choices, after all

  1. White trash, class envy ,the uneducated….Americans are not yet ready for the next level.

    • Yep they’re not ready but Trump is going to drag them there kicking and screaming

  2. If the Dems put up a decent candidate, they would have won.

    • There have been 12 previous women candidates for president

      None of them have been found ‘suitable’

      This is just sexism

      • No, it’s not sexism. People hate Hillary’s guts, they don’t trust her. Look, Obama is a brilliant man and probably the most charismatic politician of our time, but in 08 he was a nobody and she had the backing of the DNC and the media, and he whooped her. That shouldn’t have happened, but it did, and in hindsight it speaks volums. So 8 years later she has a DNC and media backing her even harder, and she barely squeaks by an old, rather obscure socialist, a party outsider. Then she loses to the worst presidential candidate of all time, and that’s with a president with high approval ratings campaigning for her, not to mention her husband who despite being such a wretched human was also a very popular POTUS. Her lies, her and Bill’s scams, her leadership (or lack thereof) as SOS, these are what sunk her. Michelle will probably run in 2020 and destroy Trump, but Hillary will go down in history as one of the most hated political figures in US history and it’s not because of sexism.

        • Yes, it’s sexism. All of the other accusations are because of the same sexism

          She’s never been charged or arrested for anything…in 40 years!

          And if Michelle ever runs…..sexism will hit her to

          Actually it’s misogyny…..and the US just isn’t ready for that kind of change..

          • Far be it for me to agree with Emily on much of anything. But she does have a point on this one. There has been quite a bit of research on this and, apparently, sexism does play a large role in peoples’ perception, and reception, of men vs women in leadership positions. Things still have a long way to go as women are still at a large disadvantage, and held to a much higher standard, then men in that regard.

            Certainly, there are a lot of other factors that played into Trump’s win; but sexism cannot be denied as one of them.

          • She soon will be charged as well as a few other people. She is as crooked as can be, her and billy bob and “now” they have no protection.

        • Johnd80 Sorry you are way of base, first of all not all people who have not been charged are innocent, secondly Bill and Hillary are a sleazy pair and if you don’t think so I question your moral judgement.

          • Why do you believe that presumption of innocence is no longer a principle of justice the US?

      • Facts: The kings of Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Qatar gave $25 million, $6 million and $1 million to The Clinton Foundation. If you think they did that from the goodness of their hearts, I have some prime swamp land to sell you. Then the Clintons used $3 million from their foundation to pay for their daughter’s wedding. She lost because she and Willy are corrupt, plain and simple. And interestingly, from an interview with Julian Lasagne, the founder of Wiki Leeks, he didn’t get the material he leaked from Russian Government hackers but from insiders in the FBI and CIA who were fed up with the corrupt Clintons getting away with their slimy deeds over and over.

        • Unless you have some proof of illegality….give the crap a rest.

          • Your normal thoughtless comment.

      • Sexism no doubt was part of it. But it’s far too simplistic to say that’s the reason.

        The American political system is hopelessly broken, and most Americans know it. Far too many politicians are more worried about looking after the vested interests that fund their campaigns than looking after the people who vote for them. And Hillary is the poster child for that mindset.

        Trump promised something different. He’s an outsider. And the Dems tossed their outsider aside in favour of Hillary. So Americans held their nose and voted for what Trump represents, despite the odious nature of the man himself.

        I think we’ll all come to regret that – right across the globe. And I have genuine concerns as to whether we can survive that decision. With Donald’s finger on the button, nuclear winter is a very real possibility.

        Come 2020, assuming there’s still life on this planet and voting is still allowed, let’s hope the Americans have the good sense to toss Trump and decimate the Republicans.

        • I think Trump will make the US government so business like and efficient that we’ll want some of that here to replace our free spending, debt ridden (and rising) Liberals in Ontario and Ottawa. When the President of the US amasses $21 trillion in debt ($60,000 for EVERY man, woman and child in the US), it’s high time for someone to take over who knows how to spend effectively and efficiently.

          • Most of that debt was thanks to Dubya’s failed policies. The Republican House and Senate during Obama’s watch also has a lot to do with it.

  3. You say, “Those who still believe in an American dream for all… are lower-income voters who know welfare programmes and health insurance aren’t abstract policy ideas, and they could only vote for someone who promised to protect them.”

    So, this means that, in your opinion, the American dream has degenerated to a desire to be taken care of by the Nanny State? What a sad, pessimistic, defeatist view of the United States and Americans in general. Perhaps Trump’s victory suggests that the majority of Americans do not view themselves and their country in such negative terms.

  4. From my perspective, it is obvious that a majority of those who voted had heard all the usual issues and choices discussed prior to voting in previous elections but had seen no positive results which improved their personal situations, despite the best efforts of a black president. Thus they saw no alternative but to vote for someone unconventional who promised to change things for them and who was not from the existing establishment, despite his many unethical stands on race, religion etc. They had nothing to lose. It is likely that many of his supporters, including good law abiding Americans from differing cultural backgrounds (a surprising number of black people and Latinos voted for him than was anticipated), despised his position on these issues but what alternative did they have ?
    Hillary Clinton did not command sufficient respect to overcome their concerns. Bernie Sanders could have done so, but he did not suit the Democratic elite. Too bad, as I am sure many Trumpers would have voted for him and his ideas and the Democrats’ embarrassment would have been avoided.
    Not withstanding the above, Congress is unchanged with the Corporate Republican Elite still in control and Trump will suffer just as much frustration as Obama has …..that is, if he even tries to change conditions for his base supporters.
    Plus ca change………….

  5. Canadians need to stop fussing about what’s going on in the kitchen and seriously consider what’s going on in the basement: there’s every chance that at least some of the fumes will find their way upstairs. For example, we can expect more travel restrictions on Canadians with names like Mohammed and Manuel. Withdrawal of NAFTA will have a substantial economic impact. We can also expect home grown bigots to be emboldened by actions of our neighbors; already we see our media has espoused the meme that ‘Hispanic’ is a race; this may even encourage the CPC to expand on their ‘old stock Canadian’ messaging and we shouldn’t be surprised if ‘Canadian values’ comprises deportation of selected minorities. Canada may even see an influx of refugees much like the draft dodgers of the past.

  6. Somebody buy Scott Gilmore the book Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, and he wouldn’t spout such nonsense.

    The people who voted for Trump have been worse than neglected for 25 years and abused by both major parties. Their sons and daughters have fought the stupid meaningless wars (started by both parties), while the children of the elites partied. The elites used the easy money conjured up at the Fed to move all their jobs to China and Mexico. And as a final “thank you”, Obama has given them health “insurance” where all they get is a big bill and no coverage, since the deductibles are so high. You write a cheque to the health insurance companies and then have to pay out of pocket for all you own health care.

    The people who voted for Trump are mostly people who played by the rules and got screwed by the elites and the political establishment.

    As Michael Moore as said…it is just a massive FU to the powers-that-be for a generational of colossally effing everything up.

  7. You can’t call it a census when only 57% of the eligible population voted.

    • The refusal of many to get out and vote is a shame but it is their shame. The election is no less valid because eligible voters refuse to make an effort to participate in their own country’s democratic process. Some voters announced that they were so disgusted by the two options for President that they purposely spoiled their ballots. Their refusal to make a choice; to participate in the process is still a choice. They have to live with that refusal. No one can force them to become educated in the politics of their country or to become even mininimally involved. Sadly more citizens are concerned with the Khardasians and Brad and Angelina than who is going to lead their country.

  8. While I would preface this by saying hindsight is 20/20, I truly believe this was an election of the resolute, with all the parties involved defiantly sticking to their interpretation of the world and refusing to see or hear the others.

    “There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.”

    1. The Republican Party – Sticking to hard-line conservative “values”, all while their party’s ticket was being hijacked by a former-liberal who refused to play by their rules.
    2. The Democratic Party – Who staunchly pushed their anointed but seriously flawed successor candidate, in spite of evidence that a truer and much more popular and inspiring candidate stood a better chance of winning.
    3. The Media- Who succumbed to the outrageous (and highly rated entertainment/diversion) antics of Trump and stuck to the belief that America would come to their senses and pick experience, even though that meant swallowing the distasteful candidate being forced upon them, while dismissing the outsider appeal and Teflon nature of the “other” candidate, who could clearly say and do almost anything and live to see another day.
    4. Hillary Clinton- Who failed to see that female and experienced wasn’t enough to guarantee election, even against an outrageously inferior opposition. If it was, the race would have been over months ago.
    5. The pro-Trump voters- who fiercely clung to a vision of America they alone remember fondly. The world (and global industry/technology) has moved forward and unfortunately won’t be coming back. The incestuous and ineffective Washington they wanted to change will continue on, still ruled by money and corporate influence.
    6. The pro-Hillary voters- who were convinced that young people inspired by Bernie would automatically transfer their hopes and votes to Hillary, or even show up to vote.
    7. The Disillusioned Voting Public: Who were convinced their vote didn’t matter. Almost half of whom couldn’t be bothered to vote, and they now have to face a very uncertain future, knowing they could have stopped it.

    The end-result: The improbable became reality. The Republican Party gleefully accepts a position of political control that they could only have dreamed of days before. The world at large waits with bated breath to see how bad the fallout will be.

  9. Another sanctimonious moralizing article by a progressive who believes, like all progressives, that he owns the moral universe. This election was about choices. They just weren’t choices that Gilmour in his sanctified world of righteousness is prepared to admit exist. “White trash” – a good way to demonise perfectly ordinary, intelligent, thinking people, plus large numbers of Latinos, blacks and which ever other groups progressives like to believe have no ability to think for themselves because they are not- well – white, voted for Trump. They voted for him,not because he is the ideal candidate but because he was the candidate of change. And if the media want to know what white trash men AND women, and 25% of Latino voters and even 10% of blacks voted against , they only have to read this and other articles by the clueless, closed minded bigoted liberal press.

  10. Well Gilmore, as per all your comments on this election over the last few months you’re batting a thousand.
    You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  11. Ah yes, another overly simplistic commentary from someones who’s obviously been taught by his other half.

  12. The article’s subhead reads: “The one that believes in an American dream for all was in the minority.”

    That’s not true. They were NOT in the minority. They were in the majority, by more than 2 million votes.

    It was the minority mindset that won the electoral college.