By Alvin Murray
More than half of the voting population awoke to a stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton on Wednesday morning. November 9th, to many, was a day of grieving and loss. However, the sun did rise, and the country will peacefully pass the baton to a new government this January. There are a lot of things that remain uncertain, including some of Trump’s actual policies, but there are some silver linings for the majority of the country who did not vote for Trump.
THE NEW AGENDA
The last six years have been marred by Washington gridlock. The Republican party’s refusal to go along with the Obama agenda has been anxiety inducing, to say the least. As President Obama noted in 2010, “If I said the sky was blue, they would say no. If I said fish live in the sea, they would say no.” Republicans have been attempting to block the success of the President since November 4th, 2008. This peaked during the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis when financial markets tanked due to the uncertainty of whether the government could actually function. At the 11th hour, a bologna compromise was formed and set the standard for the next five years, essentially declaring that the federal government would be powerless as long as Mr. Obama stayed in the Oval Office.
The election of Donald Trump reinforced the status quo. Allowing the GOP to maintain control of the two chambers of Congress. “Donald Trump provided the kind of coat tails that got a lot of people over the finish line so we could maintain our strong House and Senate majorities,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan noted in his post-election speech on Wednesday. The Republican Party now controls two federal branches of government, the majority of state governorships, and the majority of state legislatures. Trump will also appoint at least one Supreme Court justice during his presidency, guaranteeing that the third branch of federal government will be under the control of, ideological conservatives. The country, quite simply, is in the control of the GOP. They have great autonomy to pass their platforms without blaming another party for their failure. The U.S. is now a solo show with the GOP on guitar, synthesizer, and vocals. It will be interesting to see what hit singles come out.
The flip side of this coin should be the complete makeover of the Democratic Party. The DNC spent a lot of money and time focusing their message to enlist the coalitions of a changing demographic, namely Latino, Black, women, and LGBTQ voters. While the outreach to these coalitions helped Barack Obama win two elections, the DNC neglected to reach out to the core of the electorate: white voters. Nearly 70% of the voting electorate was made up of white folks. Donald Trump handily took 58% of the White vote and was still able to nab a further 21% of the non-white vote. What’s more, the DNC’s massive attempt to woo women voters ended up with a paltry 54% of the group. This should have a been a cakewalk against a man who thinks it’s OK to grab women "by the pussy" because of one’s celebrity status. The message and targeting of the DNC needs to be further broadened to the coalition of everyone. If that was their original intention, they have failed and some soul searching should be in order.
Furthermore, the tiff between former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the campaign of Bernie Sanders exposed great divides in how the Democratic Party forms their wing of American democracy. By ignoring the mood of the country and the momentum of the campaign, the DNC futzed with fire and ultimately got burned by supporting Hillary Clinton through back channels. The Democratic Party needs to be condemned to a crash course on democracy for the next two years, where they relearn that party unification and message is tantamount to regaining power.
ACTIVISM AND POLITICAL AWARENESS
People are fired up! Maybe a little later than they should have been, but Tuesday’s results have widened eyes around the country. Anti-trump demonstrations shut down parts of Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City Wednesday evening. The election of Donald Trump forced a reality check on those who did not vote for the president-elect. Running an extremely divisive campaign, it is tough to imagine if these demonstrations would have happened if any other GOP candidate had been the eventual nominee and winner. Civil liberties groups that could be adversely affected by President Trump’s policies, have been the subject of rally cries across the country. New York Magazine posted 10 charities and organizations that could face blowback from a Trump administration. Likewise, the ACLU reported that they received almost a million dollars in the immediate aftermath of the election through more than 14,000 individual donations. In the same way the Trump campaign shook off the cobwebs of American complacency in the democratic system on the right, his win will create an equal and opposite reaction from the left.
THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE
Democracies are ugly. They require compromise and patience: two rare commodities that exist in the fast-paced-echo-chambers of our 21st century social media infused realities. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, an indicator that the majority of voting Americans prefer the Clinton platform to the Trump platform. On the other hand, Trump won the electoral college; the key to winning the highest power in the land. Is this fair? Perhaps not, but the rules were stated from the onset of the campaign. In fact, the rules have been in place since the dawn of the republic. As the kids say, "don’t hate the player, hate the game." Donald Trump played the game and beat his opponent according to the rules, fair and square. That doesn’t mean the country has to like it. That is the beauty of a democracy: dissent. If you do not support Donald Trump’s policies, this should be a moment of reflection and analysis. And then it is time to put on the shoes and the socks and get out there to promote a democracy in action.