BY BRENNEN AMONETT – STAFF WRITER
On April 12th, 2015, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her intention to run for President of the United States. On June 16th, after 14 other candidates announced their intentions to run for the Republican nomination, business mogul Donald J. Trump formally declared his intention to do the same.
The following year and a half, laden with scandal, degradation, pride, and disappointment, became a stunning revelation on the state of American politics. Yet through all the critique and defamation, on November 9th, 2016, Donald J. Trump awoke as President-elect of the United States of America.
No one thought it was possible, and no one was truly prepared.
In many instances, no one was prepared to deal with much of what this election season offered. Donald Trump shocked the electorate in July when he surpassed 15 other Republican candidates to become the party’s official nominee. Bernie Sanders surprised the establishment when he led a revolution among Democrats and Independents against the “one percent.” Even Gary Johnson and Jill Stein proved to the American people that one can reject the labels of “Republican” or “Democrat” and still be regarded as a legitimate option for President.
All in all, 2016 was a year of change. As results came in on election night, first from Florida, then North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, the voice of the people punctuated that sentiment, validating the fact that virtually every prediction made fell short of the truth that America wanted something different. And America certainly got something different.
This difference, however, was not the difference many expected, or hoped for. The majority of Americans that turned out to vote last Tuesday were generally in line with the polling done nationwide and voted for Secretary Clinton—she is projected to win the popular vote by two percentage points. This Tuesday, she officially surpassed Trump in the results by one million votes and has now received more votes to become president than any other presidential candidate besides Barack Obama.
However, our election process does not place the outcome of the presidential election directly in the hands of the people. If the current margins hold, Donald Trump will end up with 302 electoral college votes, compared to Clinton’s 232. This will be the 5th time in US History a president will be elected after losing the popular vote. Out of 45 presidents, 11 percent have now gained the Oval Office without the overwhelming support of the populace.
Protests erupted nationwide as demonstrators took to the streets in solidarity against the results, some refusing to accept a President-Elect Trump, others calling for the abolition of the electoral college altogether. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) sympathized with those voices and filed legislation on Tuesday to end the electoral college completely. Although this bill may resonate with Democrats coping with unsuspected results, Republicans holding the House and Senate are unlikely to approve the amendment.
Even President-elect Trump believed at one time that the electoral college denies agency to the people. In 2012, after Mitt Romney loss, he tweeted “the electoral college is a disaster for democracy.” He has since changed his stance, however, and now considers it “genius.” No matter Mr. Trump’s stance at the moment, his past comments prove that these concerns are not unfounded on either side of the political spectrum.
Other protesters do not wish to block Donald Trump’s path to the White House. Most only wish to address a lack of commitment to unification on Trump’s part, particularly in terms of a grueling campaign that many believe spurred hateful, divisive rhetoric in regards to gender, race, and religion.
Associate Professor of International Studies Dr. Robert Bosco expanded on this opinion, stating that “the election was fair, he just has to show he’s a conscientious leader who has the good of the country at mind. And by the good of the country I don’t mean particular segments.”
Dr. Bosco believes that the President-elect has simply not done enough to repair the damage he’s already done-not necessarily due to his policy-making, but as a result of inflammatory statements on social issues. “He can’t just say in a tweet he’s going to be a president for all Americans. That’s not going to do it.”
In terms of policy, “he can still put conservatives on the Supreme Court.” But there are very real social issues that Donald Trump has fed into, which he has a “moral responsibility to address directly.”
So far, many are unsatisfied with the actions, or lack thereof, taken by Mr. Trump. Both sides of the aisle have been vocal about rejecting Donald Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon, CEO of the Trump Campaign, to the White House’s chief strategist.
White nationalists see advocacy in Steve Bannon, whose media company has released articles with titles like “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy,” “The solution to online ‘harassment’ is simple: Women should log off,” and “Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew.” Breitbart has been a voice for the “alt-right” movement, which speaks out against immigration, multiculturalism, feminism, and political correctness, and proclaims ideals often considered racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic.
Steve Bannon’s appointment, then, does not fall out of line with Donald Trump’s endorsement from the KKK, praise from Vladimir Putin, or leaked comments from on an Access Hollywood set, and that is a problem.
According to Dr. Bosco, “Trump won the election fair and square, no one is debating this. But Trump’s Administration embraces White Nationalism, and people need to grow a backbone and call it out for what it is, period.”
If Trump is to repair divisiveness, as he said he would in his victory speech, these next few months before his inauguration will be crucial. Not only does he have to worry about a split among the American people, he also must remain aware of the rupture within the Republican Party. It will only be a matter of time until his obscure stances on repealing Obamacare, building a wall, deporting illegal immigrants, and “draining the swamp” will be met with fellow conservatives expecting results. Whether the sect of the country that voted for him will be satisfied remains a mystery.
What isn’t a mystery is America’s divided state. Now that President-elect Trump is on the road to the White House, his first order of business is to repair the disunity that was done, not only by his campaign, but many others throughout the past year and a half.
The President-elect works for the American people. Conservatism is not an inherently divisive quality, but bigotry is. In order to confidently assume the office of Commander in Chief, Donald Trump must take steps towards the condemnation of hatred with a statement more articulate than “stop it.” If Donald Trump expects a chance, he must earn the trust of all Americans, which may, in and of itself, provide the end of this unpredictable year with yet another surprise.