In order to decide on our strategy going forward, we must understand the many reasons why Donald Trump won the election. As I see it, the reasons are as follows:
I don’t watch the mainstream media much, but I did catch a few glimpses of its current format while watching the debates and the election night coverage. The presentation style is that of a football game. HILLARY. VERSUS. TRUMP. TONIGHT.
There are serious ideas with huge stakes. This isn’t a form of entertainment.
Not once was climate change mentioned during the three debates. Plenty of time was spent on emails, secret audiotapes, and scandals.
I heard yesterday that more cable news airtime was spent on footage of waiting for Donald Trump to get off of his plane than all coverage of Bernie Sanders, who almost upset Clinton in the primary. I am not sure if this was literal or hyperbole, but I think it was the former. In any case, the point is that Donald Trump was absolutely great for cable news ratings.
Our media should not be a for-profit business. It has a real important function in our society which is undermined by the profit motive.
We need to build many independent, crowd-sourced media organizations in order to have the real, honest truth about critical issues that we all need to be responsible citizens.
On the one hand I’m reluctant to blame the electoral college for this travesty. I am a basketball fan, and I get annoyed when a star player blames the referees for a one-point loss. There were so many plays in the game where the losing team could have made a better choice that would have put them over the top. So to blame the refs is to deflect blame from yourself.
Having said that, I think most Americans recognize that electing the President via the electoral college is undemocratic. And the fact of the matter is, we would have had Gore in 2000 and Clinton in 2016 if it hadn’t been for the electoral college. This arcane institution has got to go, or at least our current system of winner-takes-all for almost every state.
Republicans have been doing everything they can for a very long time to suppress the Democratic vote. In recent years it is voter IDs, reduced early voting, and closing polling places in Democratic districts. Would a well-oiled voting process have made a Clinton win possible? I don’t know, but voter suppression certainly had some effect.
We all know that the KKK endorsed Trump. That’s problematic in and of itself. But, beyond that, millions of people were attracted to Trump’s nativist, xenophobic, misogynist, racist, homophobic language. We are now seeing Trump’s victory being used as a license to engage in bigoted behavior around the country. It is true that not all Trump voters are bigots, but certainly some of them are.
Corrupt Democratic Party
Wikileaks provided a wealth of information to show the inner workings of the Democratic Party, and how it actively sabotaged Bernie’s bid for the nomination. Hillary showed that she has at least two versions of herself: the version that she shows to the elites and the version that she shows to Joe voter. The Democrats’ refusal to seriously take up any progressive issue like income inequality and climate change is completely uninspiring. And their refusal to allow more voices in debates betrays the name of their own party.
What This All Means
I listed all these issues out because I believe these are the core issues we have to fix, in various ways. These are the “what do we do now?” issues to work on. These and climate change. Trump didn’t win because of climate change but he’s certainly going to screw us all by ignoring the problem.
We have to start our own media organizations. We have to abolish the electoral college. We have to expand voting rights, and voting ease and access. We have to give people something inspiring to vote for so they turn out in much much larger numbers. We have to fight bigotry at every turn, in our local communities as well as in national policy. We have to take over the Democratic Party, as well as reinvigorate the Green Party, as well as to create all new political parties. And we certainly need to take direct action on climate change.
This is a tall order, but guess what? There’s a lot of us, and we’re pissed off.