Over 500 days of campaigning, traveling, polling, challenging, advertising, and debating ended on Tuesday, November 8 with the 2016 General Election. There were hundreds of offices across the country up for grabs but all were fixed on the Presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Both sides did what they could to energize the voting population to side with their respective views of the direction for our country but numbers show that people were not particularly motivated to get out and vote for either candidate. It appears that voter turnout was the lowest in the last 20 years. This looked to hurt Clinton more; according to FiveThirtyEight.com, “[t]he drop in turnout was uneven. On average, turnout was unchanged in states that voted for Trump, while it fell by an average of 2.3 percentage points in states that voted for Clinton.” There are a number of reasons why eligible voters decided to not to cast their ballots but is probably safe to say that the majority of them felt that neither of the two major party candidates were viable choices to be the 45th President of this country.
We all were going to bare witness to something historic. Many were looking forward to seeing the first woman elected to the nation’s highest office with Clinton winning the Presidency. What we all got, instead, was the first candidate who had never held an elected government office nor served in the military in Trump. Both seemed to be improbable stories at one point or another but here we are with President-elect Trump.
Neither one of these candidates really received the full rallying of the parties they represented. Clinton endured a hotly contested primary with Bernie Sanders which split the Democrats; more moderates and establishment types backed Clinton while Sanders mobilized the more progressive wing of the party, including yours truly. Sanders implored his followers to get behind Clinton but the kerfuffle at the Democratic National Convention and the fallout with Debbie Wasserman Shultz kept the party fractured.
Even with the nonsense going on with the Dems, the GOP was an even bigger mess. Remember when the Republican primary had 17 candidates?…Yeah, 17 effin candidates! What I found astonishing in those early days was that this wasn’t (and still isn’t) a “big tent” party so, having 17 candidates saying varying degrees of virtually the same thing was just a big tent for a wild circus. Rick Perry and Scott Walker entered around the same time and exited around the same time in September 2015 and was at the dance for about 5 minutes (roughly 2 months for both) while Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki stuck it out just a tiny bit longer but not into 2016. Then for various reason, half of the remaining candidates dipped in February 2016–Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, Jim Glimore, and Jeb Bush. All of this just gave Trump more fuel and the feuds with the remaining candidates appeared to get uglier and more personal. Ben Carson and Marco Rubio peeled back in March 2016 leaving just three candidates…until the first week of May. When Ted Cruz dropped out, the Republican party was at a major crossroad because Trump seemed to have grabbed the public while the establishment was still with Cruz. Maybe the GOP could get behind the last standing adult in John Kasich–Nope. He just shut it down less than 24 hours after Cruz did. Trump was the last man standing and the party went into the Republican National Convention fractured.
Whew…That was a bit tiring. But that’s how we got the two candidates. And yes, I know that Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were on the ballot and I mean absolutely no disrespect to them or their campaigns (I actually like a good portion of Johnson’s platform) but they just weren’t going to get enough votes to be seriously considered formidable options for the White House against Trump and Clinton. It’s just the way our system is made up and it’ll be that way for quite some time–or the two major parties split like what happened to the Democratic-Republican party of 1824. Now, this could change if our country moved from the current “first-pass-the-pole/winner-take-all” electoral system in place now to a proportional representational system like Israel, South Africa, Greece, Japan, and Mexico.
But I digress…
Donald J. Trump was elected President and will take office Friday, January 20, 2017. This week has been a difficult one for many people in this country. There are those who have basically been in morning because the thought of a President Trump pains them that much. There are those who are hopeful because of the prospect of an outsider heading to Washington D.C. to shake things up within the government. There are those who are angry and have been protesting either Trump’s election or the process or both. Some folks are legitimately depressed over this and are seeking therapy via the web. I will admit that I was sadden by the results last Tuesday (not just the Presidential results but locally in Indiana, too). I could not talk about the election results because they troubled me so much. It was hard to imagine that the next elected President just may be someone who is so completely opposite of my views for the country–but others probably felt the same way with President Obama was elected and definitely when he was re-elected.
Being disappointed is okay but the time has come to get back up and continue to move toward progress. This is a moment where we should rise up and push for what we believe is right and for the good of all Americans. President Obama is absolutely correct in saying that President Trump’s success America’s success. That doesn’t mean that we don’t check him when we believe that he is not acting within America’s best interest in mind, like Senator Elizabeth Warren said. It is our duty to seek the best possible solutions for our country together.
The elections results have served as a personal wake up call to me. For many years, I have been talking about getting into politics and running for office. I have continued to sit by and wait for that candidate to bring about the changes I would like to see or champion the causes that I hold dear. The time of waiting and being idle has passed. For those who continue to follow my journey, you will see a more active individual in the process. It is my mission to do whatever I can to positively influence the policies of my community for the betterment of the people–all of the people. I owe that to my daughters and to everyone who has taken the leap before I was here to use my talent, desire, and body to do so.