Pandora's Box: Potential Fallouts From the 2016 Election
Back in May, I wrote an article called the Not-so Secret-Success of Donald Trump. I was referring to how Donald Trump went from being a comedic show piece of the upcoming election, to a near-apocalyptic reality of a man who was openly sexist, prejudiced, and ill-tempered for a president, because of three supporting factors. Those factors were being underestimated, his grass roots support base that fueled his rise, and his finances that made him difficult if not impossible to shame into shutting up and stopping his campaign.
Now it’s October, and while he is indeed the Republican candidate we all fear, his chances of winning that office seem less and less likely with each new scandal and ill-tempered, immature reaction he gets caught in. So I began to wonder, if Trump does lose to Hillary Clinton in November, what is the fallout going to be?
Cat Out of The Bag
I think this a road not considered very often because most human beings are drawn to the moment. The immediate-awareness of something eventful or exciting happening locks our attention and efforts and leaves little room for considering what happens afterwards. I have heard this referred to as, ‘blowback’ when it comes to military and political fallouts. And that is what I think the case post November is going to be; only it will be political and social.
One of the reasons I mentioned in the May article for Donald Trump’s rise to the republican candidacy was that his unpopular and hostile rhetoric connected with a portion of the population that felt overwhelmed by an overly aggressive progressive social movement. This was a large section that felt that their voices, even if they were not racist or xenophobic in anyway, were being silenced because it didn’t go along with the progressive spirit of the times. And felt intolerance within this spirit of tolerance for any other views but the ones that were liberal.
One arguably good thing that Trump’s run has done is show America just how divided it is regarding the social direction its going. For the last few years, media and social pundits have led a majority of us to believe that we were becoming a more liberal nation from the conservatism that reigned before. And we thought this a good thing because of all the injustices that the conservative status quo covered up or rationalized. However Trump’s refusal to back off his statements regarding Muslims and Mexicans reveals that a large portion of this country doesn’t feel that progressive.
That population will still be there after the election. They may feel defeated, angry, and frustrated, but they’ll still be there and now we all know they’re there. Moreover, they may not be as silent about their grievances as they were before the box was opened. Most of that will be directed at Hillary as she will be the lightning rod for their loss. That is going to be a reality that we will have to contend with for a long time. Their concerns will still be there fueling their animosity.
Hopefully we can come to an understanding that leaves no one feeling undermined, but it’s going to be hard. When push comes to shove, we Americans aren’t known for rational thinking when what we desire is at stake.
This isn’t to justify prejudice and injustice, but to acknowledge what’s there, because it was that refusal to acknowledge that that lead to Trump’s becoming the Republican candidate in the first place. Some have said that Trump’s statements are what caused this rift in society, but I don’t believe that to be true. The ground work was already there as Republicans have been milking that base long before Trump came along. Where do they think the Tea Party came from?
It is similar to the belief about Hitler’s rise to power in 1930’s Germany. For decades most thought and still think that Hitler made Germany racist. No, Germany was always racist when it came to Jews. Hitler was just able to use that environment better than his contemporaries. After the war, it took Germany a long time to become the very opposite of that today, and even then a small remnant remains of those old prejudices.
"Hearing the Beastie Boys speak out against sexism made me feel like if these men who had once sung about getting girls to 'do the laundry' and 'clean up my room' could understand, maybe the rest of the world would follow suit. It made me hopeful in the best way."— Jessica Valenti
Another fallout that I can see happening from Trump’s run for president is just how ugly and animistic many Americans perceptions are of women and how wide spread it is. Back in 2012, Mitt Romney’s campaign suffered a critical blow when a video was leaked from a convention where he referred to the majority of Americans as the “47%”, those who would vote for a president who would allow them to be dependent on the government and pay no income tax. And then outright saying he was not going to worry about that because he couldn’t convince them no matter what he did. Referring to nearly half the American populace as free-loaders is a pretty inflammatory statement, and we probably thought it would’ve been hard to create another political blunder like that.
Enter 2016 and Donald Trump has surpassed that for his recent “locker room conversations” about grabbing women’s vaginas. The difference between this and Romney’s 2012 statement is how blatant the recorded subject was, as well as the actions that such statements represented to the female populace of the country. Michelle Obama’s strong and emotional speech afterwards best shows how shocked people were at how a presidential nominee could make such predatory remarks, no matter how private.
Ignoring for the moment the effect this would have on how women vote in November, the fallout after November would be the exposure of just how wide spread and prominent such attitudes and behaviors are in our ‘progressive society’. It would not surprise me in fact if people started viewing all or most corporate men as potential sexist predators who are sheltered by their vanguard of lawyers, money, hiding behind their high towers of glass and steel. It takes ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ to another level as it is not something representing the way things were and receding, but represents the way things still are and persistent it’s holdout is.
In a way, I am not surprised that such primal attitudes still exist among Americans either. The recorded conversation was from four years ago, and I am pretty sure that if you got half the conversations that most Americans have had from four to ten years ago, you would find similarly ugly statements made about somebody or group of people. Or acts that at the time seemed ok but now would no longer be acceptable. It may not be about sexual assault, but if it was about homeless people, or handicapped, refugees, or so on. Make no mistake that what Trump said was awful, but what made it awful for a large number of people was not as much that he said it, but that he got caught!
What if our earlier conversations and actions came to light the way his has?
A Cloud of Mistrust
The last fallout I can see happening is a cynical and distrustful view of the Republican Party and it support base in the population. Right or wrong, this probably has more to do with Trump’s statement on women than his stance on Muslims and Mexicans. Barrack Obama effectively called bullshit on the Republican Party during a press conference soon after the Trump’s recording was released.
He points out that Trump didn’t appear from nowhere but was put into that position by the Republican Party: the very party that is now trying to push him off the ship because again, of the sexist remarks and now the women coming forward claiming that Donald Trump had groped them.
The latter part of Trump’s run seems to have had an extreme polarizing affect. The more extreme his statements became, the harder it became to still support him and consider yourself a morally, upright person. Perhaps his comments about groping women are a watershed mark because unlike Mexicans and Muslims, it can’t be excused or disguised as economics or national security. It’s just human ugliness in its most base and naked form. Something we want to believe we’re above.
Assuming Trump loses the election, Americans who did not support Trump will probably look on those who did as racist, sexist people even more so than they had at the beginning of his campaign to become a nominee. Whether or not they are actually as vile as they will be made out to be, those catching the blowback of that will either say that they didn’t support his attitudes and racism, but did his points on how they struggle with the economy, or will rationalize it off as something lesser than or akin to the new president being Hillary Clinton. Indeed many people have said they will vote for Trump simply because they hate Clinton.
Living Without the Illusion
I’m a believer in truth. What is, is and it doesn’t matter how much we like, or dislike that thing or how invasive it is to our lives. The sun will rise in east and set in the west. If it rains or snows, then it does, and so on. I think America has always lived on a perceived, positive idea of itself as it looks in the mirror, as far back as the American Revolution. We are a country of ideals more so than practicality because it’s the belief in those ideals that motivate our thinking, perceptions, and actions with each other and the world around us.
The one good thing I think the 2016 elections probably did for us as a nation is expose how far those ideals go and where their boundaries lay. America isn’t a conservative nation, but it’s not a progressive nation either. It’s what it has always been: a fucking mess of different people with different ideas and behaviors trying to work shit out or trying to avoid each other. After November, though I am sure we’ll try, we can no longer hide under a uniform blanket of being one people under one way thinking, going in one direction.
America is conflicted, a conflict that for varying and more in-depth reasons represents the best and worst of what humans are capable of. And if we want to be more unified as we have always dreamed ourselves of being, then we must first acknowledge that we are not. The fallouts from Trump’s 2016 run for president will be of exposed sores and wounds that will take time to heal, if we take the time to heal them instead of putting on a band aide. Otherwise another ‘Donald Trump’ will come along and may actually be worst than the one before.