The cornerstone of great democracies, voting has become an imperative channel for public participation in politics and thus a fundamental part in establishing the vision of the Founding Fathers: a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Brilliantly engineered by the likes of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, the drafting of documents such as The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution laid the groundwork for a truly representative government. Since its founding, our nation has come a long way, from the persistent demonstrations of U.S. women suffragettes in the early winter months of 1913, to those who braved the blistering heat of the 1964 Freedom Summer during which droves of African-Americans were registered to vote as part of a historic civil rights movement.
Fast forward a few decades to November 8, 2016, the 58th United States presidential election. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party presidential nominee, was the first major female candidate for president, and counterpart Republican Donald Trump ran promising much of the long-neglected electorate to “make America great again.”
For some, it’s a wonder how we finally came to an end of this election, surviving month upon dreary month of a mud-slinging campaign of “shocking scandals” and inevitable controversy.
“I went from Barack Obama, a black man with a great hairline to this bigoted, orange, orangutan, Cheeto-dust man Trump.”
That night, a sleepless nation held its breath in anticipation, anxious and wide-eyed, as the votes were counted. Early in the day, the election seemed to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: Clinton was projected to be ahead of her opponent by nearly every national poll. She had been praised for her poised performance during all three debates, and her impressive resume of work in politics had many convinced that she would certainly become the next President of the United States.
And yet, against all odds, Trump emerged victorious in the early hours of the morning, dubbed President-elect of the United States with 306 electoral votes and 47.2% of the popular vote (one of five times in the history of the United States that a president has been elected contrary to the popular vote).
According to exit poll data provided by CNN, Trump did particularly well among the white, lesser educated (those without a college education), older, and male demographics, as well as members of the middle and upper classes. It appears that Trump’s message of bringing back jobs to the once-booming industrial heartland of the nation best resonated in places where these groups make up a staunch majority. Trump’s appeal to these sections of the electorate was largely responsible for his domination of the Midwest and for Republican reclamation of key states that President Obama had won in the past two elections, including Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa and Ohio. Essentially, this emphasis on rural parts of the nation beat out Clinton’s urban, metropolis voters, predominantly made up of minority groups, the LGBTQ+ community, women, individuals at the college graduate or post-graduate education levels, and those between ages 18-25.
But what of the aftermath? Gauging the attitude of Logan High is telling of a great divide.
“I was excited that Trump won, because he went against the political system completely and showed the people that a complete outsider has the potential to make change in the world,” senior Alex Larson said. “When he won, I was in shock. Earlier that day, I was looking at polls and percentages, and from what it said, it was a landslide victory for Hillary. Going into the night, I was on the edge of my seat, biting my nails and covering my eyes. As I was flipping through FOX, CNN and NBC, all showing the same results, Trump was in.”
“It is tragic,” senior Aeden Anbesse said of the election results. “Overall, I feel like this election has been an eye-opening experience, not only to the underlying racism issues in America, but also by bringing these issues to light. It has given a lot of footing for social activism groups to say, ‘Hey look! [Trump is] saying all these things, and he’s still being taken seriously, and that’s an issue,’ and in that way, Trump has been a blessing to minority groups.”
“But still, I’m heartbroken,” she continued. “I went from Barack Obama, a black man with a great hairline to this bigoted, orange, orangutan, Cheeto-dust man Trump.”
As the above quotes demonstrate, there is no question that we emerge from this election a staunchly divided nation. So is this diversity of our marketplace of ideas the Achilles’ heel of our country, or is it a virtue set forth by the Founding Fathers?
News Editor: Elizabeth Needham, Emanuel Abebe
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