7 Lessons From the 2016 Election

donald trumpHi friends. It’s been 10 days since Donald J. Trump won the election for President of the United States. I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I’m deeply disappointed in the results, and in the American people. I truly believed we had come further than this.

But I waited to write this blog post for a few reasons. First, I wanted to let my personal feelings subside a bit; second, I wanted to see how the public would react; and third, I wanted to see what Trump’s first steps would be as president-elect.

Now that we’ve seen the first effects of this election, I can share some takeaways. Here are 7 lessons I’ve learned from the 2016 presidential election.

1. America has put minorities at risk. I have friends and family who voted for Trump. I don’t believe they are hateful people; I don’t believe they are racist people and I don’t believe they want to take away rights from minorities. However, a vote for Trump is a vote that condoned sexism, racism and homophobia. And the impact is very real. Trump has already vowed to appoint Supreme Court judges that will overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that granted women the right to legal abortion. These same judges, being deeply conservative, will also seek to overturn same-sex marriage. Not to mention vice president-elect Mike Pence has a horrifying history of anti-LGBT activism, including promoting electroshock therapy to “convert” gays. Trump has also floated the idea of a national Muslim registry, with advisers citing the Japanese internment camps of 1946 as a possible precedent. Finally, he has quickly made two alarming appointments: a known white supremacist with a history of anti-Semitism as Chief Strategist; and a man who was deemed too racist to be a federal judge as Attorney General.

2. Deleted emails are worse than a history of sexual assault. Not only has Trump been charged with rape three times, including a currently pending case against a 13-year-old girl (!!!!!!), we have heard him admit to assault of his own accord in the now-infamous leaked tapes. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton was hardly the first government official to have a sketchy email history – she was just the first to be publicly crucified for it. The George W. Bush administration also used a private email server and chief-of-staff Karl Rove ‘accidentally’ deleted 22 million emails. And for some reason, I don’t remember George W. Bush getting threats of impeachment or jail time.

3. Trump is all talk. After pledging repeatedly to “drain the swamp” of career politicians, lobbyists and special interests in Washington, Trump has assembled a transition team consisting almost exclusively of Washington insiders. This has to be a huge blow to all of his supporters who were hoping for change – and indeed, that was the one positive thing I had hoped would come out of the election. Hopefully his plans I reference in lesson #1 above turn out to be all talk too.

4. Only Republicans are allowed to exercise the Constitution. When liberals exercise their right to freedom of assembly in the form of peaceful protests, the conservative right will absolutely freak out and complain incessantly about it. This is obviously a little tongue-in-cheek, but the number of posts I’ve seen about this is getting ridiculous.

5. Gender played a role. Hillary was constantly demonized for the actions of her husband – a move that’s absolutely unprecedented in previous elections. Bill was not running; why was he constantly part of the conversation? Either it was his history with women, his affairs (“if she can’t control her husband how can she run a government?”) or his presidency (“she’s not qualified just because she was a First Lady”), all of which totally disregard HRC’s extensive experience in government. She was also often considered creepy and insincere because of her smile – or coming off as too harsh and shrill when she did not smile. Male public figures rarely deal with such criticism, largely because as a culture we are more comfortable with aggressive men than aggressive women.

6. The electoral college is outdated. Trump’s win comes despite Hillary earning 1.5 million more votes in the popular election. The idea that we are a “federation of states” is no longer relevant; we are a unified country and should be electing as such. And the idea that the electoral college needs to exist because rural Idaho needs to have a say just as much as New York City is ridiculous. One person, one vote. This leads to much higher voter turnout as well.

7. We have created a culture of hate. In the ten days since the election, we have seen a spike of hate crimes across America – against women, against Muslims, against Latino/as and against African-Americans. From groping in public and ripping hijabs off women to racist chants and graffiti, people are using the election as an excuse to unleash racism openly and proudly. And these crimes are happening down to middle schools. Our children are learning by the examples we set for them, and it horrifies me to think we are raising a generation of hate.

I hope against hope that these gloom-and-doom predictions never come to fruition. I hope against all odds Trump does some good over the next four years – or at least doesn’t do much damage. But his election has made it clear now more than ever that America has a long way to go for women, for LGBT individuals, for African Americans and all racial minorities.

I implore people from both parties to come together in these respects. Trump supporters should be the LOUDEST voices denouncing the hate crimes and racist messages spreading across the country. You want us to believe your party isn’t sexist, isn’t racist, and isn’t homophobic? Now is the time to prove it.


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