Where We Are Now
In what can only be described as the end of American politics, Donald Trump won the presidency of the United States. As a vocal and ardent opponent to the Alt-Right and everything else Trump represents, this is a moment of loss and grief.
Naturally, social media exploded telling every liberal to deal with it and how they were wrong, while all liberals were trying to pacify themselves with these platitudes of comfort. They also had a lot of people trying to bridge the divide that this election has caused, which was nice but so tone deaf.
So, what happened?
The Blind Echo Chamber
Every major poll declared Hillary as the winner back in July.
Some sites even mocked other pollsters for not giving Hillary a 99% chance of winning (1). As a supporter of Hillary, even if not totally, and a person terribly afraid of what a Trump administration would entail, then this sounds delightful. Memes flew every wherever as we all waited for the annoying election from Hell to end.
Then, it went very poorly for the liberal side.Trump won the presidency while losing the popular vote. Here we are.
Memes as a Distraction
Terence McKenna said that memes are “the smallest unit of an idea that still has coherency” (2). What people miss is memes are not conversations or discourse; they are bite-sized snippets to consume and move on. They assume context exists and work as a way of passing on information. In the Internet era, they became a source of jokes where any side can find them amusing.
Take these memes from about Harambe:
While immensely humorous, Harambe garnered write-in votes in this mega election, though the number is highly exaggerated (3). Because of this rolling joke that pops up every day it seems, a bunch of adults waited in line to vote for a dead gorilla.
This is where memes distract from true discourse. These jokes don’t really address the real issues: humans capturing animals and putting them down when humans fail, and the role of parents being massively depressed. Harambe was shot when a small child entered his enclosure, and like most major primates, he attacked the child. By all accounts, a gorilla really has no right to be in a cage that close to humans. And, this child had to scale a small fence to get into the enclosure. My parents were of the generation that kept hands off kids to allow exploration, but there was never a circumstance, despite every shady zoo I visited, where I was alone long enough to dive into a death pit.
And thus where memes failed this conversation. People who either don’t understand what actually happened to a fucking gorilla re-appropriate the jokes as their own thing, and that’s why a dead gorilla received votes in 2016.
Maybe these voters would have gone Clinton too. Maybe they assumed she was winning, and their votes weren’t needed. They could easily make that mistake if they were avid readers of certain websites.
Politics and the Online Echo Chamber
Polls weren’t the only place where we were misled, but they were majorly wrong. Real Clear Politics had Trump losing for a while (4). FiveThirtyEight had a 70% to 90% chance of Hillary winning presidency (5). It was hard to find anyone with real credibility who put Trump winning.
Then, the son of a bitch did.
Reddit’s /r/politics would have told you this was impossible. Any leads Trump got were just anomalies. They cited references, explained his victories as mistakes or exaggerations, and then, they pushed Hillary Clinton.
What these sources missed were the rural voters (6).
The Rural Vote
In many areas of the country, everything is pretty nice. The economy is a lot better than when Obama took office. Jobs are up. Insurance coverage is great.
However, in rural areas, the opposite is true. Manufacturing and energy jobs are gone. This creates ghost towns with people to have nothing to do. Worse still, oil is depressed, and the oil industry is renowned for overpaying under-skilled workers, leaving them stuck in a permanent loop of relying on the oil industry to employ them, lay them off, and rehire for less money, based on inflation (7).
These people didn’t care. They just wanted change. Hillary was the continuation of Obama’s rule, but Trump was different. Who cares that he literally cannot force dead industries back to areas, or force capitalist companies to not outsource labor and manufacturing. Trump supporters don’t really care about facts and logistics; Trump’s entire campaign was devoid of the minutiae of how to implement anything he declared he’d do (8). They just wanted the rhetoric.
Liberals wanted status quo, and we bet hard on that. We assumed everyone was like us, but when reality hit, we were gutted.
The Way Forward
All of this misunderstanding and misinterpretation, ultimately, do not matter. Trump has won, and the GOP controls all of Congress. Trump represents a complete mystery, and this may have been because he was totally unaware of what the President actually did (9). On both sides of the aisle and those totally unrepresented, Trump is a complete mystery, and he is already starting to pander to both sides.
Since winning a week ago, Trump has begun explaining his policies more. They vary widely. Some include:
- Keeping parts of Obamacare, such as the pre-existing conditions exemption (10)
- Not touching gay marriage (11)
- Deporting people is still on tap (12)
Already debates have begun with the GOP majority, like Mitch McConnell, who has no interest in term limits (13) nor building a wall on the southern border of the US (14). These pivots or softening of previously hard sells shows a president who will quickly alienate the base that elected him. Ann Coulter fell victim to this when right before releasing a book about Trump, wherein she said the only way she could turn on him was if he changed his stances on abortion or illegals, and he did just that (15).
What Trump’s fluid policies say about him is that he’ll waver on issues with any major opposition, or that he was so woefully unaware of what Obama actually did that he said things so far out of school that he is now forced to backtrack. These pivots give a little insight into how Trump will deal with policies, debates, and compromising.
While Trump’s policies seem to be much more varied that Republican party lines, his cabinet will be the most indicative of how he will move forward as President. And, if that’s the case, the answer is utterly chilling.
The Cabinet of Deplorables
For reasons no one will ever understand, Trump surrounded himself with complete lunatics in Alex Jones, Roger Stone, Roger Ailes, Steve Bannon, Rudy Guiliani, and Mike Pence.
Each of these adult humans has made comments or actions that would individually discredit them. Alex Jones, for example, believes Sandy Hook didn’t happen (16). Rudy Guilliani fought the fire fighters before 9/11 on budgets (17), which costs lives, and has basically made the event his personal cape (18). And, Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s personal life insurance policy, caused an HIV epidemic because he believes science isn’t as accurate as the god damn bible (19).
What these sociopaths represent is a status quo of establishment rule. Reince Priebus, former chairman of the RNC, has become Trump’s Chief of Staff. It seems odd that the man who represented the party that Trump was raging against when he stumbled would not be part of his #DrainTheSwamp rhetoric. Steve Bannon takes the role of Senior Advisor to the President, a role held previously by Karl Rove. Other appointments are forthcoming, but the rumors show a Trump cabinet that is more of the same with people who are already in high positions taking a slightly higher one.
The issue is Trump’s appointments are individuals who are objectively unqualified. And none are more unqualified than Steve Bannon.
Bannon, the most powerful White Supremacist in America
Steve Bannon is best known for chairing the Alt-Right website Breitbart. Breitbart has posted some of the more questionably racist and sexiest articles today. They somehow have a high degree of credibility, even when they post shit like how women just suck at interviews (20). Granted, this article is posted by the gay troll of Milo Yiannopoulos, who has stated that homosexuality was abhorrent (21) and that fat people should starve themselves until they can be less disgusting to go to the gym (22).
Bannon has made comments that show his truer beliefs to be a lot less vague.
“That’s one of the unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement––that, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be feminine, they would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the 7 Sisters schools.”
“…the biggest problem he had with Archer [School for Girls] is the number of Jews that attend. He said that he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiney brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.”
What this shows is a man who broaches the line of good taste and common respect, with occasional trips over it in a public sense, who is being put into a position where he can influence a great deal of the culture and policies of America. No one really knows how much influence Bannon has had and will have on the Trump administration, but it concerns a lot of people.
Fortunately, a lot of people are waking up to the idea that the system is poisoned.
It would be unfair to blast memes in the Internet era as totally useless. In a time of light speed communication, they have value.
In the 2000s, the Stay Woke meme started out of various ideas, possibly Erykah Badu’s “Master Teacher” (25). It mostly alluded to staying awake to the world around you.
It became an identifier to the people who stopped pretending there weren’t systematic injustices based on race, especially around the fact George Zimmerman got off after murdering a child. But, we have to look past the racial symptoms and find the actual root cause of all these issues. Race is the most visible target, but we are all disenfranchised from these injustices.
Now, it has slipped into an ironic word, but the concept should still be important. Whether or not your side won the election, it highlights a lot of injustices across the board. James Comey, director of the FBI, released a letter mere days before the election to announce they were reopening the case against Hillary. Nothing came out of it other than polling numbers dropped a lot for Hillary. Both Trump and the Senate GOP won the election without a popular vote. This means that because of archiac concepts of representation, in an era where all our commerce is done digitally, the people who won do not represent the majority. Then, as leaked emails show, the side that was voted by the majority is rife with corruption as the DNC colluded to stonewall Bernie Sanders and prep Hillary Clinton to rush past him.
These events cannot go unaddressed. Americans, especially in the age of instant communication and global discourse, have no ability or defense for not paying attention. We have to accept our world as it is, eyes wide open, or we will continue to spin our wheels and meet the same fate. Trump’s win represents the worst case scenario of defeat. If we don’t change, he’ll be the start of a trend rather than anomaly.
A Brand New Day
Whatever happens next, we will be fine. Humans like to focus on current moments to become the only plausible reality. Trump is scary because of actual things he has said, but that doesn’t mean he will be able to do everything he’s threatened. Congress is made up of career politicans who will always consider their re-election over hard party concepts. The important thing is to stay awake to the political rhetoric.
This election represents a stark change in how politics will be viewed. Those fearing Trump will never scoff a candidate no matter how ridiculous. Those who voted for him will learn how closely a candidate can actually stay to their platform. We no longer can stay passive in political discourse; we have to start questioning everything, what each nuance means, and how it affects us and others.
As such, this election has woken up a great part of America. The protests will eventually ebb, but what will be left is a deeply connected dissatisfaction in our archiac system. That system can only change with people educating themselves and improving it.
I’m hopeful we will achieve that change.