‘If Donald Trump won, I wouldn’t be surprised.’
That was a statement I kept repeating and standing by while my peers kept looking at me with incredulity. Even during the scandal with the Trump Tapes and the constant rotation of campaign managers, I still felt in my heart of hearts that in spite of everything the polls and the pundits were saying, Donald Trump and his campaign would carry Election Day.
Why was I so confident? There were a number of factors.
It is without question that this has been the most nasty, negative campaign in recent memory, and that’s saying quite a lot after all the mudslinging of 2012. Donald Trump’s campaign began with a harsh tirade against illegal immigrants from Mexico, followed by a proposal to shut down immigration from Islamic countries.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign fared little better. While Clinton led a rather light campaign against Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, her first press conference in several months focused solely on singling out Trump supporters and calling them ‘deplorable’. Coupled with her campaign focusing solely on how bad Trump is and nothing on how good Hillary is, Hillary Clinton did not have a positive case for her.
The same cannot be said for Trump’s campaign. Call it negative. Call it fear-mongering. But it cannot be debated that he has a very energetic support base that were enthusiastic about getting out the vote for him and about seeing him succeed in every contest possible. There were people who were passionate about immigration, passionate about keeping America safe from terrorism, and passionate about not going to wars abroad. The only thing that drove the Hillary Clinton campaign was the anti-Trump vote. The only thing passionate about them was their hatred and aversion to her opponent.
If the Democrats put up another candidate, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Elizabeth Warren, or otherwise, at least they would have had a campaign to get excited about.
It’s pretty much a rerun of 2012, when conservatives were very reluctant to vote for Mitt Romney, and that the only appeal about him was that at least he was not Obama. Likewise, Hillary Clinton is unlikeable, even to her traditional support base. And when even your support base can’t get behind you, you know something has to be wrong.
The Culture of Shame
Trump is a fascist. Trump is Hitler reincarnate. Trump is Lucifer made manifest. And everybody who supports him must be a fascist Nazi hellspawn that should be purged with holy water.
The idea of demonizing the right-leaning candidate is nothing new. It has become something of a habit to brand anyone who has even the slightest of conservative views as a racist, sexist, misogynist Nazi. Governor Pat Brown of California mentioned that Barry Goldwater’s acceptance speech might as well have ended with a ‘Heil Hitler!’ at the end. Nevermind the fact that Goldwater’s father was Jewish, or the fact that he was originally part of the NAACP, he’s apparently a Nazi.
Ok, this writer might understand that as an opponent of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Goldwater might not be a good example. How about Romney? He was compared to Hitler by Bill Maher. Or George McGovern comparison of Nixon’s war in Vietnam to Hitler’s Holocaust?
Suffice to say, it’s not popular to be a conservative. If one comes out as a right-leaning person, that person will expect to be shamed and possibly ostracized. These people might not necessarily actually be racist, sexist Nazis (save for the very few real racists and sexist Nazis, like David Duke, who actually deserve the shaming), but they are all the same to the Left.
The culture of shaming has reached its peak this year, especially with a movement in universities that are reminiscent of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Safe spaces that protect people from offensive speech, trigger warnings to silence people from saying something controversial. It is no longer acceptable to challenge people’s views, and this culture has inadvertently lead to the rise of the following factor.
The Shy Trump Voter
There were probably people who voted Trump on Election Day but chose to keep quiet about it, thanks to the culture of shame. Combined with the fact that many people who are not racist but are branded otherwise feel like they are backed into a corner. This has happened before in other countries, such as the United Kingdom.
Most Americans do not know about the election that took place in the UK in 2015. The long story short is that most polls predicted that David Cameron’s Conservatives would lose power. Come the day, not only did David Cameron’s party hold on to most of their seats, they even made inroads into the other parties, cementing his mandate as Prime Minister.
Most pundits blamed ‘Shy Tories.’ There existed an environment where publicly supporting the Conservative Party was tantamount to social suicide. A shy Tory would risk getting ostracized and branded all sorts of awful names by their peers. So while they stick very close to their political beliefs, they take care not to mention them in public.
Conversely, it was incredibly easy to come out and support the Labour Party, the opponents of the Conservatives, especially among people below 40.
Likewise, people were very public about their support for Hillary Clinton. Political pundits, tech industry leaders from Silicon Valley, and celebrities from Hollywood. People from these constituencies who supported Trump were demonized, one particular example being Peter Thiel, who publicly came out for Trump just a few weeks before the election. What resulted afterwards was a campaign by people in the tech industry to remove Peter Thiel from any board that he took part in.
In a political culture that has gotten so violent and divisive, it’s no longer safe to publicly announce one’s views. But it has not silenced Trump’s voters. It’s simply forced them to shut up while they quietly tick the box next to Trump’s name.
Expect all the major news agencies to talk about the Shy Trump voter in the days to come.
The Disconnect between the Elite and the Common Folk
Do as I say, not as I do. That might as well sum up the mantra of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Later into the campaign, there was an overwhelming undertone of how Hillary Clinton had the election in the bag, especially in the wake of the Trump Tape scandal. Coincidentially, the Trump Tapes were released right around the same time Wikileaks began to leak John Podesta’s emails, along with Project Veritas releasing damning footage of election fraud.
Both topics were newsworthy, yet CNN, MSNBC, Fox, ABC, and BBC focused solely on the Trump Tapes and how the Trump campaign’s demise was imminent. As the election went on, it started to become clear as day that the media really wanted Hillary to win, and it reflected in the polls that showed Hillary beating Trump by a huge margin. Every pundit claimed the Donald Trump had almost no chance to the White House and created scenarios they imagined impossible.
As this writer watched the debates, he could agree with most media outlets that Trump was way out of his depth in the first debate, but was extremely puzzled when he found that these outlets claimed Hillary the victory when Trump managed to get his act together and put Hillary on the defensive in the third debate.
It was not just the media, it was everybody that one could easily generalize as the ‘elite’. There were several videos from famous Hollywood actors and YouTubers who were exhorting their fans and supporters to stop Trump. The tech industry also seemed to be in Hillary’s pocket, especially with evidence that CEOs of several tech giants were in collusion with the Hillary campaign.
This writer found himself being bombarded with ‘suggested videos’ on YouTube containing pro-Hillary or anti-Trump content, but one could easily dismiss that as SEO personalization. However, Milo Yiannopoulos, an outspoken Trump supporter who has taken to getting under the skin of many liberals, was banned from Twitter after sending two tweets criticizing the Ghostbusters movie. Sure, Twitter can ban whoever they want as a private corporation, but now they have sent a message to conservatives everywhere that their view is not welcome.
But in digression, there is a clear disconnect between liberals and the constituents they claim to care for. If the Democrats and any other anti-Trump forces want to stand a chance of throwing him out in 2020, they must change their tact and make a real connection with the people, rather than living in their own cloud.
Images taken from conservativetreehouse.com, knowyourmeme.com, and projectveritas.com