Unsurprisingly, Trump was elected president

You might be surprised if you get your news from social media

Trump. Brexit. Ford. When does something become common and can no longer be considered an outlier? On election night and the day after the election, my social media was lit: how, oh how, could Trump become the president of the United States of America? Trump blazed down a sexist and racist campaign trail that made for good headlines, but otherwise didn’t seem to really matter to the people who voted for him. Distrust of the government is so high that in Flint, MI water has been deemed safe to drink by state and federal agencies. Yet many people still don’t trust that they can drink it. If I don’t trust the government that Clinton represents, then I probably don’t care where Trump grabs women.

It’s hard to picture and harder still to articulate. As time goes on, it’s becoming evident that the American Dream is more dream than reality. It’s becoming harder to convince people that they’re temporarily embarrassed millionaires instead of poor. CNN’s Van Jones spoke during the election coverage about a ‘whitelash.’ He was the closest to the mark of any correspondent covering the election.

In order to understand this election result, it’s important to understand white people and demographics. Most minority populations voted for Clinton, most university educated people voted for Clinton, but that’s only about half of American voters. There’s still half of America that’s unaccounted for. Although Trump supporters were often portrayed as being racist, sexist and bigoted, the attendance at his rallies usually matched the demographics of the town he was in. That’s not to say that the fringe on the right don’t exist, or weren’t at his rallies, but more than half of Americans voters chose Trump. So either half of America is the worst of the right and not a fringe at all; more realistically, something else is taking place.

It’s probably because the institutional advantages that come with being white don’t feel true anymore. The advantages are relative and not as clearly defined as they were in the past. It doesn’t matter if you make twice as much as other races if the price of living goes up and wages do not. Twice as much of not enough is still not enough. It doesn’t matter that you’re more likely to get selected to be a tenant if you are living paycheck to paycheck and can’t really afford the shoe-box apartment anyways. Having your life suck less than other people’s doesn’t make you feel any better about your life sucking.

It’s insanely frustrating to people who have been told their whole lives that they have every advantage because of the genetic lottery. They’ve been told if they play by the rules, they’ll get ahead, because, hey, they’re already ahead. But it’s not working out like that. They’re feeling the squeeze like everyone else. It has to be incredibly liberating to see a candidate like Trump; he’s not playing by the rules and he’s winning. Clinton is playing by the rules with every advantage and losing. It’s something they can identify with, but it’s exactly the thing they want to escape from.

The loosely defined ‘establishment’ which has told them they are privileged for being white is also the same one that is now squeezing the most productivity out of them for the least amount of money. This establishment is slowly forcing them into poverty by raising the cost of living and stagnating their wages in the name of economic growth. Voting for the establishment is a vote against your self-interest. Progressive ideals are nice and are good for the long-term, but long-term policies don’t put food on the table or pay the power bill right now. That establishment put their money behind Clinton and voters noticed. She’s the fist candidate who raised and spent more than their opponent and lost.

It’s the awkward Achilles heel of the left. The more we close the gap between minorities, women and white men, the better the world will be. Inclusion and equality for everyone needs to include everyone, even those who are currently at an advantage. Everyone needs to be included, even the ones who have been winning for an obnoxiously long time and are kind of dicks about it.

It’s like going to a restaurant with a group of friends even though you just ate. Or going to the bar as a designated driver. It’s awkward being in a group of people who are all being given something and you get nothing. It’s why restaurant appetizers and bottomless pop for designated drivers exist. Even if you have everything you need and more, not being allowed to participate in the group activity makes you feel excluded. Exclude people for long enough and they’ll start looking for new friends. They’ll start hanging out with the only person willing to be their friend in public: the loudmouth at the end of the bar with a silly haircut and a bad fake tan.

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Matt Stickland

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