Donald Trump must consider plurality of voters
It’s funny that in an election where Donald Trump gave a megaphone to the “voiceless,” it feels like more than 66 million Americans lost their say overnight.
In the waning hours of Election Day, I conceded that Trump would be the next president of the United States. I conceded that the Senate and the House of Representatives would remain in the hands of the Republican Party.
What I won’t concede is that the 2016 election resembles anything like a mythical “mandate of the people.”
The majority of voters selected a different candidate for president. The plurality opted for the Democratic one. This election is not a rubber stamp of the Republican Party’s vision for the future.
Leading up to Nov. 8, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future.
What role should the next president play? What direction should they take this country? What problems need to be addressed?
Honestly, when I asked myself these questions, I imagined Hillary Clinton sitting behind a desk in the Oval Office and calling the shots, not Trump.
In the end, after hours of political conversations with friends and interviews with sources, I’m sure I’ve found the problem the president needs to address: the political polarization of the American public.
It’s a topic that has come up time and again.
When I asked Associate Professor of Political Science Kyle Dell a week before Election Day what he thought the next president should do, he made a good point about what the position entails.
“It has been a long time since we’ve had a landslide election,” said Dell. “Pretty much half of this country tend to root for one team, and half of this country tend to root for the other team. That kind of suggests that in order to be a successful president, you have to figure out how to get along with the half that thinks that you are the worst thing that could happen to the country.
“Whoever would win the presidency, I think, is in a unique position to actually model that kind of bridge-building, that kind of moderate third-way forward (moreso) than any other political leader that we have. The president is the only elected representative in this country that can claim to represent the whole country.”
However, the American public continues to drift further apart.
“In the past, there used to be more of a moderate presence in our country, and we’ve seen, slowly but surely, moderates are now the minority of voters,” said Michael McShane, a junior and political science major. “You are either a conservative, or you are a liberal. It’s hard to be in-between these days.”
And, while we factionalize, we’re making compromise harder than ever.
“Our leaders and just the citizens of this country need to get better at understanding that politics is not always an all-or-nothing proposition,” said Director of Student Leadership and Engagement Steve Moran. “A lot of social and media factors play into this, but we’ve become much more used to instant gratification and instant access.
“So, sometimes we feel like, ‘This needs to be the way I see it,’ and that’s not always possible.”
My confidence in the person tasked with addressing polarization in this country is sorely lacking.
President-elect Trump will never have my respect, support or approval. He killed that dream when he descended down an escalator in June 2015 and announced his candidacy on the back of racist, xenophobic and chauvinistic language.
Millions of Americans will simply never accept him as their leader. I don’t blame them either.
However, his job now isn’t just to represent the people who voted for him or accept him. Unfortunately, Trump must represent all Americans.
In order to even tackle the divisions that exist politically, Trump must make compromises that benefit all.
I have zero faith in him.
I believe his views on immigration, gay marriage, Black Lives Matter and countless other social issues will stifle U.S. society for years to come. Trump’s fiscal and monetary proposals will severely deepen the next economic crisis this country will face. And his foreign policy credentials virtually amount to his “holdings” in other countries.
Yet, if Trump and the Congress behind him manage to govern the divided electorate in a balanced manner, then this election won’t be for nothing.
Question is: will he listen?