The new paved path to the White House
Fasten your seat belts.
Pinch yourself if you need to and set your popcorn down for a moment.
It may seem as though that was the feature film, but this past year was merely the coming attraction for the foreseeable future of American politics. If we’ve been given an accurate representation, it promises to be just as cringe-worthy as those “movies” Adam Sandler made late in his career. Possibly even worse.
However unlike Adam Sandler movies, you don’t get to go home, submit your rating on Rotten Tomatoes and call it a night.
Trump is in the White House and America now has to deal with the aftermath of possibly the most divisive and absurd American election in recent memory.
A logical question to ask would be how did we get here?
It’d be nice to write off this election as if it were a mistake. It’d be really comforting to assume that Trump and Clinton became the candidates through a series of fluke events and that realistically cannot represent the interests of Americans.
What’s a scarier thought is that the sparks that ignited this election have been flickering for the past eight years and the resulting fire is a product of the true American values.
As with most complex issues, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. On the Republican side, Trump faced what seemed to be an almost miraculously unimpressive group of candidates for the Republican nomination. It seems as though a level headed, staunch Republican could have handled Trump — simply by not saying anything famously idiotic.
It’s easy to blame the Republican Party for their selections. It’s also hard not to when you have the likes of Ben Carson saying that Obamacare is “the worst thing since slavery.”
However, many would argue that candidates like Rand Paul and John Kasich, among others, did fit that cookie-cutter Republican mold and were still wildly unsuccessful.
Critics of the Democratic Party will ask how such a pillar of establishment and corruption became the front-runner. Why pick someone who is under investigation, as well as responsible for poor foreign policy decisions over the years? After all, it was her inability to inspire trust in the American people that lead to her demise.
However, possibly the most anti-establishment Democratic candidate came forward in Bernie Sanders. He was honest, forthright and free of scandal. He, too, fell short of a spot of the ballot on Election Day.
While the parties are undoubtedly partially responsible for circus that has taken place over the last year, the rest of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the American people.
This tone surrounding this election is the result of a pent up rage that has been brewing since Obama first took office in 2008. America has seen itself falter in its ability to make decisions that promote stability at home and abroad. Its citizens can no longer travel across the globe and receive glowing praise for their country.
What’s worse is they look around at home and see a slowly recovering economy, a struggling middle class, profuse corruption and a rise in racial tension — and this all coming after two terms from a president who was supposed to bring “hope” and “change.”
For the purposes of this election, it really doesn’t matter what Obama did, what matters is the perception of what he did. That perception has been shaped for the better part of a decade by the rise of social media and the change in the way we consume news.
This is the first presidential election that felt the full effect of a world living in real time, with constant updates and an abundance of misleading information at everyone’s fingertips. The same technology that gives us the power to make an informed, responsible opinion, also allows us to be lead in the opposite direction. What has become apparent is that people will often listen to the loudest, not necessarily the most correct, voice.
Trump fits that profile to a tee.
These circumstances provided a perfect storm for the most polarizing race in recent memory. It provided the opportunity for a TV Host and semi-respected businessman become the leader of a global superpower. There is no denying the candidates are far apart on many issues and that Trump may be one of the most divergent Republicans of all time.
However, I strongly believe that America was ready for an argument. By the time fall of 2016 rolled around, they had the perfect situation, the perfect candidates and the perfect platforms to do so.
Trump was able to capitalize on a country that was already divided and ready to pounce on the status quo. His presidency is an example of a successful democracy, not a failed one. Trump represents the interests of the vast majority of Americans, whether you like it or not. He represents the people who are fed up with the way things are, even if they don’t necessarily have the greatest of plans to change that. He proved that on Tuesday night.
Going forward, there are few certainties. What we do know is we have not seen this situation before. Living in Canada, we are left with almost a helpless feeling, especially after seeing our country go almost the exact opposite direction a year ago. Trump has now paved a new path to the White House.
This could very well be beginning of a future filled with politicians with little to no experience in politics. In this era, where the court of public opinion has more power than ever, it’s more than likely. For better or worse, Trump made history and we get to watch it play out.
The only thing we can do is grab another handful of popcorn and try our best to enjoy the show.