In past elections as a young whippersnapper I would have been spewing my political opinion all over social media like countless others even though I didn’t really know what I was talking about, but rather just regurgitating what I’d heard on TV and radio. But then I realized I was part of the problem. This election, I had to pick and choose where I interjected my opinion, which basically only happened when someone asked me what my opinion was or if someone right in front of me said something completely ridiculous. But this election, possibly more than any others, was full of learning moments that were so dumbed down that all of us should have taken something from it, even though most of us probably didn’t. For example…
5. The Election Really Only Served to Boost TV Ratings
Every day, if not every few hours, there was a new poll updating us all on who was in the lead. Some polls even said Gary Johnson had double-digit support (he ended up with only 3% of the vote). Even more interesting was the fact that the majority of the polls indicated Clinton would win by a fairly comfortable margin. Beyond that, the media uncovered literally every awful thing Trump had ever said and done. They latched on to Benghazi and Clinton’s emails. Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer. And Ben Carson was asleep most of the time.
We even made a big deal out of Gary Johnson not knowing what or where Aleppo was. Because we’re married to a 24-hour news cycle, channels have to find ways to fill that time with passable programming. And that’s what they did. Most of all of this stuff was pretty inconsequential, but it kept us tuning in and watching and wanting to know every single detail about everything we likely wouldn’t care about otherwise.
4. Words Mean More Than Actions…at First…Because We’re Stupid
The reason so many people were enamored with Trump is because his entire campaign was built around pandering to the fears and ideals most people have but are usually too logical to voice in public. Scared of immigrants? Let’s build a wall! Terrorists? Let’s bomb them all! You like money? You bet your sweet buns you do so I’ll make sure you have a lot of it! We’re losing all of our jobs (even though 95% of work-eligible adults have jobs)? We’re going to have ALL THE JOBS!
Does all of that sound a little bit familiar? Do you know who recently ran a campaign based on pandering to the desires of everyone in need of manufactured hope because they were suffering from white-people problems?
Even more recently than that, the entire reason Bernie Sanders was so popular among starry-eyed millennials and hippies was the fact that he campaigned on the idea of having free college and raising minimum wage to something astronomically ridiculous. Never mind that all of these promises, whether it’s Trump, Obama, or Sanders, are mostly unfeasible. That doesn’t matter. People like the idea of things more than the actual thing. And also…
3. We Still Don’t Know How the Government Works
Do you know why people running for President can say they’re going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, or make college free, or give “affordable” health insurance for everybody? Because so many people believe the President can just write down all the laws and sign them into existence. They don’t realize that Congress has to actually approve a bill before the President signs it into law.
And guess what? Congress isn’t going to take any action that will jeopardize their ability to get re-elected. Instead, we’ve built a system where doing nothing but talking about what you want to do is more beneficial than actually doing what you said you wanted to do. It’s why, on a Federal level, they’re very slow to act on social issues like gay marriage, abortion, and legal weed because people understand those issues much better than financial issues, so Congress knows enough not to piss off their entire constituent base all at once.
So if you really believe Trump is going to accomplish everything he said he would in his campaign, you need to go back to school. Congress, even though a majority of them are Republicans, isn’t going to do something that’s going to alienate the country from the rest of the world.
2. We Will Always Want Something Different, Regardless of Whether or Not It Benefits Us
People always want what’s new and different and exciting. No one really looks into the future and thinks about the repercussions. After 8 years of Bill Clinton, even though he helped erase $360 BILLION worth of debt and people had higher incomes than ever, we wanted something different. After 8 years of George Bush, even though he implemented $1.3 BILLION worth of tax cuts and prevented another Depression (though you may call it a bailout), we wanted something different. And so after 8 years of Barack Obama, who worked to reform Wall Street, healthcare, and improve equality for everyone, we wanted something different. So we got it.
We became so jaded with the current track we were on that we just wanted to go in a different direction for the sake of doing something different. The only shock is that we stayed with the previous presidents for 8 years. Our attention spans are so short that it wouldn’t surprise me if we flipped every 4 years, and soon just started impeaching people on the first offense to go to the VP after 2 years.
1. We Need to Be More Gracious Losers
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Republicans said all sorts of lovely things about Obama when he got elected (things like “he’s not my President” and other nonsense). In the days following Trump’s election, Democrats were saying the same things. If you voted for Clinton (or Gary Johnson or Jill Stein because you’re a moron), then you lost. You just have to move on. The problem is that few people have the capability to do that because you don’t get a participation trophy for voting.
If you’re sad about the election, you have to work together with everyone around you and work to make the country better. Rather than expecting a single President to solve all of our perceived problems (or make all of our problems even worse), people need to take matters into their own hands (peacefully) and work to make the world a better place.