Courtesy of Gage Skidmore
One of the most divisive and bitterly-contested election cycles in United States history came to an end in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Nov. 9, as Donald Trump won the United States presidency in what has been deemed a stunning upset.
Much like “Brexit,” the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union in June, the United States stunned the world by electing Trump as its 45th president, which makes him the second man to win the presidency without any prior military or political experience. The 70-year-old business tycoon and reality television star fought off various external and internal controversies that developed throughout his campaign to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, take the Electoral College and thereby the White House – even as Clinton won the popular vote. It is anticipated that Trump will receive around 306 electoral votes once counting is complete, while Clinton will likely garner 232 electoral votes.
Riley Arner is a four-year Marine Corps veteran studying aviation at SCC. He did not vote, but believed Trump would be the best choice for president.
“I’m originally from Wyoming and his economic stance was better for Wyoming, from the coal, gas and mining industries and Hillary [Clinton] was going to downsize the whole industry and it took jobs away from that,” Arner said. “Second, I really like my guns obviously being from the military, so I wasn’t really proud of Hillary for wanting to take away the Second Amendment and things like that. Just things like that, man, I didn’t want that.”
The president-elect’s coalition centered its campaign on white, blue-collar voters in rural and exurban areas. In his victory speech on Nov. 9, Trump referred to these voters as “forgotten.” Trump’s margin of victory among these voters was substantial at least and massive at most. According to an article on The Atlantic titled “How Trump Won,” exit polls showed that Trump’s strong antiestablishment message helped him beat Clinton among non-college whites by 24 points in Wisconsin, 31 points in Michigan, 34 points in Florida and 40 points in North Carolina. Three of these four states were carried by Barack Obama in 2012; Trump took all four on Nov. 8.
Trump’s wins in what were previously Democratic strongholds such as Michigan and Wisconsin were somehow missed by respected polls and statistical models, and The Hill noted in its Nov. 3 story “Republican voters coming home to Trump” the phenomenon of many college-educated white Republicans voting in favor of the party. Lower-than-expected turnout also benefited Trump after early voting numbers encouraged Clinton’s campaign. According to Obama’s former National Security Spokesman Tommy Vietor on The Ringer ’s “Keepin’ It 1600” podcast, Clinton won 88% of the African-American vote, 65% of the Latino vote and 55% of the millennial vote. Obama received 93%, 71% and 60% of these portions of the electorate in 2012.
Brandon Chickaway is seeking his Associate’s in educational training at SCC. He said he did not vote, as he wanted to focus on academics.
“To me, I see a lot of hatred and I understand that Hillary [Clinton] and [Donald] Trump were that on both sides people didn’t like,” Chickaway said. “One was a liar, the other one had racism to do with it. To me, we don’t know what Trump can do, maybe in the future he can be a good president, we don’t know that. But mainly, my feelings towards it was I didn’t really care for the election.”
Trump’s cavalier attitude and penchant for straight talk made him many enemies over the course of the election cycle, but also won him many enthusiastic supporters that were angry at Washington’s insiders and elites and were ready to revolt. He stood out in a crowded but ultimately underwhelming Republican field, running up record tallies in the primaries and encountering little serious resistance on his way to the Republican nomination.
Trump and his campaign managed to overcome a variety of challenges during the election cycle. Trump is the first president-elect of the modern era not to release his tax returns before the election; he claimed he was being audited, and the New York Times reported that he filed a $916 million loss on his taxes in 1995, thereby allowing him to avoid paying taxes for nearly 20 years.
“That makes me smart,” Trump said during the first presidential debate on not paying taxes.
On Oct. 8, a tape from 2005 was released in which Trump claimed to use his status as the star of “The Apprentice” to grope and kiss women, as well as grab their genitals. Trump was slammed for the tape and briefly lost support among Republicans. Many women have since come forth to claim that the president-elect mistreated, shamed, groped, assaulted or raped them over the years. Trump was set to go to trial next month over allegedly raping a 13-year-old in 1994, but the accuser has dropped the civil suit after allegedly receiving death threats.
“I don’t feel like everybody is 100% happy about the result, but the other option wasn’t the best either so I kind of think it is what it is, we need to get used to it and come together as a country,” said Jordan White, a non-degree-seeking student at SCC. “If it’s really that awful, then he can be impeached.”
The complete makeup of Trump’s administration is not yet known. It is also unknown just how much of Trump’s platform will actually be enacted. The president-elect has controversially declared that his administration will direct the construction of a wall on the border between Mexico and the United States. Trump has said many times that Mexico will pay for said wall. Trump has further stated that under his administration, Muslims would be banned from entering the U.S. until the country’s representatives “can figure out what the hell is going on.” Trump also has a tenuous connection with Vladimir Putin and Russia that has unsettled many, and he has promised to repeal and replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Tharina Malan, a film and production student from South Africa, commented on how Trump’s election has already had an impact in her home country.
“They predict that within the next month, import [taxes are going up] 15%,” Malan said. “Now that sounds…to give it some perspective, I’ve been here for three-and-a-half months and I’ve eaten a Reese’s chocolate for the first time because it’s too expensive in South Africa to get what is here a very average-priced chocolate. Now imagine 15% on top of that. South Africa imports a lot of products. So although food is very average, other things that can be a necessity can have [a] big, disastrous effect on lower income people.”
Trump and his running mate, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017.