The 2016 presidential election was arguably unlike any election this country has ever seen. Many can recall their doubt as Donald Trump presented the idea of running for president a mere two years ago. This January, however, he will move into the White House.
Trump’s campaign against seasoned politician Hillary Clinton included bitter debates, uncovered scandals and even a few Twitter fights between the candidates.
In the end, Trump won the presidential race with 290 electoral votes, even though Clinton won the popular vote by a narrow margin of 630,877 votes.
Anderson itself leaned on the Republican side this election, with 59% of their votes going to Trump. They also elected a Republican judge, auditor, surveyor and councilman to represent the town.
Professor and political scientist Dr. Michael Frank provides insight on the reason Trump won the votes of many from towns like Anderson, whose white working class voters are traditionally democrats. “Trump consistently appealed to voters in places like Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania where there used to be lots of factory jobs,” Frank explained. “The economy has been improving for some, but this group of workers hasn’t felt the positive effects of that yet.”
Anderson, for example, lost well-paying jobs when General Motors and other factories closed or relocated, and many inhabitants of the town are still limited to service jobs. “Trump recognizes this,” says Frank, “and many people deserted the Democratic Party this election because they felt their concerns weren’t being recognized. Trump consistently addressed exactly what they were feeling.”
This election raised the concern for many voters of whether or not our system is truly just. While Trump won the most electoral votes, and therefore the election, Clinton had the popular vote under her belt. Professor and sociologist Tammy Reedy-Strother points out that this is the second time in 16 years this issue has come up. “While estimates are projecting that the losing candidate received more individual votes than any other candidate in history, it seems like the person who legitimately won the most electoral votes, Mr. Trump, won the election, which is the fair outcome according to our nation’s process.”
Frank explained the confusion some are feeling surrounding the Electoral College. “The framers of the constitution set up our system, including the Electoral College, in a way that was designed to be undemocratic. It was designed to prevent the majority from always having its way.” The House of Representatives, which makes decisions about things like taxes and laws, is chosen by popular vote; and according to Frank, “this is the best possible place for our direct voices to be heard.”
If all of the federal offices were elected this way, Frank pointed out that there is danger in having a majority that elects each and every office position. “If we really want the nation to have more democracy, then we should do away with the Electoral College,” he said.
The issues at the forefront of everyone’s minds this election were the economy and immigration. Trump has been very outspoken with his views on immigration, causing many to fear that this country will become wholly intolerant of immigrants, legal or illegal.
“Keeping more immigrants out is what Trump’s core constituency wants,” says Frank. “But this creates problems in terms of economic growth, which Republicans would normally support.” He believes it will be interesting to see how Trump satisfies his core group of supporters while still representing the Republican Party.
In addition, Trump has spoken out against free trade agreements, which, again, is an issue that is crucial to his core supporters, but opposes ideals that Republicans have historically endorsed. Trump’s infamous plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico ignores the fact that immigrants help to improve the United States economy, and even illegal immigrants pay taxes.
Frank gives a preview of what American citizens can likely expect in the upcoming four years of Trump’s presidency. “A leading climate skeptic is to be appointed head of the Environmental Protection Agency, so we can expect policy to have less concern for the environment.” In addition, the head of an energy firm will now lead the Department of Energy, which likely means that pro-oil changes are coming.
Trump has also already revealed plans to repeal Obamacare and put in place significant tax cuts. “With Trump in the White House, Republicans may be able to make the changes to entitlement programs like social security and Medicare that they’ve been wanting to make.”
Many would argue, and could come up with sufficient evidence to prove, that this election season brought out the worst in some individuals and highlighted the stringent political division within our country.
“The US is too strong to crumble over any one election, but I believe that some people’s lives may very well be impacted significantly,” said Reedy-Strother. Her hope for our country is that some of the difficult topics that have recently risen to the forefront of debate, such as “sexual assault, misogyny, racism, xenophobia and heightened Islamophobia,” will become more of a focus in national conversation moving forward.
“I think the divisiveness and internal strife we are seeing right now are negative but I think those very real issues becoming more overtcan be a positive if those in positions of power and influence choose to listen and set politics aside enough to address real concerns,” explained Reedy-Strother.