Opinion: If America elected Trump, we deserve it

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“Donald Trump won the presidency.”

That’s the sentence I, and the other 318 million Americans, woke up to Wednesday. Donald Trump is the next president, and that is no accident.

What’s sad is that Hillary Clinton nearly won. The election was decided by less than 2 percent of the vote in multiple states — minuscule segments of the population. Clinton won the popular vote by half of 1 percent.

So why did she still lose? Every racial group — yes, including Hispanics and blacks — voted more for Trump than it did for Mitt Romney in 2012. Women voted 1 percent less for the Democratic candidate than they did four years ago.

People will say it is time to move forward and unite around Trump, the way Clinton gracefully did Wednesday morning. There will be people who say we must honor the American decision. There will be people who say this is not the time to blame. But no. This is exactly the time to blame.

This was never a difficult choice. Trump is, unequivocally, the most overtly racist, sexist, bigoted candidate we have had in modern American history. That is not up for debate. Every American with two eyes and a pulse knew about Trump’s unjustified proposed ban on Muslim travel and immigration to the U.S. — until we can “figure out what’s going on,” as he said — and when he wrongly said Mexican undocumented immigrants were largely rapists and criminals.

But what did Hispanic voters do? A whopping 29 percent of the Hispanic share voted for Trump, and that’s 2 percent more than voted Republican in 2012. Their vote for the Democratic candidate was 6 points lower than four years ago.

What did black voters do? They voted 2 percent more Republican than in 2012, and 5 percent less Democratic than in 2012.

Everyone knew about Trump’s leaked comments that bragged about grabbing women by the crotch — and the laundry list of his other offensive conduct toward women — and yet 42 percent of the female vote share voted for Trump. That’s only a ridiculous 2 percent less Republican than four years ago.

And assuming Muslim voters identified as Asian, they’re included in the Asian count of voting 3 percent more Republican than last time. The “Other” count is barely more optimistic.

Minority voters knew, and yet still voted for Trump. Whites without college degrees saw a huge shift toward Trump, and was anyone surprised? Racism and anti-immigrant talk writ large is — as this election proves — just what many of them were hoping for.

But to everyone else, we must ask: Are you honestly comfortable with sexually abusive braggadocio? Are you comforted by racism? Is this what won you over? Could it be something else?

The problem with this election is that the media treated it like a game, and to some extent, it still is. Months and months of the primary campaign saw the media treating Trump like a shiny metal object, something to throw in headlines for the ratings. It talked about his gaffes and inconsistencies, but it was all in good fun.

Then, he became the GOP’s nominee. Then, he gained in the polls. Now, he’s president, and the discussion is still centered around “how we got here” as a country. In reality, we know damn well how we got here. We’ve been here. We’ve always been here.

Has the country forgotten when Tea Party Republicans protested buses of migrant Central American children with mental and behavioral health needs coming into Pennsylvania, among other incidents, in 2014? Has it forgotten the racism of that movement, chiefly brought out of the woodwork after the rise of Barack Obama?

Has it forgotten the GOP of the 1960s, with a candidate that opposed civil rights law, and an in-flow of Southern segregationists that shifted the party? Has it forgotten the GOP’s decades-long battle to ban abortion — even in cases of rape and incest — and its recent votes against equal pay for women? Need we go back in history to talk about the inequality we’ve all heard about a thousand times in classes?

For Trump voters, there are only two possibilities: they’re either misled, or Trump’s derogatory rhetoric appeals to them. It is the first category of voters we must speak to. I am not here to reason with racists and sexists. It should also be noted that, of course, Trump made no real effort to appeal to or support the LGBTQ community. (Aside from a hollow mention in his candidacy acceptance speech. The Republican Party platform is strikingly anti-gay.)

We must understand that Trump tricked the country. We all heard these atrocities, but half the country looked the other way, because Trump supposedly had policies worth discussing. He won 67 percent of white voters without college degrees, a group that feels that immigration and trade deals are existentially, culturally threatening.

That lines up with the fact that 64 percent of voters who said immigration is the most important issue voted for Trump, and 65 percent who said they think trade takes away jobs voted for Trump too.

On one hand, trade deals have little to no effect on overall employment and can even lower it slightly. But Trump is right that open trade often guts manufacturing jobs. Even still, his outlandish economic plans would be extremely damaging and almost impossible to pass.

And on the other hand, the deportation-happy push on Trump’s side is not defensible. Immigration has little to no effect on employment in the U.S., and can even raise wages in some cases — and that’s not liberal data. People who want mass deportation either dislike nonwhites, or care more about a flawed legal immigration system than giving people a chance to get out of poverty and, well, not starve to death.

Trump swindled people. There is no doubt. And it’s evident.

Yesterday, on my way to class, I walked past a young white woman — probably well-off, like most students in Boulder — sitting on a ledge wearing a red Make America Great Again hat. I made eye contact with her. She knew I was not happy. She knew, vaguely, that minorities would be angry. She went back to talking on the phone.

She wears the hat, but I am convinced that she does not know what it means. I am convinced that she does not question the ways Trump plans to make America “Great.” I am convinced that she does not question what he refers to with the word “Again.” I am convinced she does not understand the fear that immigrants feel of being ripped from their families, of going back to violence in their countries, of dying. That she does not understand the fear of millions losing their health care, and dying. That she does not understand the fear of stop-and-frisk police tactics ending in black men dying. We must hope that she is ignorant. We must, for our sanity.

But what is worse is that black voters, Hispanic voters, Asian voters — and female voters less ignorant than the hat-wearer — voted for Trump. What is worse is that groups that have trudged through hate in America for decades and centuries listened to a man step on their throats and thought, “Well, it’s better than that email thing.” What’s worse is that lives are at stake and half of this country either swallowed lies or swallowed hate and convinced itself it didn’t. What’s worse is that people who voted were betrayed by those who thought the election didn’t matter.

If waking up to “President-elect Trump” is the only thing that wakes this country, then perhaps we need this reality. I have to hope that Congress stops Trump from ruining and ending lives. No one deserves that. But if watching a bigoted, hateful, dishonest man lead this country for four years is what slaps some sense into our irresponsible, culpable faces, then so be it. Maybe people will begin to see that this isn’t just some game we play every two and four years. Maybe people will snap out of the smug apathy and finally recognize what is at stake. Maybe it takes a Trump.

Contact CU Independent Editorial Manager Ellis Arnold at ellis.arnold@colorado.edu, and on Twitter @ArnoldEllis_.

Ellis Arnold

Ellis Arnold is the CUI's editor-in-chief and a journalism and political science student. He writes about diversity issues, politics, student government, music and (sometimes) life advice. Is he qualified to do that? You'll never know. He's a senior from Aurora, Colorado, who's been with the CUI for eight semesters.

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