My Thoughts on the US Presidential Elections

I wanted to put down for posterity, my experience of the elections this year. I was totally caught by surprise by Donald Trump’s win. All of the “experts” were giving him such a small chance to win that I thought it was a sure thing for Hillary Clinton.

We follow politics very closely in the Kralovec house due to my wife’s interest in US politics. She loves the primaries, the debates, the SNL parodies, the punditry, etc. Her favorite channel is CNN. Because of this, the kids and I knew of all the events of the long campaign in good detail. We also experienced the campaign for ourselves. Nadia, Oliver and Ocean participated in a rally for Bernie Sanders in the main city of Guam, Hagatna, while we there for spring break in March. We also soaked up the atmosphere of the democratic national convention in Philadelphia this past summer. We stayed in the same hotel at the democratic delegates from Connecticut and Georgia and walked around downtown.

My preferred candidate was Bernie Sanders. I liked that he was focused on the expense of higher education (the only candidate talking about education), universal health care and income inequality. He also voted against going to war in Iraq. Finally, he was the only non-millionaire in the race. Hillary Clinton has used her political connections to earn $23 million dollars last year. Sander’s wife filed their taxes for $200,000 in income. Hillary Clinton has lost touch with the daily lives of most Americans.

Every election is about demographics in my opinion. Trump won because rural, white, generally blue collar people could identify with him. The split between the entertainment centers of Hollywood and New York, the multinational corporations and business world of Wall Street and Delaware and the university educated with rural and middle class America has grown. White, non-college educated saw Clinton as part of that world, not part of their world. I want to talk about my personal demographic. I am from what the media calls the “rust belt”. My parents were democrats. They both believed in unions, being educators, and living in a state where the auto industry had powerful unions. You do not hear much about unions these days and the wages and benefits of most American workers has declined since my parents’ time. You need to have two people working to have a decent life, whereas before, only one person needed to work. I grew up in rural Upper Michigan so I totally understand the lifestyle and view of Trump supporters. I am far removed from that today, with advanced degrees and living an expatriate cosmopolitan lifestyle. I am not rich however, being a teacher, so still have a foot on both sides.  University of Wisconsin professor Kathy Cramer describes this divide brilliantly in this Washington Post interview.

I lodged a protest vote in Michigan for Bernie Sanders. I did so because I couldn’t get myself to vote for Clinton. I do feel that president Obama did a lot of good things, but not strongly enough. I feel Washington DC has lost touch with the middle class and both the republicans and democrats are too much influenced by special interest groups, lobbyists backed by rich interests, rich people, etc. Besides, I thought, according to everything I read, Trump could never win. In retrospect, I don’t think my one vote mattered anyway and even with Bernie Sanders, it would have been close. My Bernie Sanders t-shirt did and still does, generates lots of positive reactions in people. The structure of the electoral college favors rural voters and it takes an inspirational candidate from the democrats to overcome this. Clinton will win the popular vote but lose resoundingly in the electoral college. Is that right? It sounded to me that the Democratic National Committee rigged the system so Clinton would be the candidate. Bernie came from nowhere and just didn’t have enough time to overcome Clinton in the primaries. Would Bernie Sanders have been that candidate? In any case, I agree with Dan Carlin and believe that the dominance of the two main parties and the way they choose candidates needs to be changed! I want more of a choice and I want better candidates!

It is fascinating that the US elected such a crass, uncultured, shady businessman like Trump to run the country when we have so many hardworking, brilliant, caring people. I kind of hope through his craziness Trump blows up both parties and we have some other voices and interests being able to lead our government. It will be an interesting 4 years, although early signs indicate that he is appointing Republican dinosaurs and others like Newt Gingrich and his boys Giuliani and Christie. Not promising for progressives like myself.

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