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A column reexamining the 2016 election and why Donald Trump won.
By Samuel Krueger
It has been almost a year since President Donald Trump was elected in what was one of the most significant political upsets in American history. This seems like old news, especially for The Clarion. However, I feel like this whole situation hasn’t had a fair shake, let alone a response of any kind from Bethel’s more silent and conservative side. Furthermore, Trump voters and evangelicals specifically have been the targets of ridicule ever since the election (take a look at the opinion section of The Atlantic).
As I hear some of the remarks towards Trump voters I would like to remind people that many fellow students here at Bethel voted for him.
As the former chairman of Bethel College Republicans, I have felt the full force of this election. What was a stressful primary season became a stressful election season. Toward the end, many Republicans simply gave up and accepted that our next president was going to be Hillary Clinton. Most of the establishment didn’t expect what came next. Trump’s victory was unexpected to many – even in Republican circles.
The liberal left quickly jumped to conclusions. One of those conclusions was that our president elect didn’t actually deserve to be president. An article by Kevin Williamson in the National Review reported that liberal protesters were staging fake hate crimes. Three days after the election, the Star Tribune reported that highways were blocked and police cars were set ablaze. Trump supporters were sought out and assaulted all over the country, as demonstrated by the violence at Berkeley, California in August, according to The Washington Post.
Here in Minnesota, several people were beaten and pepper-sprayed in the capitol rotunda by leftist protesters in March, according to the Star Tribune. One of them was Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s son. At Bethel, the majority of posters put up by College Republicans for the rest of the year were either torn down or defaced. But of course, Republicans are the hateful ones.
Sure, some could try and attribute his success to xenophobia, toxic masculinity and racism. I believe that is a lazy explanation. Instead of spouting off out of anger let’s look at the exit polls. The reality is that Trump’s success had more to do with the frustrations of America’s working class. In 2016 they realized that the Democrats had been tricking them for years. As the Democratic party shifted left, embracing the influence of wealthy elites in gated communities and divisive identity politics between the inner cities, suburbs, and rural America, they completely neglected several of America’s largest voting demographics. Clinton liked to refer to these folks as “deplorables”.
This brings me to the next reason Clinton lost. The snarky liberal persona that has successfully invaded hollywood and the media played a “yuuuge” part. John Oliver, Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert all went at Trump night after night on their shows. They called his supporters stupid, racist, sexist and homophobic. But it turns out that after these remarks, people who were on edge about Trump suddenly started coming out in droves to support him.
Trump didn’t have any campaign infrastructure in Minnesota until the last two or three months before the election. In hindsight, he probably didn’t need to send anyone at all – the constant trash talk by the media made one for him. Organically, hundreds of people took to highway overpasses and the capitol to wave flags and pass out signs on a weekly basis. The democrats laughed when Trump visited Minnesota’s largest airport, but until the late hours of the night on Nov. 8, only nervous laughter could be heard in the Democratic Farmer Labor headquarters. Exit polls from Politico showed that Trump would go on to lose Minnesota by about 1 percent; the closest any Republican has been since Ronald Reagan’s landslide election in 1984. It turns out that rural independents don’t like being called racist, sexist and homophobic by millionaires from New York and Los Angeles.
Perhaps we can blame this on those pesky Evangelicals who call themselves “Christians”, some refer to them as “lost”. Who would have thought that they would vote for the candidate who vowed to protect unborn children? What sort of nerve do they have to vote for a guy who would appoint judges to the supreme court that would protect their religious freedoms? According to a study called “How the faithful voted: A preliminary 2016 analysis” from Pew Research, 80 percent of white Evangelicals would go on to vote for Trump – denouncing Jesus Christ and voting by their pro-life principles. It seems to me that, according to democrats, that 80 percent of Evangelicals, including a large part of the Bethel community, are all sexist and not really Christian.
Maybe these reasons are all moot. Maybe we are looking too deeply into this. One thing that I realized quite recently was that, looking back, I can’t remember a single serious proposal from Clinton’s campaign. When an already disliked candidate spends all their time complaining about their competition and none of their time forming serious policy, they lose their message. There are consequences to that. According to another study by Pew Research, middle and working class voters fled the Democratic party. “Berniecrats” stayed home when Hillary’s self selected superdelegates stole the primary for her. Cuban Americans, knowing first-hand the danger of leftist policies, voted for Donald Trump. Hillary didn’t rally the same amount of minorities that Obama did, while more actually turned out for Trump than for Romney four years prior.
In the end, Hillary didn’t lose because Americans are sexist or xenophobic. She didn’t lose because Evangelicals aren’t actually Christians. She lost because Trump seemed like he was the only candidate with something to offer. She lost because Republicans promised to put America first. So while you’re enjoying a record breaking stock market, the lowest unemployment in seventeen years, and the highest consumer confidence we’ve seen in decades; just remember, you have at least three more years to practice saying “President Trump.”