Op-Ed: Who's to blame?
As I watched the election results last Tuesday night, I was disappointed but not surprised. In this election, Democrats and Republicans had one thing in common: They were mostly talking about Donald Trump — one of many reasons the election ended the way it did. There is much blame to go around. My fellow people of color blame white voters, women blame men and Clinton voters blame third-party supporters. But this election wasn’t any one group’s fault. The first of our problems begins with the way election results are determined.
We elect our president using a highly archaic system known as the Electoral College. Most American voters are shocked to find out they do not directly pick their president. Rather, they vote for a slate of electors who cast electoral votes for the winning candidates of their respective states. Because of the system’s structure, a candidate can win without a majority of popular votes. This has happened five times in the history of the United States. In 2000, Al Gore had 50,999,897 votes to George W. Bush’s 50,456,002. Bush won despite receiving 543,895 fewer votes. Though the popular vote tallies are still being counted from Tuesday’s election, it appears Hillary Clinton will have perhaps 500,000 more votes than Donald Trump. Though the majority of voters chose Clinton, she lost. We do not live in a democracy — don’t be fooled by the platitudes.
The media are also to blame. It is important to note that cable and online news aren’t rewarded for providing the most important and relevant information. One major reason is that they earn money from ratings. When the only goal of reporting is to attract viewership for advertisements, it isn’t surprising that sensational news gets the most coverage. I am the first to admit that a part of me finds Donald Trump entertaining (not a part of me I am proud of). It is the same part of me that gawks at totaled cars on the side of the highway. When I and many other drivers do that, we cause traffic that disrupts everyone else’s lives. Cable news exploits our instinct to stare at the most shocking things. The constant news coverage encouraged Donald Trump to make increasingly crazy statements. As he said outrageous things, coverage increased. The process fed on itself.
The next group at fault is the Democratic National Committee, which is the organization tasked with running the primaries that decide the Democratic presidential nominee. The incorporation of superdelegates in the primary process and the obvious bias within the DNC for Hillary Clinton disenchanted many voters who would have liked to see greater consideration given to Bernie Sanders. Ironically, Article 5, Section 4 of the 2009 Charter and Bylaws of the Democratic Party states the “Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates and campaigns.”
Email leaks revealed a clear bias for Hillary Clinton among the top rungs of DNC leadership up to the chair. This isn’t surprising, especially when considering that Debbie Wasserman Schultz — the DNC chair who oversaw the 2016 primary process — was a co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. For many voters, the DNC was too much of a Washington insider’s club. It is important to note that the DNC is a private entity and it can do whatever it pleases, but its actions have consequences. Some Bernie Sanders supporters were only in it to rock the political establishment. Once Bernie was unfairly pushed aside, Donald Trump prudently extended his sympathy and respect for Sanders and his supporters. It came as no surprise that some former Bernie voters would shift support to Donald Trump.
The leaders of Clinton’s campaign are also to blame. They did an underwhelming job, to say the least. One of Clinton’s main slogans, “I’m with her,” had no energy or power behind it. The phrase came off as selfish and had the cynic in me asking, “Why do I care whom you are voting for?” Donald Trump’s campaign, on the other hand, was captivating. “The silent majority stands with Trump” and “Make America Great Again,” are both powerful and reassuring to millions of disenchanted Americans. Donald Trump’s campaign was also much more effective on social media; his Twitter feed alone was a 24/7 rally for his supporters.
The ultimate blame falls on Donald Trump’s voters. This may seem obvious, but it needs repeating. If you voted for Donald Trump, you are at least partially responsible for any evil or embarrassment that comes out of his presidency. Anything that Donald Trump does from the moment of his inauguration to the day he leaves office has your co-sign. When an undocumented immigrant who was looking for a better life — like most Americans' parents or grandparents — is deported back to poverty or oppression, you are partially responsible. Every time Muslims, Blacks, Latinos, women, LGBTQ people and other oppressed groups are made to feel ostracized or uncomfortable because of their identities, know that you helped create an environment where bigotry is acceptable political discourse. If you voted for Donald Trump, you signed on to his long list of abhorrent promises. You allowed this national embarrassment to happen.
Muhammad Ali Mojaradi is a College of Arts, Sciences and Literature sophomore at UM-Dearborn.