In our March 18, 2016 edition, the IJN published an editorial entitled “Fear propelling populism cannot be ignored.”
Ignoring it, however, is what many pollsters and pundits did. They didn’t like Donald Trump and his followers so, in a way, they pretended he wasn’t resonating. Whether it was deliberate or not, we can’t say. But our Readers Speaks page in the past weeks clearly reflected that the vote was, indeed, split.
At the time we wrote: “A disenfranchised populace is unhealthy. Swaths of the population who feel their voices aren’t heard can lead to dangerous places; these people feel the system is broken.”
Many Americans voted not so much for Donald Trump, but for his status as a Washington outsider and his ideas about reviving economically depressed areas, for example in western Pennsylvania.
We also wrote: “Ignoring people’s fears doesn’t make them go away. Branding people’s fears as ‘ignorant’ or ‘bigoted’ also doesn’t make them disappear.”
As election results were coming in, and a Trump victory looked increasingly likely, many took to Twitter. Unfortunately, the tenor of much of the conversation was hate driven. The irony was not clear it seems: This new hate is mirroring the hate these people accused Trump and his followers of spewing.
This brings us to our post-election wish: The conversation must change. If we want our country to succeed, we must listen to each other. The election has been rife with hyperbole and exaggeration, which was magnified by social media. This is not the way forward. Listening to each other is, not bashing each other, and certainly not painting millions of people with one brush. We are a nation of individuals and we should remember that. We might have different visions for this country, but we all want this country to succeed. As President Obama said in this remarks following the election: “We are all rooting for his success in uniting the country.”
Other initial thoughts about this election:
- This was a clear referendum on Obama and Washington politics more than it was a win for Trump the person
- The level of dislike among Americans of Hillary Clinton was vastly underestimated
- Pollsters and pundits failed miserably. Some questions: Were they delusional? Did they think they could influence the election? Did they only speak to people with whom they agreed? Why did they ignore and discount what in the UK are called “shy Tories,” people who vote conservative on the day, but don’t necessarily announce they will?
- Americans are extremely concerned about their economic quality of life (“The economy, stupid”)
- We should celebrate our democratic process and the fact that Obama immediately congratulated the president-election, against whom he strongly campaigned
- Trump’s victory speech was likely scripted, but it was conciliatory and menschlich and we have to hope he continues in that vein
- Republicans, having retained the House, Senate and hold of a majority of governorships, aren’t going anywhere
- The media should be careful not to repeat the mistake it made during the campaign: Ignoring Trump supporters (and instead focusing solely on those disappointed or upset by the results).
- We’re living in an era of fear-driven politics. Many accused Trump of doing that, and many are responding to Trump’s victory with more fear-driven speculations.
- We need to take a collective deep breath and let the dust settle