By TESS OSMER
I was sitting in a friend’s apartment awaiting the 2016 presidential election results. We, a group of about 10 University of Mary Washington students, were taking over rugs, couches, chairs, and sitting silent in disbelief.
It was 9:43 p.m. and Hillary had a 2,000 lead in Virginia winning both Loudon and Prince William County. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania was leaning strongly Republican. “It’s so disappointing, she needs to win Virginia,” murmured junior international affairs major Katherine Ross.
“It’s so scary how little democrats are gaining,” junior music major Rachel Lee said. “He [Trump] doesn’t have the ground game,” Alex Sakes, junior business major, chimed in. This was history in the making, what will 2017 look like? “Hillary might win as Bush did in 2000, losing the popular vote but winning the electoral,” Ross says.
All of a sudden it was 2:44 a.m., Nov. 9, 2016, and no one anticipated a Trump presidency. But there it was across the screen of my 11-inch Macbook Air: “Donald Trump becomes president of the United States.”
At 2:54 am Trump strolled across the stage at his victory party in New York and opened with “Sorry to keep you waiting, ‘complicated issues’.”
To all the Bernie supports that refused to vote for Spillary I say, “Cheers.” To the Gary Johnson voters: a thanks, for stumping a Clinton presidency.
Cheers and thanks to what I believe will be the four most unstable years for the United States and, in turn, the crumbling of international economic and security systems. Goodbye to NAFTA and must certainly goodbye to the Iran Deal and Climate Change Agreements.
Here I sit as the economy is crashing: the dollar, the yen and the renminbi are down according to Market Watch, which was recorded on Nov 8, 2016 at 11:42 p.m.
The DNC was sure, analysts were sure and when I talked to Dr. Cooperman in the Political Science Department here at Mary Washington, she was sure: Hillary was a shoe-in. We underestimated some of the quintessential wiki leaks, for example, Clinton’s memo naming “Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson as wanted candidates.” Moreover, her suggestion of the need to, “[elevate] the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to take them seriously.”
For some UMW professors the election results were in their favor. “I think this country has done very well with Capitalism and now we are going to get back to business,” Douglas Gately, Director of the Jazz Department and Music professor, said Wednesday afternoon.
For students, such as Courtland Lyle, senior biology and geology double major, however, the election was unbecoming.
“I was completely in shock last night. I think it caught most everyone by surprise,” Lyle said, “I think he [Trump] had a win at all costs mentality.”
However, Lyle noted that he had no regrets given that Virginia voted mainly democratic, but he was both “surprised and disappointed at the election as a whole.”
In contrast, Professor Elizabeth Larus of UMW’s Political Science Department, who specializes in the Politics of China and Taiwan and Security issues in the Asia-Pacific, the election results were relieving.
For Professor Larus this was an election that was critical for the future of the Supreme Court. Gabe Cowan, junior anthropology major, asked of her, “Do you support mass deportations?” Although Larus denied and said she wasn't in support of deportations, when asked again by Cowan what changes she expects Trump to make she replied, “I don’t know, we don’t know his policies.”
Larus added that her contacts in Hong Kong “are nervous,” and that the economic market is relieved that the election is finally over.
In fact, since last night the market is evening out.
However, political science professor Surupta Gupta, who specializes in international politics of the economy, notes that if Trump does abandon major trade deals such as NAFTA, although not so much the TPP, which emphasis’ US interests more than international interests, could end a long standing legacy of commitment to international agreements.
Moreover, Gupta said that Trump’s harsh opinions of globalization leaves a vacuum in international norm setting that allows for either China or Russia to step in. Similarly, John Karellas, senior International Affairs major, said, “Our alliances in the Pacific are faltering as we speak.”
Karellas feels that Trump is strongly disillusioned in his belief that international alliances do not benefit the US. “That has a strong implication for those countries that have been dependent on our partnership and security,” Karellas said.
Of the wavering economic markets as of this Wednesday morning Karellas said, “I think investors are confused and scared about what is going to happen, people are unsure what to do.”
Around lunchtime Cowan and I trekked to UMW’s Anthropology Department and sat down to speak with Associate Professor Jason James. James took an interest in the ways in which people vote and why they vote the way they do.
“As an anthropologist,” James said, “I am interested in how incorrect the predictions were.” Cowan asked, “How do you see the American society move forward as a whole?”
“I don’t think it [Trump Supporter rhetoric] will go away, I think maybe they see sentiments clearly represented in his [Trump’s] style,” James noted, “it is hard to make a case for what things will look like in the long run.”
“There is a frustration,” James mentioned, “in our choices between the two parties, where a wide rang of things they [Hillary and other GOP candidates] both represent but it came to the fact that, particularly the white working class, didn’t feel as if they have been represented.”
Further, James commented that there is a “strong notion that the government is the problem, especially starting with Reagan…” and that “it became a mantra even…”
However, James concluded and said that he doesn’t think “that means they [Trump supporters] want anarchy or chaos but I think the problem is that Trump didn’t have any full descriptions of his policies.” In turn, James said he does think Trump will have difficulty unifying Republicans and that “the anti-establishment ‘thing’ is a common way of avoiding [policy issues] and playing the blame game.”
It is possible to assume that our Trump presidency will begin with working on issues that all Republicans can get behind, such as abolishing the Affordable Care Act, which was championed by the Obama Administration in 2010.
As the exit polls roll in it is apparent that one of the strongest indicators of how individuals were voting was dependent on their anger.
Forbes reports, for instance, 23 percent of voters said they felt angry about the federal government and 77 percent of them voted for Donald Trump.
In addition, those with and without a college degree each represented 50 percent of all voters. Those with a degree voted for Clinton, 52 to 43 percent and those without a degree voted for Trump, 52 to 44 percent.
I talked to many people who were both extremely satisfied with the results and extremely unsatisfied with the results, but I did not find one person who thought the results were fraudulent.
The key takeaway, for me at least, is that this is still America, where free thought reigns and where liberty is essential to the growth of democracy. As Barack Obama said, “We have to stay encouraged.”