As of today, it is official. Donald Trump has won the 2016 US presidential election and will be starting as US president in 2017. The outsider no one expected to do well has conquered the White House.
And if the reactions online are any indication, people are genuinely surprised how this has happened. How could a ‘sexist’, bigoted outsider beat the ‘safe’ Hillary Clinton and win the presidency? How could the one guy the media have doubted for the last 12 or so months straight turn out to defy all predictions and win with a resounding majority of votes and districts?
Well, quite easily actually. In fact, I predicted he’d win the campaign for the last few months, and here’s why…
Because Class/Social Divides Have Been Growing Unchecked
Which you can see with the growing divide in fortunes between the successful, ‘rich’ areas like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco and the dying rust-belt, where many businesses have closed down and vast swathes of the population are now out of work. Or working for terrible wages in dead end jobs.
Unfortunately, the politicians before Trump… kind of ignored this issue. They focused on minority social issues in cities, on life for middle/upper middle class college graduates and making money through globalisation and international business, and left the poor working class voter in the dust as a result.
Then, when any complaints came in, they were written off as ‘racist’ or ‘bigoted’. As idiots who ‘didn’t know what was best for them’ and who should ‘watch their white privilege’ or other crap. Any attempt at going outside the ‘globalisation, immigration and big business is good’ message was treated as ‘hate’.
And the working class population got sick of it. They started striking back.
We’ve seen it with GamerGate, where the gaming population told the journalists and industry where to stick it after claims of collusions sparked an internet civil war.
We’ve seen it with Brexit, where after months of scaremongering, media panics and rich elites defending the EU, the British population decided to leave anyway.
And now we’ve seen it with Trump. Where despite the media panic and all the people saying how horrible he’d be as a choice, people voted for him anyway. Where the ‘least popular’ presidential candidate in history came up on top in the mostly tightly contested election of the decade.
It all comes down to the same reasoning; people are sick of ‘elites’ telling them what’s good for them. They’re sick of the same elites talking up globalisation and the EU and whatever else and then saying ‘everyone would be better off with we went with it’. Sick of seeing their own fortunes decline as a small percentage of billionaires profit off lowered staff costs and folk halfway across the world get the work they’d previously been getting.
So they said enough was enough. Enough of giving power to corporations and multi national organisations. Enough of seeing the jobs and work moved out of their country, of seeing their small towns and neighbourhood fall into decline.
And they voted for the outsider options. The ones that would make the rich and powerful scared. However, the Democratic Party could have won on this reasoning too. They could have won if…
There was a Better Candidate than Hillary Clinton
Because let’s face it, she’s a completely uninteresting politician.
Yeah, she’s female and that’s ‘novel’ to some degree, but as far as what she offers goes, it seems to be ‘more of the same’. She’s a ‘safe’ politician who would provide another 4 years of what we got under Obama.
Heck, what were people supporting her for?
Not being Trump. Seriously, that’s why most people online said they wanted to vote Clinton. Not because they liked her as a person or thought her political policies were any good. But because she was ‘not that guy’.
But that’s not a reason someone becomes successful. It’s like what happened with the Republicans and Romney going against Obama. Yeah, he was ‘safer’ than the other option for some people, but no one really had any passion for him or his campaign.
And here’s the real kicker; the Democrats could have done better. There was a better candidate waiting in the wings that could have fought Trump in an election.
His name was Bernie Sanders. He had a huge amount of support online, he was against the political elite and willing to reform society. He had the kinds of ideas that people would likely back in an election.
Yet the party didn’t go with him. They couldn’t choose an ‘outsider’, even if it would cost them dearly not to.
Heck, they outright attacked him all over the media and tried their very hardest to ‘fix’ the primaries against him. He was compared to GamerGate, his fans named ‘Bernie Bros’. The media tried their hardest to find negative aspects of his campaign to make Clinton look good.
And it all backfired. They took out the outsider, and ended up going into a losing battle with a ‘revolutionary’ in the process.
However, the media didn’t help matters here either…
Because Trump’s Media Coverage Massively Boosted his Campaign
Even despite said media absolutely hating him and the vast majority of publications playing up every negative thing he said. Indeed, if you believed the media’s depiction, you’d think Trump was the next coming of Hitler and about to bring about World War 3 tomorrow.
But this didn’t hurt him. Instead, all the attention just made him do better.
And there are a few simple reasons for this. For one thing, a lot of Trump’s supporters were already distrustful of the ‘corporate mass media’. So to hear them attack Trump didn’t make them reconsider their positions, but dig in and support him even more just to watch the news organisations squirm.
For people who didn’t back Trump yet, the media’s attack didn’t really persuade them either. Why? Because it was blatantly obvious that the press had decided ‘Trump was a terrible candidate’ and that every thing he said would be taken as negatively as possible. So many of them decided to check him out for themselves and see what all the fuss was about.
So in essence, the media’s coverage of him actually acted as free advertising. It was all over the place, to the point no one could pretend Trump wasn’t a contender in the election, and it made people curious about him and his campaign the more they read.
And that’s not all it did either. Oh no, the media’s coverage actually led to something far scarier than Trump support.
It led to mass distrust of the press.
Cause let’s face it, it’s unusual that a candidate is supported by only six newspapers in the entirety of the United States. It’s unusual that the media would be so against any one contender in an election.
As a result of this, people who would otherwise trust the mainstream media turned against it in droves. How much?
Well, let’s just say Breitbart (a conservative, pro Trump, anti political correctness news website) is now literally the most popular social media news publisher in the world. That Kotaku in Action (the GamerGate ‘news media is untrustworthy’ subreddit) has grown from 28,705 subscribers to over 71,000 since the US presidential campaign has begun.
Basically, it’s got the point the right wing’s online presence has grown significantly, the number of conspiracy theorists has likely shot up and a large percentage of left leaning political sources have lost a large amount of money.
However, it’s not just the ‘professional’ media that helped Trump..
Social Media has Helped Too
Because the world of social media has helped the Trump campaign significantly too.
Like Reddit. Where a sub called The Donald has become one of the most popular sections on the site, and become the number one Trump ‘forum’ online in a matter of months. Seriously, it became so popular that Trump himself did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) there in July 2016:
Heck, it became so popular the front page algorithm had to be changed to stop submissions there from flooding it!
Or on Twitter. Over there, Trump has been trending ever since his campaign was launched, has hundreds or thousands of likes and retweets for his every comment and tapped into a growing internet savvy audience of meme posters and internet regulars.
And other sites too. YouTube has a huge amount of videos discussing Trump (on channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers). Facebook has his page on 12 million likes with legions of supporters posting his every word. Basically, whatever the media hasn’t focused on, the social media world has magnified even more.
But there’s one other ingredient here.
Namely, the filter bubble. Basically, social media sites are designed to show people exactly what they want to see. If they like Trump, then they’ll see mostly pro Trump content. If they don’t like him, they’ll see mostly anti Trump content.
This has had two effects:
1. It’s stoked tensions between sides. After all, if everything you see confirms your viewpoint and everything your opponents see confirms theirs, what do you think will happen when you debate about Trump’s presidency?
Answer? Lots of arguing. Lots of vicious, personal attack leaden arguing.
You say a stupid thing, the other side reports on it as evidence the pro/anti Trump lobby are idiots or sociopaths or whatever else. Someone else does this, and you do the same. You retweet that article on your favoured news site and go on about how stupid or evil those ‘other people’ are. It reinforces itself, brings in controversy and leads to massive arguments that keep Trump permanently in the spotlight.
2. Your friends and family see everyone they’re associated with thinking one thing about Trump, and assume that’s the ‘consensus’ view. Which means people who are friends with Trump supporters might see him as the obvious choice to vote for. After all, if my friends like what he says, why shouldn’t I?
So social media had a pretty big effect on the election too. I guess you could say the filter bubble causes major issues after all.
Either way, the conclusion is clear. Trump became president for logical reasons, all of which could have been predicted before the election. It’s a shock to the system, but it’s only the logical conclusion of an increasingly obvious divide that started with GamerGate and Brexit. One the media couldn’t predict, but a logical conclusion none the less.
Now let’s just see what happens with Donald Trump heading to the White House…