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The Election

Clarke Hallum, Editor

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It happened. The 2016 President Elect is Donald J. Trump. The people of the United States have spoken, and through one of our most sacred of values -the vote- we have acted out this cornerstone of democracy. For a year and a half our country has been locked in a conflict of ideals, fighting to decide what America is and should be. Although our country will never be rid of this ideological strife, for now, one side has most definitely prevailed over another. When the dust settled on Nov. 8th, the Republican nominee Trump ended up with 279 of the 270 electoral votes needed for a victory compared to his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton’s 228. But, the political battle that took place Nov. 8th not only decided the fate our Executive Branch for the next four years, it also decided the construction of the legislative branch which is made up of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. In both houses, the Republican party won a great victory by being elected into the majority sitting party. This means that in the both lawmaking bodies Republicans will have significantly more ability to pass laws that they favor. This fact makes the gravity of the presidential election that much more significant, taking into account that the President’s policies are much more likely to be actualized into law. Make no mistake, this election was a big deal.

Coming to class on Wednesday, the 9th a somber mood hung over Olympia High School. There were shouts, tears, and outrage. Senior Matteo Del Giudice expressed his view explaining, “I don’t feel represented properly, and I don’t think it’s gonna be a very good thing for our country’s future.” Many teachers and faculty took the time to allow students to express their emotions about the election through different activities. Social Studies teacher Mr. Schaefer explained his approach, saying “I chose to take an analytical approach, to try to make sense why the polls were so wrong, why certain groups voted and certain groups didn’t. I think this is healthy for students to think about the facts, rather than dive into reactionary emotions.”  Elections are bound to bring out emotions and passionate feelings, especially in such a surprising situation like this. Although many students at OHS share Matteo Del Giudice’s view on the outcome of the election, many at our school are excited by the results of the election rather than dejected. An anonymous OHS Student related that they, “realized a Clinton presidency would be dangerous for our country. On election night I was both surprised and overjoyed by his sweeping victory that puts the Republican party in place to name potentially the next three supreme court justices. I’m excited to see what President-Elect Trump can do with a Republican controlled Congress.”

In the wake of this election, the tension that it has injected into our country is tangible. There is an overwhelming feeling of division and fractionalization. One of the most unprecedented aspects of this election was the severe inaccuracy of polls and election forecasts. For example, the highly regarded polling website FiveThirtyEight, gave Clinton a 71.4% chance of winning to Trump’s 28.6% on the day of the election. The majority of other national polls had similar predictions. In this state of confusion, we must look for answers and try to understand the causes at the root of what happened on election night.

Spanning back to the end of 2015, with the start of the primary election process, deep sectional divisions were visible in our country. We had Bernie Sanders, a left-wing radical waging his war on the “billionaire class” and the political establishment he saw as corrupt, a slew of republican career politicians like Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio vying for the nomination, Hillary Clinton, the Super Pac wielding epitome of democratic establishment elite, and Donald Trump, a political outsider like Bernie, who was equipped no political experience, millions of dollars, and a bad temper. How out of all this, did Trump prevail? Despite his tidal wave of scandal, regardless of the other candidates with decades of experience, ignoring all the norms of a presidential campaign?

There is no one definitive answer, but a major factor turned out to be massive rural, blue-collar, white workers lashing out against a political establishment which they felt had abandoned them. According to a statistic reported by the Washington Post, “Whites without a college degree- men and women- made up a third of the 2016 electorate. Trump won them by 39 percentage points.” The results clearly show that rural, and working class whites feel polarized and mistreated by our government’s current trend of economic globalization and movement away from old-industrial practices. Trump clobbered Clinton in areas where factories and mines where main sources of employment, and where job-growth has been stifled by new-age industries in other areas. Another crucial downfall for Clinton was her lack of expected support from minorities and women. The majority of minorities and women did still vote democrat, but not in the same numbers as they did for President Obama. Simply put, Clinton did not receive the same level of of enthusiasm in her ranks of voters as Trump did.

For students, this is a tremendous learning opportunity to grasp the inner-workings of our country and think deeply about the implications of the actions our government takes. And also to learn how to engage in civil-discourse, and understand that even through frustration, and confusion we must respect our fellow Americans. Unity is the way to achieve change. Hate, and division from both sides brought us all to this point. Where many of us cannot even talk to those who have opposing viewpoints as us. Even if the candidates may preach hatred, and intolerance we have the great opportunity to unite as a school and find ways to include, and problem-solve, and have sympathy for the people around us. No matter how you may feel about the outcome of this election: disappointed or excited take the inspiration that you are feeling now and put it toward creating change in your community, in your state, and in your country. Vote, get involved, raise your voice, and never feel like you’re opinion doesn’t matter. Because we must hold our democracy accountable for representing each and everyone of us living in this nation.

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The Election