What America Lost When Trump Won
Understanding the pain rather than the anger of Trump’s win.
The 2016 election result was bigger than politics. The turbulent nature of the campaign and the controversies that followed masked the true battle taking place.
While there are countless theories that attempt to explain Trump’s rise to power. I want to focus on the pain being felt by a population left in utter disbelief, that makes this election hard to accept.
So let’s put aside our political and philosophical beliefs for a moment, and try to understand the pain many people felt instead of the anger they display.
The pain felt wasn’t because the Hillary Clinton lost, nor because the Democrats we’re completely defeated in the senate and house. I believe the pain felt by many American’s was more primitive. Simply put, for the first time in my lifetime, it felt like the bad guy won.
Trump’s victory was a contradiction to all the lessons and beliefs we thought this country aspired its citizens to achieve.
The United States held a convincing moral narrative. We told people the way to succeed was to work hard and earn success. We also condemned people who took shortcuts, lied, bully or cheated their way to the top.
More than that, we were taught that being a good person paid off in the long run. We were taught to be kind and respectful to others even if they did not reciprocate.
We told nerdy teens who were bullied in school that life would eventually reward you for your efforts, and be hard to the bullies that never got their act together.
Countless children’s stories taught kids virtues of selflessness, respect, tolerance and kindness.
Treat others the way you want to be treated, not the way they treat you.
Donald Trump’s rise to power is a contradiction to all those beliefs.
This is the center from which the election of Donald Trump felt seemed unjust. Donald Trump’s inexperience and outsider status were his selling points. But he won by crossing the few moral lines left standing in politics.
Whether you supported Clinton or not, she tried to win the presidency by reinforcing the hard work and be kind narrative we instill in our youth.
On the other hand Donald Trump and his campaign made lying their central strategy to win. They didn’t just lie about Hillary Clinton by helping spread fake news. They lied to their own supporters with promises to “Build A Wall” and “Lock Her Up”, “Complete Shutdown of Muslims”, all promises he’s already backed away from.
Donald Trump’s insults and mud slinging isn’t new to politics, but the normalization of hate, disrespect, blatant lies and hypocrisy by Kellyane Conway and his surrogates have escalated the extremes campaigns are willing to take to win elections.
The pain of Trump’s victory over Clinton was a shock to the core culture of American values. Self absorbed lying bullies are not suppose to win over hard working dedicated nerds.
The pain is difficult to accept because there is a real sense of injustice. It seemed like we gave a temper tantrum prone spoiled brat who demands all praise and attention the biggest boost to his already inflated ego.
Unfortunately, we also gave someone with a short fuse, no restraints or empathy a tremendous amount of power and responsibility.
This is a moment in history that will forever change America’s place in the world.
For a long time, the United States was championed as the model for other cultures. It wasn’t because of its military superiority or economic strength. It was because all around the world, American’s were expected to do the right thing.
What separated the United States and the like from many other countries were the moral standards by which it subjected itself.
Yes, America’s history doesn’t quite lived up to its own standards. But we at least had standards and tried to live up to them.
Unlike other countries where people live in fear of their leader’s unchecked powers, we in the United States believed that could never happen to us.
Not because law’s protected us from such a fate, but because we always counted on Americans to live up to their standards and do what was right.
We believed in critical moments, regular citizens would prove we hold virtues of sacrifice and selflessness like hundreds of heroes have in the past.
In war, in space, in science, in sports — America’s champions shared a virtue of perseverance and sacrifice for the greater good. They inspired us to live up to their standards and build upon their achievements.
George H Bush, Bob Dole, Al Gore, John Kerry, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton all lost. But championed virtues of sacrifice by imposing limits to which they were willing to go to win.
Trump’s rise to power marked the downfall of limits and standards. It ushered in the era where people will say anything and do anything to win.
For Conway and Trump’s team, their win was perceived as approval of their actions. And therefore will only serve to reinforce and set a precedent for bigger lies and darker behavior to come.
Donald Trump is the first time in our generation America knowingly and intentionally chose the bad guy to win. For Trump and his team, or the like, there will never be limits to what they’ll do to win. Because to them, the ends justify the means.
In the end, America proved it’s narrative to be false. When Trump proved bad people can get ahead, America lost it’s moral compass.
Donald Trump may have barely won, but I hope his campaign didn’t inspire anyone. In the end Trump may be a winner, but he’s not mine, or America’s champion.