Making Sense of Election 2016

Making Sense of Election 2016

Well, folks, the election of 2016 finally came to an end. As the defeated party tries to rationalize what happened, in the last 90 hours, the rest of the world is also coming to terms with a new reality – a Trumpian era.  Who would have taken Trump seriously even a year ago?  He was as insignificant as his cameo role in Home Alone- Lost in New York (Just ask McCaulay Culkin). When I think of Donald Trump, the image of a casino hotel comes to mind, not the image of somebody striking nuclear deals in Iran or addressing the nation on Capitol Hill.

As a Canadian,  I am as far removed from US politics as can be.  But as in every other US election cycle, I found myself mesmerized by US politics. It is mostly because of the profound impact of US policies on the rest of the world, not to mention the colorful characters that vie for the highest office every 4 years.  However, this year, the political scene has never been more polarized. One need not look further than my Facebook home page to see whom most people supported.  Even days later, people feel cheated; Canadians are as upset with the outcome as my American Clinton-supporting friends.

There is no doubt that there are extreme elements among Trump supporters just as there are among Hillary’s supporters.  The fact remains that when it comes to a nation as polarized as America, critical thinking is in short supply. When emotions run high, critical thinking is off the table.  When the mainstream media unanimously sings the praises of one candidate despite her many flaws, how do we expect rational, objective beings to critically analyze the world around them when our only sources of information come from the media?  Should women vote for Hillary based on her gender?  Does 30 years of political experience qualify one for the highest office? How much sway do Beyonce and Jay-Z have?  How well do celebrities in their Hollywood cocoon understand ordinary people? They are not the ones subject to the vicissitudes of globalization.  These are just some questions that were hardly explored during the election.

If the Trump supporters (many of which are my hardworking, non-white, college, even law school-educated friends, hardly representative of the “deplorables”) are fanning flames of anger and intolerance, the media is also culpable in fanning flames of intolerance by filtering out the voices of those with alternative viewpoints.

Trump is a very flawed character. It is unknown whether he will live up to any of his promises. It is not even certain whether there will be a drastic change in the direction of the country.  Americans have replaced one elite with another elite, and the result is that politics is forever intertwined with money, perhaps the difference is the sources. The Clintons profited immensely from paid speeches and the murky world of the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton dynasty has just been given the boot partly because of this. But Trump will also be scrutinized for his business interests and their potential ties with politics.

It is not the end of the world.  There are too many checks and balances in the US Constitution on the power of the President.  Hopefully, this election has greatly humbled the media. The pundits and so-called statisticians are as reliable as psychics with a crystal ball. As one friend posted on Facebook, perhaps the 4th estate will finally go back to check government power as they are meant to do.  And Donald Trump will officially be the most powerful man in the free world, and that is a much more significant role than his cameo in Home Alone 2.

Published by Karen Zhou

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