How did this happen?: Five LEO writers on the election results and the future of the country

Nov 9, 2016 at 3:05 pm
How did this happen?: Five LEO writers on the election results and the future of the country

If you live in Louisville, chances are that you are still reeling from the election of Donald Trump, trying to sort out what it means for you, your family and friends and even the state of Kentucky. What we know for certain is that the pundits and pollsters were dead wrong — again. So now, we are left to look at the facts and feelings for answers. Here are LEO’s four postmortem takes:

Haven Harrington III Age: 42 Who did you vote for? I had actually planned on voting for Dr. Jill Stein. I knew Kentucky was going to go big for Donald Trump, so I wanted to vote my conscience. However, I took my 8-year-old daughter voting with me, and she wanted to vote for Hillary Clinton. After a brief discussion on the merits of each candidate I deferred to my daughter, and let her choose. She chose Hillary.

When she woke up, the first thing she did was turn on the news to see who won. She was devastated. She asked me how could such a man win. I explained that sometimes things don’t go your way and that people feel differently than you do. Yes, he said bad things, but people felt he would keep them safe and keep their jobs from going overseas, and that was more important to them.

I believe what I told my daughter was correct. I think that is the main reason why Trump won. This was a change election. People wanted someone, who was not part of the establishment to fight for them. People felt that bad trade deals, Wall Street bankers, and the elites have rigged the economy in their favor and cost average people their jobs. Hillary ran on being the establishment, President Obama’s third term, and being the safe choice. She had the wrong message and was the wrong candidate for the time. That's not what people wanted.

The darker side of this election is the “we need to take our country back” vote that Trump captured. What the Trump victory shows is that America really hasn’t progressed as far as we were told when it comes to race and gender relations. We may talk a good game in public and know what phrases we can and cannot say, but in private the truth comes out. This election was definitely a white-lash. I’ve always said you can never go wrong betting on American racism, and that’s why the polls were so far off. A lot of folks didn’t want to admit that, yes, they are afraid of Muslims, we really don’t like black people and we really do think Mexicans will take our jobs and are criminals.

Trump’s win is also a wake up call for both of the Democratic and Republican party establishments. People are tired of business as usual politics and the little guy getting the short end of the stick. They revolted at the polls. What comes next is anybody’s guess. The Democratic party both locally and nationally is going to have to do a lot of soul searching. Do the Dems continue to follow the Clinton model and drift even more to the right to siphon conservative voters or do they go with the more progressive wing of the party? The Democratic party both in D.C. and Frankfort will have to wrestle with that question, but one thing is certain. A change is going to come.

Haven Harrington III, sports talk-show host, writer and community leader who lives in the Russell neighborhood

Scott Recker Age: 30 Who did you vote for? Guess.

I planned on writing about Ohio, about how it’s a microcosm of the United States, about how the blue cities and the rural red that swirls around them are starkly divided, about how they carry a virtually equal amount of weight and about how it swings one way or the other depending on which base is more excitable.

But, this election went deeper than that.

It showed us that we, as a society, haven’t come as far as we think we have. That we haven’t moved past racism and sexism and xenophobia and homophobia. That we are still deeply scared of everything. That we, as a whole, don’t have a grasp on rational thought. This is a problem that’s alive and well in a place like Ohio, but it extends far beyond it.

A lot of us looked at this election as the Republican Party setting itself on fire in public, letting a deranged man-toddler with almost zero policy take the reins of a major political force, with limited support from the more established, old-guard GOP members. But, the whole time he was building an army of the disenfranchised and the angry. The people who hate Washington so much that they consider a born billionaire from New York City an outsider. The people who act tough, but are actually scared. Scared of people who look differently than them, that love differently than them, that think differently than them, that were born in different places than them. Donald Trump tapped into that. And when you think of what that says about us as a society, it’s a hell of a lot more terrifying than that egomaniac in the Oval Office.

The Democrats saw the opposite unfold. The party politicians swiftly backed Hillary, but the base didn’t. It fractured the voters, which is much more problematic than pissing off House members of your own party. It was a pivotal example of the old adage, “Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line.”

We’re not living in what the Facebook philosophers are calling a post-factual society — mainly because I don’t think we once lived in some enlightened, propaganda-less utopia that term insinuates — but this was a hard shot on the chin that reminds us that you don’t have to have thoughtful ideas to be elected to the highest office of the United States. That “telling it like it is” is enough. That saying things that would get you fired from working at a fast food restaurant doesn’t figuratively disqualify you from being president.

The world is a much more stupid and dangerous place than we sometimes give it credit for. Remember that the next time you think about casting a protest vote.

Scott Recker is LEO Weekly’s editor at large.

Daniel Lewis Sherrill Age: 34 Who did you vote for? Knowing long before the election that Kentucky's electoral votes would be awarded to the Republican nominee, I went with many progressives and voted for Dr. Jill Stein. Were I in a swing state I'd have voted for Hillary Clinton, but only to avoid Donald Trump.

Even for Democrats, Hillary was the Establishment Candidate. She is known as a political product rather than a genuine personality, with pundits touting the Clinton political “brand.” We knew what kind of people funded her campaign and SuperPAC. The DNC and their collusion with media elites to shove her down our throats stacked the primary for her against Bernie Sanders, who polled much better against Trump than she did. While GOP turnout was similar to 2008 and 2012, Democratic turnout was much, much lower. This is what happens when the DNC and their donors try to install a leader that most people do not like or trust. Even counting that some of the outrage is manufactured, tone-deaf Democrats should have been able to see that anti-Clinton sentiment was a damaging liability.

In a May article, I wrote that “The massive working-class wave of unrest will not go away soon.” The Democrats did not engage the working class. Rent is going up, as is the cost of healthcare. People can't find good jobs. College tuition is through the roof, and the student debt crisis is creating a YUGE problem for the future of the real estate market and the consumer economy. Bernie hammered on these issues, this is why he has the energetic following he does. It is common knowledge that Clinton was funded by a lot of people that helped create these problems in the first place.

If you look to the electoral map, it's not just the Old Confederacy and the cowboy states that went for Trump. He carried Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, Rust Belt states that have had their livelihoods decimated by the New Economy. An estimated 6 million jobs have disappeared in the past 20 years, and many of those due to the free trade deals that Bill Clinton signed into law and promoted as being job creators. When there are fewer jobs, workers have to compete harder to get that job, leading to lower wages and nonexistent benefits even as U.S. corporations hoard trillions in cash and the Dow Jones explodes to new highs. (One can only wonder if that was the intent.) Add into the fact that rural areas not prone to voting Democrat are hurting even worse, and you have an angry mob.

A Trump presidency with a Republican Congress will not be a boon for the working class, of course. I hoped that we progressives would have been able to move Hillary left, that she'd be held to the latest positions she'd “evolved” to... but as Democrats so often do, Hillary snatched defeat from the jaws of victory just in the nick of time.

“It's the economy, stupid!” - James Carville, 1992

Erica Rucker Age: 43 Who did you vote for? I voted for Hillary Clinton over that Orange Julius fucker Trump, because I like myself. Also, I care about my gay and other female friends.

I think we elected Trump in America because there are a lot of racist, xenophobic and scared people. There is a too big swath of America that truly believes that people of color (Latinx, Asian, black, indigenous, etc) have no right to be in a nation that was pushed upon them by invaders and kidnappers. I think that our adolescence as a nation is working finally to our disadvantage. A lot of Americans who feel like this country has left them behind find the appeal of a great white savior tantalizing, and now we have this buffoon. Hitler, at the very least, could paint and write.

Jesus. This is sickening.

Honestly, right now I feel very dark about all of it. I feel that, as a black woman, I am not valued in this nation, and I'm just not sure how much energy I have to keep trying to make it better. I'm spent, fighting hard to not be depressed, and basically feel nihilistic about all of it. I know that we are not silenced, and that there will be another election in four years, but the amount of policy that can be setback and destroyed in that time will be immense.

Conversely, we could find out that Trump is not exactly what the Republicans hoped for. I'm still leaning on that tiny bit of joy. He is the unknown. He said a lot of silly garbage during the campaign, and a lot of it is contradictory to Republican ideals. The shit-show might actually be comedic.

How will the election's outcome affect Kentucky in any of the aforementioned ways? Sorry Kentucky. Kentucky is fucked. Governor Selfie and all his friends control you now.

Erica Rucker is a columnist for LEO Weekly.

Aaron Yarmuth Age: 33 Who did you vote for? Her. She was incredibly prepared for the job. I felt safe that she would continue the push to curb climate change, maintain the Obama-foreign policy of diplomatic engagement, and economic policies that would lead to the middle and lower classes attaining a greater share of the nation’s wealth (than the top one percent).

But Hillary Clinton relied too heavily on people voting against Donald Trump, and never gave people a strong enough reason to vote for her.

I think Trump’s big legislative action will be an immigration reform policy. It will most likely be similar to the one the Senate passed last year, but the House never took up, but slightly more draconian toward immigrants and those illegally in the country. Outside of that, I expect a symbolic, portion of a wall on the southern boarder, so Trump can go do a ribbon cutting, “Mission Accomplished” banner photo.

After that, I expect a marginal repeal-and-replace of Obamacare. I truly can’t foresee them totally repealing it, but coming up with something that allows Republicans — Trump, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan — to say they’ve “repealed” Obamacare.

The election stands to affect Kentucky and Kentuckians’ daily lives much more dramatically. There will be a much more aggressive, ultra-conservative legislative agenda, including: pension reform, bathroom bills, right-to-work, charter schools and maybe even a push to allow politics from the pulpit.

I have to say that it does feel as though this country is not quite the one I believed I was living in. While I was fully aware of the ugliest parts of society, I didn’t believe, on the whole, that they were capable of looking passed the most unprepared, flawed, divisive candidate ever. On top of it, to be so illogical in the rational for Trump: “She was flawed,” I’d hear — Yeah, so is he; “She’s so dishonest” — Yeah, so is he!

Again, I knew that existed, but didn’t believe that it would be so prevalent in the plus-or-minus of the five-percent of voters that swing elections. And to be sure, that is not a Republican-only thing … Democrats certainly suffer from faulty-rationalizing as well. But that’s not what shocked me about this election.

I could not have imagined such an amazing variety of emotions — anxiety, anger, sadness, disappointment and some small part motivation. So, while today is for licking our wounds, tomorrow is the day we get off the mat, dust ourselves off, and run right back into the battle.

Aaron Yarmuth is executive editor of LEO Weekly.