Behold. The end of the 2016 presidential election. The sun has risen on November 9, and Americans resume their daily lives.
The victor is Donald J. Trump, a businessman and television personality from New York City, in an extraordinary upset with little, if any, historical precedent.
Only a few weeks prior to election night, the Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, topped the polls with a commanding lead. Four days before the election, the Huffington Post gave Clinton a 98 percent chance of clinching the White House. On election day, the New York Times estimated Clinton would win a clear victory by more than three points. Emerson College Polling predicted a Clinton win with an astounding 323 electoral votes.
In light of the foregoing, if you are Democrat, you are likely asking yourself: what happened?
Sure, you could try and retreat to your usual tactic of chalking it up to racism, sexism, and homophobia. You could say that America is fundamentally flawed, or that your fellow Americans were just too stupid to know better. But deep down, you know your usual explanations are simply inadequate this time. Although you have no idea why or how, something happened, and it has totally shattered your world.
As a gesture of goodwill toward my fellow Americans, let me help. There are three overarching reasons you lost.
First, you took your supporters for granted—particularly people of color. In 2012, Democrats enjoyed a clear signal from the electorate to proceed with their plans under President Obama. By 2016, however, the voters that had provided so much padding for Obama were disenchanted by empty promises.
For example, your failure to curb the influx of illegal immigrants diluted the demand for unskilled labor and reduced wages, depriving many impoverished people of color of the chance to secure that critical first rung on the ladder to economic prosperity. Based on statistics provided by the Obama administration, since 2009, you have diminished black labor force participation rate by 2.4 percent, increased the number of black Americans living in poverty by 1.2 percent, reduced black median income by 1.5 percent, reduced black home ownership by 9.1 percent, and increased the number of black Americans living on food stamps by a staggering 58.2 percent (to your credit, you did tweet #BlackLivesMatter a lot).
Second, you forced your agenda down the throats of Americans using undemocratic means, especially concerning transgender issues. According to a May 2016 CBS/New York Times poll, Americans were largely split on whether one’s gender identity should dictate bathroom usage. Despite the issue being clearly ripe for political debate in lawmaking bodies, you thought it appropriate to use the presidency and the federal courts as a bludgeon to force ideological compliance. This followed a series of similarly undemocratic measures on gun control, immigration reform, and Syrian refugees—all of which Americans opposed or at least thought warranted greater congressional input.
Finally—and perhaps most importantly—you did not listen to your fellow citizens. “Working-class whites” became synonymous with “bigots”; you could not imagine a white, straight, cisgender, male without seething with rage. Through this one-dimensional lens (called a “prejudice”), you deemed the opinions of those “bigots” unworthy of your attention. Rather than listening to the concerns of your fellow Americans, considering their viewpoints, and having a meaningful, enlightening conversation—with real concessions and compromise—you bullied your dissidents into submission.
You built safe spaces and enlisted the power of the state to compel silence. Your pop culture and intellectual darlings called for the extinction of white men. You shrieked “white male privilege” when cornered. You filled America’s Facebook and Twitter feeds with snarky, shallow memes (to clarify, these are the political memes in which your friends left pretentious comments such as “Can I steal this?” or “OMG YESSSSS!!” or “THIS.”).
Then, to entrench these delusions in your mind, you created a media juggernaut to incessantly shill out affirmations of your beliefs. You unfriended and blocked those with whom you disagreed. You entombed yourself in a gigantic echo-chamber, where even the slightest whiff of throwing a bone to those “bigots” was condemned as heresy.
But America—the America you so clearly do not know—finally said enough. Now Republicans will soon control every branch of the federal government. With any luck, they will repeal and replace Obamacare, nullify Roe v. Wade, restore the academy to a place of honor, pass an affordable budget, kill the death tax, rein in the federal judiciary, and bring Judeo-Christian values back to Washington.
Then, after spending decades putting the pieces back together, when you have finally regained your political credibility, hopefully you will think twice before reintroducing liberal fascism into the land of the free.
Thomas Wheatley is a law student and writer at the Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington, Va. Email him at tnwheatley @gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @TNWheatley.