Political & Media Commentary

The archaic state of America

The Election of 2016 brought the country back a generation through crisis and class

Throughout the presidential election of 2016, there were two distinct breeds of voters that were paying attention to the candidates from the time of the primaries until the victory speech in the early morning hours of Nov. 9, 2016 when now President-Elect Donald J. Trump took the stage.

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By Twitter user TexasTribune

Businessman and reality powerhouse Trump, also known as the man who fired people on the show “The Apprentice,” ran for president and led his campaign strictly on an overwhelmingly negative tone, which in turn would galvanize his base of mostly white, uneducated men. As he led an explosive campaign that would challenge the meaning of being politically correct with attacks toward the left, the minorities, women, disabled and anyone else that did not share his same privileged values or catechized him, he ran a strong campaign no matter what the values of what seemed to be the majority of voters.

Even with her towering resumé that was brimming with policy, advocacy and practice in crisis, the democratic candidate could not relate to the people of the 2016 nation.

However, up against him, and in some cases seemed to be overshadowed despite the inexperience of her competitor, stood former senator, secretary of state and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Even with her towering resumé that was brimming with policy, advocacy and practice in crisis, the democratic candidate could not relate to the people of the 2016 nation.

After a slanderous primary season, the Bernie Sanders supporters of mostly college-age students took to third party candidates or held onto their undecided claims, giving Clinton a tough time with the millennial vote that historically should have been clinched by her democratic platform. Even with Clinton’s wins on the debate stages, her staff’s efforts and the way that she admitted to her mistakes in the email fiasco, it wasn’t enough. The country wanted something different and new instead of the experienced or polished when sending someone to Washington D.C.

With both the nation’s bitter shun against a vast playing ground that the democratic party worked off of whether it be socialism, progressive attitudes, more government-funded programs, the political party label that republicans refused to vote for or support or maybe just being referred to as the “better choice” candidate, Donald Trump, the inexperienced, took the nation by surprise and concluded the election with a victory.

What did the Trump Campaign do well?

Donald Trump, despite the argument of being a one-man team for the majority of the election season, led a strong campaign because it was Trump. Before discussing views or remarks that would spark a media frenzy and lead to an apology from republican party leaders, Trump was an outsider. He was someone of the reality television world and was a tabloid magnet for years.

Although, with a different glass ceiling that democratic candidate Hillary Clinton spoke on throughout the election, Trump had a contrasting glass ceiling and he ended up shattering it.

For some scholars, it’s thought that he was never suppose to win the election or even make it past the primaries, meaning he did not intend to grow successful in the political realm. Although, with a different glass ceiling that democratic candidate Hillary Clinton spoke on throughout the election, Trump had a contrasting glass ceiling and he ended up shattering it.

The future nominee stood up adjacent to both seasoned and professional senators, governors and those who came from a political family throughout the primaries on the main stage. He, however, who made comments that would violate women for their looks and makeup of being a woman such as fellow republican candidate Carly Fiorina or [then] Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly


Trump would go, as many news outlets and voters would call it, “off script.” This version of Trump, would lead the country to believe that he was sexist, homophobic, racist, as well as many other terms of the types of people that he would challenge and bombard. Kelly questioned this in a primary debate where he called Trump out for his comments.

“You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals,’” she said.

“You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs,’ ‘dogs,’ ‘slobs,’ and ‘disgusting animals,’” she said.

Trump fired back “Only Rosie O’Donnell” with sheer laughter from the audience in the background.

Kelly went on, “Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice that it would be ‘a pretty picture to see her on her knees.’ Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man that we should elect as president?”

Trump’s answer consisted of blaming America and said that what was wrong with the country is that people attempt to be “politically correct.” Another, grand round of applause and cheers from the crowd showed that it was socially acceptable throughout his base to attack, criticize and berate women of all types and almost celebrate this “war on women” as Kelly called it.  Trump saw that it was almost too easy to go “off script.”

While democrats and even some republicans thought of his platform as “something to do” for him, and not really taking him seriously in the primaries, it was a reality check when he won the nomination. This very nomination was what both gave a reality check to party leaders and democrats but also to his base- who rallied around him even more by the more derogatory statements he made public. Throughout his campaign in the general election, his beliefs on women and minorities were supported by white supremacists and alt-right believers.

After the video that was leaked of him sexually exploiting his former woman co-host on The Apprentice, party leader and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan did not take his endorsement of Trump away but instead said that he could not “defend him anymore.” Both men and women backers defended Trump in this difficult point during his campaign.

Throughout the eighteen months that it took until the victory speech was given at 3:30 a.m. on Nov. 9, Trump led his campaign on an overwhelmingly negative platform. In both the race for the primaries and the general election, he would state repeatedly that “America was heading in a very bad direction.” Trump, without the basis of facts or any type of arguments to back up his statements, said that countries like Russia and China were “winning over us” but didn’t say how or in what.

According to a study conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School of Politics, the media even played a part in his victory by fulfilling their jobs by covering the overwhelming statements he made. The study suggested that the mass coverage on Trump, especially his comments, “normalized” the negativity, giving him and his platform the upper hand. He played his platform right by taking and almost “owning” the negativity and blame game. He claimed that America should not be politically correct and that the people in the country were “too thinned skinned” but some said he was some of the worst. For example, when Clinton made her “basket of deplorables” comment,” Trump used it against her and said that she was “filled with hatred” and negativity for a population of the American people. In one sense, she used his own words against him and he turned around and did the same to her.

One element that Trump had the strongest throughout the campaign is that he refused to side with anyone but himself.

One element that Trump had the strongest throughout the campaign is that he refused to side with anyone but himself. He didn’t listen to his opponents when they criticized him or apologize for almost anything that he said or did, and he did the same when it came to his own party. He was relentless when it came to discussing the “people of Washington” or speaking on Congress when the majority of Congress was republican. He not only attacked President Barack Obama and his time in office but also slandered Speaker of the House Paul Ryan relentlessly. As for his base, who voted for him with the conception that he would be “different” than the seasoned politicians that are voted into office, he played this natural card well by both those against him, but also attacking those on his side of the playing ground.

What did the Clinton Campaign do well?

Hillary Clinton, who has a rich resumé to backup her claims in policy and advocacy, was relentless and strong throughout the election. Opposite of Trump, who had a personality for television, she at first lacked the relatability factor as well as trying to pull together the former Bernie Sanders supporters and those strongly opposed to Trump but still republicans into her court. She had a tough task to attempt to unite the country that only seemed split during the campaign season but purely evident after the election results came in across the nation.

“Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion.”

In Clinton’s first tweet to launch her campaign in April of 2015, she said, “Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion.” From then until the final hours of Election Day, Clinton ran on the basis of uniting the country, despite the deep divide. Both she and her staff fought on an optimistic movement, especially against Trump’s negative tone. Going back to when she was First Lady to then her campaign, she always did well when she went back to her roots when she would fight for children and families. She has a long history of working with the Children’s Defense Fund, giving opportunity to all children to reach their potential and instilling that it is important that all children- whether they be citizens of the United States or immigrants, receive education and health care.

“Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”

Before being secretary of state or senator, she was an advocate for human rights- highlighting the famous quote “Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.” The work that she did for the past couple of decades were also the highlights of her campaign. Throughout the campaign trail, she spoke relentlessly on policy, even if it wasn’t covered in the media compared to Trump’s slanderous and fixated views of the day. In the debates, Clinton was seasoned and polished after hours of practicing, positioning herself to be on top of Trump’s “off script” version as well as the Kellyann Conway version of himself, courtesy of his well to-do and well rehearsed campaign manager.

Clinton had clearly outshined the businessman in her knowledge during the first presidential debate on Sept. 26 with the attempt to present the facts off the bat in the beginning. Clinton, who took the first presidential debate for the two candidates extremely seriously in her preparation and research, had excelled in a multitude of areas: one being her characteristics within handling Trump’s bashes and blunt statements that were either irrelevant or untrue. The two candidates had walked onto the stage that night with one thing in mind: winning. However, there was only one candidate that had actually succeeded in turning undecided voters onto their campaign trail as well as strengthening the already supporters that they had. This same debate style that she had reflected the other two debates to mirror her performance.

For Trump, he had his campaign manager serve as the bandage of his entire campaign- including what happened before he started his road toward a political office. As for Clinton, the nation barely heard from campaign manager Robby Mook besides the few broadcast news interviews that he conducted with CBSN. Clinton, instead, served as the person that conducted both the good and the bad sides to the campaign. This drew to wonder, who will Trump appoint to apologize or explain his actions and motives to the American people? For Clinton, there was no question.

What did the Trump campaign do poorly?

Trump, much like his competitor, had a difficult time connecting to certain demographics- some that were crucial to not only win the election but also to connect to before assuming the role of the top office in the nation. As for Trump, after a slew of his controversial statements that made headlines more than a dozen times per month, he failed to connect with the very people that he practically declared war on: women. Whether they be educated or not, both suburban and urban women had cast the majority of their votes to Clinton. Despite his claims on Twitter and in the debates, he did not take the African-American vote, but instead failed to produce it completely with the majority heading to the Clinton side of the spectrum. He not only attacked, but nearly harassed women throughout his entire campaign to instill that he was pro-men and pro-white. From the primaries until to his present day transition team, he discussed Mexico and immigrants from there in the most negative connotations where he called them “rapists” and “drug dealers” with promises to “build a wall” to separate the states from “the Mexicans.” Trump’s base relished in his statements and met them with great applause. For Trump, his inexcusable statements may have worked for his base, but he did not welcome any other new voters throughout the general election trail.

During the race to Election Day, the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) endorsed now president-elect Trump and he disregarded it. He did not speak out against the endorsement or against the KKK. Instead, he acted as if he was delighted by the endorsement by the white supremacists.

What did the Clinton campaign do poorly?

Several odds stood against Clinton as she launched her campaign to run for president in April of 2015. She was seeking a third term of the democratic party, she had headlines on her email scandal causing a national security crisis and the nation was sick of seasoned politicians. Because of these handful of reasons, it would seem possible that a candidate from the republican party leaders’ pick was possible- maybe a Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio at best. Instead, though, the nation picked outside of the leaders’ realm and went into an inexperienced in policy Trump, who excelled in the business world- some scholars note due to economic reasons that he would shine in this regard. But in the most obvious of reasons, Clinton had the woman factor against her as well. If the world was ready for a woman president, it would be Clinton for her experience. But because of a slew of issues during the campaign trail and issues that were brought up from before her campaign trail, she was not voted in. For example, it took her until the first debate to admit her and her apology to the email scandal where she used a private email server while serving as secretary of state. The factor, which may seem minor in some positions, is horrifying for national security. Clinton should have, first and foremost, not have used a private email server. But secondly, she should have apologized and said “I made a mistake” well before she actually did and discussed what was actually in the emails instead of rubbing it off as nothing at first.

Another issue Clinton had was her relatability tactic. For many, they viewed her as the woman with all the facts but wouldn’t be able to connect to the American people. In the debates, she proved those wrong when she instantly talked about her granddaughter and what future she wanted for her when in a future America. However, these small remarks weren’t enough for the American people. Apparently, the nation of 2016 wanted a candidate that wasn’t afraid to say anything at all. Maybe for some points, Clinton should have gone “off script” for specific moments of her debates, podcasts and interviews. Clearly not the point of Trump, but to “get real” as some put it, with the American people that Trump was successful at.

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President-Elect Donald Trump during his victory speech

Donald Trump’s campaign may have seemed to be ineffective during any other time, but the nation of 2016 thought differently. For his base, they were more motivated by his comments against women and minorities because it challenged political correctness and the traditional politician’s “look.” The nation of 2016, especially Trump’s base and the silent majority, were seeking “change.” But this change was not the type that Bernie Sanders in the primaries, Hillary Clinton throughout her time in public service or even Barack Obama spoke on in 2008 and 2012. This type of change was the type that made the country go backwards by a generation. In his motto “Make America Great Again,” which could be interpreted “Make America White Again,” or to go backwards to how things use to be. The election of 2016 served as the country was divided not just by political parties and two candidates. Instead, it was the divide of introducing new ideas that would serve as progressive in nature versus the nature of going back in time to the way things use to be- not inclusive but strictly to those who were successful during that time, which were white men. The nation sought out and found the person that was completely inexperienced and picked them over one of the most qualified people to ever run for president in the history of the United States- whether they be woman or man. Both candidates ran strong campaigns, whether it be because of their base or because of being inclusive to the entire nation, they rallied those that believed in their message.

Media Campaign Coverage Incentive:

The presidential election of 2016 played a major role in exposing not only the divided nation but also the roles of media in influence versus good, political journalism. Despite a turbulent relationship with now President-Elect Donald Trump and the media world after he has made slanderous comments that the media “rigged” the election as well as the fill of fake news spread across social media through aggressive headlines, the media and Trump are currently in a “dangerous phase” according to Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly. However, there’s a thin line that comes to play in presidential election coverage between influence and coverage. The role of journalists, no matter what they are covering, is now considered the “old-style journalism” which covers the “who, what, where, when, and how.” The press play a vital role to report the news and report it correctly. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Due to manipulative and systematic ways of reporting- or not reporting- specific issues or events, it creates a matter of influence on the news teams’ audience.

For example, viewers can chose to watch Fox News for coverage on Clinton’s emails and they way they slander her in a way that makes Donald Trump look better. Or, viewers can watch CBS News and say just the opposite. In the print world, The New Yorker magazine takes a liberal take on issues, especially with coverage on the presidential election. As for the Wall Street Journal, they take a more moderate approach while the editorials tend to be more conservative than The New Yorker.

Strengths and Weaknesses of our Existing Coverage:

After the Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and deception of the Vietnam War, journalists have turned to a more “investigative” style of reporting in a way that gives news viewers and readers a “broader” sense. The role the media should play is not to serve as an influencer, but instead to educate through straight facts and hard news in order for the reader, listener or viewer to make up their own mind. However, there is a difference between coverage and influence, but it’s a thin line that some can cross quite easily. In a study by Harvard Kennedy School, they pointed out that because Donald Trump was such an irregular character, it was difficult to not cover what he said  when he was “off script” and why it was a main focus for much of the campaign trail. This would also serve as another reason that policy was not covered so much on both sides. During this election cycle, readers would have to seek out policies that both candidates had by going onto their website or reading into their history since many news outlets barely covered the issues but instead of the Hollywood-like theme of the road to election day. It was broadcasted that Trump wanted to “build a wall” and he was looking to deport families, but how was he going to conduct these ideas? Clinton would go to talk about policy throughout the debates, but was told she needed to be more relatable instead of just listing facts by predictions in the media and campaign analysis in newspapers.

As for the widespread of false news, especially throughout this election season, it is important for the nation to have a choice where they get their news, but websites especially need to be held accountable for what they publish for the world-wide web to view. For example, it is against journalistic ethics to publish a false report that could potentially hard a person’s credibility or credentials. In numerous cases, both candidate’s of this election season had gone through this from Hillary Clinton’s alleged sex scandals with children to Donald Trump’s cheating ways in business. It was every day that a new, false report would come out that would state, “sources said,” but none of it would be backed up by fact, but instead by conspiracy theories from either side of the political spectrum, or an idea of something even lower. It’s crucial that these reports to cease, but not only from election coverage, but instead from all coverage that is reported in the news or on websites that claim to be “the news.”

Recommendations for Presidential Election 2020:

The election of 2016 proved that there is both a divided nation but also a divided media world. It is crucial for the media to go back to their roots and readopt “old-style journalism.” For example, the exemplary outlet throughout the entire campaign season was The Washington Post. The newspaper as well as their online counterpart had broken down the policies, the issues, and each candidate for what they stood for in the same style. The critiqued in their editorials, but they critiqued both candidate in the same way and value as the other. Instead of choosing what readers should know, they gave the readers everything and left it up to them to decide what and who they were going to vote for. The Washington Post continues, throughout the transition time frame, to restrict themselves to reporting the facts instead of shedding one person in good light and another in a negative context.

In addition, because this election season was so important in the realm of social media, it is important for education reasons to filter fake news outlets. For example, the number of shares an article will receive because of a controversial headline that sides with the way some are thinking, such as the website, “Occupy Democrats” has become a widespread issue on what people believe is actually going on in the realm of campaigns and the road to Election Day. For traditional news outlets who look to report only the facts such as The Washington Post and New York Times, it is important for them to fix the spread of fake news by correcting it and by finding out the facts. If not, the untrust in the media will continue to rise.

In addition to news outlets changing, education needs to as well. It’s crucial that journalism and current events are taught in schools from kindergarten through grade twelve. Whether a person goes to college or not, it’s important for them to know what to look for while reading, viewing or listening to the news. The news, at this point, is inevitable to hear and discuss, especially with this most recent election season. Instead of waiting until college to offer courses, it’s important to start at an early age to educate people on what is coverage and what is influence.

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