Donald Trump

US Election 2016: Why I Don’t Blame America (Entirely)

So there we go, another vote to the people and, according to social media, the second time in five months that the world is going to end. No one quite seems to understand how Donald Trump has just been elected as the most powerful man in the world; even his advisors seem in slight disbelief.

Unsurprisingly, the world woke up this morning to see their Facebook and Twitter feeds rammed with opinion after opinion all with the same message: “we got the wrong result again, what is wrong with people?”

Now, I for one cannot pretend I am not one of those disappointed in yesterday’s election result, as I was back in June when Britain voted to leave the European Union (ironically my last article for Young Perspective). However, unlike last time where I wrote an uncoordinated rant on no sleep and far too much coffee, this time I am taking a step back and considering the result from a wider perspective.

To put it frank, Donald Trump became President for the same reason that the UK voted to leave the EU: those who wanted change voted whilst those wishing to maintain the status quo were more likely to sit back and only involve themselves after polls had shut.

In both circumstances it seemed as though many of the disappointed were young people. Young people may be more politically active than they were 20 years ago, yet they fail time and time again to go to the polls in the same numbers as their elders. The result? A democratic decision is made yet far too often, those who lost will only complain and not look forward.

Perhaps this time there was a clear reason for lack of youth participation in this election: the quality of the two candidates. The new President Elect certainly has his issues which are too wide-ranging and varied to bother explaining here. So, if he is no good, what about the alternative?

Quite simply, Hillary Clinton was not the right candidate to inspire America’s youth to vote. Despite numerous attempts to link her name with celebrities, as well as the $32.4 million spent on advertising in just one week, Clinton has been unable to engage enough young voters. The group that really should be most in favour of radical political reform had little interest for someone involved in mainstream politics for nearly 30 years.

Had Bernie Sanders been the Democrat’s candidate of choice, I believe he would have won. By simply standing under the banner of Democrats, he would have already had a solid base support. Add in the interest from students and lower-income families interested in his left-leaning social reform policies and we would certainly not be sitting in this positon now.

The US is crying out for major reform in the political structures in an attempt to avoid setting in stone this apparent rift in society that has developed. When it came down to the choice of Clinton or Trump, only one candidate could truly suggest that they could help spark this reform. It is worth remembering that Trump did not create the anger in American society his campaign has focused on, he merely gave it a voice and an outpost.

As the title of this article suggests, the American public should not be the ones to blame necessarily for the election of Donald Trump; the issue is far more complex than that. Had Trump stood in 2008 he would have had no chance of being elected – at that time the US wanted a President that offered stability in the midst of the Great Recession. In my eyes Trump in 2016 is just wrong man at the right time.

It is impossible to predict now how the next four years will pan out; only time will tell whether Trump will get his way on some of his more radical policies. Nonetheless, it appears quite clear that this election has been a rude awakening for those at the top of American politics. For once, the anti-establishment candidate has won and he brings with him tens of millions of American citizens desperate for reform.

And to those unhappy with how the election has turned out, the next step forward is fairly simple: stop complaining about the result, get out there and, if you really want reform to happen, make your voice heard load and clear.

Image credit: flickr.com/gageskidmore

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Ruairidh Campbell
Based in the Scottish Borders/Glasgow, Ruairidh has written extensively on everything from rugby to politics with work published in publications including the Scottish Rugby Union's website, Scottish Field Magazine and Edinburgh Rugby's match-day programmes.
Ruairidh Campbell

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