With the election slowly fading back into our national collective memory, we feel it necessary to spur a discussion about our democracy. We wish to remind our readers that democracy is more complex than formal electoral processes. It is a complex and informal grid of unwritten, collective ideologies smashing together, breaking apart and reforming anew. When Donald Trump won, it really symbolized a total breakdown of a political machine — similar to the Brexit vote. We now have the opportunity to rebuild it. We can rebuild it as a total fascist movement or we can rebuild it with a fresh start.
To those of you who point fingers at the evil white men who voted for Trump (not all of them voted for Trump, by the way. Some were incredibly vocal in their support for Hillary Clinton), know that you probably agree with them in the most fundamental reasoning in terms of motivation for voting: unhappiness with the traditional political machine. For better or worse, this nation acknowledged that the machinery formerly used to harness popular political opinion has broken down. For this, we should be ironically grateful.
Trump single-handedly demolished the Republican Party. The party was previously comprised of two general blocs: Christian fundamentalists and socially unconcerned, yet fiscally committed, conservative business elite. Both of which, mind you, abhorred Trump. Perhaps it was because of his coarseness. But in this coarseness, he exposed something basic and “human” about him. Once again, Trump is a repulsive human being, but compared to former GOP presidential candidates like Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, he’s at least “human.” There is something so monstrous about Cruz and Santorum; perhaps it is their desire and ability to impose Christian Sharia law, their blatant misunderstanding of fundamental economic principles and other things. As vile as Trump is, he’s redeemed us from truer perils like Christian fundamentalists. Unless he dies and leaves Pence in charge.
On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic Party mostly unified behind “Not Trump.” This fundamentally stupid logic cost us Sen. Bernie Sanders, who could’ve harnessed the anti-establishment momentum while also having sensible policy. In his place, Democrats put their trust in establishment candidate Clinton. Sure, she’s progressive like Sanders on topics like LGBTQ+ and civil rights, but she’s also the establishment vote. Hopefully, the “it’s her time” logic will meet its end, and the Democratic Party will evolve as well, ridding themselves of traditional logic and embracing the people’s true choices.
There are further consequences that extend beyond the political sphere, though. With the destruction of the political machine, there’s an opportunity for us to rebuild it with rhetoric that doesn’t disenfranchise people. Trump’s success shows a rejection of the infamous political correctness movement. Unfortunately, he has officially normalized blatant racism and open misogyny.
Remember two years ago how words like “waterboarding” and “torture” were changed to phrases like “enhanced interrogation”? This was an institutional interpretation of political correctness. It’s the same logic that could justify us renaming horrific acts like stealing and looting to “enhanced property reassignment.” This idea that we should use language that doesn’t harm people works in cases in which we discuss those who are marginalized in some way in terms of race or gender identification, but it unequivocally fails when we make it universal across the board of discussion. In politics, we have known enemies, and not everyone deserves respect. Our method of discussion should reflect this, and Trump exposed this fundamental flaw in our political machinery.