What We’re Following
How It Happened: Donald Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton took many Americans—especially pollsters—thoroughly by surprise. It’s not clear yet why they were wrong, but a few key trends have emerged. Trump’s core support was thought to come from the white working class, and these voters turned out with tremendous enthusiasm. But about half of upper-middle-class voters also supported him, probably due to their dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act. Evangelicals also supported Trump overwhelmingly, likely because of his restrictive stance on abortion. All in all, Election Day had notable parallels with this summer’s Brexit vote in the U.K., both in terms of its causes—such as voters’ reactions against globalization and immigration—and its potential consequences.
What Are The Consequences? The immediate reaction from the stock market wasn’t great: The Dow dropped almost 800 points when Trump’s election was announced. But U.S. markets recovered by the end of the day. More long-term repercussions will likely be felt by poor Americans, who would lose access to health care and other social services if Trump’s planned cuts to taxes and government spending are carried out. Parents may see more opportunities to send kids to the schools of their choice—though many students won’t have the chance to benefit. Meanwhile, women and young girls may be disheartened—and even endangered—by the election of a man who’s bragged so casually about sexual assault. On an international scale, it’s not clear what will happen next, but Trump’s opposition to free trade and U.S. alliances could cause a major upset. And on a planetary scale, his rejection of policies and treaties intended to mitigate climate change could have a devastating effect.
After the Vote: What’s left, for the moment, is a nation in pain. And that applies to all Americans—the Clinton supporters wounded by her loss, the Trump supporters fed up with traditional politics, and those who felt their conscience could support neither candidate. It also applies to the country, divided; to America’s time-honored systems; to the Democratic Party struggling to rebuild, and the Republican Party struggling to reunite. We can’t be sure what will happen next. But even those who opposed Clinton might well take a lesson from her concession speech. The pain, she said, will last for a long time—but we need to move forward.
“We’re going to make history here.” —Joe DeFelice, chairman of the Philadelphia GOP, on election night
“I feel like I’ve been reborn. This is a new nation.” —Stephanie Jason, who supported Trump for president
“I’m afraid for my grandchildren.” —Mary Frillici, who supported Hillary Clinton for president
After an election that shook the foundations of both major U.S. political parties, David S. Broder’s words from our March 1972 issue feel prescient:
I have seen speakers shouted down and heckled into silence by student mobs at our oldest university, and I have seen police in a dozen cities use their clubs with savage delight on the heads and arms and backs of peaceful demonstrators.
Above all, I have heard the conversations of hundreds of average Americans, who see their world, their plans, their hopes crumbling, and do not know where to turn. I cannot forget a doctor’s widow in Richmond whom I interviewed in 1970 saying: “You can’t tell from day to day, but if it doesn't do better than it is now, it won’t be much of a country. This is the saddest situation I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen this country go through four wars and a depression, and this is the worst.”
Where do we turn? To ourselves. Obviously, that must be the answer. There is no solution for America except what we Americans devise. I believe that we have the instrument at hand, in the party system, that can break the long and costly impasse in our government. But it is up to us to decide whether to use it.
Ben looks to Trump supporters with some empathy:
So to get it out of the way: I didn’t vote for Trump. So I don’t like the results any better than you and your magazine do. But I did consider supporting Trump here and there, so I think I probably have a slightly better-than-average answer to “how could this have happened?” And I really think it’s kind of simple: Some people voted for Trump, but way more people voted for “stop calling me names and being a bully.” ...
The far left took a gamble that calling half the country racist, backwoods, bigoted hicks wouldn’t unite them under literally any alternate flag. It said, “If you aren’t 100 percent with us, you are 100 percent evil” without considering that inevitably this would result in absolutely no motivation for anyone on the right to shift even a little to the left.
What We’re Working At: Treating People Right
As part of our ongoing series of interviews with American workers, we’ve talked to a pretrial-services officer in D.C., who fights to ensure his clients get equal treatment under the law; a funeral director in Tennessee, who helps his customers through grief; a janitor in Massachusetts, who gets a daily view of people’s carelessness; and an Amtrak conductor from Illinois, whose interactions with passengers renew his faith in humanity.
We’d like to hear your stories from your own working life. Have you had to advocate for yourself when you weren’t being treated fairly? Does civility from others make a big difference in how you experience your job? Does your work require you to interact with people whose ideology you disagree with—and do you have advice for others on how to get along? Please send us a brief note via email@example.com, and we’ll post some of the responses as part of an upcoming project.