Reactions to the 2016 Presidential Election

By Jethro Swain

Trump won. Hillary lost. The polls were wrong. The country, the west coast, Oregon, Portland, OES, are all shocked.

The odds of Trump winning, according to 538, before the votes started getting counted, was 28.6%. That number even seemed like an overestimate to many. It felt like Trump had immense odds to overcome, like picking the Ace of Spades out of a deck of cards.

But Trump found that Ace of Spades.

What’s indisputable, however, about the election is that he won fairly, under a democracy. Trump won because of the electoral system, even though he lost the popular vote by about 200,000 votes. This year there were 11 swing, or battleground, states that could go either way, towards Hillary or Trump. The other 39 states historically go one way or the other and are easy to predict. The way those states add up, the Democratic representative usually has about a small 10 point lead in electoral votes, 201 to 191 for the Republican.

How Donald Trump won was that he got more of these swing states than Hillary did. He won Florida, with 29 electoral votes, he won Ohio, with 18 electoral votes, he won North Carolina, with 15 electoral votes, and he stole Pennsylvania, a state that Hillary had a 77% chance of winning with 20 electoral votes.

But why was everyone led to believe Hillary had such a great chance to win? From what I know, the polls were so wrong because they didn’t get enough input from the Trump supporters. That sounds pretty obvious, but they couldn’t see it for many reasons. One reason is that most likely a lot of people who support Trump don’t want to take surveys and be a part of some random organization’s affairs. They also might not be truthful about voting for Trump, especially if they live in a highly liberal part of the country, like almost every big city in almost every state.

Even in Florida, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, states which Trump won, the big, urban cities like Miami, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Charlotte voted heavily for Hillary. The media and news sources like Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are run out of big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc., so it would make sense that the media would lean towards a liberal outcome, because they’re getting their information from highly liberal areas.

Still, I know I sat on my couch in astonishment as I watched the results unfold, and I came to school the following day surrounded by my peers who felt the same way. “Probably about 8:30 or 9 on election day when I was looking at the map on CNN,” said senior Shiva B. on when he first realized Trump was going to win. “I was in a state of utter shock and disbelief. I immediately started questioning the false reports from polls.”

Like Shiva, a lot of students were caught off guard by the result, and many probably felt helpless. “I did all that I could by voting, but I think the country made their decision and needs to move forward. I’m shocked by how divisive everyone is on social media, it makes the country even more divided.”

The 50/50 split of the vote makes it seem as if there’s no real winner. No majority really came out on top because there was no majority. Now there are protests going on in major cities across the country, including Portland, revolting against the result of the election, which the people within the same country decided. But who’s to say there wouldn’t be protests if Hillary won? They might be more spread out across small towns in southern and midwestern states, but there would still be outrage.

“People need to examine why they’re so surprised because we live in such a liberal bubble that sometimes we don’t know and can’t understand what other people are thinking. Half the population isn’t insane. Hating all the Trump supporters, you can’t extinguish their hate with more hate,” said Meg. H.

What Meg said is valid, even if we may not want to acknowledge it here in Portland. There are people in the country who believe that Trump being a President will benefit their lives more than Hillary being President, and they either force themselves to overlook or choose to overlook the controversial things he has said and done. Not everyone who voted for Trump supports the outlandish remarks he has made. Everyone had their own reason for voting the way he or she did, and, as Mike Gwaltney likes to say, we need to be civil, and try to understand the views of the other side.

As far as the future goes, freshman Mason L., who will be in high school for more than 75% of Trump’s term the next four years, said, “I don’t think he can change that much to affect us here. Everything he does has to go through other people. I know he has some crazy ideas, but I don’t think it’s going to affect us at OES.”

I asked head of the math department and mother of three Liz Weiler on what she thought of the election, and the first word of her response was familiar: “surprised,” she told me. “It made me feel like living in Portland, I’m somewhat out of touch with the rest of the country. I don’t know what that (Donald Trump’s presidency) will mean for schools. One thing he said is that schools should be less of safe zones. He also said that more people should have guns, and since I have kids who go to public schools, that’s a huge area of anxiety for me. I hope he holds true to his Republican values and lets the states have more power, and I’m glad to live in a place that’s more liberal. I hope the national arm doesn’t come down on us.”

No one can say for sure what’s going to happen to the country in the next four years. We’re just going to have to wait and see.

“When I came to school (the day after the election), as expected, there seemed to be a somber mood in the air, since most students seemed to be Hillary supporters, but there also might be some Trump supporters who feel alienated,” said Shiva.

For now, if we want to uphold our morals as a school of being inclusive and open, we need to approach our differences among the members of our community with a desire to understand, instead of from a place of anger. We need to remember that at the end of the day, we’re all one country, and if we don’t want to drive ourselves into the ground in every economic, political, and social form, we need to try our best to get along and work together instead of against one another.