November 9th 2016 took me by surprise. I’d stayed up watching the results of the election the night before, and I had a strong feeling it wasn’t going in the direction I expected, but the news that Wednesday morning still came as a shock. Every news source I trusted had told me Hillary had this in the bag. And now Donald Trump was president.
How could this have happened? A reality TV star was going to be handed the key to the nation’s nukes. “Good Lord” I thought to myself, “I sure as hell didn’t want Hillary, but now there’s a chance I’m going to get drafted to die in Northeast Asia because the ‘YOU’RE FIRED’ guy pissed off the North Koreans.” I was genuinely worried, it seemed like anything could happen in the next four years. But the one thing 2016 me could never have foreseen, is that I’d be happily voting for Donald J. Trump in 2020. How’d that happen?
I began 2016 a passionate fan of Bernie Sanders. In a sea of corruption here was a man who had been pushing the same points for years, which seemed indicative of a certain type of political backbone. I cared about health insurance reform, I cared about student debt, I cared about getting out of stupid wars, and I cared about American jobs.
I remember Bernie’s 2015 Huffington post op-ed against the Tran Pacific Partnership (TPP) reading like a breath of fresh air. A strong stance against trade deals that only benefited multinational corporations at the expense of the American worker — that’s worth supporting. I’d seen good, working-class people suffering in my hometown. Here was a man who cared about MY neighbors!
Like many millennials, I was naive. That naivete took a hit after I watched the DNC spend months undermining my candidate and came to a head in July of ’16 when WikiLeaks revealed the less than impartial attitude of the DNC officials towards the Sanders campaign behind the scenes.
By the time the Democrats began to fall into line behind Hillary, I was getting angry. Then Bernie endorsed his former opponent and I felt outright betrayed. When family and friends asked me about it I started to say I wasn’t going to vote for anyone. The system was rigged, and I wanted out.
Back to the day after the 2016 election. In my mind I had this moral high ground by not throwing my vote behind either candidate, but I’d had no doubt that the election was Hillary’s. Trump’s win shook me to the core. I started going over what I knew about our new president. This boiled down to: “Reality TV man is crass and crazy, oh God he’s got access to the nukes what in the world is going to happen next.”
But when I analyzed these “facts” I realized they only revealed how little I actually knew about Trump. I also had to wonder why this electoral result came as such a surprise. Every single news source I trusted had left me knowing next to nothing of substance about our new president, and they’d all told me Hillary had the election in the bag to boot. How had I ended up so wrong and confused? I had to face up to a bitter truth: something was up with the media.
Beyond my concerns about a reality TV star having access to our nation’s nukes, all I really knew about Trump was that he received a million dollar loan from his dad, and he said something particularly crass about women that one time. Okay, lets look at these “facts.” The Access Hollywood tape was over a decade old, and I’d had contractor friends receive loans for over a million dollars in their mid-20s. Why did these “facts” matter so much to me?
I’d always been aware that the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal had their respective biases, but it was beyond doubt that they were giving me pretty useless and inflammatory info on President Trump. It wasn’t like the presidential office was some sort unsullied place of purity before this election. From Bill Clinton to JFK, presidents have enjoyed the sexual rewards that accompany positions of power. I came to realize that expecting moral purity from the executive in chief was naive, and a standard that had hardly been lived up to in the past. I found myself gradually becoming agnostic on the Trump question. Sure he was a loose cannon spouting off on whatever he felt like, but he clearly wasn’t being treated fairly by the media.