In the 2016 election, the vast majority of voters were split into three groups, Republicans, Bernie Fans, and Hillary Supporters. The last two greatly outnumbered the first, but there was a surprising result. The two hated each other. Some Bernie supporters were so diehard for Bernie that they refused to vote for Hillary after she secured the nomination, and Hillary supporters would have done the same thing had Bernie secured the nomination. The 2016 Presidential election was rare because it wasn’t that Trump had the bigger supporter base. He didn’t. It wasn’t because he was popular. He wasn’t. It was because there were Democrats who were so caught up in their candidate that they refused to vote for their party’s nominee that many Bernie supporters actually voted for the complete and polar opposite of him and voted for Donald Trump.
It is interesting to note differences in Republican and Democrat leadership prior to understanding how the 2016 election was different. According to their 2016 publication, Fiona M. Davidson, Tad Sours, and Rebecca Moll, all instructors from the University of Arkansas and Hass Hall Academy, wrote :
the Republican Party broadly supports lower taxes, smaller levels of social welfare, strict limits on immigration, limited environmental and business regulations, and strict adherence to traditional, often Judeo-Christian, social norms. The Democrats, conversely, are more likely to support higher taxes, wealth redistribution, generous immigration policies, a strong social welfare network, stronger environmental and business regulations, and more inclusive and progressive social policies. These philosophies appeal to very different groups in part because they are designed to do just that. Each party acknowledges that they have a “base,” or a group of core supporters to whom they tailor their main policies (2016).
Clearly, the two parties have a very different base. So, how then was Trump able to capture the enthusiasm of Bernie supporters and bring them to his side? According to an NPR report on August 24, 2017, nearly 12% of Bernie supporters ended up voting for Donald Trump. Interestingly, it seems that the major reason that many Sanders defectors voted for Trump was the idea of White privilege. In the same NPR report, “nearly half of Sanders-Trump voters disagreed with the idea of ‘white advantage'” (2017). These voters didn’t like that Hillary wanted to even the playing field among everyone, whether based on race, sex, or creed. For these voters, Trump would better serve their personal interests better than Hillary would have. Their revolution was fake, and faltered at the idea of having someone who agreed somewhat with them and voted for the polar opposite. White people, amiright?
According to an article on the Root, Bernie Sanders’ biggest problem was that he didn’t try to appeal to African-American voters. Terrell Star writes, “For all of Sanders’ talk of a “political revolution” and economic inequality, the candidate never seemed to understand that it’s all but impossible to make it out of the Democratic primary without winning over black women—especially those over 35 years old” (2017). Black women win elections. You can see that Barack Obama. In fact, in the 2012 election, Black women made up the largest voting block. So, why did Bernie largely ignore them? Bernie talks a good talk, but fails to back up his words. Bernie talks about equality for all, but his plans would largely help poor white people, which is why many of them switched to Trump, a candidate who ran his campaign on racism, hate, and whataboutism.
The point that I’m making here is that the reason Trump won is because many Democrats were so hurt by the 2016 primaries that they failed to see the big picture, and they handed the election over to Trump. Bernie supporters who voted third party, who voted for Trump, who didn’t vote at all, all because their candidate didn’t secure the nomination is what put us in this situation. The fact of the matter is that the perfect candidate doesn’t exist. Plain and simple. The perfect candidate for every Democrat won’t run in 2020, but we need to unite together and get Trump out of office because if the Democrat vote is split again, we can be stuck with another 4 years of racist rhetoric and the world laughing at the United States. I am willing to vote for a candidate I don’t love, whether I supported them on the primary road or not, because the bigger picture is there. Democrats need to win in 2020, need to win in 2018. Democrats need to unite together for a good candidate, because your perfect candidate will only lead to another Republican landslide.
Davidson, F. M., Sours, T., & Moll, R. L. (2016). Demography, Identity and the 2016 Presidential Election. Geography Teacher, 13(3), 106-111.