When Donald Trump formally announced his bid for president in June 2015, few people took him seriously. As months of his hateful and violent rhetoric escalated and continued on with few consequences, it became increasingly clear that Trump was not only here to stay but also in the lead within the Republican party. Today, Trump holds the current title of President-Elect of the United States.
The Democratic party opponent, Hillary Clinton, was no newcomer to politics. She was a veteran to the field since her undergraduate college education. Serving as Secretary of State for four years, Clinton was more than qualified for the job. However, on Nov. 8, this did not seem matter.
Now that one of the most suspenseful presidential elections is over, Clinton supporters feel the loss as well the devastation and confusion. It leaves room to wonder, how did this happen?
While Clinton did hold avid support, it is no secret that some felt that casting their vote in her favor was leaning towards “a lesser of two evils” rather than the candidate they felt was right. It was not until a Trump presidency became a real, viable threat that we saw political involvement among not necessarily Clinton supporters but Trump protesters.
The effort came much too late and endeavors on voting day were not nearly enough.
Voter turnout hit its all-time low in nearly two decades with only 53.5 percent of eligible voters turning out. In the primaries, this dipped to 28.5 percent. A small number in comparison but average for presidential primaries.
Although there was an increase in voters within the 18-29 age range from the last election, the turn out still sat in the lower number of 19 percent of that demographic. Even though Clinton held 55 percent of this demographic, the numbers were not enough. Young Democrats were just not there for Clinton when it came to election day.
Clinton supporters, Democrats and anyone else who opposes Trump have another important question that needs answering. What now?
Support for Clinton came too little, too late or not at all. Not only does there need to be more support, but also earlier, active involvement. Showing up on Nov. 8 is going to earn you that “I Voted” sticker, but primaries are just as vital to our elections.
A culture of political involvement beyond your personal favorite candidate was needed more than ever in this election. “Feel the Bern” certainly felt great while it lasted, but without the Democratic nomination, the flame that was Bernie Sanders wore out. With it, a good amount of Young Democrat support followed.
Trump’s presidency is also accompanied by a threat to marginalized groups. Abortion, civil and immigration rights are all under threat due to most, if not all of Trump’s previously stated political ideals threatening women, racial minorities, LGBTQ+, etc. Volunteering your time or donating money to non-profits who seek to support the groups of people that Trump threatens is crucial now more than ever.
But perhaps the most important action to take is two years from now. Currently, the Senate and House of Representatives are majority held by the Republican Party. With a Republican Senate and House of Representatives, Trump has more freedom and room to push his party’s agendas. If we can change that in 2018, his presidency may become much less of a threat.
Stay informed and be ready to vote once again. It is no presidential election, but midterm elections matter just as much, if not more.
Elections may be over and it may feel as if a battle has been lost, but this cannot be the end of the Democratic political involvement. It may be a long four years before we have another chance to change the president, but all actions in the meantime will make a big difference.