Shocking election results have installed Donald Trump as the President-elect of the United States. Republicans earned control of the Senate and the House and will most likely appoint a staunchly conservative Supreme Court Justice. The last time a party had such complete control over the U.S. government was World War II, and it led to a redefinition of the role of government in the New Deal. The last time the Republican Party held this level of power was 1928—and the Great Depression started the next year.
Minorities will be hit hard by this change of power in the White House. Stock in Corrections Corporation of America rose by 47 percent in the first 12 hours of the news, indicating that the market clearly thinks America’s engorged and disproportionately minority-ridden penal system is here to stay.
Women have plenty to worry about as well—conservative media outlets have already begun trumpeting the end of Planned Parenthood funding. Furthermore, a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would end the requirement that insurance companies provide birth control without a copayment.
The concerns of women, people of color, immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community are valid, but two considerations are even more pressing. First, there exists the threat of catastrophic war our nation faces from a president so petulant his aides barred him from Twitter in the final days of the election. We can only hope that Vice President-elect Mike Pence—who at least seems to understand America’s relationship with Russia—takes the lead on foreign policy, leaving him little time for domestic policy.
The second tragedy is also calamitous in scale: at every level of government, a party that rejects and mocks the science of climate change now controls the U.S. Trump has promised to exit the Paris agreement, revoke the Clean Power Plan and scrap the Environmental Protection Agency.
All the major progress the U.S. has made against climate change—meaning a large portion of the entire world’s progress—will probably be erased.
The left cannot blame its failures for these looming disasters. Nearly 60 million people voted for Trump, and whatever happens next is what they chose for this country. As much as 100 million people eligible did not register to vote in this election, and that too was a conscious choice. Trump did not win the votes of the majority of Americans or even the majority of Americans who voted, but enough people in enough places supported him for him to win the Electoral College.
One group that cannot entirely escape responsibility, though, is the media. Not having raised enough money to pay for traditional ads or outreach, Trump relied on Twitter and $2 billion of free media advertising to promote his message. Additionally, studies have repeatedly shown that less than 10 percent of the total election coverage focused on policy issues, and it wasn’t until the past few months that journalists began giving critical takes on Trump’s proposals.
While the media can amplify and offset our beliefs and fixations, they are ultimately a reflection of them. The media focused on the sensational and scandalous because our culture uses politics to entertain itself. This should not be the case. Politics are serious––and arguably––are often boring.
Perhaps if we treated it this way, however, we wouldn’t have a reality television star as our president-elect today.