- Views & Opinions
“Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Hillary won the popular vote.”
Repeat 45 times. Click the heels. Wave a wand. But Americans still wake up each day to the reality that Donald Trump won the White House and will become the 45th president of the United States.
Many who slogged through the bleak days after the election offered or encountered a half-joke about heading to Canada, to Mexico — or to Svalbard, Norway, an archipelago near the North Pole where apparently Americans can start life anew without the hassles of passports or visas.
Others expressed their fears about how life might change in America — or even how their life in America might end if Trump carries out his campaign pledge of mass deportations.
“I’m scared,” said Valeria Ruiz, 20, a DACA beneficiary who lives in Racine. “From one day to another, my future, my 9-year-old sister’s future and that of more than 9 million undocumented immigrants in this country, is suddenly less certain. It’s terrifying. But we will do what we’ve always done — unite and fight.”
“I have a beautiful family,” said Lola Flores, an undocumented mother of four from Waukesha and a member of the immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera. She said the day after the election, her daughter called from her middle school and said her Latino classmates were crying.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Flores said. “But I will never stop fighting for the future of my children.”
The cold, stark outcome of the hotly contested election pushed progressive-minded people into community centers and union halls to regroup, reflect and recommit and drove demonstrators into the streets to protest in the nights following Trump’s win.
“We reject the president-elect,” said Patti Alfino, who joined hundreds of protesters for an anti-Trump march on Nov. 10 in Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park. “I can’t call him my president. I won’t ever. How did such an awful man win and such a classy, smart woman lose?”
“A lot of people have a lot of ideas about going forward,” said Henry Vasquez, who also participated in the demonstration. “But it’s too early for anything to take hold.”
True. A campaign to turn social media profiles black fizzled. A petition drive to cause upheaval in the Electoral College proved unpopular. A call for a Million Woman March on Washington has yet to gain traction.
Days after the presidential vote, so many still were wondering why and how it happened.
“What I want is to put some blame on somebody and it isn’t Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, God love them,” said Barb Newell, who also attended the Red Arrow protest. “We the people really f***ed it all up.”
Trump won the election by securing the battleground states needed to lock up enough Electoral College votes, including Florida, Ohio and North Carolina. He even won Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which hadn’t favored a GOP presidential candidate since the 1980s.
Trump won overwhelming support among white men and independents in Wisconsin, who also voted to send Republican Ron Johnson back to the U.S. Senate and elected even larger GOP majorities to the state Legislature (see related story, p. 8).
Exit polling by Edison Research for the AP and TV networks showed Trump taking six in 10 votes among white men in Wisconsin while about six in 10 votes among white women went for Clinton. Overall in the state, nine in 10 women favored Clinton.
Clinton carried the state’s voters ages 18–44 and Trump carried voters ages 45 and older.
More than half of Wisconsin’s voters said the economy is the nation’s No. 1 problem and Trump won 60 percent of those voters who think the economy is poor, despite an improved national unemployment rate and accelerating pay.
Exit polling in the state also showed voters without college degrees favored Trump and voters with degrees went for Clinton.
About 75 percent of white evangelicals favored Trump, as did about two-thirds of married men.
Most Wisconsin voters had complaints about the Affordable Care Act and many see trade with foreign nations as hurting the U.S. economy.
Voters gave both Clinton and Trump negative ratings on trust, but Clinton scored higher than Trump on the qualifications and temperament needed to serve as president. About two-thirds of voters said Trump is unqualified to be president, including a quarter of those who voted for him.
Exit polls weren’t so different in other states that went for Trump.
“I’m fed up with the status quo,” said Tampa Trump supporter Danny Metzger. “I either was going to be for Bernie (Sanders) or Trump. Let an outsider in.”
Trump ran a rancorous campaign. He was hostile toward his own political party. He was hostile toward Clinton, suggesting a gun-enthusiast could assassinate her and boasting he’d imprison her after his election. And he and his followers were hostile toward Americans who are not male, white, straight and Christian.
After the election, Trump revealed just how deep his hostilities go, tapping for his transition team people with reputations for being anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-immigrant, anti-woman and anti-Semitic.
Among them is Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, which is labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. He’s also on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
“Ken Blackwell is a man who has spent his entire career going after LGBT Americans,” said JoDee Winterhof of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group. “Blackwell’s leadership role in President-elect Trump’s transition team should be a major wake-up call for anybody who ever had any doubt that LGBTQ people are at risk.”
Winterhof specifically mentioned two others of concern — Ed Meese and Kay Cole James.
Meese served as Ronald Reagan’s attorney general and is a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, which is helping vet candidates for Trump’s cabinet. Meese supported Indiana’s anti-gay religious refusal law passed under Pence and has said marriage equality “shows how the culture has deteriorated over two centuries.”
James is a former vice president of FRC, as well as the former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. She worked for Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and has compared LGBT people to drug addicts, alcoholics, adulterers or “anything else sinful.”
“We should all be alarmed at who he’s appointing to key posts on his transition team,” Winterhof said.
Trump also campaigned as an outsider, tapping into an anti-establishment sentiment.
Yet, Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence appear to be pulling together a transition team of insiders, including right-wing evangelicals and corporate lobbyists.
“His agriculture advisers are agribusiness insiders,” said Wenonah Hauter of the progressive Food and Water Watch. “He has called climate change a hoax and his energy adviser is a lobbyist for the Koch brothers.”
Equally alarming is who Trump might nominate for cabinet posts and the U.S. Supreme Court, say many leaders at progressive organizations at the national and state level.
Hauter said, “The people he has indicated will be in his cabinet are the same people who have advocated policies that are destroying our climate and creating a society marked by stratification and racial prejudice. We expect to see more deregulation of industry that will damage our communities, our environment and our democracy.”
Republicans will control the House and the Senate, and this means Trump’s nominations and his agenda will shift the nation to the right for decades.
Trump’s campaign promises include appointing a conservative justice like Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court, building a massive deportation force to remove undocumented immigrants, banning Muslims from coming to America, mounting an aggressive surveillance of Muslim people in America, punishing women for accessing abortion, reauthorizing waterboarding and other forms of torture, weakening libel laws and restricting free speech.
“These proposals are not simply un-American and wrong-headed, they are unlawful and unconstitutional,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. “They violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth and 14th Amendments.”
Romero urged Trump to “reconsider and change course” on his campaign promises.
For his part, Trump, in his victory speech, at least urged unity. “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together,” he said. “To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. It’s time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.”
Clinton, in her concession speech the morning after the loss, also urged unity. “I am so grateful for our country and for all it has given to me,” she said. “I count my blessings every single day that I am an American. And I still believe as deeply as ever have that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.
“Because, you know — you know, I believe we are stronger together and we will go forward together. And you should never, ever regret fighting for that. You know, Scripture tells us, ‘Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart.’”