I made an effort to speak to all of my closest friends yesterday via telephone, email, or facebook chat. I woke up, unhappy with the election results, but with a huge grin on my face. Unhappy that because of this election there are significant losses to come in climate change, science, and social progress, but excited to find out “why?” America has spoken, and we must pay attention. We must find out why the country feels the way it does. Burdened with a bit of a hangover from attending the election “party” at Brooklyn Bowl last night, I jumped out of bed at 7am and couldn’t wait to spend the next two hours at my favorite local coffee shop. I couldn’t wait to talk to the owners, baristas, two random, teary-eyed customers and anyone else I had the opportunity to listen to.
My opinion tonight was that most liberals came off as sore losers, licking their wounds in disbelief. I’m totally fine with that, my goal was to hear what they thought, not judge it. After all, this is all part of being an American, and a New Yorker. I have to say I am quite displeased with what I heard during this incredibly flawed experiment. I kept hearing things like “Sexist” “Misogynist” “Racist” “I’m moving to Canada.” These explanations, although common, are not what I see as the primary motivators of why America overwhelming gave control of the Presidency, House, and Senate to Republicans. I will try to address each of the common “excuses” below, and finally offer what I believe are the most likely explanation for the human behaviors, of not just the American election, but all elections in modern western democracies that have taken place this year.
Almost all the females I spoke with stated Hillary lost because of her gender. I heard “women can’t get ahead” talk of non-Louvre “glass ceilings.” Other females, friends and strangers alike went off on tangents such as “women can’t get jobs” “the wage gap” and “women who negotiate are treated unfairly.” Really? Again, the question is: why did America vote overwhelmingly Republican? More specifically America voted for a man who has NO EXPERIENCE in politics, spent almost NO MONEY on his campaign, and very little effort on “strategy.” Yet many women are suggesting, the explanation for this is a conspiracy against women?
Yet many women are suggesting, the explanation for this is a conspiracy against women?
- A country where Hillary won the popular vote, is entirely made of misogynists?
A country where the CEO’s of Hewlett Packard, Pepsi Cola, and Yahoo are all female?
This country hates women?
- The first female campaign strategist to win a Presidential election ever was in charge of Team Trump.
231 women ran for office in this year’s election, 89 got elected. That is the most ever.
Yet America hates women?
Certainly there is work to be done for women in the U.S., but compared to what? America in 2016 isn’t perfect, but there is no perfect system. Europe and Scandinavia are more progressive than us on social fronts, but they have small homogenous populations that all share very similar backgrounds and world views. America is 320 million unique individuals held together by nothing more than a story of Paul Revere’s ride, The Constitution, and that old guy with wooden teeth who had a hellish winter camping trip in Pennsylvania. It’s important for us to be critical of the U.S. and to strive for the progressive societies of Germany, and Sweden, but we cannot attribute the rebuke of the Democratic party, and Hillary’s loss to America being made up of sexists.
The next major response I have heard, read, and witnessed is the new game of “blame white people for everything.” Every time we don’t get the result we want “It’s racist.” Again unless you have clear evidence of that. That is not likely the motivation. I saw friends and acquaintances post “f*ck white people” “white people can die” on Twitter. Really? That is how you explain this election? The country that overwhelmingly elected Barack Obama twice is entirely made up of “racists?” We appointed the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, the first Latina senator, the Black Female Senator, and the first ever openly LGBT governor this year. Yet America’s more racist than ever? The constant attack on “white people” and “white males” is regressive, and hypocritical. It’s committing the act we liberals claim to hate most- judging large swaths of people based on things they cannot help- their heritage and sex. They also happen to be the largest group of individuals in the country, so it’s easy enough to bash 70% of the population, make excuses, and say they only reason they have anything is because it was given to them. This is false, incredibly divisive, and morally unacceptable. “Racism” and “F*ck white people” are not an explanation for the 2016 election results. They aren’t an explanation for anything, they’re just lazy excuses. Perhaps the explosion of social justice warriors, safe spaces, anti-white, and anti-male rhetoric is part of the reason the entire country that wasn’t on a coast or part of a large city voted for Trump.
You cannot explain the choices of this many Americans as “racist” “whites” “white men.” So although you’ll get points from other commiserating liberals, you get none from any self-respecting rational adult. Clinton lost because less people voted for her in crucial states. In Detroit, 80,000 registered democrats did not vote for her, she lost Michigan by a total of 12,000 votes. Compared to Obama, fewer women, fewer Hispanics, fewer Blacks, and fewer 18-29 yr old voters turned out for Hillary. Hundreds of thousands of would-be Democrat voters cast ballots for third-party candidates or wrote in other candidates names. It is not that angry straight white males showed up in droves- total voter turn-out was lower than 2012, and 2008- it is that Democratic voters did not show up for Hillary Clinton.The constant attack on “white people” and “white males” is regressive, and hypocritical. It’s committing the act we liberals claim to hate most- judging large swaths of people based on things they cannot help- their heritage and sex. They also happen to be the largest group of individuals in the country, so it’s easy enough to bash 70% of the population, make excuses, and say they only reason they have anything is because it was given to them. This is false, incredibly divisive, and morally unacceptable.
“Sexist” “Racist” “Misogynist” These terms just can’t be used to explain ALL human behavior. A pretty effective strategy I am guided by this principle, ”If one is not certain that malice was the motivation, what are the other more straightforward, and therefore more likely reasons for these results?”
Today, the day after the election, we live in same exact America that gave you marriage equality, the patient protection act, the affordable care act, progress on science, climate change, carbon emissions, Iraq, Afghanistan, Justice Sotomayor, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. Bernie was a self-proclaimed socialist, and he came incredibly close to being the Democratic candidate. You don’t get to condemn the America that provided all these liberal successes, and progresses over the past eight years as being made up entirely of misogynist racist, sexist Nazi war criminals.
You are hypocritical for harshly critiquing the very system that gave you eight years of what you wanted the very instant it provides what you deem to be unsatisfactory results. Think of the conservatives last week who said “the system is rigged” when they assumed they would lose. Yet those same conspiracy theorists got everything they wanted through the simple act of voting. Is the system still rigged? Today we complain about the electoral college, campaign finance, and the “money in politics.” The same electoral college gave you eight years of Obama, and “Citizens United” has benefitted Obama and Hillary more than any other candidates in history. One’s political party losing can’t be explained by “the system is rigged” any more than President Trump can be explained away by “racism.”
So what is the underlying reason? Our election followed the emotional trend of all modern western democracies this year. Merkel’s party lost by a landslide in Germany. The U.K. voted for Brexit. Does that mean that those entire countries are made of sexist, racist misogynist a**hole boogiemen too? Or is there another way to explain these behaviors?
Why does this trend in voting exist? People are afraid. They feel uncertain about their jobs. About their basic needs to provide for their families. They feel terrified of Islamist Extremism and the Arab worldview. None of that is sexist, racist, or “Islamophobic.” It’s just human. We are by nature emotional, and tribal creatures. It’s in our DNA, and millions of years of evolution ensure it is not going away anytime soon. Before you jump to conclusions, emotions are not always bad. They are incredibly effective at protecting us from harm. They do this in a much faster way than our higher order cortical functions. Always sad, upset, and anxious about your relationship? Your limbic system is creating pain to show you, that this experience is not beneficial for you. You get a knot in your stomach every time you have to interact with a particular teacher or coach? Maybe that isn’t the best mentor for you. Emotions are an intelligent way for humans to survive.
Hillary Clinton did not lose because of sexism, racism, misogyny or any other ridiculous whiny excuse. She lost because she was a candidate with a tragic flaw- she’s unable to galvanize large groups of people emotionally.
For those of you who don’t know, I started my career as a research scientist developing drugs for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, but now I spend my time crafting marketing campaigns for luxury brands in New York City. I have spent time on the brand teams of Krug Champagne, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, BMW, and Bushmills as well as many others. Believe it or not, what I love about this job, and where it overlaps with my neuroscience background is the understanding of people, their behaviors, and motivations. Following is the most simple explanation I have for the U.S. election results in the form of an email from me to my Brand Director and C.M.O. this morning.
The U.S. Election and Marketing…
It’s important for us to remember, the candidate with the largest financial support ever in the history of politics, an incredibly well thought out strategy- Hillary spent her entire life preparing to run for President- failed b/c she was unable to galvanize humans emotionally.
The candidate with zero political experience, who spent less money than any major candidate before him, and who only had one policy- “make voters emotional” – wins the Presidency, House, and Senate handily.
Humans are emotional, tribal creatures. Any marketing strategy that does not resonate on these levels is a waste of time and money 😀
What are your thoughts on the election?