In his victory speech, President-Elect Donald Trump, said "Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division … To all Republicans and Democrats and Independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people." During his speech, protests were already brewing across the nation, and the hashtag #NotMyPresident proliferated across the internet like wildfire, making it clear that very few people would be coming together.
Still, party leaders and other public officials are trying their best to amend the division. The current First Lady and national treasure Michelle Obama, sat down with future First Lady Melania Trump on Thursday to begin the process of reconciliation. During her concession speech, Secretary Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton wore purple in a symbolic gesture of unity, representing the parties’ colors of red and blue. President Obama also sat down with the president-elect for the first time to discuss the peaceful transition of power on Thursday.
Despite this, citizens have run against the idea of unity, exacerbating the election’s divisiveness. Over 200 public incidents of bigotry have occurred since the election results were announced on Wednesday, and the opposition towards President-Elect Trump is still building steam.
So what led to one of the most contentious election results in modern times? Putting aside the overall uncertainty of 2016, it’s helpful to look at one particular variable: the performance of the incumbent president’s party.
American University professor and distinguished historian Allan Lichtman has successfully predicted the results of the last nine presidential elections. He developed a system in 1981 with the world’s leading expert on earthquake predictions, Vladimir Keilis-Borok, which uses 13 true-or-false statements to determine whether or not a party will retain the highest office in the land.
Despite his strong track record, Lichtman himself has noted the unpredictability of Trump’s candidacy. In an interview with The Washington Post in September, he said, “Donald Trump may well break patterns of history that have held since 1860.” Nonetheless, the model held true and Trump has been elected the next president of the U.S., even though Clinton won the popular vote.
Having such a historically unprecedented candidate for office raises questions about the issues plaguing the American people today. Trump’s campaign regularly targeted the working-class Americans disaffected with the establishment and ready for a dynamic change. Trump’s campaign appealed to those living in regions where economic viability was swiftly slipping away or had already gone. He appealed to the lost and wayward, and promised a revitalization of their towns and lives – promising fertility in infertile land.
In cities and colleges Trump’s hold extended as a result of Clinton’s defects and her various scandals. Her political language was antithetical to his. Everyone except Trump’s supporters underestimated the power of base humanity, a persona whose response evolved from politically correct discontent to the enraged vitriolic street protests happening across the nation today.
So how does a nation come together under a president whose campaign was built on exploiting people’s differences?
For one, the Democratic Party has to find a way to better address white working-class Americans who felt so disenfranchised that they turned to the most radical option available just to get their voice heard.
Together, the nation has to realize that the same base humanity that laid bare our divisions, can also be used to bridge our similarities. In the post-election fallout, we must remember the ever-relevant U.S. motto: E pluribus unum – “Out of many, one.”
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