Warren Scott

I respectfully offer an answer to Ms. Eugenia Snyder’s question in her View column (“We The People,” Dec. 1-7, 2016 Moab Sun News), wherein she asked: “… how an arrogant reality TV star with no political experience, no history of public service and a trail of huge business failures and lawsuits managed to get elected. How could an individual who insulted and/or incensed the majority of the people in this country position himself to become the next leader of the free world?”

Ms. Snyder’s hyperbole aside, I suggest she asked the wrong question, which instead should be: “How is it that Hillary Clinton, with her enormous cash hoard and an entrenched political machine, couldn’t beat an opponent the mainstream media and even many Republicans abhorred?” In fact, the only candidate who polled more unfavorably than Clinton herself was her opponent. So why was she unable to convince voters she was the better choice?

One possibility, other than voter consternation caused by her private server/email imbroglio, is perhaps her vision for the country consisted of not much more than a continuation of President Obama’s policies. However, his theme of hope and change had worn thin, and her attempt to resurrect it, minus his charisma, didn’t resonate with voters. And she never articulated clear solutions to issues such as rising insurance premiums, a moribund economic recovery, an explosion of government regulations (81,000 pages in 2016), lack of job growth, floundering foreign policy, a flawed immigration policy and a dysfunctional Congress.

She also failed to grasp the depth of voters’ negative sentiment toward Obamacare. Many felt the implementation of a law of such magnitude affecting a sixth of the economy, written in backrooms by unknown people devoid of public debate or consensus, was wrong – regardless of its intent – and Mrs. Clinton’s unwavering support of it became a political albatross. And President Obama’s incessant social engineering, culminating in a directive to every American public school dictating transgender bathroom policy, was for many voters gross presidential overreach. Social (and especially school) issues have historically been hashed out by the states, operating as efficient incubators of public policy that trickle up as public acceptance is gained (current marijuana laws being passed on a state-by-state basis being one such example). Instead, Obama went straight to school districts – bypassing local input in the process – and dictated law by fiat. Voters disapproved of the imperial manner in which the law was imposed, and took note of Clinton’s ready approval.

So while Mrs. Clinton was promising to continue President Obama’s policies as her dominant campaign theme, the Republican Party was proffering voters a diverse array of 17 individuals. Businesswoman Carly Fiorina; pediatric neurosurgeon and African-American Ben Carson; governors and senators from Ohio, Florida, New Jersey and Louisiana; Hispanic Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; libertarian Rand Paul; and yes, Donald Trump, hashed out their ideas in 12 nationally televised raucous debates. The contrast to Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democrat nominee from day one, was stark.

Although Trump’s bombastic platitudes didn’t provide any more clarity on the issues than did Clinton’s, he did promise voters from many diverse political affiliations something they sought: an American-style Brexit from the current political status quo. And he was very specific on the critical voter issue regarding vacancies on the Supreme Court when he provided a list of potential court nominees, allowing voters to vet his choices and providing insight into his thinking on easily one of the top issues of the entire race.

So when the nation’s two nominees finally boiled down to a scandal-ridden career politician promising to continue Obama’s agenda or an insulting, arrogant businessman promising to “drain the swamp,” it left many Democrats disappointed by a lack of choice, and Republicans shocked by Trump’s ascendancy. And though Americans take their privilege to vote seriously, when faced with the dual perceptions of a deceitful candidate a 12-year-old could see through, or a lewd, classless candidate a parent wouldn’t want their 12-year-old near, it’s a miracle anyone voted at all. Meanwhile, outside of each party’s extreme left and right wings (always reliable votes for their party’s nominee), resided a large swath of politically moderate Americans in the center of their respective parties. They were bewildered by their options, shocked and dismayed at the acrimonious tenor of the campaigns, and embarrassed by the mercurial and sophomoric rhetoric.

But voters know elections shape the country’s future, and the choices, if nothing else, were abundantly clear: more of much the same thing or an oddly undefined populist concept, offered by two extremely unpopular candidates. And though Clinton won the popular vote by virtue of high-density West Coast Democrat concentrations, Trump won the geographically more diverse Electoral College. It was a shocking end to a conflicted election, but one which once again demonstrates our ability to sort ourselves out in spite of our politicians.

Warren Scott lives in Castle Valley.