January 31, 2023

What just happened?: A historical look at the election

A panel of NCC professors compared past elections to the dynamics of the recent election regarding media and economical differences.

“The divisive this time was exaggerated and exacerbated by the media. Now there’s an immediacy to whatever is said. They’re even arguing that Facebook might have [made an impact] in deciding the outcome,” said Earl Page, who teaches History on campus.

Joining Page in CC-190 on Nov. 17 was Journalism professor Eric Chiles and History professor Patrick Grubbs. The panel was sponsored by The Commuter with Journalism professor Robert Hays as the mediator.

“If you look at the way that both candidates used the media and this is unpleasant to say – about 50% of Americans believe if it’s in print, it’s the truth,” Page said.

With Donald Trump’s routine posting on Twitter and Facebook, this offered a new platform for listening ears to be reached.

“He made it clear how he used Twitter and Facebook as a campaign tool. These are very important things,” Chiles remarked. “Traditional media, people who supported Hillary, the intellectual elite, the media elite – all saw things through a prism of what they were familiar with and they weren’t listening to the map.”

This map referred to the demographic for Trump vs. Clinton supporters. Research found that the Northeast and West Coast were Democratic, while the Midwest and South remained Republican. This pattern also appeared with Republican favor in rural and suburban areas, as Democratic favor took urban areas.

“We get all caught up in the personality part of it. This was a campaign that was all personality. It wasn’t issues,” Chiles said. “Through his Twitter and his Facebook and everything else, he punched a button.”

Grubbs also weighed in on the lack of issues being discussed throughout the campaign.

“1800, it was about the direction of the nation. Jefferson argued that Adams was trying to make a monarchy. 1824 and 1828, between Adams and Jackson was a question of the common people,” Grubbs said. “This was a time when white male suffrage was actually starting to come and the working class was looking for the vote and they felt ignored.”

“1876, reconstruction. What direction is our nation going? 1968, with the silent majority with Nixon. What direction is our nation going? Not so much policies, but the direction of our nation.”

“2016 was not necessarily about the issues. It was that idea of, ‘Make America great again,’ and that idea was the direction of the nation. There were a lot of people, obviously, that felt that the direction of the nation was going the wrong way.”

With the working class today also feeling ignored, many supporters voted for a president that could provide them with a lifestyle from the past.

“I ask you – How come you insist on voting for the entitled? The connected? The wealthy? How come there are no pipefitters in congress? How come there are no carpenters in congress?” Page said.

“How come there are no regular teachers in congress? And there aren’t. Everyone in the United States Senate is a millionaire. Why do you vote for them? If you want fundamental change, then why don’t you vote for some of these people that want it?”

“Is it going to surprise you if the next tax bill cuts a major tax break to the very wealthy? Are any of you going to be very shocked in that happens? You better not be, because it’s going to happen. Why do we continue to vote for the very people that this anger is directed at?”

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