CHS History Department Gives Their Insight on the 2016 Election

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

The contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has been called everything from clown circus (which, by the way, Ringling Bros. took as an insult) to a reincarnation of Lincoln vs. Douglas to The End of America As We Know It. And in the midst of politicians and pundits and social media users inundating you with their opinions, our social studies teachers at CHS offered some commentary as well.

Mr. Meguerian attributed Mr. Trump’s success thus far to the way ‘he speaks in a very simplistic way, promises a lot, and people believe that he will be tough and also will bring his stated business skills to creating jobs. There’s also a large number of people in this country who feel left out. If they’re white people, they believe that they want their country back from minorities, who are soon going to be the majority. They don’t like that.

It was the baseball player Tommy Lasorda who said, “No matter how good you are, you're going to lose one-­third of your games. No matter how bad you are you're going to win one-­third of your games. It's the other third that makes the difference.” In these elections, that critical last third is often the undecided voters and the independents. Mr. Meguerian agreed that voters unaffiliated with the two major parties will play an important role in this election, “I think the issue is whether independents and particularly young people, young voters, will decide to cast their vote for either Dr. Stein, who’s the Green Party candidate or for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian. And if that happens that’s a vote for Trump.”

The circumstances, he continued, are certainly unusual, “This is really, really different,’ he said. ‘I don’t think that I can connect this to really any other presidential election, with a candidate that is this representative of a fringe group.”

“He’s hard to classify,” Mr. Carroll agreed. “He’s not a traditional Republican.”

While Ms. Walters and Mr. Meguerian believe Secretary Clinton will come out on top in November, Mr. Carroll wasn’t sure Mr. Trump couldn’t win, “I think it’s hard to call. I keep thinking Trump will do or say something that will seriously hurt his support, but that’s not what’s happened. I think it’s too close to call.”

In terms of historical precedent, Mr. Carroll remembered reading that ‘a lot of people have drawn connections to Goldwater. Goldwater and Trump, they are radically different than the bulk of their party.’ On the other hand, Secretary Clinton on the Democratic side is looking to continue the legacy of President Obama, rather than take a completely new direction.

Mr. Carroll also mentioned that the Republican party has been very conservative fiscally and religiously and that Mr. Trump is more moderate in that respect, but more conservative on other issues, including many concerning minorities and especially, immigration. “He’s changed the viewpoints a little bit,” he said. “But the only way his vision of the Republican party will survive is if he wins. If he loses, they’ll try something else.”

As for what this election cycle means for the future, Ms. Walters thought it could go either way. She said it could be positive if the support for outsiders like Mr. Trump and Mr. Sanders helps ‘Washington wake up to the fact that many Americans feel like they’re not being represented.’ Or, as the high unfavorability ratings might indicate, “the American people could be so disgusted by this election that it further alienates them from participating in the democratic process.”

Note: the following interviews were conducted on Sept. 21, 2016 and Sept. 22, 2016, days ahead of the first presidential debate. National polling averages at the time indicated a two-point lead for Hillary Clinton (a statistical tie), according to RealClearPolitics.