This election was inspiring for me. It revealed the depth of the biases and wrong beliefs that I hold, along with the rest of the elite left, which made us lose this election. As an aspiring policy maker, I spend a lot of my time thinking about the world and how to make it better, but I’m often afraid to really put myself out there. This election was a wake-up call for Americans and the world, and for me.

I want to challenge myself and those in the policy community, and everyone else for that matter, to understand the preferences of Trump voters: those who are losing from globalization, those with unaffordable health insurance premiums, those scared of terrorism, and those who are underemployed. I want us to seek out policy solutions that meet the needs of as many Americans as possible.

This is a first stab at piecing together how Donald Trump won so big league, and developing a better strategy for understanding preferences of voters both to make the most of the next four years and to be more competitive in the future.

  • Communicate better. Trump mastered communication in this election, from Twitter to using (and assaulting) the media. A New York city billionaire branded himself as the everyman – people listened to this brash, “self-made” entrepreneur and loved it.
  • Make better polices. In international development, if we try a policy to increase school attendance and it doesn’t work, we don’t blame it on the stupid kids. Similarly, in politics, the conversation needs to look inward for policy makers to think, “What is wrong with my policy? Was it not marketed well? Can I improve on it?” Don’t blame the end-user, blame ourselves.
  • Work together to restore faith in evidence. The public’s belief in facts and evidence has been destroyed during this election. We should bring people into data gathering, analysis and dissemination. We use numbers to make simplified observations about the world. Maybe this is my own elite bias, but I can see a place where we cogenerate data with stakeholders (voters) so that people are not so skeptical. This also involves a reworking of our current news systems, which are based on social media and group-think.

A lot of the ideas that I think are good for the United States tend to be more on the left, and have been traditionally represented by the Democratic Party. I stayed up all night yesterday and watched the US reject a lot of the ideas I stand for, that I think are good. That hurt, and I genuinely worry. I worry for immigrant communities, the climate, for women and the uninsured being able to access health services, for the disabled and others who are threatened by Trump’s views and policies.

The result was inspiring because I realized that the ideas and values I like are not the ones America wants. They were rejected by the American people. If we are upset, disgusted, angry with this result, it’s because we think that our ideas for America are better than Donald Trump’s.

At the moment, that’s just not case. Trump won for a reason – his vision is the one people want. If we think we have a better approach, we need to work with those voters to learn more, design better, and communicate more effectively. Let’s get to work.


Zach Clemence is a second year MPA candidate at the London School of Economics. He is the Web Editor of the Public Sphere Journal. Prior to the MPA he was a Research Coordinator for Innovations for Poverty Action. 

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