The Best and Worst Lessons We Learned from the 2016 Election


To get a sense of how long this campaign has gone on, consider this: in between the first candidates announcing they were running, and today, I began thinking about having a baby, got pregnant, gave birth, went on maternity leave, came back to work, and now have a seven-month-old son who sits up and eats real food. [Jeeeeeeeezus — Ed.]

But finally, our long election nightmare is ending. All that remains is determining whether this particular period of terror fades into the usual anxiety-laced dreams of daily life in late capitalist America or emerges into a hellscape from which we cannot ever wake (this is your cue to find your polling place and to vote, now, if you haven’t). Either way, this wild year-plus ride has been as illuminating as it’s been soul-sucking. From race and gender to culture and media, the election has laid bare the ugly, and occasionally inspiring soul of our country. We’ve been forced to reckon with some heartening and more disheartening truths about American culture, politics and media. Here are a few of them.

The mainstream news-media narrative is helping no one.

I am a journalist and writer (duh) and I think that press freedom and a robust media is a crucial bulwark of a free society. Yet when I speak negatively of the media narrative, I’m talking about what gets cycled through the headlines at mainstream news sites and papers, and on evening and morning cable news programs. And in that case, our problem is not just that that “the media” has completely abandoned talking about the environment or poverty, or that people on the right only get news from biased sources like Fox News or even Breitbart — but also that the need for “balance” means that more time gets spent on Hillary Clinton’s nearly-nonexistent email “scandal” and articles about the Clinton Foundation that have no point at all than gets spent on dozens and dozens of Trump stories, from his vulgar and racist comments to actual fraud, potential tax evasions and shady business, and questionable charity dealings.

Thus the idea is created that the two candidates are equally untrustworthy. Somewhere along the way, the truth has been lost — even President Obama acknowledged this in his interview with Bill Maher last week.