Yes, some say he is the most divisive, scary candidate in modern United States political history. But the Donald’s run for prez hasn’t been all bad. Here are seven positive outcomes of his campaign.
1. INCREASED POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT AND VOTER REGISTRATION
The key role of citizens in any functioning democracy is to participate in public life. Love him or hate him, Trump’s candidacy has made a huge portion of the country participate -- whether by engaging in political discussions, watching a debate or turning out early to vote.
Voter registration is up almost everywhere this year. Registration shattered records in states from Washington to Texas and from Alabama to Connecticut. Early voting data in a number of states suggests 2016 will likely be a record-breaking Latino voter turnout year, too.
Turnout numbers on Tuesday are almost certainly going to be historic.
During the primary, Trump got more votes in a Republican nominating contest than anyone on record: 13.3 million, according to Real Clear Politics. That’s about 1.8 million votes more than the previous record, held by George W. Bush.
And that wasn’t all. During the primary, Trump also broke a record with the most votes against him. More than 16 million people voted for another candidate, according to a Washington Post analysis.
2. PROVED THAT WE DON’T LIVE IN A POST-RACIAL SOCIETY
It’s much harder to argue now that racism does not exist in the United States. Barely even a question. In fact, don’t even go there.
Throughout his campaign, Trump repeatedly made comments that many people felt were racially motivated -- like calling Mexicans rapists, questioning Obama’s birthplace, asserting that black and Latino citizens commit most violent crimes in cities, and sharing an anti-Semitic meme created by white supremacists.
But that is nothing compared to the avalanche of racist forces that Donald Trump unleashed. He opened the door to a snake pit of rabid, vicious racism that many thought was closed. There has been a surge in white nationalist and white supremacist rhetoric and support, evidenced most recently by the endorsement of Trump by The Crusader, the newspaper of the Ku Klux Klan.
“What this does is end the folks who are denying that racism exists in our society,” says Heidi Beirich, Director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Now, this idea that racist ideas exist in the minds of perhaps millions of Americans will stop being treated like a ridiculous notion.”
Now exposed, that knowledge could help lead to change, Beirich says.
“If this becomes an opening for policy suggestions that directly address that and there’s no longer any pushback, that will be positive. At least we’ll be admitting our problems.”
3. MOTIVATED AND UNITED LATINOS
Turns out that opening your campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and vowing to deport 11 million people may result in a backlash.
Voter enthusiasm among Latino voters is at an all-time high, with as many as 15 million Latinos expected to cast ballots. According to Latino Decisions, 71% of Latinos say this election feels “more important” than the 2012 election.
Latino turnout is already breaking records. In Florida, the Latino early vote is up 100% over 2012, according to data from Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political science professor. The Latino early vote in North Carolina is up 60%. Latino early voting in Colorado and Nevada are up 20%. In Texas Latino early vote up 60% over 2012.
"It's just been eye-popping the turnout by Hispanics," Smith told Univision, citing data from early in person voting and voting by mail in Florida.
Though Trump has certainly garnered the support of some Latinos, Hillary Clinton holds a wide lead over Donald Trump among Hispanic voters.
“For a lot of Hispanics, Trump became the personification of all the anti-Hispanic sentiments they’ve been feeling,” says political analyst Fernand Amandi. “The prospects of him becoming the most important person in country is enough to get them out in record numbers and unify them against his candidacy.”
4. RE-ENERGIZED THE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT
He called Rosie O’Donnell a pig; made fun of Carly Fiorina’s face; berated Alicia Machado for gaining weight; suggested some women weren’t attractive enough for him to assault; and alluded that Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly had her period when she was asking him tough questions.
But it took a leaked video of Donald Trump talking about “grabbing women by the pussies” to spur the largest public protest against systemic misogyny and sexual assault the country has ever seen.
After the tape leaked, writer Kelly Oxford recalled on Twitter how an older man on a city bus grabbed her crotch and smiled at her when she was 12. Using the hashtag #NotOK, she asked other women to share their own assault stories, and millions and millions did.
Suddenly, in a moment of outrage, it felt like the world woke up to the way millions of women are routinely treated. Many thanked the Donald for that.
“For decades, feminists have tried to stir outrage about how women are routinely groped, belittled, and weight-shamed,” Susan Chira wrote in the New York Times. “Yet Mr. Trump’s words and boasts have shown millions of voters, including people who believe feminism is a dirty word, what women endure every day.”
“The Republican candidate’s misogyny has galvanized the feminist movement with more force and fury than any political issue in generations,” wrote Christina Asquith and Valerie Hudson in Foreign Policy.
The enthusiasm may impact politics beyond the presidential race too. As POLITICO points out, “women are poised to win House and Senate seats that could easily bring the number of women to new levels in both chambers, along with potentially two female governors winning their first elections.”
5. FORCED LIBERALS TO CONFRONT THE SUFFERING OF THE WHITE WORKING CLASS
Trump has found his most fervent supporters in the millions of working class whites who feel left out and left behind by politics. Many of them are men. In fact, throughout the campaign, Trump’s lead over Clinton among white men without a college degree has hovered around 40 percent.
This is a sector of society that has suffered through the recession and loss of industry, floundering amid a magnitude of crushing ills (“intergenerational poverty, welfare, debt, bankruptcy, out-of-wedlock births, trash entertainment, addiction, jail, social distrust, political cynicism, bad health, unhappiness, early death,” as George Packer recently outlined).
Trump has validated that suffering, and made it the responsibility of the rest of us to care as well.
“They don’t feel like anyone else on the horizon is speaking to their sense of decline,” says sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild, who spent much of the past five years with some of Trump’s biggest supporters, researching her new book, "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right."
“I believe Trump has done terrible damage to a culture of civility to standard of public kindness, to a culture of racial accord,” Hoschchild told Univision. “But if there were one good thing that’s come out of this, it would be that he’s made visible the real needs of working class whites, especially men.”
6. REINVIGORATED JOURNALISM’S FACT-FINDING MISSION
From the beginning of his campaign, Trump made a mockery of truth and facts, which are basically the fundamentals of journalism. With his flamboyant style, controversial statements and flat out lies, it became clear to the press that business-as-usual wasn’t going to work on a candidate who had boasted he knew how to play the media to his advantage.
As a result, Trump pushed news organizations to be and do better.
As CNN Media Reporter Dylan Byers recently wrote, Trump’s unconventional style forced journalists to shy away from a traditional “he said, she said” style, in which news reports simply put both sides of a story against one another.
That wasn’t gonna work this time.
Facing Trump, journalists had to dig deeper, “contextualizing, fact-checking and, in some cases, editorializing on developments in the campaign.”
Journalists grew well-versed in Trump’s rap sheet of lies, learning to call him out on the spot. During the debates, news outlets from the New York Times to NPR to Univision put dozens of reporters on the sole task of live fact-checking. That was unprecedented.
"This election has made people appreciate the core value of journalism, which is getting to the truth," Steven Ginsberg, the Washington Post's senior politics editor, told CNNMoney.
7. PROVIDED A LOT OF GOOD MATERIAL FOR COMEDIANS
Let’s be honest, laughing has kept us all half-sane throughout the absurdity of this campaign. And Donald Trump has been nothing short of comedic gold, from late-night television to Twitter.
Some of our faves:
When Jimmy Fallon played Donald Trump talking to himself in the mirror, in a room adorned with self-portraits:
On SNL, a sniffling, stalking, womanizing Alec Baldwin nailed Trump as he squared off with Clinton in the three presidential debates:
And George Lopez played Donaldo Trumpez in a fake Univision segment, outlining his executive policies promising to “Make Mexico Great Again”: