Top Political Moments Of 2016

During this week’s Political Storm’s Blue Meets Red Forum we want to know which were the most relevant political moments in 2016. From Trump’s victory to Brexit, 2016 has been a year for history.


  • most relevant political moments for me have been the complete and bizarre inability of anyone with a liberal leaning to accept defeat gracefully in both the UK Brexit and the US election. This is a real first – the hand wringing and blaming. I mean seriously… people on both sides have lost arguments before without feeling the need to weep openly in public!

  • Though somehow people are downplaying the significance, we saw the first woman major party nominee and first woman to win the popular vote–all while battling GOP, Russia and FBI. These are big milestones. It’s not so easy for a woman to break glass ceiling as commander in chief. The evidence: it has never happened. America even chose an unqualified, ignorant con artist above one.

    • This is a political debate and a certain amount of bombast is expected, but the Democratic Party will not recover from their disaster in this election unless they face the facts. As has been said before, you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts. Your defense of Hillary depicts her as a valiant female warrior battling the combined forces of the GOP, Russia, the FBI and a partridge in a pear tree. You left out Hillary’s most deadly foe; Hillary. She was by far her own worst enemy. for twenty three years she and hubby Bill manipulated the government system while stuffing their pockets full of money. She ran the State Department on a pay for play basis. She used the Clinton Foundation for her personal enrichment. She accepted wildly inflated speaking fees from Goldman Sachs in a blatant conflict of interest. She exhibited an elitist conscious disregard for security rules in her use of an insecure private email server while Secretary of State. Then after the head of the FBI goes into the tank for her in refusing to indict her in the face of overwhelming evidence of compromise of classified information, she has the gall to attack him. What makes me very angry is your calling the President names because he won. You lost. Get over it.

      • Uhm… Professor… I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but many of us were calling him names long before he won… or even became a serious candidate… or a candidate, at all. Like the Clintons, he has a bit of (not too flattering) history, sometimes even with them together. 😉

        • As a forensic examiner, I ain’t got no bubble. I find name calling distasteful because it brings nothing to the table. It does not advance the argument. I am not a saint, I can swear lustily in three languages (not including Texan) and am trying to learn to swear in Chinese. They are quite inventive. They might infer that their opponent sleeps with barnyard animals for example.

    • Hey Hilary,

      With all due respect, I think the data speaks more to the quality of Clinton as a candidate than the quality of the American people’s judgment. Would you say that Sarah Palin was decisively defeated less than a decade ago because of the glass ceiling, or because she and her ticketmate were sub-par candidates?

      Would Elizabeth Warren have allowed the hacks on the DNC to continue unchecked, despite numerous FBI warnings? Would she likewise have to deal with the FBI for her own sordid affairs? Nope. She would only have to deal with GOP in a contest of ideas.

      The election of Donald Trump is an indictment of Hillary Clinton. If Clinton is remembered at all beyond our lifetimes, she, like Sarah Palin, will be remembered as an insufficient embodiment of feminist ambitions.Thankfully, our first female president will likely be far more qualified than our recent nominee–and will win through empowerment rather than a sense of entitlement.

    • I would rather have a woman we can be proud of as president than a well known criminal like Hillary or an American version of (ugh!!!) Margaret Thatcher. Gender isn’t the issue here, but quality. Both Trump and Hillary had historic highs in unpopularity. The only reason we got one of them for president is that the establishment wouldn’t allow us any other choices (like, for example, Bernie Sanders whom the MAJORITY of voters wanted — which is why the DNC wouldn’t let many independents vote in the primaries, and then they rigged the primaries further, all this so as to prevent the candidacy of a guy hardly anyone had ever even heard of before his campaign, and yet he soared because what we voters want is so very different from what the establishment wants). Sorry if this make for good hearing by some, but it really pains me when people drink the Kool-Aid from the establishment and moan and whine over Hillary’s alleged glass ceiling. Neither Trump not Hillary merited our presidency. We got a false choice for president on our November ballot. What we should bemoan and be ashamed of is that we didn’t fight THAT.

  • The greatest political event of 2016 was Trump’s upset victory over a heavily advantaged Hillary Rodham Clinton. It was especially meaningful because he broke various political and communicative rules, good and bad, yet won anyway. As a result, much more political space has opened up and America is a freer country. The game is no longer as rigged as it was. And that’s priceless.

    A particularly noteworthy moment was the presence of women victimized by Bill Clinton at one of the debates. It was absolutely the right thing to do, morally and politically. No more kid gloves for people like the Clintons. It was high time. Overdue.

  • Let’s look at Trump and Sanders from a broader view: This is the year of a populist uprising unprecedented in modern American history. The closest equivalent was the popular swell that carried Reagan to victory twice (up until 1980, Democrats had a 2-1 advantage over the GOP with voters 30; by 1988, it was about even).

    2016 was the story of a political and cultural class that had so monopolized academia and the media that there was little to no indication that much of the country was ready to revolt. Unless the elites reconnect with the broader sphere of America, they will be out of power for the foreseeable future.

    • I very much hope you are right. I fear it will take a lot of work from many people, though, to bring down the establishment’s corrupt power structure. It won’t happen all by itself. The day we walk up to the voting booths (except where some of us mail our ballots straight to the paper shredder) has deteriorated to nothing more but a feeble rubber stamp of the candidates already hand-picked for us by the establishment (or, in the case of Trump, an oligarch hand-picking himself). Therefore populist voting alone won’t unrig the system.

  • For those who would say that Trump winning the election is the biggest moment of the year, I think there is a strong case for that but I’m having a hard time narrowing it down to a particular moment. I wonder if there is a single event or moment that can be said to best represent or encapsulate the significance of the Trump campaign and his win?

    • I think that’s a great question, Alexis. The question did have to do with “moments,” and for historical purposes, it is good to try to locate some of those now. Was it Trump’s initial announcement? His emasculation of Jeb Bush and defining him as “low energy?” Knocking Marco out in Florida or Cruz in Indiana? It is difficult to assess those moments because no one truly took him seriously until he beat Hillary on Election Night. Perhaps that is the answer to your question. No matter what he accomplished throughout the campaign, it was Election Night itself that showed his strength and forced us to look at America–the cultural divide, etc.–in a different light.

      • I agree, I think election night itself is the event, and even within that there are individual moments that are significant. A lot of people, myself included, did not expect Trump to take Florida in the election and when he did that was a pretty big moment.

        • I agree. When they called Florida for Trump i began to believe that Donald had a chance to actually win. Even though I had thought the polls might be wrong for some time, the call of Florida was a special moment.

          • I’m glad you brought up the polls Professor, having so many polls be so wrong may not be a moment or an event but it was certainly a very significant political feature of 2016. I hope that this is a chance for us to reevaluate how polling data is collected and how the press affects the polls and how the polls impact the election, especially when they’re wrong. In a post election piece here on Political Storm I believe Jon Saltzman mentioned how the negativity of the press toward Trump and his supporters was probably part of the reason they didn’t get accurate poll numbers, I think there is a lot too that and I wonder if there is a way to avoid this in future.

            • Polling is based in statistical theory. If you take a truly random sample[almost impossible] it should reflect the population it came from. The first problem comes when the selection for the sample does not reflect the population. The sample folks were probably all near New York City, or Cambridge, Mass or near Princeton (where ever that is) and these folks may not see the world the same way that folks in the working class areas of Detroit, or the ranches of West Texas or the high desert of Ely, Nevada see things. The second problem is the folks contacted by the poll workers have no duty to tell the truth., so…

            • Quick note about polling: I don’t remember the references–maybe Nate Silver or Sean Trende–but the polling itself was actually closer to the final result than it was in 2012. The problem was the punditry–getting to the professor’s points–which overgeneralized and oversold the polling. There is a reason that polls always include a margin of error (MOE) and the number of undecided voters really matter, especially in close elections. Also, we can use national polls to skew our understanding of state polls. We were seeing Iowa and Ohio both trending heavily toward Trump prior to the election, but did not expect the same from WI, MI, and PA. Why?

              • Excellent points.

                A small amendment: Ohio was very close in some polls, as I recall. But even that, along with Trump’s clear lead in Iowa, should have been taken more seriously as indicators of his potential in the three “blue wall” states.

  • Since I see democracy as the key to humanity’s survival, the most relevant political event of 2016 in my view was the political awakening of millions of Americans which came in two major parts: 1.) In the wake of Bernie Sanders’ campaign, the realization that there are millions of other Americans who have come to realize that Congress and the White House (and other big political organs) are selling us all out to an oligarchy, millions who can come together and fight for economic and social justice and sensible policies, and in doing so even out-fund the establishment’s super-PACs. After Obama ran on “hope” and “change” but delivered on none of his promises, there had been reason to fear that the first signs of awakening in this century had drowned in resignation. Bernie Sanders changed that. Now we can fear another wave of resignation because of the DNC’s and MSM’s betrayal of his campaign and his own subsequent endorsement of HRC, but the mobilization of so many young Americans holds hope for the future. 2.) The “Democratic” primaries were so blatantly and crassly rigged to push Sanders into the ditch that for the first time many Americans realize that our elections can be rigged and ARE being rigged. While this presents us with yet another danger of resignation, it does also bring hope that people will finally fight back, now that they not only suffer a vague gut feeling that our government doesn’t heed us but can now see a little bit of the how and why. — Then again, should The Donald decide to start WW III or use our unconstitutional banana republic laws (Patriot and Military Commissions Acts, NDAA 2012…) to disappear thousands of Americans, there could be a serious contender for this year’s relevancy prize.

  • In any election year, the election itself would usually be the most significant political moment, but in 2016, the refusal of the Republicans to consider a Supreme Court appointment from the sitting president marked the beginning of the fall – or to be kinder “the erosion” of democracy in this country. No matter which side of the aisle you are on, our elected representatives have an obligation to the American people to keep the government working and play by the rules-not have tantrums if their side is not in control at the time. Democracy depends on civil cooperation and discourse to succeed and thrive. It lives in countries that allow differences of opinion and acquiescence to compromise. That move by the Republicans was repugnant…more so than all the hate speech that happened during the campaign. Look at what subsequently happened and is continuing to happen in NC. When our leaders go off the rails, we need to help them get back on by not supporting their actions.

    • HIGS1, I’m glad you brought this up. I think the significance of the failure to confirm Garland has gotten overlooked because so much else has happened this year. It does seem like in the long run this maneuver may be seen as a turning point for American politics. Both parties are always looking for new ways to work the system to their own advantage, but the refusal to confirm Garland seems to take that to an unprecedented, and disturbing, new level.

      • I think, it was only an inch higher on a level that had already been reached before. Stalling on supreme court candidates or refusing candidates over and over again is nothing new, especially from Republicans who have already rigged the supreme court heavily for the robber billionaires and their corporations and against the American people. They just didn’t want to loose an inch of their rigging to Obama. Not that he would ever suggest a true friend of the people or our constitution, he being just as corrupt a member of the “Democratic” elite as the Clintons. Still, the “Democrats” and Republicans are two dominating political gangs who — while they both work for and reap riches from our oligarchy — still live in competition with each other (no honor among thieves), as I have pointed out in the past. Thus, for the American people, this squabble between the two gangs has little impact. The dying of our democracy is far older and far more advanced as people who only recently woke up to the tunes of such minor symptoms realize. I recommend everybody take a closer look as to how our candidates for public office are selected before anybody even gets to vote on them. By digging there, you will arrive at a deeper and far more insidious level of our systemic corruption.

        • I agree that the failure to confirm Garland was maybe just an extra inch down a road of blocking nominees which both parties, in particular the Republicans, have been traveling for some time, but I think it’s a significant inch. Allowing the Supreme Court to operate with only eight justices for so long rather than do their job and confirm the President’s nominee shows a flagrant disregard for the importance of the Supreme Court as an institution. This move also intentionally subverted a power that was granted to the President, who was elected by the people. It seems like the Republicans will force their party agenda no matter what is in the way, and unfortunately it worked. There is a very good chance Trump will appoint a justice who will do things like roll back reproductive rights for women and marriage equality, and these decisions are going to have very real, and very impacts, for a lot of American people.

          • Quite the contrary. It indicates no respect for the Court at all. It was well within the bounds of legitimate political conflict. I regard it as an impressive feat of Republican leadership. One I did not expect to succeed. Credit to Mitch McConnell and the other Senate Republicans!

          • “a flagrant disregard for the importance of the Supreme Court as an institution”
            What about our entire government’s (incl. the Supreme Court’s) flagrant disregard for the will of the people or our U.S. constitution which is supposed to ward off such hubris of the high and mighty?
            “This move also intentionally subverted a power that was granted to the President, who was elected by the people.”
            What about the many Supreme Court nominees appointed by a president who was never elected (G.W. Bush), the ones who gave us Citizen United among other things? This is several traitors on the court already ensconced versus the one slightly nicer judge you hoped to get from Obama.
            This is why I see nothing really new here. As for rolling back reproductive rights for women and marriage equality, that would be harsh; and if an Obama appointee would have made the difference, then there is some grounds for complaint. OTOH, maybe this will help mobilize more sleeping Americans who have allowed the robber billionaires to quietly take over our government brick by brick, year after year for over thirty years, so they could rig the entire system against us to profit from our suffering and helplessness. They will keep driving us into the ground if we continue to be distracted by the good-cop/bad-cop routine the Rep-Dem duopoly plays on us. So, one gang will repress reproductive rights while the other won’t, but meanwhile they both keep selling us out to the oligarchs, rig our economy and political institutions, spread war and hate of Americans over the globe, disappear and torture innocents, stir international terrorism, and destroy our very planet. I think we need to check our political priorities. Just saying.

            • Dirk, I hadn’t even thought about the fact that G W Bush, who lost the popular vote, was allowed to make two appointments, that makes the blockade of Obama’s appointee even more galling in a way.

              • Not only that. If you dig a little (or paid attention back then), you have to realize that both terms of G.W.-Cheney were achieved by election fraud. (plus the uncalled-for meddling by their friends on the year 2000 supreme court) —- The corruption of our government by plutocrats and political class sell-outs has quite a history by now. I can only keep repeating: Everybody, please don’t let yourself be distracted by the Rep-Dem twin party tyranny’s good-cob/bad-cob routine.

    • Repugnant by the Republicans? How about Biden. He supported holding up Supreme Court justices when the change was going the democrap way. Your comment was hypocritical.

  • Clearly the Trump victory was the biggest political story. In terms of importance, Putin’s increasing power on the world stage and the Brexit would be very close. So, I’ll pick something different to throw into the forum.

    Something that was also historically significant–albeit fitting for the chaotic election year of 2016–was that the two conventions had a little bit of drama again.

    There were expectations early on that the Republicans would have a contested convention. Then Donald Trump soared past Ted Cruz with enough delegates to easily secure the nomination. There was even some belief that Bernie Sanders could take his fight to the convention against Hillary Clinton. Of course neither happened.

    But there were enough NeverTrumpers and BernieOrBust people in the arena at their respective conventions to cause commotion.

    Cruz told the Cleveland RNC to “vote your conscience.” The BernieOrBust crowd got under Sarah Silverman’s skin so much she admonished them from the podium at the DNC in Philadelphia as being “ridiculous.” These episodes alone provided the long-waited-for drama we haven’t seen at the four-day political rally/coronations.

    Not since Ronald Reagan challenged Gerald Ford in 1976 or Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter in 1980 have we seen anything close to drama. The 2016 conventions offered a restoration of entertainment I hope to see repeat itself in convention halls every four years.

  • Trump’s victory in my opinion is easily the story of the year in the US. in England Brexit is the story of the year.
    In both cases there was a significant shift in thinking in a major segment of the population which was missed by the pollsters and the political in group alike. Both nations may be on a new path.

  • Probably the most remarkable political story of the year is Donald Trump, appealing directly to the American people-without a traditional campaign or “ground game” beating a very traditional candidate in Hillary Clinton. When you take away the uniqueness of her being a woman, really not much there and the American people (in the right Electoral College places – that is – one it. She represented a third Obama term without being him and people chose a change.

  • Bernie’s Revolution. Honestly, I never thought that there would be so many Americans looking for universal healthcare, tuition-free college, etc. Once Trump’s is impeached next year, Bernie’s revolution will take over Capitol Hill.

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