The most significant statistic from 2016’s election is the massive drop in support for both the Democratic and Republican candidates. While uncounted votes from California may slightly alter these figures, Hillary Clinton received about ten million fewer votes than Barack Obama did eight years ago. Trump, who lost the popular vote while winning the electoral vote, received the least votes of any candidate from either party since 2000. These figures are even more striking because of a drastic increase in the population of eligible voters: 18 million since 2008.
Far larger in number than the vote for either candidate are the 99 million eligible voters who abstained from the 2016 election or voted for a third party. This is a measure of social discontent and not of apathy. In other words, while Clinton and Trump received the vote of 26.6 and 25.9 percent of eligible voters, 43.2 percent chose neither.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up