I woke to a text from one of my closest friends Wednesday, November 9.
She was not speaking to me because Donald Trump won the Presidential Election.
I am bewildered – I did not support Trump and I didn’t vote for him.
California’s 55 electoral votes went to Hillary Clinton at 8:03 PM Pacific Time. The outcome was never in doubt – regardless of how I voted. So I voted my conscience.
Why is she mad at me?
Julie’s text illustrates the depth of the divisions in this country.
Those divisions are both human and institutional.
Reform, renovation and rebirth are urgently needed.
But before we turn our attention to the future – let’s take a moment to summarize what went right and what went wrong on Election Day, November 8.
What Went Wrong?
The main stream media was so certain of Hillary Clinton’s victory that they lost their objectivity.
Only the elder statesman of the establishment media, Tom Brokaw, cautioned the media talking heads needed to wait for the American people to vote before declaring the era of the first woman President of the United States.
Tuesday afternoon, as I channel surfed, the major network anchors were all reporting — despite early vote counts in the “battleground states” — Hillary had a “comfortable lead” based on exit polls. Turns out the polls had no resemblance to reality.
In the aftermath of this election, the media needs to do some soul searching. It is time to reconfirm their commitment to the basics of journalism: reporting the facts of the case (who, what, where, when, why and how).
Voters lie to pollsters!
We were reminded last Tuesday that the only poll that matters is voting!
55 percent of eligible voters went to the polls in 2016 – down five percentage points from 2012.
When newscasters on November 7 on every major network told their viewers “Hillary Clinton goes into the election with 272 Electoral College votes to Trump’s +/- 150 — some unknown number of voters heard the election was over and they didn’t need to both to vote.
We will never know how many people didn’t vote because they believed those polls and saw voting as either unnecessary because their candidate was certain to win or futile because their candidate was going to lose.
Would accurate reporting have changed the outcome either in the Electoral College or the popular vote? We will never know.
The Political Establishment
The American people are angry.
Voters decided to take a chance on the “bad-boy” “new-devil-in-town” rather than the “devil-they -thought-they-already-knew” –
Terms like conservative or liberal lost their meaning in the 21st century.
James Carville, the acerbic 1992 Clinton Campaign Manager, was correct then and remained correct in 2016 – “it’s the economy, stupid”.
The struggling middle class in the heartland of America have had enough of political promises. They’re out of hope – so they voted for CHANGE!
Barack Obama. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton promised them a new global economy that turned out to be worse than the one they had before. Maybe a brash, successful businessman would do better?
Populism broke with the professional politicians and the so-called political establishment.
The average voter in the so-called “rust belt” – black and white as it turns out – finally realized that all those political promises repeated every two years were empty — more about helping the incumbent politician pay his/her mortgage than the voter paying his/hers!
The people want economic and political reform – NOW! The American people are sick and tired of:
- BIG – government
- Public employee UNIONS
- BIG banks
- And BIG multi-national businesses!
And, yes, they are sick of BIG political parties – which are nothing but BIG corporations. They exist for the betterment of their shareholders – ops, I mean donors and politicians.
What Went Right?
After 228 years the American Constitution is still a vibrant as when it was ratified 288 years ago. We are the envy of the world!
Every eligible voter who wanted to participate in the process voted and saw their vote counted carefully and accurately.
The Bill of Rights protected the speech of the protagonists and their supporters.
The Electoral College worked as designed — each state is assigned electors equal to their Congressional representation.
It’s a check to insure the votes from America’s smaller states mattered just as much as the urban elites in our large coastal cities.
Every four years the losing party suggests abolishing the Electoral College but the small states will never vote to ratify an amendment that would reduce them to serfdom at the hands of their urban brothers and sisters.
But there’s room to reform the process of selecting and awarding electors.
We must stop fearing and vilifying one another. Throughout our history – our diversity has been one of our greatest strengths.
But in recent years diversity has been subsumed into what MSNBC’s morning host, Joe Scarborough describes as the
“politics of “tribalism” – the “black vote”, the “latino vote”, the “LGPD vote”, “a special place in hell for women who don’t support women”.
Tribalism is the antithesis of the traditional American melting pot. Hyphenation of your Americanism is the first step toward abandoning what made us a great nation – the belief in the potential of the greater many to do the greater good for ourselves and the rest of the world.
This schism is largely a result of the cynical professional politician’s obsession with winning at whatever cost to the nation.
Over 240 years we, the people, have stuck together through thick and thin – let’s not lose that important pillar of American democracy now!
Each of us must be willing to allow the 45th President of the United States the room to learn to be the President of all the people. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
Like President Obama and the other members of the (former) Presidents’ Club who have reached out to help – if Mr. Trump succeeds – all of us succeed!
Isn’t that the objective after all?