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Making Sense of What Happened on Nov 8

By Herb Bowie


Trying hard to make sense of what happened last night.

Here are my thoughts.

Our country is almost equally divided into two camps.

The first camp consists of high-minded citizens dedicated to public service and social progress, as well as those less fortunate souls who are most in need of such service. These folks want public institutions to expand their missions to do more good. These people reside mostly in large urban centers.

The second camp consists of “ordinary” people who just want to get on with their lives, who wish that the high minded citizens would get over themselves and find some honest work, and that the less fortunate souls would pull themselves up by their bootstraps and – oh, by the way – also find some honest work. These folks just want public institutions to deliver on promises already made, and to do a decent job of fulfilling their existing missions, rather than constantly trying to expand into new areas. These people are not looking for help from public institutions, but just want a level, stable playing field on which they can make their own way. Those in this second camp reside mostly in more rural and suburban parts of the country.

Because many of our largest media outlets are themselves based in large urban centers – and because those in the first camp are predisposed by their very nature to make and consume more of what passes for “news” in these outlets – news media such as The New York Times and The Washington Post have absolutely no ability to detect what is going on in the hearts and minds of those residing in the second camp.

All of the alleged transgressions reported by the news media about both of our presidential candidates proved in the end to just be so much fluff and fill that didn’t change anyone’s minds. Private e-mail servers, tweets denigrating various portions of our society, alleged sexual misconduct: the media made all this seem like damning evidence when first revealed, but in reality we all acted shocked by the latest things reported about the other candidate, but quickly dismissed as inconsequential whatever was revealed about our chosen representative.

News media pontificating and advertising had little effect on voters. Clinton was clearly the candidate representing the first camp, and Trump was just as obvious a representative for the second camp. Decisions made.

People proved much less interested in supporting their gender than in supporting their ethnic heritage. Cubans voted for Marco Rubio, just as blacks voted for Barack Obama. But women did not vote as a bloc for Hillary Clinton.

For those of us in the first camp, and waking up this morning to be surprised that the second camp is now in control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government, we can try to console ourselves with these words from Winston Churchill:

Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those others that have been tried.

If there is some unarguably good news in all of this, I suppose it is that our federal gridlock will soon be at an end, and we will then have a chance to evaluate at least one of our political parties on its actions and their consequences, rather than on their posturing and attitudinal alignment.

Published 2016 Nov 09

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