Wednesday, November 9, 2016

We Were Wrong

As I write this, the final tally has not yet been made in the 2016 Presidential race. I don't yet know who the winner will be, but it is looking very likely that come January we will be inaugurating Donald Trump as the next President of the United States.

If that happens - or even if, in the wee hours of the morning, Hillary pulls off a miracle - we have to face the fact that we (the educated, the elite, the professionals) have been wrong about so very much in our politics:

• We were wrong when we said that "the Party decides". Most of the GOP establishment turned on Trump, and he won anyway.

• We were wrong when we said that elites matter. Clearly, nobody is listening to any of the elites, regardless of their party or position.

• We were wrong when we assumed that elections are about Liberal and Conservative ideologies. Trump is no more a conservative than I am a turnip, yet he carried Republicans, and a good many "independents", anyway.

• We were wrong when we said that money controls politics. Clinton out-raised Trump by a 2:1 margin. Ironically, liberals who have been wanting to get the influence of "big money" out of Presidential campaigns just got their wish - whatever else is true, Trump is not especially beholden to Wall Street or the usual Big Money interests.

• We were wrong when we said that character matters. No matter what one thinks of Clinton's character (a subject of much dispute), Trump's is on display. He is mean, vindictive, small-minded, arrogant, and petty. He has practically embodied the seven deadly sins in his life.

• We were wrong when we said that Evangelical Christians would never vote for a twice-divorced, twice-cheated, philandering lecher who runs gambling houses for a living. Apparently, "values voters" was a myth.

• We were wrong when we thought that we could use sophisticated polling techniques to predict electoral outcomes. People point to the Brexit outcome, but that was only a 4-point miss. This was a failure of epic proportions.

• We were wrong when we said that competence and capability matters, that someone utterly ignorant of public affairs could never get elected.

• We were wrong when we said that Republicans could no longer win the White House solely on the backs of whites. Clearly, they can.

• We were wrong when we argued - as I used to teach my US foreign policy classes - that only 20% of the US public is isolationist, that everyone else has accepted internationalism in one form or another. Isolationism appears to be closer to 50%.

• We were wrong when we argued that truth and reality matters. So many people believe things that are so obviously false - that trade is bad for our economy, that global warming is a myth, that complex problems have easy solutions. Richard Feynman was right - nature cannot be fooled. But apparently, a great many Americans can be. For those who hope that the truth will defend itself - maybe the Constructivists were right. Maybe people really DO make their own realities.

When we are wrong, we need to reexamine ourselves. What did we miss? What did we fail to understand? We have a lot of soul-searching to do.

In the meantime: in the morning I will get up early, as I always do. I will take care of my family, exercise, go to work. I will try hard, as I do every day, to be kind to those I work with and for, to love others as God loves, the follow the Good. The universe has not changed because of one election. Love is still love; compassion and mercy are still what they were. God is still God, and we are still who we were yesterday and will be again tomorrow. Circumstances will change, but we are who we are.


  1. My post election thoughts:

    While my fellow progressives are crying, making half-hearted statements to keep the faith and love everyone, hugging each other desperate for comfort and reassurance, I’m looking at the silver lining in all this.

    The first most obvious good news about this outcome is that the Donald has released us all from the bondage of political correctness, (formerly called common decency or good manners). Clearly a large portion of Americans were aroused by his “callin’ it like it is.” In that spirit I suggest from here on out, our incoming president should be referred to as fuckface donny. (Note all lower case and no * to replace the u and c… to do otherwise would be an elitist move to show off your education.) This moniker is simple, easy to remember and really, it says it all.

    In keeping with the spirit of his (and apparently a majority of Americans’) wish to drain the swamp and get corrupt government out of their lives, I suggest that Democrats in the house and senate stand down for the next four years. Do what Marco Rubio did… show up now and then to collect a paycheck. But basically just let the Republicans have their way because they will anyway. So no arguing, filabustering, shutting down the government. No childish I-gotta-have-it-my-way crap. Just let Republicans do the full monty for the next four years.

    Give red voters their hearts' desire: no more government intrusion. Red states should be freed from the burden of intrusive government handouts like FEMA, FDA, OSHA, infrastructure money, health insurance, farm subsidies, cheap flood insurance, government offices, the FBI. You get the drift. Keep those intrusive government handouts intact in the blue states, however. Make those blue bastards suffer.

    In fact, let's take it one step further, stop Medicare and Social Security to everyone who voted red. If fuckface donny isn’t sure which individuals are red and which blue, he can just call up his Russian friends to find out. They already know who most of the Democrats are. Think of the money the government can save and how all those red states can be free to follow their own destinies. The thought of it takes my breath away.

    And how about those pesky refugee terrorists?. Who needs ‘em when we have whole groups of homegrown ones right here. It’s not like the out-of-town terrorists are better or more effective. fuckface donny and followers have been doing a bang up job of starting them young, bullying immigrant school mates, burning churches, painting threats on walls, and physical violence. Thank you, fuckface and red voters for legitimizing the KKK and white supremacists and egging them on. (Is it disrespectful to occasionally shorten his name to just fuckface?)

    Then there’s Indiana. Let the coal begin. Coal miners who a few years ago desperately wanted a better life for their kids than to be stuck in a mine, can now have family bonding through a shared diagnosis of black lung disease or cave in thanks to deregulation. But why worry about dirty air anyway. After all, most it flows east where all THOSE people live, the ones who don’t have good Christian Hoosier values. I mean really! How dare people think they are entitled to clean air and water, to love and marry whomever they wish, to make community decisions about what is best for the community. But by all means, let’s change the constitution so that hunting and killing animals is spelled out as a god-given right.

    Sour grapes, you say? Trust me, it's way more than just sour grapes. It’s bewilderment, anger, fear for myself and the country, but mainly sadness and loss. Here’s the thing, I’m serious about letting all the red people and states have their way on everything (no half measures), unobstructed.. After four years let’s look to see if we're better off. Then I remember that facts, reality, and science fell by the wayside somewhere along the path.

  2. "that trade is bad for our economy, that global warming is a myth"

    Globalism and climate change go hand in hand.

    Free trade, especially NAFTA, destroyed the rust belt, and they went with Trump. This is their revolt. They are good people, but they won't be mocked. That's what happened here. Talk about "trade". The rust belt once was the global center of industry. And democrats destroyed it. Now they have spoken.

    1. NAFTA negotiations were begun under George HW Bush and completed under Bill Clinton. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress supported it.

      Blaming one political party that happens to hold a particular office for the effects of large-scale forces over which no President, no Congress has control is simply wrong. Was George W Bush responsible for Hurricane Katrina? Was it the fault of 19th century British Prime Ministers that the Industrial Revolution remade their country's economy? Could they, had they only adopted different policies, have turned that tide back?

      What I want is conversation between people seeking mutual solutions for problems that we agree affect all of us. What I am really tired of us people imposing simplistic narratives on complex issues to blame others for their problems.

      I believe that people who voted for Trump are good people. Anyone who reads this blog - ALL of it, not just one post - knows where I stand on questions of sinner vs. sin. But without casting blame, I can predict with confidence that if all we do is cast blame, nothing will get solved.