I’ve had quite a few people say they figured I would be far more vocal online after this election. The truth is that I didn’t really trust myself right away. I wanted to process and reflect before writing. In my opinion, there is nothing less appealing than reading knee-jerk after knee-jerk post, all driven by fear and anger. So I have been making notes, and drafting in my head… here goes.
This morning I was browsing the headlines and I was flabbergasted at how much bullshit the media are peddling right now. And I’m not a media conspiracy guy either, but it was disturbing to watch them try to deconstruct this election and attempt to paint a picture points of failure in their ability to get this one right.
It seems like right now they are mostly focused on what was missed in the polling, or what all this means for each special interest group (i.e. women, Muslims, latinos, etc.). What I didn’t see were stories that explored some of the real contributing factors, such as the press themselves.
I did t see stories on the DNC, Wassermann Shultz, and the rest of the Democratic Party who decided that they owed a debt to HRC and decided to “tweak” the primaries in order to edge Bernie Sanders out, and “nudge” Hillary Clinton in because she had been promised another shot at the crown after her surprise loss to Obama eight years ago.
I didn’t see stories about how Bernie was consistently filling 30,000 seat arenas, but got little to no media coverage until he it got so obvious that he couldn’t be ignored any longer.
I also didn’t see stories about how the Democratic Superdelegates ignored the will of their constituents in order to prop up the candidate that they thought was “the best qualified”, regardless of the fact that, poll after poll said Bernie was really the one to beat.
I didn’t see stories about how the major media outlets fell for Trump’s ruse and willingly gave him unlimited press coverage to his circus of a campaign, which essentially equated to free unlimited political advertising.
I also didn’t see stories about how such a racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic candidate was elected only a mere three years after the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights act. Or how hundreds of polling places across the country were shut down out of “necessity” prior to this election cycle, and how oddly most of them were in low income and minority areas. Or about the other types of voter discrimination that suddenly began to pop up as people began to discover they had been wiped from the voting rolls in districts across the country. And let’s not forget those voter ID laws that were put into effect to counteract the often touted, mostly imaginary, threat of voter fraud in this country. A threat that has proven to be nothing more than an veiled attempt to disenfranchise low income voters who have trouble easily gaining access to the proper identification.
And of course, there were the gaps in the endless polls they conducted, especially the “shame gap”. That was the gap people fell into if they didn’t want to advertise their support of Trump out of the initial fear of being branded a racist. I personally know a few Trump supporters who stayed quiet for this very reason, they wanted what he was selling but didn’t want to broadcast how much they wanted to get rid of “those damn immigrants”. I also know a few who are now excited their children will know a white president for the first time in their lives (I know, I don’t get this one either. Last time I checked, Hillary Clinton was white, for that matter so was Bernie. I’m guessing it might have more to do with the preferential treatment white people hope to get under a President Trump).
Now, the other related news stories are the huge amounts of people who are upset and protesting across the country. I’m ambivalent here. I completely understand the anger, and the need to protest. However, there was only one way to win against Trump on Election Day, and many people didn’t like the choice. But, no one can say they weren’t warned against the danger of protest votes, joke votes and write-ins. I can’t stand Hillary Clinton, I have never liked her. But I was sufficiently scared enough of a President Trump, and did my utmost to work against him. Even going so far as to hold my nose and vote for a candidate I did not want to be president. Why? Because I felt that she was a “known evil”. That is to say, she is corrupt in all of the normal ways. Whereas Trump’s willingness to paint entire ethnic and cultural groups with such a broad brush of hate and blame that I felt I had to do what I could to keep him out of the The White House, and that included voting for someone I didn’t want to support. I’m not proud of who I voted for. I feel like I let myself down to some extent, but I also feel like I took one for the team. I also feel like I’ve earned to right to complain. Because I ended up disliking each candidate so much, this election ended up being about the math. So, as far as I was concerned, if you didn’t want Trump to end up as president then the only way to stop him was to vote for the one candidate who had a chance at defeating him. If it was about something different for you, I respect that.
I’ve always been a pragmatist, and now is no exception. In fact, I think pragmatism is pretty darn handy right now. I know what I have the ability to change in this world, and also what I can’t. Yes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. But that’s not the system we have. Our constitution gave us the electoral college, and as much as Democrats haven’t been big fans of it lately, if the results of this the 2000 election had been reversed I have no doubt that the Democrats would be crowing about the wisdom of the founders and the Republicans would be crying about the popular vote.
Despite everything progressives say about diversity and the importance of an open mind, it has always struck me as ironic that they aren’t willing to accept racists, misogynists, and xenophobes into the big tent. Why preach diversity and practice exclusion? I’ve always felt that it’s very easy to talk about having an open mind and accepting people if you like them and their values. But doesn’t the test of a truly open mind come when your values are challenged? Isn’t true acceptance really only practiced when you are trying to accept that which you don’t agree with? I mean, it’s not too tough to accept the good stuff, but I really have work to do in order to accept the things I dislike or oppose. We can behave the same way we were treated for the last eight years, or we can actually start the change with us. It will take work. And it’s almost all an inside job.
So, here’s the challenge, and it’s not what you think.
If you were infuriated at how the Republican lead Congress dug their heels in and blocked everything they could, ask yourself if you are comfortable becoming that kind of person. If you are, then more power to you. However, if you are looking for something better in this world, then try to be the better person here. Be the ethical one, the moral one. One thing for sure is that what drew most people to Bernie was his integrity. No one can deny he has that to spare. And sometimes watching him get attacked during the primaries was tough, because he didn’t “fight back” they way people wanted him to. But that was also what made him Bernie. That’s what gave him the “lead us out of the desert” leadership quality that inspired such devotion in his followers. Integrity is difficult to cultivate. It takes practice that can only be performed under pressure.
I know that taking the high road can be painful, partially because it doesn’t offer instant gratification. In fact, it can feel like you’re being a complete pushover with no satisfaction. But in the end, morality is in the long game, and real karma happens over eons.
We can’t work for peace and equality by practicing hate and division, no matter how deserving the opposition.