observations and opinion
The earthquake hit on November 8, 2016. The tsunami warning may be in effect until 2020. Or longer.
People are hurting, and many are genuinely afraid. There is much to be learned among those who lost, whose fears must be allayed by those who won.
Today, Sunday November 13th, New Zealand was hit with a huge earthquake – 7.8 or 7.9 on the Richter scale – and the country’s coastline at this hour (15:00 GMT) remains under a tsunami warning. Having been shaken and suffered the damage of the quake, the people are bracing for what may soon come rushing in.
America feels exactly the same.
The political earthquake of the Trump election last week has begun to give way to the waiting game: with the upheaval underneath now past, what is rolling in from the distant sea that might slam America next?
Laying under the quake’s rubble, millions of Americans are shaken and afraid. They can hear the sirens wailing, telling them to run for the hills, but many may not get free from the wreckage in time. Or as is often the case, the wave may not even hit. We don’t know yet. We only have reason to fear.
The aftermath of the U.S. Election has produced much reaction and opinion, and so much agony. It has been very, very difficult to speak of it dispassionately – and dangerous to, because millions of people feel wounded and betrayed.
They have been wounded and betrayed, so they should feel that way. But more on that another day.
Emotions are real and must be respected. When they are not, even by accident, the results can be severe and disorienting. On the morning after the vote, a judge in my Canadian hometown entered his court wearing a hat – a red hat that would be familiar to most people. It said ‘Make America Great Again.” Reportedly the judge took off the cap, put it on his bench facing the courtroom and remarked simply that the night before was “historic.”
I don’t know what His Honour meant by it. Was he celebrating the event? Was he making a subtle complaint about the election results? I don’t know. Arguably the hat didn’t belong in a courtroom (that is the decision of the judge and the Judicial Council, if they weigh in) but the point here is, almost ANY reaction that was cryptic or even analytic, risked injuring the reader’s sensibilities.
The morning after the election I had my own artistic reaction to the vote results. I toyed with publishing it and then, hesitated. This was the item:
What I meant by it was that any country electing Trump really isn’t all that great and yup, it needs to become great again. But the item was too inept or at best, subtle, to say it with clarity. And truthfully, I wasn’t 100% comfortable saying America isn’t great. In my heart, I believe that America IS great – but it’s also complicated and imperfect. So I spiked the hat.
It is, as they say, “too soon” for anything that might signal ambiguity or ambivalence.
Right now, Americans are still trembling from the quake, and watching the horizon for the wave of destruction. They don’t what will come only that they will be on anxious watch, perhaps for four years. or longer.
This week and weekend, many Americans are out protesting the result and many are decrying the multiple factors which made the result possible. That’s fine. But there is also some merit in not reacting, in not speaking, in not joking or screaming or crying. There is some merit in waiting.
In moments of high emotion, particularly fear, it is best to take a breath, silence one’s voice and wait for the pain to ease. Your own and others’. That creates some space in the mind for thought, some room for information to enter and settle into the synapses.
But information is out there. It is becoming available and it is worth listening to and looking at. The trick is, NOT to search it for proof you are right about what you think, but rather, for proof of what y0u don’t know. That’s how this miserable experience can become, at the very least, a “learning experience.”
Who did this?
The people responsible for the election results aren’t hard to find: they are the voters. And the non-voters. Projected turnout in 2016 was 57.9% – the lowest since 1996. What this means is that 42.1% of citizens eligible to cast ballots, failed to do so. That’s kind of amazing when you think about it.
The Election Project website has the numbers: ELECTPROJECT
Where are the Democrats?
The Washington Post on November 15th published some graphics displaying the brutal reality for Democrats: millions fewer people voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 than for Barrack Obama in 2012. Presumably, some of them voted for Trump. But from the lower turnout numbers we know, most just didn’t vote at all.
Among those who did vote…
Demographic information is starting to percolate out from under the psychic wreckage. And yes, if you were older, whiter, richer and Christian, you were more likely to vote for Donald Trump. Note though weirdness, such as the estimate that 14% of LGBTQ Americans voted for Trump too. I don’t know what it means, other than than gay people do their own thinking just like most everyone else.
You can see some cool, evocative graphics of “who voted for who” at the WASHINGTON POST
How did the media miss it?
One source of real thinking is the Sunday November 11th installment of NPR’s “On the Media.” It is, in fact, a stunningly informative hour assessing the American electorate, what people were really thinking and how the media basically missed it. ON THE MEDIA
Who predicted it: data over drama
A computer, that’s who: ARTIFICIALINTELLIGENCE and of course, some humans too. But not that many.
Why did it happen?
Well, there are millions of theories about that. In March 2016, I wrote about why it could happen, specifically that something was happening which the political class refused to see. That was just my opinion, though, not information. DOGPLAYSPIANO
As sources of ACTUAL information become apparent, I will post them. Slowly, once the tsunami warning is over and the dust truly clears, we will begin to understand more about what happened. As that occurs, opinion will become more valuable.
Unrelated to this, a tip of the hat to the great and now departed Leon Russell. Russell wrote some great songs, including at least one masterpiece: A Song for You.
Here’s Karen Carpenter’s brilliant rendition of it.