After the election,
May we seek to practice
May we turn:
The Hubris of Competing Certainties
The Humility of Cooperating Countrywomen and Men.
—Sen. Cory Booker
Well, I was wrong about who was going to be elected the 46th president of the United States. I tend to not make predictions in writing because I'm no soothsayer and I get plenty perturbed when other people in media and politics make predictions. They are wrong often enough, and seldom come back and say, "I was wrong about that."
This time I got caught up in the exuberance of the most bare-knuckled, nasty fight for the presidency I can remember, and predicted Hillary Clinton would win. And that seemed to be what much of the punditocracy thought.
Well, what do I know?
I'll not start trying to tell you what went wrong. A lot of things went wrong. I think it's telling that Mitt Romney got 59 million votes and lost; Donald Trump got pretty much the same amount and won. Some folks say voter suppression had a hand. Some folks say that Clinton was an unexciting candidate. Some folks say black folks didn't turn out for her. Folks are saying a lot of stuff right now — some in glee, some in anger, some in fear, some in hate.
What do I see as encouraging is that Clinton won the popular vote. We know that doesn't necessarily count in presidential elections — it's about the Electoral College. Still, it's good to know that a majority of voters cast their vote in what I thought was the right direction. The Electoral College is the last delusional hope for those in denial. There is a movement to somehow get enough of them to cast their votes for Clinton. It seems far-fetched, but then, the idea that Trump could win the election once seemed ridiculous.
Now a lot of folks are alarmed and there have been protests against the election result across the country. I'm pretty sure there would have been protests had things gone the other way. There was even talk of Trump not accepting the results if it went the other way.
I attended a march and a couple of meetings this week. And the thing that people have said that sticks with me the most is about the number of people in their lives who suddenly revealed themselves as Trump supporters after the election. Apparently that whole thing about there being an army of secret Trump voters out there was more right than wrong. They're coming out of the closet now.
They were definitely online already. One man who spoke at a meeting said he knew Trump was going to win two days before the election when he saw what was being spouted on Facebook.
Even more troubling are the hateful things that people seem emboldened to say and do. We need to talk to each other a lot more. We can agree on some things and agree to disagree on other things but we need to spend more time understanding each other. Maybe that will lead to more respect for each other. That whole respect thing didn't get a lot of play during the campaign. I hope it can come out in the post election climate.
So I guess it's time to do some thinking about who we are and how we are. There are so many different mindsets in these United States, and we can be coming from so many different places. For example, I was in the Upper Peninsula a couple of years ago when a guy said to me, "I hear the people in Detroit don't pay their water bills." There was nothing I could tell him about the dynamics of the situation that mattered to him. It was a friendly encounter, but as far as he was concerned people got to pay their bills no matter what. I'm not saying he was right. What I am saying is we need to work harder to find common ground. That's a concern.
In August, I was driving to New Orleans and found myself in southern Mississippi. I needed gas and pulled off the interstate where a sign indicated I could get some. This wasn't one of those big, lit-up areas with lots of amenities. I had to drive about a quarter-mile down the road to a place that looked deserted but for an "open" sign on the window. I went inside and saw a Confederate battle flag on the wall. There was a poster on another wall with a picture of a bullet. The caption encouraged you to "collect precious metals." At the counter near the cash register there was a picture of Confederate soldiers riding into battle. The cashier looked at me with surprise and disgust. It was obvious she didn't see many black people come through there. I started to feel a little uncomfortable.
As I pumped my gas a guy came from around the building to stare at me. When he started walking in my direction I jumped in the car and drove off reminding myself not to get off the beaten path in southern Mississippi again.
Nothing bad happened but this is a reminder that there is another America out there, and it's not that far away. Actually there are more than just two Americas; there are a lot of different realities that need to be accommodated in our nation — including tolerance. That was once considered the strength of our nation.
In closing, let's consider more from Cory Booker's fabulous poem, tinyurl.com/zx65cuk):
Let us work to turn
Sounds a little delusional, but we've got to start somewhere.
Local votes pile on
The national result was bad enough for progressives, but right here at home wasn't the best day either. The regional transit millage was voted down. That didn't surprise me. The commercial proponents were running that declared it would "only" cost each household $100 a year wasn't very endearing. I thought they should have argued that good transit is a good economic driver.
Proposal B, the weaker of the two community benefits laws for developers, passed while the stronger Proposal A lost. Commercials drubbing Proposal A as an economic killer doomed that one. The funny thing is I never saw an ad touting either A or B.
Walls come tumbling down
If the wall with Mexico really goes up — which I personally feel is a stupid idea — I think there will be a day of reckoning when it comes back down. The same way the Berlin Wall did as people around the world cheered. Oops, did I just make a prediction? I thought I was over that.