December 18, 2016

My Middle-aged White Lady Perspective: Winning and Losing

On the eve of the Electoral College almost certainly finalizing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election - I mean, there's about a one-in-a-Trumpzillion chance that they'll overturn the outcome we learned a few weeks ago - I'm going to toss my middle-aged white lady perspective out there one last time this year.

Folks, Russian hackers did not steal the election from Hillary Clinton, or give the election to Donald Trump. The FBI did not take the election from her, and she did not steal the nomination from Bernie Sanders. Green and Libertarian voters did not yank victory from her hands, either.

Fake news had less to do with the outcome of the election than did Fox News, CNN, and the nightly newscasts of the major television networks.

And finally, corporations and SuperPACS and Citizens United did not collectively make this outcome happen. Heck, Jeb! Bush had what, around $100,000,000 lined up before a single primary vote was cast?  Ask him how much good that did.

Oh, sure, fingers can be pointed, and will be pointed, and probably should be pointed in a whole lot of directions: at the powers that be in the CIA and FBI, the DNC and the RNC, the shadowy halls of  PACville, and in the rooms where media poobahs poo and bah. Everyone is trying to figure out what happened, trying to attach blame, and pointing at everyone other than themselves.

The reality is, "what happened" is that voters voted.

This election had the lowest turnout of eligible voters in presidential elections since 1996 - only about 55% of those who could vote, did vote. But the ones who did could have had any number of reasons for voting, and for voting the way they did:

  • out of a sense of duty or obligation, or because they were strong supporters of a candidate, or strong detractors of one, or
  • because they were angry, the "mad as hell and not going to take it any more" kind of people, or
  • because they felt their values or their jobs or their futures slipping through their fingers, or
  • because they thought it was fun, finally, to have someone to vote for who really didn't give a damn about what he said, who he said it about, or why, or
  • because they liked baseball caps that could hold an entire campaign vision on the front, or
  • because they liked the guy who was nothing like them but acted like he was, more than they liked the woman who was nothing like them, and acted like she wasn't, or
  • because they liked the one who seemed like someone they know from the corner bar more than the one who seemed like it would take her forever to order a drink, or
  • because they didn't care about the lies one of them told, but they believed that everything the other one said was a lie, even when it wasn't, or
  • because they thought that it would be fun to have a star in the White House, or
  • because they didn't want another Bush or Clinton, and the Bush had already been vanquished, or
  • because they really believed all of the conspiracy theories they heard about the other candidate but not the ones they heard about their own, or
  • because they were protesting the status quo, or
  • because they liked him, they really really liked him and they didn't like her, they really really didn't like her, or
  • because we already had that token Black president, and they were in no mood to follow up with a woman just because she's a woman, or 
  • because it won't matter because he won't be running the show, or
  • because, because, because, because, because----because of the wonderful Wiz he was, the wonderful Wiz he was.

The bottom line is, Trump's campaign managed to get the right votes in the right places to get enough Electoral College votes (barring us somehow entering an alternate universe for a few hours tomorrow) to win the election.  The Trump campaign managed to turn blue states red, and purple states red, and that is what it takes to win an election: have more states with at least 270 electoral college votes Red than Blue, or conversely.

I'm not discounting the fact that Trump lost the popular vote - I'm really not. We know the score, and so does he.

I'll be watching for the results tomorrow, to see if we end up with any faithless electors, Hamilton electors, whatever you want to call them -- and I fully expect we'll see Trump end up with more than 270 votes, and we'll see him inaugurated on January 20, 2017 as has been the expectation since November 8th.

For the duration of the Trump administration (also called here the Goldfoxbart administration or the Apprentice Administration), #NeverTrump people and #ImWithHer people and Blue people of all shades, shapes, stripes and sizes should maintain a relentless focus on four things.

First, we must hold the new administration, and particularly the President himself, to the normal standard to which all Presidents are held. There can be no 'lowering of the bar' and there can be no 'this is uncharted territory' or 'we've never seen anything like this' -- we saw that throughout the primaries, and we've seen that throughout this most unusual transition. We must do whatever we can to raise our voices when we see a lowering of the bar, whether it's writing and commenting intelligently on social media, or having heartfelt discussions with friends, or writing our local media, or reaching out to our representatives in Congress -- whatever it takes, we must do, fearlessly. Period.

Second, there must be a vision for our party - a true vision - that everyone can relate to, in some way, shape or form, whether they're urban, suburban, rural or somewhere in between. We did not have that this time, and the other side did. Period. We don't know for sure how that vision will come out legislatively, or whether we will see a Trump vision, a Ryan vision, a McConnell vision, or something else entirely, but whatever they had was relatable, whether we like it or not.

Third, we need to support intelligent, articulate, qualified candidates who excel at sharing the vision, and who are horrible at shooting down the other guy -- because we learned this go-round for sure that "I'm not the other guy" is not a successful, winning strategy, at any level. If our best message is how bad the other guy is, we are not going to win. Period.

And finally, we need to work to change the system. Not because if we change it we win - that's what the other side does. We need to change the system because it will be better for everyone. Because that's what we do - try and make things better for everyone.

Do not give up, do not lose hope, do not stop talking about what you see, how you feel, what you want, and what you want to do. If we do that, we're doomed. Continue the fight, knowing that it's not Hillary Clinton's fight anymore, it's our fight.

We can win if we're smart, and we can win if we're prepared.

Oh -- I'll talk about a key change we can make in an upcoming post. And it's not the electoral college.