ELECTION POST-MORTEM: SELF-EXAMINATION REQUIRED. Eventually, I was gonna have to say something about Donald Trump winning the Presidency.
I did not share the view of the New York Times or the Washington Post that Hillary's elevation to the throne was all but a foregone conclusion. I live in the heartland. There are an awful lot of angry people around here, and wishing won't make them go away. Hell, I'll even grant you that in many cases their anger is perfectly legitimate.
But this election threw a new monkey wrench into the workings of democracy: The arrival of the no-information voter. These people showed up (many of them for the first time) at the ballot box to vote for Trump, because they were inspired by his promises to "make America great again," and that "it's gonna be beautiful." Never mind that Trump never quite explained how, in the immortal words of Frank Zappa, these good times would be something that was really happening. Everyone who's run for President in recent memory could tell you with spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations how they were going to do this or that, and all the average Joe or Jane knew is that nothing ever seemed to get better. So maybe this crazy businessman with no political experience whatsoever might know something that the politicians didn't?
Hey, really, I sympathize. But how much research did it take to find out that what Trump was saying was all smoke and mirrors? Even if I grant that Trump wants to make things better for Joe and Jane, he still doesn't have any idea of how he's going to do it. [Hint No. 1, Mr. Trump: Gutting the Affordable Care Act isn't going to help, unless you replace it with something that's gonna be beautiful.]
It's no secret that Donald Trump has a bad habit of saying things that just aren't true. In the days before the arrival of the no-information voter, a habitually lying Presidential candidate would have absolutely no future. But perhaps Trump took a close look at some of his fellow GOP candidates--creepy charlatans like Scott Walker and Ted Cruz--or the Speaker of the House, a man known far and wide as "Lyin' Paul Ryan"--and realized that there are a whole lot of voters now that have zero interest in what we used to call The Truth. Walker and Ryan, chronic liars of a stripe that Trump can only aspire to, are reelected again and again (by comfortable margins) by the same voters they lie most egregiously to (Walker: "Our big bold conservative reforms are moving Wisconsin forward!" Ryan: "I really care about the working class.") Again, even the slightest amount of research would indicate that the exact opposite of these statements is the actual truth. But it doesn't seem to matter.
I had a good friend from my dog-training days, a highly intelligent woman with a great sense of humor who was unfortunately co-opted by the Tea Party movement. "Pam" used to send me breathless chain e-mails: Obama is a Kenyan Muslim. The US Postal Service is going to charge all Americans (retroactively!) for every e-mail they've ever sent. Facebook is going to charge all its users (retroactively!) for using its "free online service"). I would go onto Snopes.com and send her a link that debunked each one of these myths, but to no avail. When someone has no interest in the truth, you have no basis for argument.
The second group that ushered Trump into the White House was your garden-variety white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Klansmen--a much bigger part of the electorate than any reasonable person might want to admit. Well, they all turned out in force for The Donald, and at first I wasn't inclined to really hold that against him. But when he appointed Steve Bannon to oversee his new administration, I started to have my doubts.
Now. On to us "liberals"*.
My home state of Wisconsin is really a microcosm for the nation at large right now. We have a lying governor, a lying congressman who is now Speaker of the House, and a lying senator who thinks climate change is caused by sunspots. All of them were comfortably reelected. If that isn't the best argument for the existence of large numbers of no-information voters, I don't know what is.
But, in order to win over the no-information voters, we "libruls" (the no-information voter's preferred spelling) are going to have to come up with something compelling that addresses their concerns, which are largely economic. It will never be enough to put our noses in the air and whine about their lack of education, true though that may be. If the DNC had let the people have their choice, Bernie Sanders may well have been our next President (I'm guessing that roughly 1/4 of Trump voters would have stood with Sanders had he been the Democratic nominee, which should have put Bernie over the top). There's another failing of the "libruls", who failed to understand how thoroughly fed up Joe and Jane are with the status quo.
Bottom line: We "high-information voters" can't blame all of this on Donald Trump or neo-Nazis or people who didn't go to college. We need to look in the mirror first.
*Even though anyone who reads this blog knows that I am anything but a classic "liberal," I was forced into that camp by the Tea Party movement and the GOP's increasing interest in voter suppression and one-party fascist rule. That doesn't make me a liberal--but the Tea Party has decided that it does. So be it. Better a liberal than a brownshirt.
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