Sometimes the media gets a little too arrogant when it comes to politics. Their analysis of the presidential election proves it.
That’s all my mother could say about her experience voting for the president, “and I wasn’t the only one. The other voters in line were just as embarrassed as I was. How did we get to this point?”
I knew my mother wanted a real answer from me, the daughter she raised to end up working campaigns for over 20 years. She knew I’d done profiles on voter blocs for years, and accurately predicted how they would behave in countless elections. I wasn’t a numbers person – I was the psychology person.
“I don’t know, mom.”
She blinked, shocked that I didn’t have an answer, and just looked down, “your great-grandmother is rolling in her grave.”
I cringed, because she just had to bring up the elder-matriarch of our family who had picketed to get votes for women.
“People are desperate, mom,” I started talking as I was still searching for the words to say. “We just ended up with the candidates who could play dirtier than anyone else.”
I’ve said on social media that I have no interest in doing a post-mortem on this election, and that remains true. Pointing out a few very simple concepts that were obviously overlooked by many pollsters, analysts, and pundits is not a true post-mortem. The first thing that was forgotten is that all politics are personal. Yes, people usually see that phrase ending with the word “local,” but it still boils down even further to the personal level. While the media tried very hard to keep the public enthralled with the three-ring-circus of scandals and deceit, it failed to recognize that the people were more concerned with their own kitchen tables. When people are just one lost paycheck away from financial ruin, they don’t tend to care about whether or not their potential leaders might be misogynistic pigs. If anything, putting someone like that in office mitigates the potential damage he can do. The fish bowl that is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, in spite of past dalliances within its walls, isn’t conducive to maintaining a playboy lifestyle. However, people who are living in fear of becoming unemployed through no fault of their own probably had at least a few issues with a candidate who couldn’t manage to deal with her own email accounts without screwing it up – something that could get normal people fired.
It’s also important to recognize what time of year it is, beyond the fact of it being election time. During the final quarter of each year, people who have employer-provided health insurance find out what changes will be coming on January 1st. For many American households, including my own, the changes include significant increases in insurance premiums – we are facing a 35% increase, which is hanging somewhere in the middle of this year’s crop of bills. Why would anyone be surprised if support dried up for a candidate who was offering more of the same? What would be more surprising is if we found out that no one chose Trump simply on the promise to kill ObamaCare.
The sluggish economy obviously has been a major issue for many Americans, and that means there are many people out there who are intimately aware of the negative effects of regulations on business. That means fewer jobs, and higher costs for necessities, like power. Pundits might scratch their heads over why my home, Pennsylvania, went the way it did. It’s not difficult calculus when you realize that the coal and natural gas industries here are keeping us afloat. It’s not just about miners losing their jobs. If we don’t have coal for our power companies, we don’t have a comparable fuel source for power generation. We already can’t afford increasing health insurance costs, so we definitely can’t afford radically increased utility bills. Again, it’s November, so we’ve just come off paying high bills to keep our homes cool during the summer, and are getting ready to head into increased costs for heating. Why in the world would we seriously entertain voting for anyone who has stated that coal is an evil that must be ended in this country?
The bottom line is that it looks like most of the experts out there ignored the bottom line. They assumed that the media had it right – that people cared about trivial nonsense that has absolutely zero effect on their daily lives. Maybe the public was entertained by it, but that obviously doesn’t make anyone rush to vote. It is true that many incendiary things were said during this election cycle, but like any other one, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of those things will fall by the wayside in the coming months. Reality will set in. In spite of the regular erosion of the checks and balances of government, the fact remains that our president cannot simply order a wall built on our border, round up immigrants for deportation, or ouster groups based on their religious beliefs. He can repeal regulations that were put in place by previous presidents. He can sign legislation that has been passed multiple times, but was not made into law because his predecessor refused to sign it. He can nominate judges. He can even use one of his favorite phrases for many government employees. He can be a misogynist pig, but he can’t codify that behavior into law.
My mother was embarrassed by this election because the American people played to the lowest common denominator in it. They not only went to the bottom of the barrel, but they dug at least a few feet under it. If we are lucky, a lesson will be learned in this. Instead of worrying about whether or not we feel like we could have a potential president sit at our dining room tables, maybe we need to look for candidates who definitely wouldn’t fit in our homes. We need to look for people who are genuinely better than the rabble – better than ourselves – in character, achievements, and intelligence. I think we’ve had enough of the circus people. It’s time to deal with what we’ve given ourselves this time around, but keep an eye out for far better options the next time.
Want to know more? Rasmussen Reports on why this was an issues election.