Election Postscript

The 2016 election has left the nation deflated. A citizen, no matter their ilk, can take only so much wear immersed in politics, morality, philosophy, culture and other esoteric, massless issues none of which ever produce absolutes a citizen can count on. Alas, the wear has only begun. One segment of the nation’s politic, a narrow one, will feel positive about the outcome of the election: the upper and middle class far right. One pundit on CBS television said “We have a President with no ideological direction appointing intense ideologues as Secretaries, supported by the most conservative and dominant Republican Congress since before the Great Depression.”

The largest losers are the faithful who voted for Donald. There’s an old saw that goes, ‘Why would a working class person ever vote Republican’? Fareed Zakaria had it right before the holidays: the electorate votes for the personality most like themselves; policy is not a factor. It is normal for voters to select preferable bits of gossip and campaign noise to support their opinion; 2016 saw uncontrolled abuse from the social media – Donald among them.

A tonic for the general public – and an important lesson in civics – is an interview of Jon Stewart by Charlie Rose that ran last November and was rerun on Bloomberg channel last week. Jon is no one’s court jester. His wit made him a leading personality in serious politics. Jon has a no-nonsense attitude about politics and feels all’s fair in love and war as the spirit and purpose of our democratic republic is hammered out by the electorate. “It’s a messy business,” he said, “but it’s our job to keep this country free rather than let it slip into something else.” He commented on his intense campaigning for the passage of a bill that would pay the medical bills of first responders on 9/11 by saying that if the government is doing something immoral or abusive, it’s everybody’s job to take action to set things right.

Mariner suspects not every political activist has the loyalty to the nation that Jon has. Typically, political activists are warriors for a cause; anyone with another opinion is a dangerous enemy. Once a voter absorbs his personal opinion, not even ISIL can change that opinion. Jon said this firm attitude is what it takes to run this country. However, it isn’t very intellectual. Donald said he could shoot someone down in the middle of Broadway, NY and not lose a vote. So it seems….

What our country is left with in the game of nations is a jump ball. Fortunately or unfortunately each nation has its own ball. The nation with the best overall game will win. Trouble is, our team just drafted teammates of Jerry West.[1]

Jon also said the democrats no longer represent the hometown citizen, the people each of us know next door or in our family. Every time a labor union is busted or a right to work law is passed by state and local governments, it continues to weaken an already bad situation for the working class. The only solution is to strengthen the local democratic presence in order to elect democratic candidates who will support labor friendly legislation; in other words remove redistricting completely from party-sensitive control. Accomplish that and the rest will be easy.



Mary Noble interviews Arlie Russell Hochschild

THE MORNING AFTER Trump’s victory, The New York Times recommended “6 Books to Help Understand Trump’s Win.” Number two on the list was Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, by Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild. The book takes us to Louisiana, where Hochschild spent five years among Tea Party voters who have suffered at the hands of the oil industry. It’s people like these that have become Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters. Hochschild explores the emotional logic behind what she calls their “deep story”: they believe that the government helps minorities “cut ahead of them in line,” while liberal America mocks their values[2]

This book and the interview are a humanistic and thought provoking look at the intimate experiences of those citizens who have nowhere to turn for a future. We may think of them as misguided or uneducated. But the truth is, the truth is, they have come to us and discovered there is nowhere to turn. If Donald can rock the boat and make a crack in the vast unresponsive firmament, maybe there will be a place to go. It was their last hope.

Ancient Mariner

[1] Jerry West played basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1950’s and 60’s – the implication being the new nation’s leaders still abide by political philosophies and problem recognition that existed over sixty years ago.

[2] Quote from Los Angeles Review of Books, https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/reaching-out-not-backing-down-an-interview-with-arlie-russell-hochschild