The Morning After

It’s hard to find the words to express how I feel today. Disappointedshockeddismayed, and sickened all come to mind yet somehow fail to express the depth.

If you’ve read this blog or my book at all, you know where I stand. Yet I think I have friends who can express what this means better than I can:

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Positive Thoughts

So enough on that. I want to mention some positive things.

First, Trump’s victory speech was perhaps the best one he’s ever made as a candidate. I have a rather low bar set for that, but still, any and all improvement is welcome.

Second, the voting seemed to go well this election. Nothing’s being contested, and the people certainly made their voice heard. As I said while I was waiting in line to vote in Provo, I would rather have good turnout and lose than have bad turnout. And as someone on the losing side, I stand by that. Good election turnout lets us know what the people want. And this year, it’s proven to be FAR more accurate than the polls.

(As a side note about polls, I think this election—and the very, very tight margins of victory in the key swing states—prove that it is high time to demand polls that have a sample size and corresponding margin of error of less than 1%. Three and four percent is clearly no longer acceptable.)

Finally, one of the few things I don’t agree with the Democratic party about is abortion, and there is now a real chance that Roe V. Wade could be overturned. That would be a silver lining. A small one compared to what I expect we will lose, but a silver lining nonetheless. And if it somehow allows us to reach a national consensus on this topic, that would be wonderful. It would allow so many good, pro-life women I know who are single-issue abortion voters to finally focus on other issues (where I suspect they might find they’re not as conservative).

To My Fellow Democrats:

I hope you have learned some things today:

ONE:

First and foremost, I hope you have learned that most Americans DON’T CARE about electing the “First [fill-in-the-blank] President.” Obama won his first term because he was campaigning against George W. Bush’s hugely unpopular legacy; he won his second because the very same rust belt states and voters who elected Trump last night felt that Obama had defended their jobs when Romney wouldn’t have. (That, if anything, should be the clue that good-paying jobs are important to people.) But the point is that these voters, who made the crucial difference, DID NOT CARE about breaking diversity records. They just want to be well-off, and if the current policies aren’t doing it fast enough, they’ll try something else, whether or not experts think it’ll work. If diversity milestones are met at the same time, great. But that aspect of things is not important in deciding their vote.

This type of candidate-making-a-diversity-statement also sank the senatorial campaign of the Utah Democratic Party’s US Senate nominee, Misty Snow. I don’t think that her challenger in the primary, Jonathan Swinton, would have beaten Mike Lee in this election, but I do think he would have done a lot better. So next time, let’s pick Swintons over Snows. Let’s talk to the voters, not to ourselves.

TWO:

Stop being arrogant. And this is one I can do better at myself. In this election, we saw an unprecedented division between college-educated voters and those without degrees. Trump ran on a campaign of rejecting expert opinion and questioning whether the experts actually knew what they were talking about. And then he proved his point by showing that all the media and election-poll experts knew NOTHING about his candidacy’s real strength. But the reason so many people bought his rhetoric is that they feel looked down on and condescended to by said experts, be they politicians, climate change scientists, or the so-called “liberal” media. And whether or not these people have the educational background to parse economics texts, they still have human emotions. And NO ONE likes being made to feel stupid.

So stop acting like you’re better than a high school graduate because of your education. Instead, persuade “by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, . . . without hypocrisy, and without guile.” (D&C 121:41-42) Education is a scarce commodity in our nation, and I fear it’s about to become scarcer. We need to humbly share the knowledge and skills we gained in college with those who didn’t have the opportunity to earn a degree. We must teach our fellow citizens with kindness, not condescension. And we have a lot of work to do to make up for the emotional damage our attitudes have caused.

THREE:

For goodness’ sake, stop picking flawed candidates! To be clear, Hillary was never my first choice this election cycle. I believed from the very beginning that Bernie Sanders would be more competitive in the general election, even though on policy issues, I agreed with Secretary Clinton more. I also sensed that he was a much more inspiring and charismatic candidate than Clinton was. I think this election’s results give us some evidence to support those claims.

But most importantly, we knew the attacks that the Republican party had been launching ceaselessly against Clinton since her time as the First Lady of Arkansas. We knew they’d all come back to life again, and anyone who thought that some new scandal wasn’t going to show up is naive. The Clintons, for whatever reason, attract scandals, and the media on both sides just eats it up! The emails were a known scandal in the primaries. We, as a party, should have looked at that and said, “Sorry, Hillary, we like you, but you’re not electable. We need to pick someone with less baggage.”

When people hear something often enough, they begin to believe it, whether or not it’s factually true. This is a frightening human tendency, especially in our current world of social media echo chambers, but it’s not new. The American public has been hearing that Hillary Clinton is corrupt over and over again for more than twenty years. It should not be surprising that they didn’t trust her! And at the end of the day, it doesn’t actually matter whether or not any or all of the accusations were true, because people believed it.

We could have had Bernie on the ballot. Or Joe Biden. Neither one of them would have had this crippling problem, and it very well might have changed the outcome of this election. At the end of the day, if a candidate loses, then those who picked the candidate are probably most to blame. That means us. We should own this failure to understand our fellow Americans, learn from it, and choose a candidate of unimpeachable integrity in four years’ time.

My great hope today is that this election’s results are more a rejection of Hillary than an embrace of Trump. Despite what I think about Hillary’s “corruption” being generally overblown, I genuinely hope that people were voting against their perception of her corruption, trying to make what they felt was the best choice in a “lesser of two evils” decision. If Americans genuinely believed that Hillary’s flaws were more evil than Trump’s and voted according to that conscience, well, I will disagree with their judgment, but I can and do respect their moral stand. That gives me hope that God, who judges people and nations by the thoughts and intents of their hearts can still judge us to be a righteous nation even after having elected Trump.

To Republicans:

You’ve finally got what you’ve been saying you wanted for the last six years: the entire federal government is under your control come January. Now is your big, perfect chance to prove to all of us that A) you can actually govern and get things done; B) that all your rhetoric over the past six years will be backed up with corresponding action; and C) that such conservative policies will actually, somehow, work. All of the experts on these matters, from economics to climate to foreign relations, of BOTH parties, jumped your ship, saying that Trump’s proposals were destined to failure. Now’s your chance to prove us wrong. There will be nothing in your way—no Senate to obstruct you, no Supreme Court to overturn. You can pass anything you want for the next two years. What will it be? Will it actually help American citizens? Will it “make America great”? We will be watching very closely to see if it works. We want conclusive results, and they’d better be here by the midterms.

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2 thoughts on “The Morning After

  1. > …it is high time to demand polls that have a sample size and corresponding margin of error
    > of less than 1%. Three and four percent is clearly no longer acceptable.

    Unfortunately, the way statistics works with random sampling, that becomes prohibitively expensive. For example, let’s take Ohio, with 5 million voters, and assume that both candidates are at around 50%. A random sample of 600 gets you a margin of error of 4%. To get the MOE down to 3%, you would need a random sample of 1067 — about 1.8 times as many. But to get the MOE down to 1%, you would need a random sample of 9590 voters — almost 16 times as many as a 4% MOE and 9 times as many as a 3% MOE.

    (Other than that, I think you make some very insightful points.)

    Liked by 1 person

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