AmerExit or Stay the Course?

We are on the doorstep of an American presidential election result that will either be the most disruptive since 2000 (see my colleague Dick’s post today) or a decision to stay the course with a moderate, compassionate, fact-based White House administration. Are we headed toward a Brexit-type repudiation of the political establishment as we saw in the U.K. or will the citizens endorse the current course set out by President Obama? What will happen with the Congress seems uncertain after a brief recent trend suggesting the Democrats would win back the US Senate. Should the Republicans gain full control of the executive and legislative branches, reinforcing their capacity to shift the judicial branch far rightward, then we will have a situation that would alter life in these states through policy changes at the federal level. The states, of course, would continue to run their own business, reflecting D or R politics coast to coast. But federal governing would be a rogue affair compared to mainstream American thinking by the data, not the count that comes via gerrymandered congressional districts or voting processes spoiled by systematic suppression techniques in red states.

The national Democrats seem to be fighting to achieve a status-quo standoff rather than any kind of mandate or game-changing outcome. For his part, Trump would have done better after his hostile takeover of the Republican preliminary voting operation to go through the motions at the nominating convention and then ignore the party machinery and its machinists, blasting away at both sides of the government establishment. Go right to his crowd, and forget U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was never really for Trump. The Donald is there now, on his own in the final campaign appearances, as he says, no Bruce Springsteen, no Lebron James on stage with him. Just him and that damn hat, vowing to Make America Great Again. He is going to get a pile of votes from people who will think and feel the same on Wednesday, whether he wins or not. Hillary looked strong and steady in the final days, but one suspects that underneath is a patched up Humpty Dumpty eggshell of psyche and pride. She took a beating all year. The enormity of a woman being chosen for the presidency has almost been lost in the flak and smoke of the bombardment that came from her rivals and enemies—and the just plain haters. The Trump explosions on the other hand were from his own political suicide vest. He made it easy for Hillary. She just had to replay the taped sound and fury.

Somebody who does social analysis every day will have to write a book that explains how the US can be so maddeningly split in its politics. To me, the facts are obvious and the phonies are easy to spot. It doesn’t seem like the whole bunch of us are looking at the same picture, and if we are then the lenses in my glasses function in a very different way. And that political split I’m referring to isn’t limited to Kansas. I’ve seen some big Trump signs in Dracut.

Newspapers and printed magazines are supposed to be on their way out, but the electorate was fortunate to have the NY Times, Washington Post, Atlantic and New York magazines, Rolling Stone and Mother Jones political departments, and other publications from the ink-era doing serious reporting on this campaign. The electronic broadcast media personnel, TV and radio, with few exceptions (Rachel Maddow) were abysmal in their coverage of this presidential election, giving us day after night of horse-race manure, chatty and clubby commentary, and wafer-thin critiques. Even NPR journalism was weak, serving up the same old opinion-givers (Cokie Roberts). I didn’t listen to the screamers on talk radio or spinners on Fox Rots. After the nominees were set mid-summer I mostly tuned out of broadcast media. The web was another matter. My Facebook feed was the freeway of information, pushing out mainstream content and stuff coming in through the sides. There were thousands of people at the nearly infinite anchor desk, from old first-grade classmates loading in Trump rounds to progressive allies around the country sharing Bernie blasts or later HRC bulletins. I looked at all of it to get a rounded sense of what people were thinking. The beauty is that I could read the material and think it over rather than have a talking head telling it to me. There were even some good web-generated long-form pieces from places like Politico.

I expect the loudspeakers on the telephones poles here on Highland Street to be playing Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man [and Woman]” when Rosemary and I cross the street to vote at the Rogers School tomorrow morning. What a country. Let’s hope it turns out well.