Wednesday, November 9, 2016

After the 2016 Election

Yesterday was election day and today, I'm immensely depressed. Songwriter that I am, I often find inspiration in loss -- and today, I'm inspired, therefore, I write.

The results of the "election" verify what we've suspected -- our country is deeply polarized. It's hard to imagine a more clear cut choice that Trump vs. Clinton. The results clearly delineate the two sides and it's very evenly divided -- the popular vote was roughly 50%-50% with Clinton slightly ahead.

By examining the exit polls:

If you are a white woman with a college degree, you voted for Clinton, 51% to 43%. If you are a white woman with no college degree, you voted for Trump, 62% to 34%.

If you are a white male with a college degree, you voted for Trump, 54% to 39%. If you are a white man with no college degree, you voted for Trump 72% to 23%.

ALL other groups sampled, women and men, college or no college, voted overwhelmingly for Ms. Clinton.

For the record, I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, and in the general election, I voted for Ms. Clinton. Clearly, I'm out of step with my peer group -- college educated white male.

I have voted for the progressive candidate in every election of my adult life. I would follow this path again without question and I just can't understand why this is not, by a large measure, the majority position.

So... here's the subject of my rumination: why have I been so consistently out of step with the majority in my peer group?

The first clue lies in the fact that I'm writing a blog, unlikely to be read by anyone (other than myself when I look back to see how clever I am), and equally as unlikely to sway anyone's opinion. I should be out forming my fantasy football team (whatever that entails), making business deals to fatten my investment portfolio, shootin' some animals, spittin' on the floor, swaggering. Pretty large clue.

Second clue -- I have chosen for a large percentage of my life to study, write and perform a music often associated with uneducated, white men. I have a particular distaste for mass marketed music of the past 20 years. Only a musician who has chosen this trail can appreciate how isolated is this route!

And third, I'm 68 years old, three grown children, five grand-kids, one on the way... and still seeking relevance. One of the stunning revelations of aging -- not that your body and mind can fail, that you get wrinkled and saggy. Yes that.... but the isolation you feel from your culture. I don't "get" new music; most modern movies seem trivial and uninteresting; great new literature is seemingly non-existent. And conversely, younger people don't get my lyrics or my music; if they read my blog entries, they lose interest after a few sentences (ironically, if this applies to you, you'll never read this sentence); they've never even heard of the people who have shaped my life, or the events that swept me up and dropped me where I stand now.

So... I can't understand how this election was not a clear choice for Hillary Clinton. How could this result possibly follow in a society to which I belong.

And there's the last clue to the source of my feeling of isolation -- that I continually expect reason to prevail. That superstition, bias and prejudice will recede. That people will make choices based upon enlightened self-interest, anticipated consequences of their actions, and willingness to accept delayed gratification. That critical thinking will displace knee-jerk reactions.

That's why I remain, as always -- 

Jim                                       vs.                            Jim's peer group

8 comments:

  1. Not to worry, Rufus. A few things will change; most won't. Two steps forward, one step back. The hokey-pokey of history...

    Good quote, about Trump's victory:

    The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.

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    1. I think back to how it must have felt in the 1948 election (as I recall, our common year of birth.) Dewey -- a well connected, well educated, sophisticated New Yorker; Truman -- an uneducated, blunt, hayseed from the suburbs of Kansas City. At this point, I feel somewhat fortunate that I won't have to long endure the consequences of whatever happens give my relatively advanced aged. But very sorry for the disruption that will occur from one party dominating every branch of government. I remain depressed, despite your attempted consolation.

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  2. I'm a white woman with a PhD and often feel out of step with peers because of that. I too am dumbfounded, enraged and despairing because of the outcome of the election. I think her being a woman led to a lot of people showing their internalized misogyny. That's why I'm grateful for people like you and for future generations. Perhaps they won't make our mistakes. Thanks for the read!

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    1. Thanks, Misty. We come a family that was poor in possessions, but always respectful of education and willing to work hard to make things better for their progeny. I'm still not ready to commit to any particular action -- I'm spinning and disoriented.

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  3. "I should be out forming my fantasy football team (whatever that entails), making business deals to fatten my investment portfolio, shootin' some animals, spittin' on the floor, swaggering."

    That is probably a part of your issue.
    Nothing in that post describes a lot of people like me.
    I got married when I was 16, worked as a farm laborer, and janitor at the Lawrence Tri-Theaters, warehouseman, and even worked for you (heh). I went down to Galveston eventually, and slept in my car on the beach until I got a job working push boats on the Mississippi on the Intercoastal. After a decade, I worked my way up to oceans captain. I parlayed that expertise into a Coast Guard Reserve program (8 year commitment), and used the GI Bill to go to college and get a computer science degree. I worked startups in Utah and Silicone Valley, and eventually, took out a second mortgage, took my son out of private school, and spent a year and a half writing some state of the art code (I won't bore you with details, but it runs medium and large IT shops around the globe). I sold the intellectual property when the venture capital group we were dealing with decided not to fund us (9-11 shakiness) to a privately held US/International corporation.
    Obama told me "You didn't build that". Yes, I did. And I gambled my life on it. I think that is the disconnect, along with open borders, and bad trade deals. I'm charitable, I don't kill animals (used to when I was a kid because my grandpa's family hunted for food), I could care less about men that play games with balls for a living, I don't spit on the floor, and my kid is going to the Berklee School of Music.

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    1. Jeff... I'm sure you realize my statement was sarcasm, not a real statement of philosophy. And, Obama did NOT say that... it was part of a point meaning that nothing in the USA is created in a vacuum and you relied heavily on government programs supported by tax dollars with the GI Bill, Coast Guard Reserve, the interstate highway you took to Galveston to sleep in your car. But you know this. My story is not much different that yours... and I, too, just can't be satisfied with what I feel is the SOMA that numbs us to the realities of the day.

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  4. Our reaction mostly depends on how we view the two candidates. (I’ll ignore the other ones for the moment.) You’ve outlined two views on them. Let me offer another view.

    Trump/Clinton is a diversion from the real issues. At some point, I noticed that there was very little, if any, discussion of the issues most people face: employment, health care costs, the future for their children and grandchildren and what kind of society we want to live in. Instead of actual discussion we had a circus show (no offense to any circus performers). The Democratic Party never addressed the concerns of people who lost their homes and jobs due to the machinations of Wall Street. The Republican Party hasn’t either, but Trump provided lip service to their issues. For some reason, friends that voted Trump think he will make big changes and bring back US manufacturing to this country. No, he won’t. In trying to build a base, starting with Barry Goldwater and really with Richard Nixon, the Republican Party has relied on racism and pitting black against white. Those chickens have come home to roost.

    The alternative is really spelled out in a fascinating book, “Anasazi America”. Can’t recommend this enough! David Stuart is an interesting archeologist who explains the fall of the Chacoan experiment to the present conditions. Living in the southwest, we are close to Chaco Canyon and the results of that experiment. The Puebloan communities of the southwest are the most successful of all time (at least in North America). Yes, they have been through thick and thin and some very bloody times. But, here is David Stuart’s conclusion of what they learned after the fall of Chaco:
    “The fundamental restructuring of their social, economic, and geographic concept of community fell into four categories: (1) a successful community is unified and relatively egalitarian, (2) a complex and diverse economy is more reliable than monocropping, (3) investment in infrastructure must focus on producing necessities and conserving the environment, and (4) long-term efficiency is more valuable to survival than short-term power is.”

    Want something to do? Let’s build this.

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    1. It sounds like this will be a book in my reading list.

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