It is not midnight in America

But it certainly is not dawn.

That said, the next few days, weeks, months, there will be a lot political pundits jawing quite a bit:

  • “How did we get the polling so wrong?”
  • “What does this mean for the country?”
  • “This is unprecedented power…”

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. They may come up with some facts; they will likely intersperse it neatly with too much fiction, but it is probably best to understand some things in advance of that.

Hard Fact #1: This was not surprising
Before the election, there were warnings on the lead up. First, would be how well Trump did in the primaries and how much back-and-forth there was between Clinton and Sanders. Second, I would direct your attention to this:

“The United States is a place divided by race, class, and education. The 2016 election has divided us further… Much of the divide lies in the fact that the front row [the college-educated] is doing much better than the back row…they earn about a fifth less than than they did 35 years ago, the front row now earns more.

But the rift between Americans goes deeper than that.”

Go read, in its entirety, “American elites need to stop mocking Trump fans and start listening to them” by Chris Arnade, published on October 27th.

The truth is that this is a backlash (some people are calling it a white-lash, but I don’t ascribe to that level of simplification) in that some parts of this country have been doing well for years and some have not. Eventually, one would expect that this sort of have and have-nots divide would create some consolidated response.

If you look at the exit polls on a state by state basis, you will see the following trend which was present in 2008, but it’s outrageous by now! What’s that?

Major cities and their close-knit suburbs go BlueEverybody else goes Red.

In this election, all but a handful of major cities — and some of the same people that refer to most of this country as “flyover country” would question if a place like Charleston, WV is considered major! — went Blue. That means places like:

  • New Orleans, LA (State Result: 58.1 T / 38.4% C)
  • Birmingham, AL (State Result: 62.9% T / 34.6% C)
  • Jackson, MS (State Result: 58.3% T / 39.8% C)
  • Louisville, KY (State Result: 62.5% T / 32.7% C)

There are more, tons more, take a detailed look at Texas if you can…but before it used to be “coastal elites” versus everyone else, and it’s not that any more. It’s city elites rubbing up against everyone else and this election made that difference starkly plain.

Hard Fact #2: Really, it was not surprising
But, we should all be students of history, and now, even students of what is happening in the rest of the world. When and why did National Socialism start? What gives platform to authoritarianism and space for it to flourish? Always, always, always when there are great divides, there is economic woe, where there is desperate ground.

Look at Poland. Look at Brexit. Germany and France are up next. Italy is having its own charge. Look at Greece and Syriza. There is something in the water, folks, and it’s natavism, nationalism, and populism. There is this call to arms to “take back” what people feel has been stolen, and it’s less about a sense of present doom and more about a dread about future loss of hope.

If you have nothing to lose, if you have no way out, well, then what? You might as well flock to the person that against all odds is saying: “Follow me! I know the way out! I’ll help you win…just like you deserve.”

Real Talk: What next?
Not panic. Not mass exodus to Canada. Not secession. Not civil war.

No, the first thing to do…is to just get on with it. The orderly transfer of power, even when it feels distasteful, is the mark of civil society, and the best thing that anyone who feels that they were wronged in this election can do is accept it.

It sounds strange, but hunkering down in one’s corner of pride, of ego, of defensiveness and raising those boundaries of us versus them is the way to keep this destructive cycle going. There are many who don’t want to hear this but we the People means everyoneWe elected the most American president of all: one who is lots of soundbites and media-flash and bang; one who also appeals to the many, many people who have felt left-behind in this new world — Trump is exactly who and what he is and no one can disagree with that, like it or not.

So, get on with it. Stop building towers to sit on high from and condescend; descend and build bridges. Find out why in 2016 so many Americans feel that they have been put in desperate ground and this was their only way out. Look in the mirror, look inside, and try to find the empathy that will help rebuild the Union before it becomes irrevocably severed.

No one said it would be easy and the work never stops. Get back to work and figure out the way to make every part of this country feel like this is their country.

 

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