Monday, November 7, 2016

Election Day tomorrow: here's a silver lining

When I stepped out of the shower, I paused for a moment. It's the day before Election Day, and I'm wondering if an apocalyptic fury is about to be unleashed on the earth through its appointed agent, Donald J. Trump.

Then I had a more positive thought.

There may be a silver lining here.

The non-Trump GOP is going to need some friends after this election. Regardless of the outcome, their party has basically been split in half. The group that includes fascists and racists and misogynists will pull a lever for Donald Trump. That is, Donald Trump, the Republican. But there is another faction too, all the Republicans who couldn't stomach him. Only some of them were willing to stand up to him, others were too cowardly to, but all of them share a strong dislike of everything that he stands for.

As it turns out, Trump supporters bear no resemblance to the establishment wing of the party so it's very uncomfortable that they all have to huddle under the same tent. How does a Republican party choose its identity over the next four years?

It is my belief that tomorrow the majority of voters will not choose Trump's direction for America. Nevertheless, the GOP is saddled with a strong faction within it still wishing to blow up the system as we know it. Others in the party must attempt to refashion a politics that can at least make a case for itself. Those people include the House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, senators John McCain, Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham and former GOP nominee Mitt Romney and all the Bushes. Whatever other issues the GOP has, and it has many issues, the first order of business will be the internal conflict about to commence once Trump has been dispatched. The general will be gone, but his army of voters will remain. That civil war will be vicious. All of the daggers will come out.

Establishment Republicans will need allies if they are to win, and if they are smart, they will seek some accommodation with Democrats where they can. They must rally towards the center and hope they find friends there.

In that sense, they couldn't have found a better president than Hillary Clinton. She is nothing if not centrist and the repeated assessment of her is that she is not only willing but also quite able to work across the aisle to get things done. This fact will give her the upper hand against such a weakened foe. [Of course, we can have a healthy debate whether the political center is where we need to be in this country right now.]

Whether the GOP chooses this route, and whether Clinton and the Democrats are willing to accept any olive branches, is yet to be seen. Our partisan past doesn't point to success in the near future. But if the GOP is going to exist at all, they will need a new way of talking to people about issues. Let's see what they do. Heck, we don't even know who the next president will be.

In the meantime, there is another reckoning coming due. It is the reckoning that we in the broader society must also engage in, about how we view each other and about our systems and about what impact technology is having on us. Here are three areas that need our attention that also offer the opportunity to make improvements, so I share them with you now:

  1. Gerrymandered districts: This political quagmire has proven just how destructive this division has been to us. As I posted in my recent blog about Hillary Clinton, the complete isolation of Democrats from Republicans and Republicans from Democrats means there are precious few opportunities to work together on issues. It's only when the voters demand it that the pols act on it. And the voters in single-party districts are demanding exactly the opposite - take no prisoners. Thankfully, this is actually an issue we can do something about, but as a political organizing problem it is a massive one.
  2. Facebook: In the same way that gerrymandered districts separate us, Facebook does too, allowing all our thoughts to be broadcast to a like-minded world. When there is no pushback on issues, it only confirms my belief in the accuracy of my observation. This is not a good thing. Group think is basically what Facebook is about, and people tend to know mostly like-minded people. The good news here is that (and I'm projecting here, based on nothing but my own hopes) Mark Zuckerberg might be convincible to address this issue. How? That's another matter that will need cooperation from a corporate media giant that everyone uses.
  3. Cable news networks: As the cheering section for various ideologies, cable news seems to play the same role only in a different way. I am less of an expert here, since I watch very little TV. I will let others address this issue. 

And that's it for my noise today. Tomorrow is Election Day and the fate of the republic is at hand. I do not say that lightly or with a hint of irony. So let me repeat it: The fate of the republic is at hand.

Therefore ... Remember to vote, and if you care for your country, vote for Hillary!