In one sentence Maureen Dowd of the New York Times explained why Hillary Clinton lost the election:
“Hillary should have spent less time collecting money on Wall Street and more time collecting votes in Wisconsin.”
I usually collect my thoughts and write a sort of essay in my blog posts but I could not wait to share that line. I had already written much the same, as had others I am sure.
So what else is new?
One thing is I am wondering if all the vulgarity and hate was necessary to elect Trump. To be fair I think I am correct in noting that much of it did not really come from Trump, at least not directly — and I am not defending him. I never would. But without going over videos and transcripts, my memory says a lot of things he suggested came to us by way of fragmented speech that could be interpreted in different ways or through innuendo. It’s like he knew how the redneck racists would take it and thought, great, just like a celebrity (like Trump himself) would say: any publicity is good publicity; any vote is a good vote.
Now I did hear Trump talk about a female Fox News interrogator essentially suffering from that time of the month (blood coming out of somewhere). The guy is super defensive, and he does not defend himself calmly in a mild manner. He goes on the attack. And members of the news media are always easy prey because for some strange reason much of the general public sees them as the enemy just as politicians who don’t want to answer hard or embarrassing questions do.
Before I began writing this post I intended to research to see if I could come up with the proper word for the methodology or device Trump used during the campaign of saying things in such a way as they could be interpreted by bigots as on their side but at the same time be interpreted by reasonable people as simple common sense.
Again, I have not gone over the videos or transcripts (and who among us does?) but in my memory Trump did not necessarily call all Mexicans coming over the border rapists but the manner in which he addressed the subject, his fractured syntax or incomplete sentence form of speech, it could have and indeed was interpreted that way. For sure he was saying that too many criminals slip in. Likewise I don’t think he condemned all Muslims. But he definitely did say that in light of the problem of so-called Islamic fundamentalist terrorists we have to take extra measures in assuring they don’t slip into the U.S., so with that in mind we might have to put heavy restrictions (a temporary ban?) on people coming from the area of the world where the terrorists generally come from (not counting the home grown-indoctrinated ones). And that should seem common sense to anyone. But of course Trump did not mind if that was interpreted as ban all Muslims (any vote is a good vote).
I think I will end this here, except to say that I continue to be hopeful that rather than a complete political disaster, we may be headed in a new direction where populism takes the forefront. The loyal opposition will need to regroup and step up to the plate and do its duty to keep check on things, lest we fall into some kind of right-wing, socially intolerant dictatorship.
Okay, I have not stopped yet. One thing that gives me pause is that climate change deniers may now be in power. I am always curious about how so many people think they know more than the scientists. I know not all science is in agreement on climate change, except as far as I know there is at least a general consensus in the scientific community that man’s pollution of the atmosphere is at least partly responsible for the phenomenon. And these climate change deniers I think are the same ones who object to most all EPA regulations. What is wrong with clean air and water? I ask.
And another thing, although I hate the term “media” for journalism, I think media or journalism needs to go back to the basics and read that old text I and my father (a far better journalist than I, especially in his command of the English language) read. I won’t cite the name of it both because I am not sure what it was, and I think the title was a little misleading. But the point is that it taught that journalists should stick to facts (as they are known) and be fair to both sides. Of course editorial or opinion writing is different from straight news (but even opinion pieces should be intellectually honest, I would say). But today, it is all mixed together and the media has changed from print newspapers (with some radio bulletins) to broadcast to online to social media.
Social media is great. Trump says it allowed him to answer directly accusations in the press and go over the heads of the mainstream media. Well that is good and bad for the public. The good side is you hear it from the horse’s mouth, the bad side is you don’t have the press doing its job to keep the candidate honest.
Finally, I never took a class in critical thinking, but I did get a liberal arts type college degree and in the process was exposed to many ways of thinking and viewpoints and to art and literature, as well as a smattering of science (not a whole lot of hard science I confess — math and science not my best subjects), and in the process developed critical thinking skills. However I also think I already had much of it because of the influence of my parents and even of grade school and high school teachers.
But critical thinking often seems in short supply in this country.
On the other hand, maybe a large percentage of the voters decided to be critical of the status quo.
I am hoping, as most are, for the best.
More on social media and the internet: You really cannot depend upon everything on the internet and social media for your news and the interpretation of it, including my blogs of course. There is a purpose for mainstream media. Supposedly it is a gatekeeper and fact checker. I mean people make claims or accusations on all manner of things but that does not make it true. But how do you know? Hopefully there are professionals who keep track and who have the time to check things out. And if you use a variety of sources not just the ones who seem to agree with you, you just might come up with a more accurate picture and might even occasionally find yourself changing your mind. However, it seems in light of the just-past election much of the public is wondering how the professionals missed so many signals. Actually I think there was a lot of good reporting that indicated Trump had a good chance to win. But the polls were sure off. Most of the professional pollsters are going to have to re-work their methodology I guess.
Totally unrelated and I did not read this before I originally published this post, but I just wanted to suggest this article for reading: