The Lessons I Learned On November 8th
It is hard to admit you were wrong about things that you are passionate about. In this election, we are coming off eight years of progress. This progress seemed secure. As we entered election day it seemed that the progress made over the past eight years would continue, but now we know it will not. I am imagining that 2017 will include the repeal of Obamacare, the repeal of Dodd-Frank, tax cuts for the wealthy, reactionary Supreme Justices, and the repercussions of a candidate running and winning on an anti-immigrant and nativist platform. I can see that because you must take people at their word during elections. Not only does Trump now have an election to stand behind, he also has a congress that is in his control. All of this is a shock to me and very scary. Acknowledging my shock and fear makes having lessons learned even more. Here are some lessons I have learned from this election:
It is not a horse race
Throughout the past year I have wasted a lot of time following polls and projections about the election. I got tied up in the horse race; the election became like watching a long basketball game. These prediction sites, FiveThirtyEight and The Upshot, became the sites I visited the most each day. I even listened to FiveThirtyEight’s podcast every time it was on. Because I got tied up in these horse race numbers, I was more confident than I should have been about the result. What I learned is that the horse race adds nothing to my life, except obsession. Even though I am a very skeptical person, but numbers can still overtake me when they lead to the answer I want. My commitment now is to stop reading these sites or listen to their podcasts. Not because they were wrong, they were technically right, but because they add nothing of use to my life.
Continue the fight with passion
Stephen Colbert had a wonderful and sincere monologue the night of the election. He is obviously disappointed in the outcome of the election but goes on to try and move us beyond the fighting of this election. He does make one argument that I have thought about a lot the past two days, do I think about politics too much? He says that decades ago that people only thought about politics every four years. In his mind, today we think about elections far too much, and that is one reason for our divided country. I have decided that I disagree with this premise. Because as I have seen in many places, elections matter, when a candidate campaign on particular policies, they try to pass those policies if they win. Also, some issues are paramount to me that can only address with my constant passion and work. This election proves that we must continue fighting or the most important things we care about are in immediate danger.
The Presidency is not the only office
As we look at the results from election night, we must look beyond the presidency. The Democrats hold no real power in Congress and have even less power around the country at the state level. Real change can happen at the state level well beyond what can occur at the federal level. I am committed to following the rest of the political process much more closely. It is more difficult because it is not covered as heavily, but my governor and state legislature have as big of an effect on my life as any positions in government.
Expand my world
I live in a bubble. A very progressive and liberal bubble. Because of this, I have no idea why someone would vote for Trump. Do I know a Trump voter? Kind of, in the same way, a Facebook friend is a friend. This makes me quite closed off from a large group of the American public. My goal in the coming weeks is to talk to some Trump voters and see why they voted that way. I am not sure my rational mind will ever understand it, but I want to try. Also, to expand my world I have got to focus on reading the news and not depending on Facebook to fill my mind up with what it thinks I need. I will expand my world to include people who voted in a way that makes no sense to me.
These are my lessons learned. I tend to be self-reflective. Lessons like this are important to help prepare me for 2020 election and the presidency of Mike Pence.