Now that the heat of the election season has passed, it is possible to examine the heat itself. The election’s aftermath was a grand spectacle. Some convulsed in desperation and despair. Others surrendered to frenzied, twitter-fueled fits of rapture. In the midst of all this noise, a pattern arose.
In simplest terms: there is a 1:1 correspondence between what a person thought was America’s biggest problem before the election, and what that same person now believes was the root cause of the election’s result. Did you think that America’s most serious problem is that the Federal government is not built on the Scandinavian mold? Then was obviously if Sanders had been the nominee none of this would have happened! Were you more annoyed by Sanders attacks on the DNC and the integrity of its favorite candidate than anything else last season? Then obviously it was these very attacks which kept millennials out of the voting booth! Is America’s big problem racism? Then it was obviously uber-racism that brought Trump his victory! Long critic of American trade practices? Then it was Trump’s promises to the working class workers that brought him success. Is political corruption and the Beltway-insider game the thing that makes your blood boil? The obviously it was the nomination of a crook that made the GOP sweep secure. NeverTrumper? Then the real problem was liberal over-reach, and this kind of thing was going to happen no matter what.
I am not immune from this. Ask me what I thought about the Vox kids before election day.
Here is the interesting thing in all this: in November, 2016, America witnessed a potentially era-defining political transition. It was a huge shift in the distribution of power. It was also a shift that almost no one saw coming. Yet somehow, every single person’s reaction to the election (and I really mean every. single. one.) is to double down on whatever narrative and guiding beliefs they were committed to before it all went down, despite the inability of said narratives and beliefs to prepare them for the event. This election’s unexpected result is not opening minds. It is slamming them shut.
This makes sense in it’s own way. Power has been disrupted; those who can obtain a share of it now get to determine the narrative for the next few years or so. We are hard wired to avoid self-doubt in times of anger. Victory goes not to the strong, nor to the brave, nor to the carefully reasoned, but to the assiduously self assured. Power does not exist for the sake of reason; reason exists for the sake of power. Now is the time for the ambitious to seize it.
I suspect it will be many years before Americans will be able to look at the election of 2016 with a more open mind than they had going into it.