One Day More: The Ground

Washington DC (Low aerial), © 2016 Susan Barsy

We set back our clocks, adding an extra hour to an already interminable election cycle, suspending for just a few more minutes the climactic process that will end tomorrow.  At last, there will be an end to a certain kind of theorizing.  Election Day will produce a snapshot of national sentiment.  A new political adventure will begin.

The presidential race has generated abundant evidence pointing to the topsy-turvy condition of the country, its leadership and parties.  On the PBS NewsHour, Mark Shields noted the strange inversion that’s occurring: whereas ordinary blue-collar Americans used to tip the scale Democratic in national elections, the Democratic Party has become the ‘upscale’ party, while blue-collar America is flocking to Trump.  David Brooks noted that the nation was already divided at the outset, but that those divisions have become more calcified in the campaign.  He went so far as to say that ‘people are just going with their gene pool,‘ an unfortunate measure of how ‘identity politics’ and a growing reliance on demographic categories (common in the social sciences) are encouraging evenly highly intelligent people to adopt an essentialized and racist view of American voters.

Peggy Noonan, writing in the Wall Street Journal, captured the incipient re-alignment that appears to be happening.  She argues eloquently that the people Trump represents are not a ‘wing’ of the Republican Party, but a huge constituency that has broken off from the Republican Party already.  The Republican Party was living on borrowed time even before Trump came along, with events of the past fifteen years rupturing the identity of belief that used to unite the party’s base with its leaders.  The party will either have to reunite around a new constellation of ideas or end up in pieces.  Meanwhile, the Democracy, formerly the party of change, is now the party of cozy continuity.  While Sanders’ challenge to Clinton should have been a wake-up call to the party, it’s difficult to imagine its ideology changing much under a Clinton presidency.

Whether Trump wins or not, his candidacy has established that voters who want to stick it to the establishment and ‘the system’ are nearly a national majority.  As my husband put it, a ‘Republican revolution’ is happening.  Whatever Trump’s personal destiny, his views on trade, immigration, terrorism, and the need to push back against an overreaching government will likely be taken up and refined—in fact, if Politico is to be believed, they already are.  Ideologues who have the patience to tune ideas to the times should be listening to the electorate, which is clamoring for a form of small-state protectionism that neither the Republican nor the Democratic party currently affords.

Image: Aerial of Washington DC in November
by Susan Barsy

3 responses

  1. Susan – your commentary is the ONLY commentary I can read-truthful and to the point and skillfully written. I am so done. Thank goodness for Netflix!

    • Thank you, Michele–That is such high praise! Your reading and writing in over the years has meant a great deal to me. My views are unconventional–I hope that some of the nation’s underlying divisions and sufferings can be addressed, perhaps by people of faith and good will, if not by a change in government.

      (I too have vegged out a lot during this election season.)

      Thank you again!

  2. Indeed, AT LAST, one more day! Whew and whew again, what a long slog it has been for the electorate. . . . It has been an extraordinarily divisive and horrid campaign season. By his sheer meanness and Stalin-like talk, Trump has successfully divided the country. The millions and millions of people who will vote / have voted for him can be labeled as being just like him and tolerant of his horrid views. I never thought there were sooooo many folks like that in America; I have always believed that the vast majority of “us” were good and and would not accept evil. . . .I think if Clinton didn’t have the enormous baggage that she does (her totally unethical behavior on the e-mails issue plus the foundation issue) perhaps she would be coasting to an easy victory. I now think her to be a grafter and cheater-UGH! Too bad. . . . Anyway, thanks for all your wonderfully written and thoughtful posts.