Cheap Seats 2016
Curing Your Election Hangover - 11/09
By Rich Trzupek
Hey happy and/or marginally suicidal readers of the future. For me, it’s Sunday night, November 6, 2016. Depending on how you receive the Mighty Examiner, the election is going down today (electronic Examiner patrons) or the great news/national disaster has already occurred (newsprint Examiner fans).
As a result of this election, we confidently expect that 40 percent of the United States populace will be looking for a new place to live. I’ll be so bold as to suggest the disaffected 130 million settle across the border in Mexico.
There a few reasons to choose Mexico. A) The only other nation within walking distance is Canada, and who wants to live in Canada – with Canadians?! B) With all the illegal immigration into the US that’s occurred, there’s got to be plenty of room. C) It’s a great opportunity to learn a second language. And, D) Mexican food!!!
Personally, I’m going to stick around and see how it all plays out, whatever the result, because I’m kinda partial to my country – even when it screws up – and my fellow country men and women.
We’re really pretty good people, the majority of us. That includes people who usually agree with me politically and those who mostly don’t. There was a time when that was the default setting for most (not all) Americans. We’d dump on the opposition party and its candidates, but its supporters? Political differences provided more material for poking fun at your neighbor, not for condemning and insulting them.
It was like: “Of course Joe bought a new Cadillac, Republicans can hardly been seen driving a Chevy!” Or: “Of course Louise loves zombie movies, all Democrats think they’re party rallies!” It was, for the most part, all in good fun.
That started to take an ugly turn with the birth of the modern communication age. Back before the birth of the interwebs and I-phones and tweets and toots and whatever other god-awful we have developed to anonymously express our random thoughts to complete strangers, there were some natural filters built into the communication system.
Back in the good ole fifties, for example, you were free to believe that communism and/or socialism were superior forms of government, or that fluorinating water was a horrible thing, but it would be difficult for you to explain why unless: A) you had a degree that made you an expert in the appropriate field, B) you were a self-taught expert in the field, or C) you cited an expert in the field whom agreed with you.
Most of the time, back in the day, people who chose to support a fringe cause chose “C”. That was fine, but a more-or-less unbiased media generally filtered out the fringe experts, or, if they chose to site them, make it clear that they were fringe experts.
Times have changed. Today, you can find an “expert” opinion to cite for almost any hare-brained idea you would like to support. There’s no need to dig into the facts to form an opinion any longer. Form your opinion and, should somebody contest it, go to your favorite search engine to find all the “facts” and “experts” you could possibly hope for to support whatever your opinion may be.
Thus we have, as just one example, people taking the ridiculous, scientifically unsupportable and barbaric decision not to inoculate their children against childhood diseases. But, there is no dissuading them. They’ll cite “expert A”, who turns out only to be an “expert” because he or she read something that “expert B” wrote, who was just regurgitating what “expert C” wrote, etc. Nobody has the time or the patience to track back down the whole rotten trail to find “expert Z” who started the whole bloody mess and who is usually an overweight, unemployed journeyman pipefitter blogging out of his mother’s basement while he‘s waiting for Mario Cart to reload.
We all know that the system is broken, but too few of us acknowledge that the system includes us. While we’re raging back and forth at each other, there are legions of very, very clever political professionals who are very well paid by both major parties lurking in the shadows during each election cycle who know that tapping into that rage is the surest way of getting their guy or gal elected, because – now more than ever – we don’t march to the polls to get our candidate elected, we vote to ensure their candidate doesn’t get elected. In that toxic environment, if the pros can’t sufficiently demonize the opposition, too many of their potential voters are going to stay home.
So, do you want to make a real difference fellow voter? Stop voting against and start voting for. And, if the party you might like to support refuses to change its ways, stay home. The law does not require you to vote and you surely shouldn’t feel an obligation to vote if you know you’re being manipulated. The real lesson of this election is not about the candidates, it’s about us. If we can’t stop pandering to the lowest common denominator, as both sides have during this election, we’ll eventually be left with the poorest leaders – and we’ll only have ourselves to blame.