Election Observations

As luck would have it, I was traveling on Election Day, which suited me rather well. My political instincts are not good, and the charm of both parties’ major presidential candidates had eluded me, to say the least.

Since then, I have read up a bit on the national results. What strikes me is how completely Americans seem to have segregated themselves into like-minded communities.

Some examples:

–The District of Columbia voted 93 percent for Hillary Clinton and 4 percent for Donald Trump, a remarkable 89 percentage point differential.

–Tennessee favored Trump 65 percent over Clinton, who won 35 percent of the vote, mostly in Memphis and Nashville.

–California voted 62 percent Clinton, and 31 percent Trump, but there were splits within the state. The coastal areas favored the Democrat, and virtually every county north of Los Angeles and east of Interstate 5 (except Yolo County, which includes Sacramento and UC Davis) went Republican.

–Another western state, Idaho, favored Trump, 59 percent to 29 percent. Clinton carried only two counties — one that is that home to the University of Idaho and a smaller one that encompasses the Sun Valley ski resorts.

It is entirely possible in any of these states, or at least parts of them, that voters never encountered any people who had a different point of view than their own. This may explain the name-calling that preceded the election and the protests that followed it.

It’s easier to demonize people you’ve never met, I guess. Big as the country is, it feels at the moment like a bunch of walled enclaves.

 

Ballot Measure Update

I wrote last week about a ballot initiative in Santa Monica, Calif., that would have required a public vote to approve every new proposal for a building taller than two stories.This was seen as a prelude to similar micromanagement efforts in greater Los Angeles and was opposed broadly. It gathered only 44 percent of the vote, which seems like a sign of sanity.

4 thoughts on “Election Observations

  1. For the most part, people have always surrounded themselves with others they share an interest, a lifestyle, a passion, whatever. I don’t think the educated, interested. open-minded. rational, or good people refuse to listen to other sides. They do listen, they just tend to share the same thoughts, ideas, goals, whatever and will go with which ever candidate seems most in keeping with their value systems.

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  2. After discussing this article with a younger, more involved person, I am understanding more of what you mean. In my work environment, not my neighborhood or my social circle, (as all as it is) I was always amazed to realize how many people did not agree with my thoughts on life, politics, and culture….and these were people I thought were intelligent beings. Still I did listen to them, and I would like to think they listened to me , and I did change my opinion on a few issues after looking at it from another view point. However, if I didn’t ever leave my neighborhood, I would probably never interact with a person from “the other side”. In larger urban areas with bigger and more clearly defined neighborhoods , or smaller towns with less diversity, this probably doesn’t happen. You definitely cannot depend on the media to give you what you can get from rational and honest conversations and interactions with others to learn about differing views.

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    1. Your comments are illustrative. Thank you for sharing your experience. We all should aim, as you have, to listen to other people’s points of view.

      Listening is difficult, and most of us (not least I) need to work constantly to pay attention to what other people are saying.

      What strikes me is that states and — even more — counties and cities and city blocks are filled with people who locate among groups who congratulate each other for sharing the same views and, perhaps worse, for objectifying and hating those who disagree. I fear we are so politicizing normal life that we fear the “other” — the African American, the Muslim, the feminist, the evangelical — and mistrust every outsider.

      America only works if we remember that all our non-native ancestors came here as outsiders and that we all have a stake in the health of the larger national project. This last election campaign was a dismal vulgarity of name-calling, and I hope we never have another such, at least within my lifetime.

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      1. I agree. I agree most definitely that the vulgarity of name-calling and constant reminder of ” horrible, terrible” unimportant events to distract us from the important ideas and issues involved need to never happen again. As an adult, and I like to think a reasonably intelligent and caring one, I was sick to my stomach by the disrespect and evil spewed during this election. (just wish I could speak as eloquently as you do about this!!)

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