Someone suggested I write a reflection on this week’s election. I quickly responded with a “No, definitely not.” Later, I decided to try it. I’m hardly a pundit, but I looked up “pundit” in Merriam-Webster on-line and saw that “wise” was part of its Hindu origins; “expertise in a field” came along later, presumably from the English-speaking world. Very few of our so-called pundits actually have both expertise and wisdom, and some seem to have neither, so it seems I will fit right in, at least in the latter group.
On election night, we went to a “victory party” for three candidates, one of whom lost soundly; the fates of the other two are still up in the air, but both are gaining in the vote count. Until now I’ve only seen these parties on TV. You know, the ones where everyone cheers loudly, regardless of how their candidate is doing, as soon as they sense that a television camera is running. The only people I knew at the party, besides one of the candidates, were two newspaper reporters. So much for being part of the in-crowd. We left early.
Here’s my summary of the post-election reports. This was a vote for Republicans. This was not a vote for Republicans. Eliminating the deficit is our priority. No, it’s spending more to create jobs. It’s continuing the tax cuts. It’s repealing the health care law. It’s a strike against gay marriage. It’s getting John Boehner out of the tanning booth.
Time magazine asked in late February in its health and science section, “Are Liberals Smarter Than Conservatives?” They point to evidence that supports this claim and also to claims that conservative males “may be physically stronger.” The males in the study also “were the most likely to feel entitled [underline is mine] to good treatment, anger easily, view themselves as successful in winning conflicts and believe in physical force as a tool for resolving interpersonal and international conflicts.”
Voters’ feelings of entitlement is what elections often seem to express. “I work hard and therefore I deserve ________, but I shouldn’t have to pay taxes for it. My priorities are more important than the priorities of ________ . ” Take Tuesday’s outcome in Washington, in which voters chose not to pay extra taxes on candy, sodas and bottled water, even though these taxes were critical to keeping the state running. Aren’t schools, which are largely funded by the state, worth spending part of a cent more for a can of Coke or a Snickers bar? Apparently not.
My therapy on the day following the election was to watch “The Daily Show“and the “Colbert Report.” In his interview of a Fox News reporter, Jon Stewart demonstrated his willingness to act according to his avowed principle of bringing back civility to our political conversations. He manages to keep some emotional distance while still being engaged. Colbert had presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin as a guest. She gave a calming analysis that helped put this week’s election results in a historical context, as did Donald Ritchie, the Senate historian when he spoke on NPR earlier in the day.
What will I do? I’m not sure. I’d like to continue the thought expressed in one of today’s letters to the editor, in which the writer asks The Seattle Times opinion writers to spend some time in Olympia studying the budget they want so badly to cut, deciding exactly what should be cut and then letting us know the implications of each decision they make. But more than likely, over the next few months I’ll just sit around with my friends and grumble. Grumbling is still a more positive and uplifting activity than writing some of the horrid political postcards that came in my mail this year or creating many of the ads for television. And it’s a social activity.