The Meaning of 2016

Iʻve ranted in the past about how Hawaiʻi voters voted away their own right to choose the members of the Board of Education. The 2016 Presidential election may be the same process, but increased by many orders of magnitude. Trump may not turn out to be a fascist – he could be too busy with the 3500 lawsuits he is involved in, or focused on his 50 businesses, which he will somehow continue to run while governing the most powerful country on Earth. But the warnings have been issued. There have been enough caricatures of Trump in Nazi garb so that anyone paying attention would at least have come across the idea. So the 2016 vote may indeed be one in which voters – proudly, I would add – voted away their own freedoms.

It’s a fact that we often neglect that corporations are, in fact, dictatorships. Thatʻs so much a given that itʻs become invisible. But the US has now handed its reigns to someone who has only known that paradigm.

The term “non-college educated” was repeatedly used on election night to describe Trump’s base, and these are the same voters for whom a hatred of Obama has been simmering for eight years. It was easy to dismiss these people, with their crazy ideas and support of Sarah Palin, but we – the “club members,” the college educated – have done so at our own peril. We have failed to fight hard enough for an education system that would reduce bigotry. When we say we are interested in education, we mainly have meant our own educations, and that of our children. This is evidenced by the flight to private and charter schools and by tacit support of “school choice.”True, there are many exceptions to this, and it was, and would have been a hard fight. Ed reform has focused so tightly on math and English, it’s led to some neglect of the social science/social studies and humanities fields that could promote empathy.

On an abstract lèvel, this is what weʻve been lacking. There has been a tendency to blame people for things they cannot help – citizenship on the right, lack of education on the left.

Later, reports began to come in that the vote fell not so much along educational lines, but along racial lines. In other words, educated white males had voted for Trump as well. This was not as counter-intuitive as it might seem. Many who go through college study business or “practical,” skill-oriented fields and they, like their non-club counterparts, do not really pick up the social science/humanities orientation – think of conservative fraternities in liberal colleges.

Hit the books - specifically those that build empathy

Hit the books – specifically those that build empathy

One thing that last eight years has perhaps made us forget is that it has always been very difficult for the Democrats to assemble a winning coalition. As the electoral votes began to run out on election night, and California, Oregon and Washington were done being counted for Clinton, it occurred to me how few pockets of left-wing sentiment there are in America. It was a sea of red after that.

Calls were already coming out for Progressive organizing before the election. My sense is that whatʻs needed is Progressive education in empathy.

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