Wissot: Election Night blues
A funny thing happened on the way to a blowout Democrat victory on election night: It didn’t happen. I waited for four years for Trump to be repudiated by the electorate. I waited in vain.
The expected blue wave that pundits like James Carville had promised would put Joe Biden in the White House and return the Senate to Democratic control by 10 o’clock never materialized.
By the time you read this online Friday night or in the paper Saturday morning, you may know more than I do now.
The big takeaway for me is that not all that much has changed from 2016 when Hillary Clinton lost to Trump. The race has come down to the same three states, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, that she narrowly lost. The vote count in those states is close again and once more will likely determine who wins this election.
For four years I believed that Trump really didn’t win the presidency as much as Clinton lost it.
I blamed Hillary more than I gave credit to Trump. But now Joe Biden’s favorables improved upon Clinton’s unfavorables and he ran a much more effective campaign. Yet he did only marginally better.
What I failed to appreciate until Tuesday night’s results is the degree of popularity Trump enjoys with a disparate bloc of the electorate composed largely of MAGA-hat-wearing “forever Trumpers,” middle-class workers worried about the fate of their 401Ks, hedge fund managers preoccupied with their tax brackets, gun rights activists as opposed to gun control as evangelicals are to abortion, pseudo patriots obsessed with illegal immigration, and white nationalists looking for any opportunity to instigate a race war.
I mistakenly thought an economy in shambles and a pandemic which has claimed north of 230,000 lives would certainly doom the reelection prospects of an incumbent president, and so did many of the pollsters. I was wrong and they were wrong.
Underestimate the political power of Donald Trump at your own peril. It is clear to me now that a significant percentage of the voting public didn’t believe he mismanaged the pandemic and still have confidence in him to resurrect the economy. Before the election, I couldn’t imagine that to be true. My bad. I apparently have a severely limited imagination.
So where does this leave us all on both sides of the gnawing political divide? Right where we have been for the past four years: completely misunderstanding each other and having diametrically opposed perceptions of what Donald Trump has done to and for this country.
If you think it is crazy for two people to look at the same person and have one think he is wonderful and the other horrible, then welcome to crazy.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Dan Hansen of Edwards for helping me write this column. I don’t know Hansen but I read his letter in Sunday’s Vail Daily, titled “How we see President Trump differently.”
In his excellent letter, Hansen clearly illustrates how Donald Trump is capable like no other politician of causing people who are for and against him to ask the question: Are we looking at and talking about the same person?
Space constraints dictate that I share with you only a few of Hansen’s examples of how people see Trump differently. Addressing his “Democrat friends” he writes, “You see Trump’s arrogance, I see Trump’s confidence,” “you see Trump as a dictator, I see Trump as a leader,” “you see Trump as an authoritarian, I see Trump as the only one willing to fight for our American freedoms.”
I read those contrasts and all I could think was I certainly am in agreement with Hansen’s Democrat friends and in total disagreement with him on Donald Trump’s virtues, as he sees them.
It’s clear to me that the dueling perceptions of Trump that exist now are not going to go away or get resolved should he manage to get reelected. I will be very depressed should that happen but I pledge to do what I have done for the past four years: respect the fact that in a democracy you get to vote for the candidate of your choice but who you choose may not be the choice of a majority of the electorate.
Be that as it may, the person chosen is my president. There are no if, ands or buts about it. The fact that I didn’t vote for him and am unhappy he was elected is irrelevant. In an election, as in life, you always don’t get what you want.
Will the Trump supporters reading this, who I am sure detest Joe Biden every bit as much as I despise Donald Trump, pledge to do the same should Biden be elected president?
I certainly hope so.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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