I figured “and now we mourn” was a fitting title to follow my last entry, “and now we wait.” I am truly emotionally devastated by the election results. I am still struggling to decide what I am thinking of as the “ratio of my devastation,” meaning, how much of my devastation is because I am saddened by the outcome, and how much is because it was not at all what I expected. I think it’s about half and half, but both are quite upsetting to me. If you know me, you know that the unpredictable makes me uncomfortable and I strive to understand the world and wish it were fair, and I am shaken when the fundamental understanding of things comes into question. The latter seems to come with unpredictable responses from me (which is unsettling). I am often really excited when what we thought was true isn’t, but apparently in some cases, this terrifies me. I am clearly a mixed bag.
The results of the 2012 election were very comforting to me. The polling data showed an Obama lead, although narrower than it was, and Obama won. The folks on Fox News and other right-leaning outlets continuously said that the polls were wrong and that Obama was going to lose and lose big. The polls were missing key portions of voter intent and the science behind them was flawed. In the end, the polls were right in their direction, although flawed in their magnitude. This was comforting to me, and fits nicely with my worldview that we should draw conclusions and make decisions with our heads, not our guts. Our guts are misleading, and if we relied on so-called “common sense” we’d all think the world is flat and that the sun revolves around the earth, because that is what we experience on a daily basis. The 2012 election was comforting for somebody with that worldview. The “head” side made it clear that Obama was leading, and the argument people were making for Romney was that they saw a lot of support for Romney and their guts were saying he was going to win.
The 2016 election feels like the vindication of the gut. The vast majority of polling data pointed to a clear Clinton win, with a floor of electoral votes that Trump simply couldn’t tap into. States like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin were going to be impossible for him to win, and he couldn’t win the election without them. The polling showed clear leads in those states, many outside the margin of error, but folks on the right were saying that Trump was popular there, using the number of people at his rallies and the lawn signs they saw as “evidence.” This seemed as silly to me as the people who said that they had a “gut feeling” that Romney was going to win. But the outcome was in line with the gut this time, and, as I wrote in my last entry, that makes me uncomfortable, just as I predicted it would in the last entry.
So now we mourn. We mourn the chance to elect the first woman president of the United States. We mourn because it now seems easy to sway an electorate with misinformation. We mourn because our foundation is rocked. We mourn because pessimism won over optimism. Because the glass half empty view beat the glass half full view (even though the glass is far more than half full).
We mourn for many reasons, but I am not an optimist because of my surroundings. I am an optimist because that’s who I am as a person. I remain optimistic that Trump will not be as horrific as he acted in the campaign, and many signs point to that. I remain optimistic that he will move the GOP toward things that I think are important. I remain optimistic that he will be a bitter disappointment to people who voted for him because they thought he was a white nationalist. This may be false hope, but, as one of our great presidents said, “in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.” I hold those words dear.