Speaking Of …

Devin added a comment on the “Divine Retribution” thread:

Speaking of divine punishment, those reelection results…

If I take his comment literally, then yes, it looks like most federal, state, and local incumbents were returned to office last night. If American voters had a notion of dumping out the whole of the political system in this country, they didn’t do it. But some people got punished yesterday, and it wasn’t God Almighty delivering the whack. Otherwise, Voting Day was indeed about reelection.

The voters I saw for thirteen hours yesterday were happy to be voting. There was widespread graciousness: they thanked us workers, they were patient in line, they were happy to take “I voted” stickers and let their family, friends, and co-workers know what they were up to.

As for the national map this morning, it looks a lot closer to American Lookout (where a facebook friend pointed me) and what Michael Moore said a few months ago than what 538 and the media networks predicted. Nate Silver may be partly covered: I think a lot of people clucked over his giving Mr Trump a one-in-three chance of winning.

As for the president-elect, we might reflect on history. It’s not quite the first time a celebrity has been elected to the nation’s highest executive office. Setting aside our first president, war-hero and founding father, Americans have elected guys who were famous for their accomplishments outside of politics: Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses Grant, and Dwight Eisenhower. In the pre-television era, these presidents were generals, as you know. Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, and Herbert Hoover weren’t generals. But they all had accomplishments outside of politics that brought them some degree of recognition. So Mr Trump is nothing new in that regard. He’s not even the first businessman to be elected president.

In a way, a Reagan-Bush legacy continues. Generals recede into history–we’ve only elected one military celebrity in the last thirty-some presidential races. We’ve had a movie star-turned-governor and a businessman-turned-governor. Mr Trump has been known for reality tv and business. I suppose you can shrug and chalk it up to an occasional American tradition.

I think that’s enough political commentary for the morning. I’ll leave it to the commentariat here to take the chatter further. I will close off by saying that most Americans are not celebrities. We get up in the morning, get dressed, and go to work, school, or other activities. We live in a nation that solicits our choices for its leadership, not only at the top in Washington, but all the way out into the communities in which we live. The closer we are to our neighborhoods, and the more engaged we are in them, the more we have the potential to make a significant difference. We make a difference, good or ill, where we choose to do so. We can choose to hang back. If ill things beset us, it may be less God’s punishment and more a consequence of our own inaction. Last time I looked, the sun rises every morning. It’s always a new morning out there, somewhere.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Speaking Of …

  1. Liam says:

    Know hope. This is another occasion where one can differentiate it from expectation.

  2. Devin Rice says:

    Haha, I meant to type election but slipped since I was also thinking of how many politicians were reelected. But I do hope this is a time for reflection on behalf of all Democrats on how to make a lasting coalition. It took me a bit, but I dug up an old post of yours to find a quote that struck me as important. It was originally in response to the claim that the reign of Pope Francis would be winter for certain members of the Church.

    “Winter is also a time of work, and traditionally, of preparation and introspection. It’s a good time to go on retreat. It’s a good time to do repairs in the barn and house, and to ration one’s resources to be able to survive till the spring thaw.”

    If this is winter for the Democratic Party, I hope it will bear good fruit for the nation.

    • Liam says:

      It’s winter for both major parties – just different parts of winter. The GOP has just been the target of a successful hostile takeover, and the target’s senior execs are merely trying to figure out how to avoid getting axed in some way; the Democratic party, if it’s wise (which is far from a sure thing) should realize it is in line for eventual similar treatment.

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