Commentary

Don’t kid yourself about what elections reveal about America

| Nov 09, 2020

Election results determine who governs us, they do not tell us who we are. America was, and is, the nation that elected George W. Bush in 2000 but could just as easily have elected Al Gore. Roughly the same electorate who made Barack Obama a two-term president chose Donald Trump at its next opportunity, though with the slightest of tweaks in a few states we could be approaching the end of Hillary Clinton’s first term. Assessing our national condition based on whether a few thousand votes went one way or the other in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania on Tuesday is the rankest of punditry.

 

People like to see America as an Obama or Trump or Biden nation because it allows them to feel proud when their side is in power and appalled when it is not; to imagine that others with whom they disagree are a solvable problem, just one blue or red “wave” away from disappearing for good. In reality, America is an Obama, Romney, Clinton, Trump, Biden nation all at once, which no particular result will change.

 

The lesson to learn from this election is that, whoever you supported, about half of your fellow citizens felt otherwise. Neither vilifying nor condescending to them will change any minds. If you cannot understand how they could reach conclusions so different from your own, the fault lies with you, not them.

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Oren Cass

Oren Cass is the executive director at American Compass.

@oren_cass