Here we are. Many fundraising and volunteer appeals warned that if we didn't step up, we could find ourselves with President-elect Donald Trump this morning. We are all processing what has happened and why, so here are some thoughts.
Welcome to the Age of Misinformation.
I remember much being said about the Age of the Internet ushering in unlimited access to information. We have surpassed the point at which the internet is providing meaningful and useful information for the public to enrich itself. Entire books and graduate theses could be written on this.
In short, the public isn't equipped to sift through gross amount of information that it is exposed to in order to determine its validity. Combine that with the "filter bubble" phenomenon and actual facts become irrelevant and the only information that is valued is that which reinforces a previously held belief. My feeling is that traditional advertising is much less likely to change opinions that are formed and reinforced in his way and it furthers dangerous divisions among people.
Our democracy is harmed significantly by the propagation of misinformation. When the public is susceptible to mistruths and misleading nuance, it is unable to make informed decisions. When the information is used to foment hate and distrust, it can be a powerfully driving force. Until we figure out how to combat this, our democracy is at risk of faltering.
Love didn't Trump Hate
Many of us bet on the better nature of our nation and lost. We knew that we faced rampant misinformation. We knew that many working class voters were disaffected. Some of us thought we could fight through it all and show them that good governance in Washington could address their concerns. In the end, Republicans were successful in blaming Democrats for the plight of working class voters, even when Republicans are the Party that obstructed legislation to help create jobs.
There was an unprecedented amount of hate in this election. It was expressed as sexism, misogyny, xenophobia and more. Trump and certainly his supporters were appealing to the worst nature of our nation. I fear this will have a devastating effect on people of color, in particular.
The Media is Broken
It all comes down to money. Newsrooms have been pinched. Reporters are overburdened. Page views and clicks rule the day. I don't know how to fix it, but people smarter than me really should try to figure this out.
It dawned on me in the final days of the election that there was very little discussion of the issues in this campaign. Rather than calling on the candidates to address the issues that caused a restless electorate, they fixated on false issues like emails. The amount of negative coverage received by Hillary throughout this campaign far superseded that of Trump, even with his endless controversial and hateful statements.
It would be really easy to assign blame for this loss. However, after the shock and the anger, it's gonna be time to pick ourselves up and figure out what we're going to do about it. If you aren't happy with a President Trump, then resolve to become more involved. If you regret not doing more in this campaign, then resolve to step up in the future.
Many people feel rejected by our nation right now. This is what bothers me the most. Everyone who believes in love and kindness should hug the women and little girls in our lives. We should tell our friends of color that we love them and honor them. We should hold our Muslim friends close.
As Hillary has told us over and over again, it doesn't matter if you get knocked down. What matters is whether you get back up. We don't have to get back up right away. It's okay to grieve the loss of our dreams of the first woman President, the most qualified person to ever hold the office. It's a big loss and one that our nation is will for many years to come.
Uncertainty rules the day, but not us
We don't know what a Trump administration will look like. For every bit of certainty and expectation we had with Hillary, there is an equal amount of uncertainty we all have today. It is easy to allow uncertainty to devolve into anger and defiance, but we must not let that happen.
The only thing we can control is our own actions and, with discipline, our own emotions. My wonderful mother left me a voice mail this morning to tell me that she got angry and yelled at the TV, but decided not to let this control her emotions. She's ready to start the work to win our nation back. I'm going to take her advice and commit to the longer term of making our nation a better place for ALL OF US. I hope you will too.