Should Have Seen It Coming
On November 8th, 2016, Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. Should we have seen it coming? I certainly did not.
Democrats were stunned. That goes without saying. Newscasters, fundraisers, politicians, and ardent supporters had all assumed that Hillary Clinton would soundly beat the severely flawed Republican candidate, that she would waltz into the White House.
Those “Hillary Believers” saw an opponent dogged by scandal, eminently unqualified and grossly inarticulate. From the moment Donald Trump won the Republican nomination, the left-wing media regaled in his shortcomings. Hillary supporters were treated to an unending flow of Trump disasters. Rubbing their hands in eager anticipation, they just knew this would be a slam dunk.
Surely, the nation would welcome the first female president and a continuation of the Obama legacy. Put the champagne was on ice. Celebrate the culmination of a long and passionate quest.
To be fair, many Republicans were equally shocked. During the weeks leading up to the election, most had resigned themselves to hunkering down and mitigating any damage suffered during the ensuing four years. Those Republicans who did toe the party line and support Trump’s candidacy did so with lukewarm endorsements, at best. Others simply walked away. Few thought “The Donald” had a chance.
How could so many have gotten it so wrong? Well, the fact is, we should have seen it coming. Huh? Really? Yes, really. Consider the following.
Domestic political discontent had been visible for quite some time. Ted Kaczynski serves as a good example. Between 1978 and 1995 Kaczynski (aka, “The Unabomber”) undertook a nationwide bombing campaign intended to foment revolution.
Timothy McVeigh sought a similar outcome. In April of 1995, he detonated a massive truck bomb in front of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 innocent people.
We did not recognize the magnitude of this national discontent. We should have. The signs were there. We just failed to recognize them for what they were.
This discontent had been simmering for decades before 2016. Look no further than the content and tone of television programming during that period.
For decades, the cultural elite on both coasts had looked down on all those regular Americans living in the heart land. Whether you tuned in to evening news or nightly entertainment, the message was clear: “You, the American public, are too stupid to think for yourselves.”
It was not enough to simply report the day’s events on the evening news. No, it became increasingly common for newscasters to pat themselves on the back, their condescending tone telling us that they, and they alone, had the ability to sort out the issues being reported. We were too stupid to analyze events for ourselves. It was their mission to explain the significance of it all, so we would not have to tax our limited intellectual capability. Additionally, before 2016, few citizens had the courage to call out “Fake News” when broadcasters drifted from reporting the news to selling an agenda. We should have seen it coming.
The coverage of sporting events was not much better. Rather than letting the action speak for itself, the producers felt the need to “juice the sound” to show us what was exciting. Clearly, we were too stupid to recognize dramatic moments that might, potentially, decide outcomes.
Sitcoms were no different, inserting laugh tracks to tell us what was funny (even if it was not). We were too obtuse to recognize contemporary humor. Hollywood knew better.
But there was more than the artificial laugh track. Some shows gave voice to controversial topics considered off-limits at the time.
Take a look at CBS’s All In The Family. Dominating the ratings during the 70’s, this show had the temerity to touch on such topics as immigration, equal pay for women, racial inequality, and homosexuality. What was significant was the fact that the central character, Archie Bunker, consistently expressed rejection and disdain for the inroads being made in those areas. The spirit of Archie Bunker was alive and well going into the 2016 election. We should have seen it coming.
And so, there was a whole segment of society that had been systematically marginalized and belittled by those who knew better. What Ronald Regan identified as the “silent majority” had become the “silent, angry majority.” And they voted.
We should have seen it coming.