Values In America

In November 2016 Hillary Clinton won the popular vote – by about 1.5 million votes – while decisively losing the electoral vote (the one that matters). The system is unfair, cry many Hillary supporters. It’s time to change the system.

Maybe, maybe not. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in New York and California by a combined plurality of approximately 3 million votes. That means that the other 48 States elected Donald Trump with a popular vote margin of about 1.5 million – the same number that Hillary supporters offer as proof that our electoral college system is outdated and unfair.

Let’s wake up to reality. There is no rigged system – for either party. The supposed liberally biased, unfair media did not affect the outcome of the election. Not enough liberal “dead people” or illegal immigrants voted to change the results.

Where do values come into play in understanding all of the hand-wringing, blaming, analyzing – and misidentifying the factors that led to Donald Trump’s win?

I would start by asking the question: What are America’s values?

Based on everything I’ve read and observed, I believe that there is no singular list that defines such a thing as America’s values. Rather, there are multiple, and often contradictory, beliefs that reflect the values of individual Americans. Those values bind together only factions that share those beliefs. The factions are many: in size; influence; and rationality. And what I have come to realize, with the help of this election, is that America is not divided – it is divisive.

We didn’t get here overnight. It is the result of decades of politicians in both houses and both parties that simply did not listen; that took for granted their respective bases of support and failed miserably to do their jobs. They watched as the middle class shrank from 61% to 49% of our population.

The “product” that any politician is supposed to deliver is a quality of life. To do that, they must be skilled in the art of productive compromise. Any ideological idiot can go to Washington, refuse to give one inch on any measure that doesn’t give them 100% of what they want, and vote to shut down our government rather than remember that they are supposed to represent everyone in their district, not just the people that voted for them. Campaigning involves a lot of diatribe and hyperbole. Governing well requires real ability – something sorely lacking today.

We know our country is diverse – in many ways and along many lines. That’s why great listening and effective compromise is messy, slow moving, and critically important to success. Today, we don’t have that. Too many factions no longer see people with different views as part of our diversity – they see them as enemies; as threats to our nation’s survival; as moral terrorists.

So what are some of the values that people in various factions currently hold? And how did those values come to affect the outcome of this election?

The list is long, and I’m sure that everyone has her and his own views of what that list contains. Here are a few of mine.

People with discretionary incomes have come to value instant gratification, comfort, and quick results. People living paycheck to paycheck and who are two checks away from homelessness have come to value survival. Survival replaced traditional values like: integrity, dignity, and honesty. People that created slogans like, “stronger together” with the inference that togetherness will somehow create more and better jobs have, I think, already abused the privilege of smoking legalized marijuana.

I’m aghast at our Democrat leaders who look at the election results and blame their loss on: “We didn’t get enough people out to vote.” Why would they vote, you morons? You gave them no reason. You praised a legacy that benefited people near or below the poverty line while blindly ignoring millions of middle class people that see only disappearing jobs, flat wages, increased health care costs and rising rents. And your main proposition in this election was to redistribute income with tax changes.

I’m incensed at Republican leaders who have consciously chosen party over country at every turn of the road. Republicans succumbed to a master marketer whose successes were built on the wounded bodies of people he screwed and the lies he told to make himself look like a genius in the process. Your obvious – and perhaps only – apparent value is POWER.

We try to be hopeful. We hope that our leaders, in the White House and the next Congress will somehow rise to the occasion and actually govern with the purpose of delivering a quality of life to everyone – without a single shred of evidence that that will happen.

My hope is that we can survive the next four years, and during that period, identify and bring to the forefront political leadership candidates from both parties that have the skill, temperament and commitment to bring us out of the decline that we face as a nation. And that one day, we will have a few values that, while respecting the vast diversity in our beliefs, can unite us all in some common beliefs that will truly move us to a place where there is a quality of life for everyone, and that once again we become the greatest nation on earth.

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