What Color’s Your Neck? Same as my hat.


I’m a psychologist. I’m old, experienced and, of course, interested in human behavior. I’m tired of the ‘he said, she said’ (quite literally) arguments around Hillary and Donald. For every juicy sound bite trotted out to vilify one, an opposite and very often equally shocking tidbit surfaces about the other. Politicians are not expected to tell the truth. They’re expected to spin, cajole, pander and otherwise offer a ‘platform’ intended to cultivate a base of support that will get them into office. We expect them to deny or rationalize their ‘crimes and misdemeanors’ (“I am not a crook”. . . quoth Richard Milhous Nixon). They are expected to lie.

And so ‘the Donald’ must be given full marks for doing this slightly better — dramatically, if one surveys the electoral college result — than his opponent. What he did stunningly better was to know and understand his target market. And what Hillary failed to get was that her gender, her knowledge and experience, her cool, unflappable intellect, her egalitarian platform, and her, by comparison, minor transgressions could not overcome her image as an elite and aloof gal. At core, she failed to connect. And Donald did.

Trump won on a mobilization of a broad (and hitherto, untapped) base that understood what he said (and did) — and didn’t care. On a base that easily grasped his crude, rude style, his non-sequiturs, his fact-less, sweeping, outrageous and unsupportable claims. He was talking their language. The over-the-fence, in-the-bar, bowling alley or duck blind chatter that this base not only understood, but lived. Nothing nuanced or subtle here. Just plain, old-fashioned bullshit. Lots of it. Piled higher and deeper (as the acronym PhD, somewhat ironically expands to). For the first time this base had a real option, someone they could identify with. They were not being asked to make a choice between two, largely inaccessible, lofty options. And so they voted. . . and voted. . . and voted as never before. A liar, a braggart, a philanderer, a sexist, an abuser — who cares. We understand his message. So the man that made his fortune as much by cunning as intellect — street smarts generally trump (oops) wisdom — has done it again.

WWJS — What Would Jane Say?


Sense and sensibility. Seems both were suspended on November 8th. Small comfort that the 0.2% of the vote that separated Trump and Clinton favored Ms. Hillary. When the talking heads, at 10 p.m. or so, began their subtle shift in reporting from rationalization of the early DT lead to the growing awareness that ‘this is really happening’, I went to bed. You could almost smell the angst thru’ the TV screen. I didn’t need to stay up for the denouement. The gradual reddening of the map meant nothing, of course, in those hopeful early hours as the polls closed, one by one, state by state — and the map just continued to bleed. These were states that were historically and predictably Republican anyway — no need for alarm. The pollsters’ predictions would be borne out. Florida was going to be close — but Miami-Dade would carry the day. Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin — even if the panhandle prevailed over the Latinos — would see the light and push the momentum back in the only reasonable direction. Not so.

And so somebody won something. And a great many of us lost. In the aftermath, as the post hoc analysts, talking heads, and pundits tried to make some sense of how a campaign predicated on racism, misogyny, misinformation, confabulation, and hate could prevail, words like ‘whitelash’ began to surface. ‘You can fool some of the people some of the time’ has never rung more true than on November 9th — 47.5% evidently. The Canadian Immigration website crashed around 11 p.m. as the disillusioned, fearful, and, as one friend distilled the impact, traumatized began to queue up.
The question, one of many, that dominated ‘the day after’ was how this outcome was even possible. Sadly, there is no entrance exam or cut score for democracy. All are welcome. All are equally entitled. All can have their say. And if the message resonates, the content (evidently) doesn’t matter. Catch phrases, red hats, and violent, abusive, angry rhetoric can (evidently) carry the day. ‘What were they thinking’, indeed has a simple answer — they weren’t. A rudimentary understanding of what one is voting for and what the implication might be had precious little to do with how, in near 50% of the cases, one tick of a box would move a whole country one gigantic, retrograde step backward. Not to a kinder, gentler time. But to tribalism, us’s and them’s. The disenfranchised, that ‘the Donald’ would champion, have had their say — and it will be inscribed on a very different kind of commemorative wall.

But it’s late, on this Nov. 9th evening. And I have to ready the spare room for the next wave of refugees. The critical thinkers, the tolerant, the progressive, the inclusive — as the exodus begins.