Friday, November 11, 2016

Balaban Thinking Out Loud -- Post-Election Hangover

Normally, I write about being a stay-at-home dad and the joys it brings. Today, I'm trying to do  something different.
I'm giving my post-election take on the country.

Full disclosure: I didn't vote for Trump. I also didn't vote for Clinton. As my colleague Craig Bacon pointed out, there has been a Bush or a Clinton on the ballot in some way, shape, or form since 1980 (save for the past two elections, although Clinton was part of the '08 primary). Part of me was simply tired of the same old thing.
In the past 48 hours emotions have run high throughout our country. Yet critical thinking has hit overdrive to the point of people reading into comments so deeply that they are seeing things that I believe simply aren't there.
For instance, on Twitter, World Series Champion Pitcher Jake Arrieta of the Chicago Cubs (I just wanted to type World Series Champion and Chicago Cubs in the same sentence...and it felt pretty cool!) called out the "Hollywood elite" and created a hashtag suggesting he'd help them pack to leave the country. After all, many of them declared they would be Canada bound if Trump won the presidency.
One person responded to Arrieta and said the only way he read the tweet was as a message of anti-semitism.
Sorry, but no. Calling people out on their veiled threats is not anti-semitic. Are there Jewish people in Hollywood? Yep. Is all of Hollywood that religion? Nope. Did all of Hollywood threaten to go to Canada? Nope. Just the most vocal among them, and they were from many different religions. You could argue that the person who called Arrieta out was the anti-semitic one since he painted Hollywood with such a broad brush. If you view Hollywood as a land of Jews based off one tweet, well, hello pot, meet kettle. At the very least, the response to Arrieta was hypocritical.
Closer to us, at some point Wednesday I saw a story from Wellsville, a village I called home for about a year after graduating college, and in that story was a photo of a vandalized dugout at the high school baseball field. Someone had spray-painted a swastika on the bricks on the back of the dugout. The picture went viral, as you could imagine.
Guess what, though? By mid-afternoon a group of people from the same community had shown up with a bucket of paint and rollers. Decency prevailed. The graffiti was gone. Oh, a picture was taken of the good samaritans. It was also published on line, with an accompanying story. It has yet to go viral to the extent its predecessor did.
I can't say I'm shocked. In the aftermath of any bad, there is always good. Far too often, people remember the bad.
Take a newspaper headline, for instance. If a headline is misleading and the story's main idea is buried in details, most will only remember the headline and not much else. Days later, if the story is proven inaccurate, a retraction may be printed. There won't be a large headline, but likely just a brief paragraph inside the paper with a much smaller headline. Few will see it, and fewer will read it.
Speaking of the media, the downright hypocritical coverage and outright bias shown in this election cycle was so bad, I'd wager that most of America's go-to sources for news would have failed the classes I was required to take in journalism school. Fair and balanced is not a slogan. It is a practice, and it has been increasingly ignored for the past several years. The larger the news source, the more slanted the coverage.
All kidding aside, I'm not shortsighted enough or bitter enough to view things in such a way that I believe all of any group are good, bad, right, wrong, etc. However, when entire groups are reported as such, it is disheartening.
The "your vote matters" or "every vote matters" crowd is one such example. Basing this crowd solely off my social media feeds, most of these friends of mine leaned to the political left. As results were announced, nearly every one of them started complaining about those in the country who voted third party. One prominent talk show host went so far as to say that third party voters don't care about who wins.
You can't have it both ways, folks. You can't say every vote matters, and then complain about those who actually go and vote and don't vote for the person you want to win. That is not how it works.
Furthermore, in the days since the election, more and more pundits and experts are criticizing lists that have supposedly leaked from the Trump people. These lists supposedly include all the possible members of his cabinet. Again, can't we all just take a step back and wait and see what happens? If Tuesday taught us anything, it is that prognosticators and "experts" on various news stations really don't have a crystal ball. Had that been the case, there wouldn't be any protests right now because the media would have been popping champagne on air - metaphorically speaking - for a job well done during a Clinton coronation.
Instead, both main parties in this country are being forced to re-evaluate how to get in touch with the common man and woman, and the media is wondering how and why it got things so wrong.
As for the protesters across the country, including some in the few colleges where professors actually cancelled classes (yes, this happened), the real world is waiting. I have an initial reaction to you all, but I'm going to keep that to myself for now. Know why? Because right now all we have is a result and a lot of what ifs. There isn't much else, so patience is required to sort everything out, including our emotions.
Also, take solace in the fact that the majority of voters actually did vote for your heroine. However, that majority wasn't located in the right places. It's happened before, and I imagine it will happen again in my lifetime and yours.
This is important because it shows that yes, there have been some positive steps taken in the past eight years. But enough of America was distraught over "politics as usual" that many who didn't normally vote actually got out and did so, and rural areas made their voices heard. Again, you can't be upset that American citizens exercised their right to choose a leader.
As for the leader that has been elected? The only thing I know about him is that his election means a change is coming, and none of us really know what to expect because we haven't had a reliable media informing us for quite some time. A guy I didn't vote for is President-Elect. Why don't we wait and see what he does before preemptively lambasting choices he hasn't made yet?

Howard Balaban is a stay-at-home dad with lots of time to think. Howard Balaban's opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Howard Balaban or Niagara's Watercooler.