Last Election May Predict This One
With less than three weeks to go before the much-ballyhooed mid-term elections, we will soon see whether the blue wave (at least in the House) predicted by RealClear Politics or the red tide chronicled in the Washington Times will come to pass.
The mid-terms traditionally go against whoever holds the White House. I still remember writing a paper for a high school English class about the Republicans’ 1966 uprising, just two years after Lyndon Johnson’s landslide.
Then there was a similar GOP surge in 1994, two years after Bill Clinton won the presidency.
Yet, I wouldn’t be so certain the same pattern prevails this year.
My reasoning goes back to the 2016 election. About six weeks beforehand, my wife and I traveled to a state park in southern West Virginia, where we spent three nights in a cabin while visiting regional sites of interest during the day.
Signs of the Times
On the way back, instead of taking the same route, we headed east to visit another state park before turning for home.
To get there, we took a road so obscure I don’t think it had a route number—at least I never saw one.
We traversed the back roads for about 20 miles before coming to a town of any size. There were no houses along this route, just mobile homes.
Periodically, we came across “Trump” bumper stickers, signs or banners. Never a Hilary sign. Not one.
Most significant, this was deep coal country, where unions and Democrats had held sway for a century.
I know folks in adjoining counties who would never be accused of having liberal leanings, but are Democrats because they want to be able to participate in the primary, when office holders are often selected.
Like millions of Americans, I went to bed Tuesday evening, Nov. 8, 2016, expecting to awaken to news of President-elect Clinton’s triumph. So, like many observers who believed the faulty polls, I too was surprised.
Canary in the Coal Mine
Reflecting on President Donald Trump’s victory, I realized that on our back-country drive we had witnessed the proverbial “canary in the coal mine.”
When folks in the most Democratic stronghold I had ever seen were unanimously expressing their support for the Republican candidate, it presaged the national shock that followed.
Much was written about the overwhelming majority of pollsters who had predicted a Clinton win, with their critics saying they were reporting their wishes more than voters’ leanings.
Some friends suggested that people lied to the pollsters because they didn’t want to be categorized as dunces, but secretly checked the Trump line on the voting machine.
Whatever the reasons, I detected a groundswell in the nation that many pollsters and media pundits missed because of their preoccupation with the East and West Coasts.
They deride “flyover country” without recognizing that people in the middle part of America often see things differently than residents in major urban areas.
I don’t say this to gloat over Trump’s triumph or deride mainstream media. Indeed, I fear that modern politics have become too much of a “my side vs. your side” horserace.
Trampled in the frenzy is the compromise and reasoned discussion that lead to common-sense solutions.
No matter which party prevails come Nov. 6, my hope is that most of us will stop seeing our fellow Americans as enemies and instead come to the understanding that we’re all in this together.
As a wise man once put it: “A house divided against itself will not stand.”