America at the Midterms - Part II - The Morning After
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Photo: USA Really

America at the Midterms - Part II - The Morning After


Part I:

After the polls closed across the United States on Tuesday night, the political junkie spectator sport of watching the returns began. On the East Coast of the US, where I am presently, the bulk of any excitement was probably past by around 12:30am.

The next morning conversations with a couple of Walmart employees was again, rather reflective of a different point of view than political junkie pollsters might suspect. As in part I, we have changed names and offered paraphrases rather than direct quotes. The reasoning for this was to not burden the people with a "formal interview" format, in hopes of gaining more genuine responses.

The two employees, Christa and Ann, were both rather quiet ladies. Christa, an African-American woman, was very interested in keeping her eyes on her job location rather than getting into conversations, but she did remark that she watched the returns until about midnight and then called it a day. She shared no opinion at all about the outcome, either positive or negative, though she could have.

USA Really

One of the aspects that is surprisingly evident in talking to people is that they do not seem interested in engaging into any sort of political debate. Perhaps the old adage of "never speak about money, politics or religion" was in play here for Christa, but she never even tried to explain why she was not saying anything more specific.

Her colleague, Ann, was a middle-aged to elderly white woman, and she was quite animated, but in a manner that was surprising. She lamented the extreme complexity of the election, since it offered not only the opportunity to vote for various offices (in Florida these were Governor, US Senate and US House of Representatives seats), but it also had various referendums that were put to a popular vote. For Anna, Amendment One was her source of angst. She was upset that it didn't pass, as apparently its passage would have saved her some money.

Rodeo, New Mexico - Anonymous resident

An older woman living on the Arizona border near the tiny one-horse town of Rodeo, New Mexico responded to our questions as well. She is a strident and informed political conservative as is her husband. While her comments are not directly quoted, by request, this was the meat of her response:

"We are glad the Republicans kept the Senate, and somewhat disappointed the Democrats kept the House as it means continued disgusting discord and slanderous attacks from the media. We do not yet know the total outcome of the election, particularly on the matter of the local issues brought up for referendum, but we do know that the proposition for “clean energy” in Arizona did not pass. 

"This is a good thing.

"It would have raised electrical costs for consumers, and likely (eventually) mandated wind generators and/ or solar panels be constructed in our area. Had it passed it would have hurt the ranching and farming community in our area because they cannot afford the higher prices brought on by energy policies pushed forward by the cultural elite that have been moving into our state from California, a very liberal state."

This sentiment reflects some of the changing demographics as many Californian residents have found it necessary to flee their state's crippling liberal policies, which have led to Californian taxes being astronomically high and yet, the state services remain terribly inefficient.

While the people went to Arizona and Texas, and other states that are much more friendly to business and development, many of these people carried their uniquely Californian statist worldview with them. Historically speaking, this is why Colorado, a predominantly agricultural state before 1995, is now so liberal that marijuana is legal and it now sports an openly gay governor, while the same things are taking place in Denver as we read about with San Francisco - defecation on the streets, a tremendous surge in homelessness, and a general fouling of what used to be a very clean American city.

Dallas, Texas - Francisco

Francisco is a resident of Dallas in the great state of Texas. He is not Hispanic (as we are changing names) but he requested this nickname personally. His response to the question "how did you feel about the midterms?" we can quote directly:

"I don't think it's so bad to have Congress split. It makes it harder for dumb things to get approved."

These accounts reflected another characteristic that political and policy junkies often miss: all politics are local. For Anna, Amendment number 1 offered to the Florida Constitution had her concerned because it directly involved the possibility of saving money in taxes. She was not concerned about identity politics, or the fate of the Central American caravans. She was not concerned about "making America great again." Her world was much smaller.

There are lessons in this for both politicians and for political junkies alike: learn what your constituents are concerned about. As conservative as Kayleigh might be, she referred the bulk of her thoughts to a local initiative in her state that, had it been passed, would have made life harder for her. She also exhibited fairness in her assessment by noting that the measure was well-intentioned, but unfortunately costly.

And again, the meat of the local issues has far greater importance than the national political media acknowledges. For a great many people politics starts at one's front door and extends about as far as the horizon. The doings of the rest of the nation are not that important, whether the person lives in New York, NY or Buford, Wyoming (population 1).

However, there are those Americans who do process the matter of American policy and politics in a much broader way.

Part III in this series will focus on a very detailed interview with one man who is a policy expert and who is also concerned with the wider focus of the American nation and its direction. Without a doubt his testimony will be very engaging. However, for many Americans, as pointed out in Part I of this series and this installment, the issues are very close to home. The rest of this very large nation can do whatever it wants, but where national, state and local policy touch my doorstep - this is what many people have always been and remain, concerned about.

USA Really

While some may decry this seeming ignorance as a sign of irresponsibility (and sometimes it may indeed be so), it is also just as wrong to ignore these people and their point of view.

Idealism is great for the revolutionary. Indeed the fire that runs through the hearts of political ideologues is based in principle, whether the principles be that of Federalism, Socialism, Anarchy or Democracy. But revolutions have a way of turning sour if they only can claim ideological significance. When it comes to working and putting food on the table for one's family, principles are often a luxury that gets quietly set aside.

This scene went a long way to show how this relationship between principles and locality work. While it is too lengthy for a "soundbite", we do not want to give incendiary soundbites here. This clip takes the time to outline the situation fully, that we may understand the context in which people live. It is a lot like our own lives. For those who do not have the luxury to ponder the finer points of political ethics and philosophy, our reasoned response to the debate about principles might well resemble what the viewer would see here.

Author: Seraphim Hanisch