It seems to me that now this year’s election is behind us with its sound and fury abated a bit, the time has come to kinda sit back and take stock about what’s happened – to us as individuals and to this country.
Probably the most important realization is how many folks have becoming increasingly restless about how the bureaucratic process in both government and quasi-government activities is resulting in what could be called the “ political” or “elite” class.” (“Quasi” is a neat word meaning “kinda like but not exactly like.”) These are folks in positions of power and influence whose entire interest appears to be the continuation and enhancement of their situation and that of their “right-thinking” colleagues. To this end the concerns of the “little people” are useful only if they may be used to support those who consider themselves suitable to run things. The operative catchphrase is something like, “Just leave everything to us, follow our lead, and do as we ask because we know what’s best for everyone.” That ideology has been challenged.
Pollsters proved to be woefully inept at judging the mood of the country. As one such “expert” noted on national TV, “We didn’t have egg on our faces, we had an entire omelet.” What the pollsters and predictors failed to recognize was the intensity of rebellion against the status quo among the “little people” making up the heartland of this country. Our “swing state” state has 88 counties and at least 80 voted against the presidential candidate representing a continuation of rule by the “elite political class.” That statistic is an indicator of what happened nationwide.
Of particular local interest is the adjoining county with its large city which rejected the “more of the same – but on steroids” candidate for president despite the best efforts of support by the city’s mayor. That turn of events was unexpected and perhaps even shocking to those who considered the county “safe”. Kinda reminds me of an oft-repeated line from the old time radio show “The life of Riley”. When something went unexpectedly wrong for Riley he commented, “What a revoltin’ development this is.” Sure fits the bill, doesn’t it?
So does this mean a rejection of government in general? Not really – if some local issues are any indication. Voters decided to continue what amounts to a subsidy for the hospital servicing the central and eastern parts of this county – even though the hospital is part of a much larger multi-county health care system. The folks I’ve talked with were concerned with the possibility of a reduction or loss of care at the hospital if the appropriation was not approved. Apparently a sufficient number of voters agreed that this was an issue worthy of support so the renewal levy passed – despite some opposition. (By the way, I was not one of the leaders of the opposition – he and I simply have the same name and we aren’t related.)
Two school districts in our county had major construction issues on the ballot. One passed and the other failed. Once again I talked with folks about both issues. The one that passed likely did so because folks that were not involved with the bond issue itself, that is, devising the proposal and advocating its approval, were personally aware of the problem of aging facilities. These were the everyday folks such as a guy who had done plumbing work for the schools. He told me school replacement was critical because of deteriorating conditions – and his opinion was echoed by other “regular” folks. Informed, concerned voters made the decision.
The school construction levy that failed may well have done so because lotsa folks not involved with devising and advocating the bond issue proposal were kinda taken by surprise – as I reported I was in a pre-election column. Although signs saying “support our schools” or something to that effect started appearing some weeks in advance of the election, just what that meant was unclear. A “fact sheet” describing the proposal, which was reportedly sent to all school district voters, wasn’t delivered to many voters until after early voting had already started. Oops! Sure, there was some scattered opposition, but the mood of the country was such that the old reliable “It’s for the kids” just wouldn’t fly any more. And so it’s back to the proverbial drawing board for possibly another try next spring.
Ok, so what does all this mean? Well, a portion of our country long overlooked or ignored has made itself heard. A new and powerful force unlike anything ever seen is now part of our political scene and those who rely on “politics as usual” may well find themselves facing a world much different from the one they are used to. At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]