#269 – Dick Bernard: The Aftermath of the 2010 Election

I’m writing this post on Monday night, November 1. I will click “publish” when I return from being an Election Judge sometime on Tuesday night, November 2. Except for the last sentence, this post was written before the polls opened anywhere in the U.S., or a single vote was officially counted.
Late this afternoon I was at a local supermarket and ran into a retired friend who was, like me, purchasing some incidental groceries. He’s a great guy, well respected. Indeed, at one point in his life he actively explored running for elected office, but changed his mind: it’s just too brutal. We chatted seriously about what is ahead tomorrow. Would anger or common sense prevail? Would fear drive the majority of the ballots cast, or hope? He and I know as much or as little as anyone else. We’re worried.
(As I completed the previous sentence, the phone rang and our good friend, Annelee, was on the line. She grew up in Hitler’s Germany and was talking about a very recent speech she’d given to a group of about 90 lawyers. She asks for questions in writing, so people feel free to ask more uncomfortable questions. One she dealt with was “what are the similarities between Hitler and Obama?” “None whatsoever” she responded, and went into detail. At the end of the q&a session, she said she got a standing ovation, and particularly strong compliments from a state legislator and a retired military general, both in the audience. The exchange and response was both troubling and hopeful: amongst the scarcely concealed hate in the anonymous question there was much thoughtfulness in the room. Which will prevail tomorrow?)
Whatever happens tomorrow, there will be endless analysis of what it all means. I’ve expressed my opinion often over the last 30 days (see the end of the October 31 post for all the links). Mine is just a single opinion. Mostly, honestly, I feel like I’m talking to myself, even though most of these blog posts are carried by a respected Twin Cities on-line newspaper, the Daily Planet…. You’ll probably see this one there, too, in a couple of days.
Leaving ideology aside, what troubles me most at this stage in our history is the almost absolute unwillingness of any faction on any side of any issue to truly enter into dialogue with others of differing beliefs and attempt to come to some kind of reasoned resolution to problems.
There was a day when negotiation could be done, including in the national and state legislatures. That day is not now. “Stand your ground” seems to be the political mantra; “that’ll force them [the other] to move to our side”.
Unfortunately, what is true is that the ‘truth’ espoused by one fragment or another is ‘truth’ only to that faction. If by some miracle they can get into power, and move their agenda, and even get judges in place to affirm their ‘truth’ – their position will ultimately fail because it reflects only their fragment of the body politic.
We seem to have become a nation of fragments. A healthy whole is the sum of many parts; we have many parts, but the whole is difficult to impossible to see.
When victory is said to determined by divide and conquer strategies, and by disempowering the losers, we have been conquered by ourselves.
I’ll be tired when I get back from the polling place tonight, so I’ll go to bed, and probably not go to any party. I’ll read about this election Wednesday morning.
We shall see.
Tuesday, 8 a.m. a good column in today’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune, here.
10:30 p.m.: back from a very long day as election judge. Over and out.