“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket, nor breaks my leg.”
– Thomas Jefferson
The media got it wrong.
It was wrong about Trump, wrong about the polls, wrong about the populist sentiment out there in the country, wrong about Hillary Clinton’s ground game, wrong, wrong, wrong.
Donald J. Trump, once again, defied the mainstream media’s low expectations. Once-credible outfits like the New York Times and CNN and seldom-credible outfits like The Huffington Post and Mother Jones agreed on Trump. The narrative was that he was a buffoon, a blow hard, and a bulldog in an election that needed a mender, a reconciler, and a nurturer with a positive message to win the White House.
What they didn’t understand was that the polling was inaccurate. People who were polled, in the end, “came home to Trump” while telling pollsters they were undecided, wouldn’t vote or were in the tank for a third party candidate. Because many of them felt shame for being for Trump… more on that later.
These “hidden Trump voters” turned out to be, in the candidate’s Mid-Atlantic vernacular, “yuge!” And based on the reporting, there’s always the very real possibility that the polling methodology was stacked to one side’s favor – unintentionally or otherwise.
In the post-mortem of this historic election, it seems apparent that the notion of modern polling has been turned on its head.
Now back to the part about shame…
Shame is largely to blame. Remember, Trump supporters were repeatedly being called out as being in a “basket of deplorables” who were noted as being “ists” and “phobes.” Things like sexists, racists, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes and more. That’s a shame.
Voters can favor smaller government and not be racists. They can expect our country not to allow foreigners into our country and be fed, given health care, an education, housing and permission to use roads, bridges and take advantage of employment opportunities on our dime all the while skirting paying income taxes themselves and not “hate” people from Latin America or elsewhere.
You can believe in traditional marriage and not wish violence upon homosexuals and want them purged from the Earth.
You can believe in strong families – and subscribe to the idea that a strong two-parent household is a better environment than one-parent home – and not be a misogynist.
You can believe that people who come from hot corners of the world where terrorism has its roots should be vetted much more carefully and not be Islamophobic.
You can believe that a church that has a position that opposes contraception shouldn’t have to provide contraception to people it employs and not think women don’t have a “right” to be sexually free. Asking people who work for certain religious institutions to buy their own birth control is hardly sexism.
So when asked, “Do you intend to vote for Donald Trump?” many chose to hold their cards close to their vest. When you tell them they’re horrible for believing our nation should have national borders that mean something, that immigration policies should be enforced, that they’re violent for believing they should have a right to bear arms and that they’re intolerant because they believe their church’s teachings about homosexuality, why would they tell the truth?
They’re being told, time and time again, that these positions are “hateful.” In one CNN interview, Wolf Blitzer attack then-vice presidential candidate Mike Pence, baiting him to call people who supported Trump “deplorable” because some of those folks had racist beliefs — this after Pence had renounced the endorsement of the racist organization in question. That was not good enough for Blitzer. He wanted Pence to embrace Clinton’s own words so she could be right. If that’s modern “journalism” it’s no wonder polling was wrong.
In the last 240 years, people in our country have often had healthy disagreements without calling each other names.
We don’t have to agree on the path forward to recognize that the other side wants what’s best for the country but differs on how to get there. Or we can take our insults and our dueling pistols and try to tear each other down some more. We’ve done it that way a few times, too – and this year stands out as a template for that model.
Our preference would be to go for the former approach over the latter. We can disagree peacefully, especially when those disagreements neither pick our pockets or break our legs, as Thomas Jefferson said.
That said, this election was one for the record books. It didn’t go how most of us were told it would, but this much is true: The future of the polls and of the media after this debacle is dark and uncertain.
And that dark, uncertain future is a result of name calling and political correctness on the part of the mainstream media. Too many good people felt forced to be deceptive about their belief system and to hide in the shadows to escape the shame directed upon them by liberal leaders and their mainstream media bulldogs. After all, who wants to be an “ist” or a “phobe?”