DR. TECH: I have woken to another America

Dr. Jon Dorbolo Ask Dr. Tech

I have awoken to an America that I do not recognize.

Last week’s election shows that what I thought I knew about national politics is wrong and I feel humbled.

I thought that organization, planning, communication and data are requisites to political success on the national stage, yet Donald Trump has proven me incorrect.

Nearly all of the expert analyses of the election turned out flawed including my own amateur efforts.

Thankfully I am not a political scientist or I would be seeking a new career.

What is frustrating about the failure of professional and academic analyses of this election is that the tools used to project outcomes are the same tools use to explain outcomes.

That makes it hard to trust any analysis as to why Trump and the GOP succeeded against expectations.

I do think that we can discern a source of error in the polling – the pollsters picked samples which do not accurately represent the portion of the electorate who made the difference and that turns out to be half of the voters.

That omission is important to reflect upon because the nearly 60 million people who elected Donald Trump are invisible to those of us who were caught unawares on election night.

Unless the people on the opposite sides of our national divide become visible to one another the prospects for national unity will continue to dim.

I do have one data point to rely on in my account of this election because in August I attended a Trump rally in Everett, WA.

I wanted to find out personally what attraction this unconventional candidate held for his followers.

From that experience I can tell my progressive colleagues and readers that Tump supporters are not bad people; not deplorable.

I talked with a dozen rally attendees and observed hundreds and for the most part I liked them as individuals.

The rally was thousands large and had a festive atmosphere with families, kids dancing and no physical violence that I witnessed.

The campaign rhetoric was jarring to my ear and I had difficulty referencing what people told me.

They all said that the economy is failing, the military is in decline, billionaires are incorruptible and that America’s core values have been undermined.

None of it looks that way to me, but I did not argue, I listened and listening may be the most important part of dialog.

In academia and on the left of center we have not been listening to half of the electorate and we paid the price for that insensibility on election night.

Perceiving this need to listen lights a path to a way forward for those of us who value dialog and the exchange of ideas as a means of growth.

The opportunity is to step up to the challenge of creating conversations between people who are not hearing and seeing one another.

This conversation is possible because we all have so much in common.

This conversation is hard because we generally disbelieve what the other side takes as true.

This conversation is necessary because finding our common ground is the one hope that we have to transcend our growing national chasm of ideologies.

To Trump supporters reading this I want to say that those of us who emphasize justice, equity and individual rights are not bad or deplorable either.

We are operating with caricatures of one another, you and I, and it is to our mutual interest to understand how those false images come about and to what purpose.

You know as well as I that election victories are temporary and the political pendulum will swing back in time, so what matters to the good of our nation is how we manage the change together.

I honestly do want to understand what you think and what you trust and what kind of world you aspire to.

When enough of us recognize the reflections of ourselves in the human beings on the other side, the bridge building will begin.

I pledge to work towards producing opportunities for political reconciliation and human communication across our community.

I hope that you, dear reader, will join that effort in your own way to make America work together again.

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