You know the saying that goes, “The media can’t tell one what to think, but it sure can tell one what to think about.” The 2016 presidential race was that axiom’s ultimate confirmation. It told us to think about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It directed us, by nanosecond, to think about how they looked, what they said, what they did decades ago, ad nauseam. And those things were, in fact, what we thought about for 18 months.
But what I contemplated in my voting booth was quite different. I, finally, was not thinking about Trump or Clinton. I was thinking about what our country would be under a government piloted by each, given a likely Republican Congress, and how my life would be affected based upon which button I pressed. I forgot about the bankruptcies, locker room language, email servers and private foundations.
I voted for a government, not a president.
These are the questions I asked myself. Did I want a government that believed that people are so inherently good that if someone commits a crime, it would be government’s responsibility to reflexively fix something? Or should we assume that human beings are indeed flawed and that bad behavior is the individual’s burden? Which government would then stress behavior over feelings?
Which government would support free speech and religious liberties over the repression of anti-PC or divergent opinion, and the growing walling off of spirituality? Which would look at me first and foremost as an individual over labeling me a member of a group? Which would support the notion that a role of government is to ensure justice and leave compassion to people? And lastly, do I want a smaller government to provide for a strong national defense and economic opportunity for all, or a more bloated government, prioritizing making everyone happy?
I don’t accept the media-driven notion that Americans are dramatically more divided than ever. There have always been liberals, conservatives, and those in between. That the race for president was contentious was healthy for a vibrant democracy (although I would have liked less Trumpian insolence). Our social, economic, racial, religious and other differences exist and there is work to do to help the plight of so many. But those disparities have also been magnified just as the Trump and Clinton personas were made bigger than life.
Our vote results on Nov. 8 said the nation prefers a government that more closely stands for governance and principles as laid out by the Republican Party. That was the crux of the election’s meaning. That’s what, not whom, I voted for.
Goodall was a state senator. (firstname.lastname@example.org)