Why I’m Grateful for the 2016 Election

posted in: Politics 23

On this night of the 2018 election, with results trickling in, I’m focused on finding gratitude for the 2016 election.

Hang in there; I’m making lemonade.     So much has changed for me in the past two years.  Perhaps you can identify.
  • I learned the extent to which racism still exists in this country and I am angry. I wrote about this in January. 
  • I came to understand my role of privilege as a straight, white, educated woman and I am humbled. I will be writing about this in December as part of our ongoing Talking About Race series.
  • I recognize that any advances we might make toward stemming climate change, will need to be done at the state and local levels and I am afraid. This one I’ve not yet written about and have no plans. What more could I possibly say that hasn’t been said already?
  • I now see politics differently than I once did.

I see politics differently in my 60s than I did in my 20s and 40s.

No longer is politics a game people play, as I thought in my 20s.  Nor is it all about power: how to get it, how to wield it, how to hold onto it as I was taught in my 40s as a PhD candidate in Political Science. Today, politics for me is a set of moral choices that affect people’s lives — everyday people and everyday lives. I have come to believe it depends not on whether you lean conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, progressive or regressive — the political choices we make are moral choices. Now, there are certain moral choices we can all agree on and George Lakoff puts it well in his Little Blue Book.  He says we DO have things we  agree on:
  • Things should work. Cars should run, electricity should be brought to our homes, airplanes should be on time and not crash, cell phones should work everywhere and not drop calls, and garbage should be collected regularly. 
  • People should have jobs. Everyone should be able to work for a living, do well at the job, and be paid fairly.
  • People should be healthy. Major disease should be kept in check, people should take care of themselves as well as possible, the effects of illness and injury should be minimized.
  • There should be public order. People should obey the laws, laws should be enforced fairly and effectively, and the courts and administrators should administer justice.
  • Daily life should go smoothly. Goods should be available and affordable, traffic should flow smoothly, and people should be able to go about their everyday lives without incident. 
  • There should be peace. There should be no invasions or terrorist attacks, no need for war, and no threat of war. 
I could add to that list as I’m sure you can too and as Ally Bean did recently in her Spectacled Bean blog, On Election Day: 7 Issues On Which Americans Can Agree, bringing a few much needed smiles to my face. Still, no matter how long a list we comprise, it’s the “HOW”  that divides us. Sometimes it’s simply the matter of how we define our terms (not to say it’s a simple matter).  What’s “a living?”  What’s “fair pay?”  How much “minimized” is enough? But other times — and more and more it seems — it comes down to return on investment: How do we weigh the cost of these things? Think of Lakoff’s second point above, “People should have jobs.” How will these people get to work? This becomes a political question when you consider what mass transportation looks like. Or how much automobiles cost. Or how salary structures are concocted. It’s all connected. Who cares how someone gets to work? The individual alone? Or might it be a public concern?  More and more, I’m wanting a “public” that will care about each other. And striving for that is what politics is all about. We are still creating that “more perfect union.” We have a long way to go but it’s worth the effort, don’t you think?      Unfortunately, I must add that as people get scared, they often hunker together with their own “birds of a feather.” It’s understandable, really. There is less interest in (less energy for?) differences, tolerance, and acceptance. The familiar becomes even more appealing than usual. And that is what frightens me the most about our current state of affairs. Yes, I’m grateful for what I’ve learned in the past two years. But I also believe things will not get better until they get worse. I don’t yet know the results of today’s election, but I won’t let myself be optimistic. Let me repeat: We are still creating that “more perfect union.” We have a long way to go but it’s worth the effort, don’t you think?  How about you? What have you found to be grateful for from the election of 2016?   
with thanks to Lion’sRoar.com for this image by Barry Blitt.

23 Responses

  1. Ally Bean
    | Reply

    Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth I studied Political Science as my minor in undergrad. I was taught that by the end of college we’d all pick a political party and stick with it for life. According to those old white male profs, that’s how politics worked. It was a game of power and alliances, nothing more. And you needed to be in it for your own greedy gains.

    Now, as a wiser older woman with a moral conscience, I see politics as a means to an end in which all people have the opportunity to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. That politics is more than belonging to one group, it’s about making this country whole and healthy.

    If I had any doubt about any of the foregoing these last two years have erased it. I’m now sure that if you’re not using your power to help others have better lives, then you’re wasting your power. And for this clarity of purpose, I am grateful for these last two difficult years.

    [Thanks for mentioning my post, but as of this moment the link isn’t working. No ping on my end.]
    Ally Bean recently posted…On Election Day: 7 Issues On Which Americans Can AgreeMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Ohio State? I do believe we roamed this earth at about the same time. I noticed the ping issue last night when I finished the post, but thought it was just that you had to approve, as I do with my own pings. Alas, I simply had copied the URL wrong. Should be fixed now. Fun to do on phone in the dark, but done. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by Ally. Your comment reminds me that old standard, “To whom much is given, much is then required “
      Janet Givens recently posted…Why I’m Grateful for the 2016 ElectionMy Profile

  2. Susan Jackson
    | Reply

    No, I really can’t say I am grateful for anything from the 2016 election—I have either lost friends or we aren’t as close as we used to be. I have more anxiety in my life. There are places I won’t go and things I won’t wear that used to just be funny but could now get you hurt. And now the 2018 election in my state ended horribly I think—by 1% we put in a trump ass kisser as governor and not sure yet but we may, by another 1%, have put our current no good governor in as a senator. Sigh, will life ever calm down!!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I’ve had a very different experience from yours these past two years, Susan. I’ve lost one high school girl friend, though we had only history between us. That was not enough. In fact I’d say that election brought me closer to my current friends. As for your state, you have my sympathy.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Why I’m Grateful for the 2016 ElectionMy Profile

      • Susan Jackson
        | Reply

        Thanks for your sympathy—the friends I lost are friends from different moves in the military and don’t live close. The group of ladies I hang out with now are all of the same persuasion and we agree to NOT talk about this mess.

        • Janet Givens
          | Reply

          You can be grateful you don’t live in Nevada. :). I thought of you when I posted that to FB today
          Janet Givens recently posted…Why I’m Grateful for the 2016 ElectionMy Profile

          • Susan Jackson
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            As I feel lightheaded watching trump and Pam Bondi—a disgusting Attorney General for Florida and he may give her sessions job since she will be out in Florida. I swear I am going to have a heart attack

  3. Kelly Boyer Sagert
    | Reply

    I’m grateful that, in response to the 2016 election, people came out in larger numbers to vote in 2018. If the response had, instead, been apathy, that would truly have been frightening. So, the 2016 election served as a catalyst, I believe, for this year’s — which saw strides in women getting elected to high offices.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks Kelly. I know the League of Women’s Voters here has never been so popular. Women had been trying to start a chapter here for years, to no avail. But one month after the 2016 election, there were nearly 50 women wanting to get involved. Lemonade.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Why I’m Grateful for the 2016 ElectionMy Profile

      • Kelly Boyer Sagert
        | Reply

        In retrospect, we may see this as a beautiful beginning, with more of an impact than we can recognize today.

        • Janet Givens
          | Reply

          One thing for certain: These are uncertain times. That when Hope comes alive. History will certainly write of this someday. Who will do the writing remains to be seen. Thanks for adding your new reflection.
          Janet Givens recently posted…Why I’m Grateful for the 2016 ElectionMy Profile

  4. Janet Morrison
    | Reply

    I’m still looking for a reason to be thankful for the 2016 election. If pressed, I could say that it resulted in a record number of women running for political office in 2018. Some of them were elected but many were defeated by the political machine currently in power.
    Janet Morrison recently posted…Many Good Books Read in October!My Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks Janet. It’s not unusual for The House to flip in a new president’s first midterm. The question remains, what will they be able to do differently. I read recently how Hope can only reside in uncertainty. And we now are certainly in uncertainty. I’m glad you have joined us.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Why I’m Grateful for the 2016 ElectionMy Profile

  5. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — I love and resonate strongly with your wise observation: “The political choices we make are moral choices.”
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted…In the GrooveMy Profile

  6. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    I’m thankful for the 2018 (to even things out a little)!

  7. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Janet, I tried posting a response on Wednesday, but my computer crashed just as I was about to hit “submit,” and I didn’t have time to recreate it. (Actually, not my entire computer, just my browser, due to a recent recurring error message I keep receiving and can’t get seem to get rid of. Alas). Like others, I was disappointed in Tuesday’s elections, but not entirely. Regaining the house could prove crucial. Women candidates seemed to perform well in many districts — another huge positive. And I suppose I’m thankful, in an odd way, that we gained better clarity on where Trumpism stands and where the nation continues to be divided. I’m afraid it’s going to get worse before it gets better, and that we’re in for the fight of our lives. But it’s one we can and must win. — T

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Tim. Computers and browsers and bugs; oh my! I still tend to panic when my computer does something weird (or, more likely, doesn’t do something I expect). I’ve become so dependent, but worse is that I really don’t understand them. So I am vulnerable to what I perceive to be whimsical deviations from the norm. I give you major kudos for persevering.

      And I thank for ever so briefly getting my mind off the very serious state of our country.
      I too believe things here will get worse before they get better. But get better they will. Ghandi has a wonderful quote about just that. Let’s see if it’ll come back to me. Nope 🙂
      Janet Givens recently posted…Why I’m Grateful for the 2016 ElectionMy Profile

      • Janet Givens
        | Reply

        Got it. This attributed to Gandhi

        “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
        Janet Givens recently posted…Why I’m Grateful for the 2016 ElectionMy Profile

        • Tim Fearnside
          | Reply

          Thanks, Janet – a wonderful quote, and one that’s sorely needed. ‘Doing my best to keep the faith! – T

  8. Janet Morrison
    | Reply

    Janet, I keep going back to read this post of yours again as I continue to look for the silver lining in the 2016 election. Let’s hope we the people will elect our next President and that he or she will not be of Russia’s choosing.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Janet. Charles Blow had a particularly depressing editorial yesterday in The NY Times. It’s so easy to find the downsides, the problems, the things we have to worry about and fret over. It takes time, maybe more focus, to discover something to be grateful for in those lemons that come our way. And this one is particularly bitter. Welcome back.
      Janet Givens recently posted…The Culture of PhilanthropyMy Profile

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