Most of us muddle along every day in spite of whatever unfairness and negativity that we encounter. It chips away at our enthusiasm and spirits but we soldier on.
Except sometimes – like on November 6, 2012.
What Changed On November 6?
The election on November 6 in the United States was an important one, perhaps the most important one ever.
On the surface, nothing seems to have changed much. So what makes this election so special?
Several things were stunning about this election:
- the magnitude of the electoral college victory by the President although not as large as Ronald Reagan’s 525 in 1984, it was surprisingly large considering how close this election was supposed to be.
- the number of successful progressive ballot initiatives. Three states legalized same sex marriage and two states marijuana. In the San Juan County, Washington, citizens voted to no longer allow genetically modified plants and animals. These are all initiatives creating a more humane country with higher quality of life. In Maryland (my state) not only was the same sex initiative successful but some illegal immigrants now have access to in-state tuition. Montana was not so generous.
- the most important change in my opinion, was that the Republican Party was only able to claim one constituency: white men. All other constituencies lined up behind President Obama.
Many pundits are attributing the election results to demographic change. Although population shifts may play a role, this election was about much more than the numbers.
Voters, for the first time that I know of, voted against the divide and conquer political strategies that have kept the right wing holding on to power for so long. Given the projections about the election, over half who voted decided individually that enough was enough.
Each person voted without knowing what the result would be. And each person woke up the next day to find out they were in the majority.
It felt like a new day in America!
Throughout the country, people took matters into their own hands, without knowing what anyone else would do. We were continually told how divided the country was, and how close the election was going to be.
Americans chose a problem solver, not a problem denier. Americans decided that they had had enough of the negativity of the right. With so many unsolved problems piling up in the country, this was not a “Yes, We Can!” moment. This was a “Yes, We Must!” moment.
Unfairness And Negativity
Negativity is a type of unfairness. It is a way of living life from a conclusion not from facts or reality. Negativity is often a simplistic view of circumstances and people. It is a prejudice.
Negativity is not innocent. Negativity ascribes positive traits to some and negative traits to others. Negativity puts the solution to problems on someone else’s shoulders. And that is one reason why it is unfair.
Negativity Fatigue And The Status Quo
Negativity fatigue comes from a persistent refusal to acknowledge reality and deal with necessary change.
We all need to deal with the problems in front of us every day. When we don’t, problems pile up and actually become not only worse but also more difficult to solve. Negativity fatigue then is a consequence of a systemic failure, a cultural structure’s refusal to adapt to changing realities.
In the 1980’s I distinctly remember a national discussion about the state of our education system. There was much wringing of hands and despairing statements about the future of the country. Recently, I happened to be listening to the radio and heard a similar diatribe about the state of our education system. I was frankly surprised that for the past 30 odd years,in spite of all of the personal development going on the mindset remained the same.
I think it is curious that the mindset exists at all. However, I have noticed that a serious negativity towards people is a common feature of our national dialogue. Put-downs of one form or another are a frequent feature of entertainment, and other media presentations. How often do you hear someone say to another, “what is wrong with you?” How often do you hear someone called stupid for a different point of view?
All of the negativity is not real. It reflects a bias and biases are not reality. On November 6th, the people who are the most on the receiving end of the negative biases had enough and made sure their voices were heard and pushed back against negativity fatigue.
We Voted For Ourselves
In this election, the coalition of the marginalized finally overcame entrenched political and economic interests whose stonewalling has created massive problems for the country and the world including making climate issues worse.
Now that the coalition of the marginalized is the majority there is no going back. Although the road ahead will not be easy, cooperation among different people has become the actualized desire of millions of people.
This means that the public square is open to all people: people of all colors, religions, ethnicity and conditions including highly sensitive people.
In this election, the vote said we believe in ourselves. I think that is a wonderfully long overdue event.