I first ran this piece ten years ago, and update it for every election.
Election Day is not a national holiday, at least not in the traditional sense. But it is the one day that our nation asks something from all of us, even if it’s just a few minutes. If you follow Calle Ocho through Little Havana in Miami on Election Day, you’ll see a long line houses with the red white and blue of US and Cuban flags stretching off into the horizon. Families sometimes come together across generations, as with any holiday, before they go off to vote. Cuban exiles in Miami are a people that know what it means to be free because freedom and good times are often best measured against their opposite.
The news broke over the weekend, confirming everyone’s worst fears. The 2016 election of Trump and the Brexit vote were indeed engineered by one firm, Cambridge Analytica, which used millions of facebook profiles to build, then manipulate, psychological profiles of voters ready to be led like sheep.
It’s terrifying. It’s everything George Orwell warned us about. And it may be completely legal.
Over the weekend, financial markets were sleeping. They awoke on Monday as if the weekend was a bad dream, filled with chatter about a trade war and how it was actually a good idea.
It’s not a dream, it’s reality. But is this all a stupid attempt to promote a candidate in a tariff-loving industrial district that should be winning a lot bigger? Nevermind the unreality of it, including the fact that the Pennsylvania 18th is certainly going to go away with court-ordered redistricting. There’s a special election on 13 March, and losing it would be very embarrassing.
This might all be a show to avoid losing a place where Trump should be winning bigly.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
If you’re a Democrat, there’s a good chance that you’ve cackled with glee over the turmoil in the Republican Party. Between the presidential campaign running so far off script that inside fave Bush is polling in fourth at 8% and the chaos in the House there’s a lot of schadenfreude to be had.
Then again, it also might be distracting us Democrats from our own problems which, while not as public and nasty, are still rather bad. There’s nothing wrong with the party that can’t be fixed in the next year but time is running a bit short. Those of us who care about the future of our party, our movement, have a responsibility to kill the party over Republican misfortune and start calling out our own shortcomings.
The election in the UK produced a surprising result – one not even remotely called by all the polls taken right up to polling day, 7 May. How could they miss it? It’s always possible that the polls were simply wrong, but it’s more likely that something changed deep in the guts of the electorate as they went in to vote. Is Britain really that conservative? No, people probably don’t like PM Cameron any more now than they did before. Can we learn something from this?
Perhaps we can. But we might be able to learn more from the provincial election in Alberta that produced a surprising win for the very left-wing New Democratic Party (NDP) in a conservative stronghold. This huge shift came on like an Alberta Clipper off the North Pole, but it was caught by pollsters just before the election. And both of these recent election may apply because, as we noted before, the developed world is suffering from the same chill everywhere – buffeted by change, voters are demanding stability and strong new leadership.