What an election year. I don’t know that I’ve seen anything like it. The entire experience has seemed so unhinged that I’ve struggled to be able to diagnose it. I’ve struggled to even make an attempt at diagnosing it. It’s honestly felt like chaos.
Equally perplexing to me is that the voting public seems to have become significantly polarized around the two presidential candidates. I don’t mean that they have a preference – I mean that they are emotionally invested and it seems to be much more pervasive than I ever remember it.
As I speak with people to try to understand it all, my take is that a notable percentage of those voting for one candidate are basically motivated by a desire to not support the other one. In other words, in the faction of those voting for Donald – the vote seems to be largely connected with an anti-Obama, anti-establishment leaning. In the faction of those voting for Hilary – an anti-Donald leaning.
I got a real whack on the side of the head this morning when I happened upon Meet the Press. This NBC Sunday morning talk show invited Michael Moore and Glenn Beck to speak. Yes – I said Michael Moore and Glen Beck. This was too good to miss. I can’t think of many who represented more of the outer edges of left and right than these two. I felt confident that I could predict their responses to the current presidential election process. I was wrong.
When Michael Moore came on he said something that blew me away. He is apparently predicting a Donald Trump victory. Yep – that’s what I said. Not because he wants it – but because of what he views as the response of a disgruntled, unheard faction in America – the struggling, middle class. He said that this faction doesn’t necessarily view Trump as a great choice for president as much as they view him as a “Molotov cocktail” to throw into the establishment. My interpretation of Moore’s words is that the middle class is fed up with business as usual and generally feel let down and unheard by the government. Trump is their attempt at blowing up the establishment.
When Glenn Beck came on I was totally ready for him to bang the Trump bell – but he didn’t. As a matter of fact he actually fell just short of actual agreement with Michael Moore on his diagnosis. He shared how the current political state of affairs had left him feeling as if he had no home. He generally supported the idea that the election had become less about the candidates and more about a pervasive disgruntledness among middle class America.
Wow – this is indeed an intriguing interpretation. It reminds me of an activity that should be very important among leaders – know what’s happening in the room. Know what people are saying about you. Be wise to the multiple interpretations that are brewing below the surface. You don’t have to agree with them – but you do need to know them and take them seriously. Because, to those who are feeling them, they ARE serious. My take on Moore and Beck is that they are agreeing on this point – neither party seems fully awake enough to these interpretations.
Is it possible that a notable number of the votes that both Clinton and Trump are getting are not about them personally? That both candidates just represent a public reaction to a systemic interpretation? Trump being the “Molotov cocktail” to the heart of the establishment and Clinton being the establishment?
I’m not asking you to agree with me. I am asking you to consider this possibility. I’m not formally polling voters but I am having conversations with my friends and neighbors about this election. I must say – this interpretation of Beck and Moore is helping me make sense of much of what I’m hearing. There aren’t many in my pool of acquaintances that fit into the category of great enthusiasm for either of these candidates – but they will vote. So what will be motivating their decision in the voting booth? The interpretations of Moore and Beck help me understand a little bit more about that this morning.
My thanks to the far left and the far right for these insights.