Why Didn’t This Election Scare Me?

by | Nov 16, 2016

“A Drunk Man’s Mouth Speaks With a Sober Man’s Heart.”

As the presidential race played out, there was a recurring hue and cry that, “This time it’s different!” Pundits all over the mainscream media proclaimed it. Psychologists tried to explain it. My brother even texted me about my plans to seek safety, buy ammo, make sandwiches, or otherwise get ready for when all hell broke loose after the election. I openly admit that at various points, I too thought, “Are these two arrogant megalomaniacs are all that’s left?” (By the way, is it just me, or does the American political process better resemble a professional wrestling cage match versus a time-honored quest for intelligent leadership?) I finally concluded that this election wasn’t really all that different, and there was never really a need for special consideration.

To explain my new conclusion, I will need to tell a story. (If you knew me, you would know I always need to tell a story!) I live in Upstate New York, but I am from North Carolina. That’s also where I attended college. Back when I used to interview students for admission to my alma mater, it always shocked me when they would mention how uncomfortable they were during visits to the South. Almost always, they mentioned being taken aback by the overt racism. Thinking back to when I grew up, that overt-ness was actually comforting. It left no dispute as to which people were racist and which were not. The former would openly say, “I don’t like n*ggers,” or words to that effect. That placed them firmly on my list of homes to avoid in the event of running out of gas.

After arriving in the Northeast, it was initially refreshing to notice that no one ever seemed to use the so-called “N-Word.” One might even begin to assume that indicates a lack of racism. The truth is different. The racism still exists, but it is covert, displayed only in the right setting, and only with the right people. As a result, one can spend years trying to reliably identify those people who would would gleefully quote my Southern brethren.

How does all this relate to the election? Contrary to the popular narrative, Trump did not create more racists, or uncover a new strain. (Nor did Clinton, for that matter.) Instead, the political process allowed them to seamlessly move from the quiet group into the noisy group. Some attribute this movement to a change in attitude, but I doubt it. Further, many proclaim that the 2016 election reflects that we now have “a divided country!” Maybe, but my money is on “same as it ever was.” I suspect it is no more divided, and frankly, no more sexist, than it was before. What we have instead, is a case of pre-existing assholes who are now brave enough to let their inner asshole come out to play. I, for one, am happy to see it happen! Start making your lists. Whether or not you check them twice is your call.

About Wilton Alston

Wilton D. Alston is a biomedical engineer turned transportation safety engineer who, when not training for a marathon or enjoying fine whiskey, loves hanging out with his (college sweetheart) wife and their three children in Upstate New York.

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