As I write this piece, the polls have just opened on Election Day 2018. All 1,065 of these words will be printed on the paper you are holding in your hands before the polls close, so I am penning this with no idea what the outcome of today’s important midterms will be.
However, I do think I have learned throughout this seemingly endless campaign season how the national media and/or political consultants think Americans think, and therefore vote. And once again they have all painted with a very broad brush and tried to put us in several boxes.
And as we all know, it’s just way more complicated than that.
Maybe there will be a red wave or a blue wave or “tsunamis,” as both sides like to hope for. “It all depends on turnout!” If we had a nickel for every time we’ve heard that, we wouldn’t need a lottery in Alabama.
Some of the statements pundits have proffered certainly have some truth to them, but once again, I don’t think you can paint with such broad brushes.
Let’s look at some of the analyses the chattering class have determined to be true and examine:
1. College-educated Republican women in the suburbs are lost to Democrats.
Sure, many of them are. But many are still sporting MAGA hats, too.
And, anecdotally, I find just as many moderate Republican women who are still planning to vote with their party, and it has nothing really to do with Donald Trump.
Do I hear them express absolute disdain for how the president conducts himself? Yes. Do I hear them express outrage about how he talks about women? Yes.
But then do I hear them write that off as just “noise” or a “sideshow” that is not to be taken seriously? Also yes.
And then they go on to explain how their and/or their spouse’s 401(k)s are soaring, how they’ve gotten raises or bonuses, or how their small businesses are doing better than they have in years, and they rationalize all the Trump rhetoric as something they can live with, as long as they continue to personally prosper.
Also, many assume that every “college-educated woman” who watched the Kavanaugh hearings immediately and totally “sided” with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and, therefore, the Democrats.
From the conversations I have had with women in my life, this is not the case. I have heard such a variety of reactions to those hearings and it just doesn’t line up with the theses of cable news analysts, which usually just back up the partisan views of whatever network they are on.
Sure, those on the super left and super right were probably always going to back their “side,” no matter what. But the women in the middle had such visceral and varied reactions.
I heard women who despise Trump absolutely hate how they thought Brett Kavanaugh was treated. And they were disgusted with the lack of due process. And I also spoke with women who voted for Trump who felt like Kavanaugh should have never been confirmed. When you drill down deeper to see why, their opinions on this were not determined by their political party but almost always by their own personal experiences — how they view themselves — as someone who has been victimized or who does not view themselves as a victim, despite being in similar situations as Ford described.
In addition to this, maybe they pictured their son or daughter on either side of the situation and viewed it through that lens. I feel like all of these reactions are absolutely genuine and to be respected. But different. And they affect how these women vote in different ways.
And there are certainly college-educated Republican women in the South who will never vote for a pro-choice candidate. But I bet there are just as many who say that outside the voting booth and vote differently once they are behind the curtain.
So again: Sorry, pundits, you can’t throw us all in the same box and think we will vote the same way. Every woman, every person, weighs a lot of factors when they are making decisions on who to vote for. I know many Mobilians who are voting for both Republicans and Democrats today.
2. All liberals are socialists who want open borders and migrants to come on in freely.
This is just not true. I know many, many liberals and I can’t name a single one who just thinks we should throw the welcome mat out and let endless numbers of people cross the border at will with no process. Most people (on both sides of the aisle) want tighter border security and a better, more efficient system. They just don’t want extreme things like “child separation” and the military shooting at kids throwing rocks. (If that ever even happens — I highly doubt it will. And I certainly hope it doesn’t.)
Also, most liberals aren’t ready to just give their entire paychecks away to folks — they just want the system to be more equitable and fair, so the top 1 percent aren’t the only ones prospering. (I think a lot of conservatives want that too!)
3. All politics is local.
Actually, this old axiom is the only thing that will continue to hold true from state to state and district to district. And the polarizing guy at the top will not have as much to do with how people choose their governors, congressmen and women, senators or state and local reps, but more so how right the guy or gal on their ballot is for their particular state or district. And really, isn’t that exactly how it should work?
In the end, no matter what happens after the polls close tonight at 7 p.m., I hope we can all take a deep breath and realize this divisiveness and anger just can’t go on. We are more alike than we think. We agree on more than we disagree. We really do. We just want to do well for ourselves and we want better lives for our children. We want to have good jobs and schools, access to health care, reasonable taxes and decent infrastructure.
Sure, we may have different ideas on how we get there, but one thing is for certain: If we never stop arguing and stay on our own “side” and never figure this out together, we never will.