I woke up this morning to feeling like it was 1984.
This morning Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States – and I can’t help but think back the to iconic Apple Computer commercial not-so-loosely based on George Orwell’s book, 1984. In the commercial a young woman races down the aisle between an audiences dutifully watching a giant screen. With an ominous face looking down and across the audience, the voice is seemingly espousing directions to the obedient masses. The woman, with an oversized sledgehammer, stops and throws the object into the screen – shattering both the image and the power the speaker held over the people.
Yes, America, there might be a parallel here.
This column is not about who won or lost, but rather wondering if we are truly witnessing a watershed moment in history. Or is this, as others might say, simply a blip on the landscape of history. I find the latter more wishful thinking than the former. What happened last night is more about how the world of conventional wisdom and self-appointed experts found a hammer tossed through the giant screen of what everyone thought they knew – or at least thought they knew – about the American electorate.
Last night a new electorate came to the polls – one composed of a demographic neither the Republican or Democratic Party seemed to see coming. If anything, the two parties found those they considered rightfully under their tent switching sides. Blue voting blocks went red and red voting blocks went blue. Former bankable demographic lines bled into the middle forming an unlikely coalition. In the end, what everyone thought they knew about what their party represented, crashed to the ground like the shards of glass as the sledgehammer shattered the giant screen in front of them. Like I said, 1984 all over again.
My 21-year old daughter said something over dinner on election night I that struck me with a clarity I’ll never forget.
“In my lifetime – other than President Obama – only two families seemed to have occupied the White House. The Clintons and the Bushes. It is like an oligarchy.”
I paused and thought about her words. She, for her age, might be onto something significant. Since the 1988 election, the family names have run Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama. And this year, the GOP was frothing for fight between the representatives of the marque families, Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.
My daughter’s skepticism was profound. To her, why should her choices be limited to a handful of powerful families? Why should she and her vote be expected to dutifully fall in line? She felt insulted.
Again, whom she cast her vote for is her business and not mine. But I will tell you, I found her observation interesting – signifying an element I believe was severely discounted by the experts and those barking order from the giant screen on the wall.
Maybe, just maybe, we witnessed a giant sledgehammer smashing into the status quo last night.