Pools, polls and pols

December 4, 2016

One afternoon while staying at a hotel, I decided to take a dip in the pool. As soon as I dipped my toes in the water, I became immediately aware that it was not heated. Not a good start.

 

So now I was faced with one of the stark choices we often get in life: Do I slowly immerse into the chilly water and allow my body to slowly adjust to the cold? Or do I just dive right in, deal with the shock and get it over with quickly? Lucky for me there was a hot tub — a more convenient option. It felt good, but it felt like cheating, as I was not doing the lap or getting a real swim in.

 

With such stark choices that the American people had to make during last week’s elections — both with their respective pitfalls —  it was not surprising that about half the electorate decided to punt and hit the hot tub. Some didn't even leave the hotel room. Some might call it the “Hot Tub Time Machine” effect. And like the movie, some may feel it reverses decades of progress (minus the  

 

80s hair band Poison, although Bret Michaels did appear- and win on Celebrity Apprentice.) Others may see it as a fantasy come true. An upset, similar to the “Miracle on Ice” win of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team.

 

It was, ironically, reminiscent of how others felt about Obama’s election eight years ago. I doubt there was a huge cross-over between those two groups. But based on results from rust-belt states, there was some crossover of Obama voters to Trump voters.

 

That is the story of this election. I'm sure some wished the story revolved around emails or groping allegations. It didn't play out that way, however.

 

Let’s not forget though that half of the eligible voters did not vote. So the winning candidate, Trump, only received about 25-percent support. That statistics isn't really shocking, but it would have also been true had Hillary Clinton won the election and indeed she still leads the popular vote by almost 2 million.

 

We are in the age of reality TV politics — kind of like a modern episode of the Twilight Zone.

 

Van Jones, CNN commentator and former Obama official, expressed outright fear over the results, asking rhetorically — and dramatically —

 

“What am I supposed to tell my children?” I can't tell people how to feel, but I'm pretty sure Van

Jones and his children belong to the privileged class. And like Obama said, “The sun will rise tomorrow.” 

 

Much of the pervading fear and anger can be attributed to the inaccurate polling and biased media coverage, which wrongly projected Hillary Clinton to be the “inevitable winner.” Shades of 2008.

 

We have seen exaggerated rhetoric on both sides, on the streets and in the shadows. We have unfortunately seen sporadic vandalism and violence. But let's not get caught up in the hype of memes and videos repeated over and over on social and traditional media.

 

Hateful graffiti are sprayed in the middle of the night by cowards who run away anonymously. These actions are isolated; the perpetrators are shamed. They don't represent the supporters from either side.

 

It's important for leaders on all sides, including President-elect Trump, to discourage hateful and illegal activity. So far, that message has been delivered.

 

However, I have to make a full disclosure — or half-disclosure — that I didn't vote. Like all Guamanians from different backgrounds, I am ineligible to vote in the US presidential election. It's an embarrassing legacy of the long tendrils of the colonial past that has yet to be resolved. It's

complicated and unfortunate that such historical disenfranchisement still exists, and Guam is part of that.


But like the mirror of the presidential election’s result, Guam also chose change by voting the old-timers out. While change brings risk and fear, it brings an opportunity for more accountable government. Special interests, another hotel altogether, and hopefully, it will have a heated pool.

 

It's easy to talk big and bold when you don't have to actually make decisions, take the risks and deal with the results. Those elected to office are now in charge. It's on you now; don't screw it up.

 

Or next time, we might have to just stay at another hotel altogether, and hopefully, it will have a heated pool.

 

 

(Joseph Meyers is a resident of Tamuning. Send feedback to joejoeirish@yahoo.com)

 

 

 

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