I feel like I need a rabies shot after witnessing the blind rage shown by candidates and supporters alike during this election cycle.
This campaign season was akin to watching a drunken father beat his wife while in front of his children and not having the ability to intervene to stop it. And I am not just referring to Donald Trump. I am talking about the near miss we had in the Richmond Mayoral election. It was excruciatingly painful to watch. In fact, it was downright terrible.
Not only did an insulting demagogue who has treated women very poorly win the US Presidency, but a known scoundrel-Joe Morrissey-collected more than 21% of Richmond’s Mayoral vote. In Trump’s case, his victory came despite disenfranchising huge swaths of the country and being caught saying where he would grab women-ahem-on a hot microphone. As I write this, folks are rioting in the streets in protest as a result. In Morrissey’s case, while he did not win, he still had an impressive showing despite sordid revelations a week before the election. His alleged abuse of power with a woman client was only the latest addition to his well known dossier of misdeeds.
And to be fair, Hillary Clinton was no saint. Her email server issues and ethics questions related to potential pay to play contributions to the Clinton Foundation smelled bad. These issues gave many folks ample reason not to trust her. Yet she still won the popular vote, and would have been elected President were it not for that pesky electoral college.
So what does it all mean?
Well for one, it tells us that we have a bunch of people who feel trapped. Like cornered animals, people are lashing out by making political decisions in a fit of blind rage. This is desperation I see. Folks feel they are being excluded, or left behind-and they will do nearly anything to tip the scales in their favor. And this applies not only for the rural working class Americans or military members who voted for Trump, but the liberal voters who pinched their noses and voted for Hillary. The same is true for the Richmonders who voted for Morrissey. If this election proved anything it showed that folks are clearly willing to vote for morally bankrupt politicians, so long as they believe they stand to benefit in the end. Bottom line, character didn’t seem to matter very much in this election.
Given this dynamic, Richmond should count its blessings that Levar Stoney, with the help of a last minute assist by Jon Baliles, pulled Richmond back from the precipice. And while I don’t want to take anything away from Levar Stoney’s victory, I still have a lingering, rotten feeling in my stomach. This election was downright scary.
We seem to be at a fundamental crossroads. We need iconic, honest politicians who can bridge the divides that are ripping us apart. People need to believe again that elected officials in positions of immense power will actually do the right thing in the end. And I am not talking about normal politicians. I am talking about the Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or Franklin D. Roosevelt type icons who can lead us forward. I don’t know if such politicians exist anymore, but we sure do we need one at the national level. Here’s to hoping we can find one icon we can all rally around in the next four years.
And to Levar Stoney-we owe you a debt of gratitude-thank you.
Regardless of whether Levar was your first pick or not, his heart is in the right place. Congratulations to all of Richmond!