A Senior Moment
Hillary or Donald?
by Rev. Bob Johnston

November 13, 2016

New Perspectives

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Sam was an older fellow who had just ended a relationship with his partner. The eight-year union admittedly had experienced a few rocky bumps along the way. Sam’s nephew recently shared this story about his favorite uncle.

It seems Uncle Sam was being wooed by two would-be suitors who recognized that being free, Sam was now available to consider some new options. The problem was that Uncle couldn’t decide with which suitor he wanted to begin another committed relationship.

Hillary would surely be the safer bet. She was experienced, determined, hard-working and very logically persuasive. She described a future together with Sam which would make him even more healthy and prosperous. She always spoke carefully, at times sounding scripted, being cautious never to weaken her case by offending him. Uncle Sam had known her in several other roles she played in past years. Hillary did come, however, with a bit of baggage because of her “history.” There were those unsavory allegations, some proven and others merely speculative. Her public personality was not the warmest either; she once referred to some of Donald’s good friends as “deplorables.”

Donald was a newcomer to this courtship business; brash, labelled as narcissistic, extremely wealthy and at times foul-mouthed. Initially, Uncle Sam saw Donald’s overtures as a joke, just another way to boost his public visibility through blatant self-promotion. Yet, gradually over time, Sam felt drawn to this most unlikely candidate for a relationship. Perhaps it was the enticement of something different, the lure of a personality totally unlike his previous partner.

With Hillary it was certainly never going to be a risky bet; no surprises ahead with that choice. By contrast, in picking Donald, Uncle Sam might have to ignore or learn to live with those sometimes misogynistic comments and that unsettling unpredictability, not to mention his many irrational and radical promises.

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To everyone’s shock, in the end Uncle Sam chose Donald. It was partly the promise of a good, high paying job; his reassurance of living in a neighbourhood safe from “dangerous newcomers”. There was perhaps something refreshing about that lack of politically correct language. There was also this outsider’s recognition of and appeal to Uncle Sam’s deep sense of having felt that his voice had been, in part, ignored in that previous relationship. So, Uncle Sam mustered up just enough trust to accept Donald’s proposal and those accompanying promises---even with some ambivalence. Whether Sam’s choice will prove to be a disaster or a pleasant surprise (and relief) will unfold over these next months. While many of Uncle Sam’s friends look forward to celebrating his January wedding, others remain frightened, dismayed and even violently angry.

Enough of this extended allegory! Like almost all prognosticators, I too got it wrong.

In a column written last year as the race for the nomination was well underway (August 29), I predicted Trump’s eventual demise at the hands of a skeptical and offended Uncle Sam. In my own defense I did recognize his appeal to a large group of disaffected voters, not racist nor misogynist, who felt their voices were not being heard by the establishment of either party.

I also voiced my opinion over recent months that pollsters were not recognizing the existence of those many “shy voters” who were unwilling or afraid to acknowledge being Trump supporters. Why was Trump’s abrasive style and rash promises received without alarm by much of the electorate, even while raising loud warning bells from the media and ridicule from opponents?

Salena Zito writing in the on-line Atlantic (September 26/16) made this astute prophetic observation:

The press takes him literally, but not seriously;

his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016