Over a year ago, I presented a case for eliminating the electoral college. This election is another example of its inherent weakness. But for a couple hundred thousand votes, President-Elect Biden could have lost despite gathering almost 5M more votes. The percentage differential is greater than either of George Bush’s election wins. Yet, the outcome was in doubt until November 7th.
Unfortunately, our system over represents the isolated, less educated, rural parts of America, both in the electoral college and the Senate. Why is this problematic?
I believe that all of us live in our bubbles. We are kind and generous to those within our bubble. Our bubbles can be expanded by experience with different kinds of people, education, and travel. Those who live in rural communities do not have as much opportunity to expand their bubble. Why is that important?
It is difficult to empathize with a group of people that we don’t know. As our bubbles expand, we meet more people who are not like us, learn about their needs, and understand that they are just like us just in a different color, religion, or belief. Empathy comes from “walking a mile in their moccasins.”
The other differential between the urban and rural communities are the news channels that they watch. To better understand the conservative perspective, I watched Fox News coverage this week and discovered, while that their “slant” is definitely Republican/Conservative and they often report Trump’s message without fact checking; most of the news was accurate. When we got to the evening commentators, however, all accuracy, decency, and humanity went out the window; and I had to stop watching.
On the other hand, the channels that I prefer are more accurate but demonize President Trump.
The conservative news channel focused on the economy (as it relates to Wall Street) and maintaining conservative Christian values. The moderate and liberal news channels focused on the dispossessed, COVID 19, and injustice.
The news that informs us within our bubbles divides us.
So how to we bring the better angels of our nature to help us work together?
I have a solution.
I propose that we require all news programs to hire independently certified fact checkers who will “beep” into a commentator when there is misinformation and provide an accuracy score at the end of the program. That way, all of us can learn if/when there is disinformation. Commentators (on both sides) who report inaccurate information will find their programs frequently interrupted and disrupted which might bring down their viewership and lessen their credibility. (And impose similar requirements on social media channels.)
Many of us are single or small issue voters. (I personally vote for choice, education, healthcare, and racial justice.) Some Trump voters that I knew had been convinced by their media that Democrats would take their guns away (physically impossible). Other Trump voters from the broader bubbles voted on the economy, and fear of tax increases.
We see things differently, but if we can minimize the misinformation, we will find more agreement than disagreement.
President-elect Biden also believes this. He believes that we are a kind and generous nation. Now it is time for us to focus on what we agree upon (health, infrastructure, economy) with empathy for all sides; and move forward.
Angela Rieck, a Caroline County native, received her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland and worked as a scientist at Bell Labs, and other high-tech companies in New Jersey before retiring as a corporate executive. Angela and her dogs divide their time between St Michaels and Key West Florida. Her daughter lives and works in New York City.