Revolt or just revolting?

Second thoughts on the election
By Daniel Dunkle | Nov 10, 2016

I had two strange, mystical feelings Tuesday night as I realized that beyond all possible imagination, Donald Trump was being elected president.

First, "This can't be happening," and second, "I kind of knew this would happen."

Fortunately, I was busy punching numbers from local polling places into charts along with the rest of the news team, so I didn't have much time to ponder it until later.

However, once we get over the initial emotional response and political ranting and raving, we need to settle down and try to think in some reasonable manner about what we've learned. For me, there will be plenty of time for ranting when I sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with my parents.

Here are a few of the takeaways I think may be useful.

1. We should stop reporting on elections as horse races

On a certain level, I regret spending countless hours reading articles online about this election in the months leading up to it. Certainly, I feel all of the articles that dealt with the issues -- the environment, health care, taxes, foreign policy -- were worthwhile. But I read endless amounts of speculation about how Trump would lose, how the Republican party was falling apart, and so on that now turns out to have been wildly inaccurate.

As a journalist myself, I can see where the problem starts. Here at The Courier-Gazette, our first thought when we start covering an upcoming election is not, "Let's do a story projecting who is going to win the City Council race." We say, "Let's get the candidates in here and ask them some tough questions so the public knows where they stand on the issues." I see the seduction of the speculation. I have opined to friends and people in the office who I thought would win races this year, but our primary goal was reporting on the issues.

The polls we have been hearing about for months were worthless. Meanwhile, many of the issues were barely discussed.

2. Voters aren't taking our advice

I believe it's better to say something meaningful and relevant on the editorial page than to write a safe editorial that won't irritate anyone. When issues come before us in the newsroom, we first gather the facts, do the research and write the objective news story. Then, as we put the paper together, we argue it out and figure out what seems the best option and share that opinion with the readers.

Even if the answer we come up with is wrong, putting forth a strong opinion prompts those who disagree to respond with their arguments, and we are happy to publish those disagreeing views.

With Trump, the national press corps could fill Gillette Stadium to overflowing with all the columns and editorials that have been written against him, so that the pages would overflow into the parking lot leaving no room even for one deflated football, and guess what? The voters didn't listen.

So am I wrong in my approach?

No, I don't think so at the local level, but I think the national press and broadcast journalists have lost some of their weight because so many opinions are flying around 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, creating this endless white noise. When Cronkite expressed his opinion on Vietnam, the nation listened, because he didn't express his opinion that often.

However, there is an issue, too, with the American people. They don't trust government, they don't trust the press, they don't believe we landed on the moon. There's a point where you can become so paranoid and suspicious that it becomes unhealthy.

3. Relationship status, press and Trump: It's complicated.

Trump and the Republicans have been railing against the press for months, but I don't entirely buy into the belief that the press hates Trump, or that he hates the media. They protest too much.

As for Trump, he calls us dishonest and any number of names and complains, but he always does it to rolling cameras. The reality is that he thrives on attention, absolutely loves it. No one would be more heartbroken by the disappearance of media than Trump.

And if the media hate Trump so much, why has he received so much attention? I click on Google news and the like every day, and all year, the first thing at the top of the page is a headline about Trump with a picture of Trump.

It's not just that he was a candidate. Clinton was not at the top of the page every single day, and when she was, it was often in the number-two slot. He used up all the oxygen so that there was none left for the other candidates.

He got so much attention he didn't need to buy ads and bragged about that fact.

You want to see someone who really hates the press? Her name is Hillary Clinton.

4. She won the popular vote, but didn't win

I don't like it when that happens.

5. This is a revolt of the working class

So what really happened election night?

For years we have been losing prosperity. In 2008 we saw a wretched economic collapse and despite being told we have recovered, many working-class and middle-class families have not recovered. Their wages have not increased in step with the skyrocketing cost of living. Their American dream has crumbled. Many jobs that were around when I was a kid are just gone. At Wal-Mart, employees are replaced by self-serve checkout machines. My first job was pumping gas. No one does that anymore. My college job was working in a record store. There are no record stores anymore.

And who runs for president? Hillary Clinton? Jeb Bush? People we've been seeing on TV for 30 years and associate with the political status quo.

Well, the slow-boiled frog of the working class just jumped out of the steaming pot of the status quo.

So after I thought about it for a while, I thought, "Maybe I get it." This is a revolt.

I voted against Donald Trump, not because I am a fan of the status quo, but because I feared that the change he would bring could include taking away personal freedoms, the core of what I love about America. And I'm not sure I buy into the idea that this billionaire businessman is really such an outsider.

If his presidency turns out to be a disaster, it will be one that the political establishment brought on us by failing to address the problems that face the middle and working classes.

As for Donald, he surprised us all election night. Now I hope he can surprise us again by serving the people with dignity and respect for all.

Daniel Dunkle is news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, two children and two cats. Email him at

Comments (5)
Posted by: Marvon W. Hupper | Nov 17, 2016 16:21

Sterling Robinson has it correct. It does not take much effort to go to Clinton Scandels or Clinton Foundation to see that the tee shirts with "Hillary for Prison 2016" also has it correct. Thank God we got the lesser of the two evils for president. Lets hope he follows through with what he said he will do. Marvon Hupper

Posted by: William Spear | Nov 16, 2016 01:11

Would that be the same Strerling Robinson of Nasty Nova fame from the 60s ? Holy crap what a great car. Never knew you but knew of you. That's why I recognize the name. I was out of Camden. Drove junkers.

Posted by: Sterling Robinson | Nov 15, 2016 13:37

2. Voters are not taking our advice???
I notice the word "Opinion" lacking from your editorials Dan.  Sad.
Did you ever stop to think that the voters might not want or need your advice?  It would be one thing if your "advice" were fair and unbiased...but alas...such is not the case. 
Obviously the voters do not need to be told what to do or how to vote.  They are intellegent enough to do the research and to make their own informed decision(s). 
The truth is out there...but you will need to dig a little to find it.  This time around we were fortunate enough to have Wikileaks at our desposal.  There it was...the raw lies, cons, coercion and dishonesty...out there for everyone to see and the liberal media could do little to debunk it.
The liberal media tried hard to hide the truth and to sway the vote.  There is a running joke around our house:  Every weeknight at six thirty someone crys "It's time for Scott Pelley to tell us what to think."  I repectully suggest that you simply report the news and stop trying to tell the voters what to think. Stop the biased "analyzing."  These days we are seeing far too much biased editorialization and not enough raw news and truth.
As Hitler's Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, once said: "He who controls the media, controls the (weak) minds of the masses."  Judging from your failure to influence the voters in this election, I would respectfully suggest that stronger minds prevailed.
Thank you.

Posted by: Sonja Sleeper | Nov 15, 2016 07:54

I would like to point out when analyzing something try to step outside yourself and try to see it from another perspective.  I am glad Trump won because I hated the though of that woman winning.  A review, She won the Senate seat in a safe district, I was there and know-do a little research.  She started the run against Gulliani who dropped out due to cancer, and she barely won against an unknown who had only 6 weeks to campaign which was a statement in itself.  By the by when it looked too close, suddenly poll workers had ballots in the trunks at a few precincts that they "forgot to bring in."  Don't believe me look it up, amounted to a couple hundred votes.  She then ran for president and in the primary lost to Obama, and owed money at the end of the race, which Obama and others helped to get paid off, she then resigned as Senator to be Secretary of State, which she again resigned from due to the heavy schedule. Oh and remember the health issues?  Hospitalized for blood clots etc.  Forget the emails, Benghazi, and the private server (which I still do not get as to why one would have that) She is just not a good person, those jobs, "achievements" and experience all political appointments through influence.  PS do not forget the Savings and Loan thing.

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 10, 2016 14:49

A fine read! I agree with how it happened. That a candidate could win the majority of the peoples vote but lose with the Electoral College. Confusing? Yes. But we live with it. Perhaps a change is needed for future young voters. Perhaps we will get through this Trump- elected- President. My fears are financial crisis' for the losing ground middle class and with the emerging graduates from College trying to get a foot in the door. This is a thought provoking, informative read.


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