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10/31/16

Things That Make Me SMH

By Grant Davies

Recently, while enjoying a comedy show with family, I heard a routine that not only made me laugh but also gave me an insight into a question I have been pondering for a very long time.

It began for me as a "shake my head" moment so long ago I can't even remember when it was. I guess the millennials call that "SMH" in today's online world. In the world as I remember it the phrase was: "Things that make 'ya go hmmm.." (Even though it's too early in this essay to digress, I just did.)

The question of why people vote as they do (or justify their vote when it all goes wrong, as is most often the case) has fascinated me for quite a while. I was certain it wasn't because of what candidates stood for or what they said they stood for, even though that's what voters claimed. Many of us gullible types actually believed that for a long time, until we became cynical grown-ups.

But I was still perplexed by those who defended the indefensible. Why did they do that?  Lots of people have posited opinions about it including the most popular opinion that: "fill in the blanks" don't care about anything as long as their "fill in the blank" political party is in power.

In today's messy situation that translates into "Hillary can get away with anything because she's a Democrat" or "Trump can say or do anything because he isn't a Democrat." (I would debate the part about him not being a Democrat, but again, I digress.)

Then I saw a quote by a guy named David Applegate. I don't even know who he is, but what he said made sense and it went a few steps down the road towards the question that I had been pondering. He said:

"On a micro level, a voter may cast a ballot for any number of reasons unrelated to actual policy positions: because of the candidate’s name, appearance, or party affiliation; because that’s how members of the voter’s family have always voted; because that’s how the precinct worker who dragged the voter to the polls instructed the voter to vote. But on a macro level it’s fair to say that American voters are largely in one of two camps: those who want more government and those who want less." 

I was attracted to it because he was saying in part what I had been saying for quite a while. Namely, we have this whole right/left, Republican/Democrat thing wrong. It's been more/less all along.

Well, as it turns out, that's not quite it either. At least as far as my question is concerned. And it all became an epiphany moment for me when the comedian at the show went into his routine about why he voted for Barack Obama. The comic's name is Dwayne Kennedy. He said he voted for Obama because Obama was black. He went on to say that since that was the reason for his vote, no matter whether Obama did a good job or a bad job, he was not disappointed because Obama is still black. It was a funny routine. I laughed. More than that, it was an insight that never quite occurred to a regular mope like me.

So the answer to the question of why people vote for certain candidates and why they are never disappointed no matter what the candidates subsequently do, is that unless the fundamental reason they voted for someone changed, there could be no disappointment. And life just got easier for the voter who came to that conclusion.

If you voted for Obama because he was black, that ain't changing. Voila! If you voted for him because he was a Democrat, that ain't changing. If you voted for him because you hated/feared Republicans, that ain't changing.

I have scoured the news sites looking for a story about Hillary seeking a sex change operation. I didn't find anything. So I think people who are voting for her because she's a female are safe. The people who are voting for her because she isn't Trump are safe as well.

People voting for Trump because they actually think he will "Make America Great Again!" will be disappointed. But I think both of them will get over it.

So my "SMH" moment has turned into a SLAP MY foreHEAD moment. Duh! Now I get it. And it only took me 66 years.