As a conservative, I was very disappointed by the election results Tuesday.

The U.S. is always changing…

On purpose, I stayed away from the news shows next day. I surely did not want to watch any Wednesday-morning quarterbacking. He could have won if he’d only done this … He did win because he was better connected to his base … He just didn’t appeal to voters … He didn’t lose much of his base from 2008 … blah, blah, blah …

I just didn’t want to hear it. At the end of the day on the day before the election, TV reporters and pundits and anchors and just about anyone with a microphone and camera in front of them admitted the following: “It’s just too close to call. Nobody knows.”

I agree and this epiphany occurred to me.

I need to change MY behavior. Not yours, not any one else’s. Just mine.

Here’s how the epiphany occurred:

I watched the election results on several shows Election night. I particularly liked Diane Sawyer slurring her words. But, as I watched the results come in, it reminded me of a story I had read on the Internet about a week ago. A PBS newsperson, not Jim Lehrer, but a newsperson nonetheless, gave a speech in Seattle, Washington. The fundamentals of his speech included:

  • The reason we are so disconnected and disunited as a country is largely the blame of the media
  • The supposed “demand” by the public to provide news that is aligned with their political thinking helps none.

I read through the gist of the story on this newsperson’s speech and found myself really paying close attention to what he was saying.

Years ago, he said, the average American got his/her news from ABC, CBS or NBC for 30 minutes each evening. He explained that as a nation we watched assassinations, walks on the moon, Vietnam battles, elections and other major events TOGETHER through any one of these three networks. So, even if the media was tainted back then, people got their news from one of these three providers. And when they talked about major events with friends or work acquaintances, there was this feeling that on major subjects the networks dispensed similar news reports. How did CBS cover the assassination? I watched NBC’s broadcast. People who were connected at work, with very little in common, could talk about the news because regardless of race, gender, political belief, etc., they could reach common ground by being united in watching the same news broadcasts.

And he mentioned that as the interest in cable programming has grown, the interest in tailoring news channels to a person’s particular cultural way of thinking became such a novelty and a quickly embraced one that new niches of news broadcasters like MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, etc. began to appeal to a particular “cultural value” held by the viewer. There are cable channels directed to blacks, Latinos, just about any ethnic group you can imagine.

For ratings appeal, and advertiser dollars, the channels began to very clearly define their audiences. Not one network or cable news outlet can claim to give its viewers “straight” news. Fox claims to give the viewer a “fair and balanced” view, but that is ludicrous. It’s conservative in nature. MSNBC and CNN? Well, need I say more about these two?

But, with the media, particularly some of  the cable news providers, so tailored to liberals, uh progressives, and some so tailored to conservatives, there is little opportunity for these folks to mix and match ideas. As the newsman pointed out, a conservative viewer who watches Fox News rarely takes the opportunity to watch Chris Matthews or Joe Scarborough and seek out progressives to exchange ideas. As people, we “tend” to gravitate to those around us who appear to believe as we do, act like we do, enjoy the same things, etc. But we should seek the differences in people, too. This just doesn’t happen as much as it should. I discussed with a close progressive friend of mine, Dave, what the newsperson said in his speech and Dave reminded me, “Derek, do you remember just a few years ago it was really hard to tell a Republican from a Democrat?” I thought about it, and he was right. Not too long ago, it was hard to distinguish one from the other.

Now, as the newsperson’s premise, we’re digging ourselves only deeper into the personal and cultural divides that separate us so strongly now.

So, I have decided to change. As a conservative, I usually get my nation/world news from Fox News. Not gonna do that from now on. I’m gonna go back a few years and watch my world/nation news from ABC, NBC or CBS in my time zone from 5:30-6 pm ONLY. I won’t give up on reading the news. I am a former newsperson and it is hard to get that out of the blood.

And, today, I caught a good summation of what really happened in the election, and it was by George Will of the Washington Post. In short, he cited the GOP‘s inability to read accurately the changing demographics among diverse groups in the U.S. This division separates us and separates us greatly.

Here’s Will’s article: And the winner is: The status quo

I will avoid watching news all day. That will give me more time to invest in actions and activities that are truly important to me, like finding a way to get term limits installed in Congress.

And, when I vote, I will vote the principles and values that I hold dear,  whether they are changing around me or not.