Before I try to guess what the implications are, beyond the obvious ones, I would like to say that Nancy Pelosi, in her press conference a couple of days ago, came across as someone who was capable of dealing with the situation much more competently than I had thought. She struck what I thought was the appropriate tone; she did not seem to seethe with anger, but she gave the impression of being very determined; she drew the lines in the sand that hardly anyone could argue against: she would not tolerate interference with the oversight of the other branches of government with which Congress has been charged. All the time, she was cool and polite, and did not indulge in any sort of incendiary rhetoric at all. But she did come across as very old, but hardly decrepit.
For those who want to see Nancy Pelosi in a more informal setting, here she is with Stephen Colbert. Stunningly confident, but not worrisomely so. I was delighted to hear her occasional chuckles, while Steve Colbert cringed, thinking her prediction of success would precipitate a bad turnout. (It is possible that the outcome might have been better if halfhearted Democrats in the southern states had not taken Ms. Pelosi's blithe confidence to be permission to sit out the election, but it is a free country, even if some of us wish it wasn't.)
To summarize: Trump gave a rare press conference the day after the elections, and he deplored the fact that those Republicans who had not embraced him with open arms had not won their seats; he hurled insults at those who accused him of being racist; he refused to answer (or answered vaguely) questions about what he would do, now that the Democrats had a majority in the House; he did not answer questions about his cabinet. Soon afterwards, he banned a particularly aggressive CNN reporter from the White House Press Corp (Jim Acosta), though I personally believe that Jim Acosta was at fault for not surrendering his microphone, and thus hijacking the press conference. What is Trump to do: just patiently wait until Acosta thought he was done? (Sarah H. Sanders played a video—which some Democrats insist has been altered—to support their claim that Acosta wrestled a female intern for the microphone.) Next, he asked Jeff Sessions for his resignation, and then appointed a fellow called Matt Whittaker as acting head of the Justice Department. There is some belief that such an appointment had to be approved by the Senate. (But of course, now the Senate is running scared that without Trump's willing support and campaign, they may never win an election again.)
Among the freshman congressmen/congresswomen are two Islamic women, two Native American women, and two openly gay women, not all of whom are distinct; for instance one of the Native American ladies is openly gay.
One article on the Internet (Atlantic Monthly) suggests that the divide between the Left and the Right is based on attitude towards education. This was reported by at least two scholars. Looking deeper at the effect, using exit polls, some scholars concluded that behind the "Diploma Divide" were uglier attitudes expressed as follows:
If you look at white people who voted for Trump—both those with college degrees and those without—and identify everybody with a high level of resentment toward minorities, women, and Muslims, as well as those who want an arrogant, assertive leader, there’s almost no one left. The vast majority of Trump voters share those sentiments, the researchers found, regardless of education level.Sad as this makes us feel, we must remember that these attitudes are not permanent. The article goes on to say that this seems to flow from nostalgia on the part of less educated white voters for a time in the past when blacks and immigrants did not share the rights and privileges that were exclusive to whites. But whites with education appeared to have less distaste for the increased equality of more recent times.
Education. Not related to the elections as such, I'm wondering what we can expect from the Federal Government in the area of Education. Of course, personally knowing fellow-students of other races and colors is likely to make college youth more comfortable with the society we have. But what can the Federal Department of Education (currently headed by Ms. Betsy De Vos) do for the country?
I have written numerous blogs on this subject, but I know I have failed to be clear, mainly because I was a teacher at the time, and I was too close to the facts to be entirely objective. (I had taken the view that students had to learn all that was in the curriculum, because it was good for them. And many of them needed all that, because they were certifying to be high-school teachers themselves. But the culture that it was necessary to sweeten the deal with entertainment was gradually overtaking our institution, at which point I chose to depart. But if some clever young fellow would be able to teach the syllabus as well as keep his students entertained, then he should be allowed to do it! However, there was a simultaneous tendency to sacrifice some of the more difficult topics in favor of more entertainment, which seemed perverse. The question is: are those last few difficult topics worth the effort? If the objective is to be better at anything that Japanese, or Finnish, or Chinese students, then, yes. But if teachers in high school are not really expected to cover all the topics that they covered in the past, then no.)
Everybody seems to be confused about the Federal role in Education, despite the fact that primary and secondary education is controlled by local governments. Some people think that it is an economic issue: the nation needs educated labor if it is to compete economically with other countries. But in the face of increasing globalization of manufacturing and commerce, the role of government needs to be re-thought. It is more expensive to manufacture practically anything in the USA because life is more expensive, and education is more expensive here, because the kids must be entertained, too. So our young people are going to be at a disadvantage in jobs that require actual hard knowledge, whereas they're going to be excellent at jobs that involve low-level thinking.
I was watching news programs where investors were discussing what to do in the event of a Blue Wave vs. a Red Wave, and they were talking about the S&P 500, and what it did on such-and-such a date, and how some investing firms focused on selling stock, while other firms focused on buying under-priced stock, and so on and so forth. In certain quarters, this sort of knowledge is given a premium, and some of this is taught in Business courses in college. It seems to me that the training (if you can call it that) received by a investment manager makes him or her useless for anything else.
However, if the Department of Education were to focus mainly on an excellent elementary education for all, they can't go wrong. I think carrots are going to be more useful than sticks. I have not studied the problem, but I have gathered that elementary education responds well to Federal support, provided they do not push it too hard, and provided elementary teachers do not respond too wildly.
To improve the level of high school education would be the greatest thing the Federal DOE could do, but I think it is going to be a tough undertaking. There is more push back at every level, and hardly any success in the past on which they can base a successful program. On top of all of this, the Alt-Right probably contains more than its share of education-haters, and parents of high-school kids are more likely to resent Federal supervision or influence than parents of elementary school kids.