07 November 2020

How Little We've Changed in the Last Four Years - The Thin Margins By Which the 2016 and 2020 Elections Were Won

Combined margin of victory in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania
Trump in 2016: 77,744
Biden in 2020: 202,850
[And counting]

All the news coverage, memes, tweets, money spent, and arguments made, policies enacted or obliterated and in the states that determine the election we got a swing equal to 0.09% of the US population. We could not even muster one-tenth of one percent change over the last 4 years.

That amount - a swing of 280,594 - probably tracks really well to the number of voters who died and were replaced by new, 18 to 21 year old voters in those states.

What am I tempted to make of this? The way we change minds in this country is by literally changing brains, one set dying and the next set becoming old enough to vote.

Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia and believed that freedom depended on education. (As Benjamin Barber quipped, we prove him right by putting dropouts in jail.)

This is me beating my same drum, I know, but we live in a world of systems and until we popularize the inclusion of systems thinking (including understanding the importance and limitations of systems models and getting millions more young minds to help us to evolve this important technology), we're going to lurch around so dangerously with our policy and politics.

The notion that a population can vote wisely in 2024 without some fluency in systems modeling is as naïve as the notion that a population in 1824 could vote wisely without some some understanding of rhetoric. We can't come up with our formulas for voting at 22 and leave them unchanged for the rest of our lives, pretending that the world is static and so our models of the world can also be static.

We need ways of thinking and explaining and forecasting the world that leave us all more open to changing our minds, evolving our models of the world as our understanding and the world itself evolves.

This gradual replacement of old ways of thinking by the crude method of actually replacing old people is distasteful on so many levels, not the least of which is that it moves far too slowly and is so very reliant on models of the world that are decades past their "best if used by" dates.

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