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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2016
Election Day today...
The idea had never occurred to the Rev
Adam Hamilton at the conclusion of
past presidential campaigns. But this
Election Day, the megachurch he leads in
the Kansas City suburbs will invite congre-
gants, and anyone else who chooses, to stop
in and pray for the nation to heal itself.
"There s plenty of division in our country
every year, but this year s election is different,"
said Hamilton, founding pastor of the
20,000-member United Methodist Church
of the Resurrection, where two of four cam-
puses will serve as polling stations. "Our
families are divided. We re divided sometimes
from our friends. Even when we re in church
here our politics are different. And I think
we have to be reminded that there s a bigger
As Hamilton s congregants and millions
of other Americans weather the final days
of a campaign cycle filled with insults and
anger, the nation indeed finds itself at a trou-
Americans are split over immigration, the
changes wrought by globalisation, the treat-
ment of minorities and the threat of terrorism.
But partisanship, long rising, has veered
beyond policy disagreement. Now, roughly
half of Democrats and Republicans tell poll-
sters they fear those in the other party.
With people increasingly ensconced in
media silos and social networks that surround
them with like-minded views, many cannot
even agree on what constitutes basic facts.
empirical measure, is healthy
and gaining traction. Yet as
Americans head to the
polls, many talk about
being left behind not just
by the recovery, but the
rate right now, regardless
of what the numbers
say, is horrendous.... I can
look here and nobody s working," said Alan
Halsey, who has a sign for Republican nom-
inee Donald Trump in the window of the
general store he runs in Campton, Kentucky.
"If we continue on this road, this place is
going to look like Iraq or Afghanistan. There s
going to be nothing here."
Halsey s viewpoint contrasts with figures
showing that unemployment nationwide is
down to 4.9 per cent. Median household
income jumped last year to US$56,500, the
highest it has been since before the bottom
fell out of the economy in 2008. The share
of Americans living in poverty declined
sharply last year to 13.5 per cent. Home prices
are rising again, and millions more people
have health insurance.
But the rebound has been slow to reach
some Americans, particularly in manufac-
turing and mining communities that have
lost many jobs, said Mark Zandi, chief econ-
omist at Moody s Analytics.
"We dug ourselves into such a deep hole
early on in 2008, 2009 that we ve spent the
last eight years really digging out of it," Zandi
said. "But if you ve been struggling for more
than a couple or three years, you begin to
expect that that s your world forever. You re
doomed and not only doomed, but your kids
are doomed...and a lot of people are still
stuck in that negative psychology."
The divide was spotlighted in a recent poll
by the Pew Research Center, asking voters
to compare their lives with those of people
like them 50 years ago. When Trump sup-
porters were asked that question, four in five
said life in the US today is worse for people
like them. A nearly equal number of voters
backing Democratic nom-
inee Hillary Clin-
said life today is just as good
"This is one of the
core questions that
speak to the current
ment," said Jocelyn
Kiley, associate director
of research for Pew.
"Political divisions are
about more than just
political issues, but about
perceptions of the state
of the country."
Those disagreements don t always fit old
political pigeonholes. But people on both
sides share a similar estrangement from tra-
ditional parties and politics.
Take Jerome Nichols, 68, a semi-retired
accountant from Webster Groves, Missouri,
who voted early for Clinton.
"I am a lifelong Republican, but I am sick
to death of what has happened to my party,"
Nichols said. "They re just a bunch of haters."
Meanwhile Terry Wright, 59, a disabled
union painter in Louisville and a registered
Democrat backing Trump, says he has given
up on his old party. Democrats backed immi-
gration policies that have filled limited jobs
with foreigners, and pushed for welfare pro-
grams that have knocked the ambition out
of younger workers, he said.
Clinton "will be the damnation of Amer-
ica," he said.
With modern US presidential campaigns
now stretching over two years, it s hardly
surprising that Americans are tired of the
candidates and their commercials.
"I m ready for the election to be over
because I m sick of hearing about Donald
Trump and Hillary Clinton and all the rhet-
oric," said Natalie Blair Pounds, 52, an auto
mechanic in Denver, whose state is a bat-
tleground. "But just to be on the record, I m
voting for Hillary because I don t like the
things Donald has said. I don t like the things
Donald has done."
Voters intense negative feelings about
Trump and Clinton may say as much about
the times as the candidates, said David Green-
berg, a professor of history at Rutgers
University and author of Republic of
Spin: An Inside History of the American
"There s something about the polarised
climate that we re in that leads us to feel
these things more strongly, to regard the
opposition with such hostility, to talk in terms
of threats to the Republic, to say Lock her
up, in ways we wouldn t have 30 years ago."
It s a far cry from Ronald Reagan s 1984
message that it was "morning in America."
Or Barack Obama s 2008 call for Change We
Can Believe In. Still, many voters continue
to express faith that their voices can make
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Jaquelinne
Murillo, a law student who entered the US
from Mexico with her mother when she was
ten and became a US citizen in May, said
she looked forward to rejecting Trump s "very
hurtful" portrayal of fellow immigrants as
rapists and drug dealers.
"It really makes me really happy that this
is going to be the first election that I can
actually vote in. And I m going to vote. There s
no way I won t," she said.
Others, though, are decidedly conflicted.
"This is really the only time that I can ever
remember, in any voting that I ve ever done,
to vote for," said Diane Kekoolani Barrett, a
self-declared Republican in Honolulu, Hawaii.
As she exited the city hall last week after
casting an early ballot, she couldn t bring
herself to name her choice for president. "I
kept thinking about that
and, well, I hate
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