Parpan Column: Notes from a historic election night

Lee Zeldin

Shortly before my head hit the pillow at 2 a.m. Wednesday, I scanned Facebook to see how my friends were reacting to the news that Donald Trump would likely be the next president of the United States.

One downfall to covering the local election each presidential year is that I can only peripherally follow the biggest race of the night. By the time I stopped working at 1 a.m., my news feed was filled with reactions from my Facebook friends, a collection of individuals ranging in familiarity from spouse or parent to “I think I met that person once, but I’m not really sure.”

The overall tone of their reactions ranged from horror and panic to elation and braggadocio. Most of what I read was rooted in emotion and not necessarily fact.

You see, Nov. 8, 2016, was not the end of civilization as we know it and what will follow only remains to be seen. Even if you believe your right to marry the person you love or the health care you receive is in jeopardy, nothing has changed — yet.

We live in a country that allows us to vote for the people we want to represent us, but many times only half of us get our way.

If you are frustrated by the results of the election, you’ll have the next four years to voice your concerns every step of the way. Bitter elections should inspire action from those who feel disenfranchised by the result.

Cable news pundits referred to the Trump win as a political revolution, but there’s no reason a revolt should be one-sided. Mr. Trump has promised many actions sure to infuriate much of the public. You won’t have to wait four years to voice your displeasure, but you should be sure to do more than just complain on social media.

The next four years should be filled with protests and civic action the likes of which this country hasn’t seen in decades.

That’s our only hope to actually make America great again.

The Trump victory was heralded by many as a repudiation of our government. That’s not exactly how I see it, especially at the local level.

Instead, the results read to me like a repudiation of media and liberal sensibilities. Does that represent a part of the establishment? Sure, but merely a portion.

Nearly every newspaper in America supported Hillary Clinton for president but Mr. Trump won the election. Local newspapers backed Anna Throne-Holst for Congress but Lee Zeldin was voted back into office by a wide margin.

A repudiation of our government would be voting a man like Ken LaValle out of office after 40 years. Instead, he rightfully won re-election to the state Senate in a landslide.

Thousands of elected officials around the country who served during the Obama administration got sent back to Washington, D.C., or Albany and other capital cities Tuesday, and many of them also served during the Clinton and both Bush administrations.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are still controlled by Republicans. The Senate in Albany is also likely to remain red, though that’s currently in dispute, and the Assembly is as blue as ever.

Instead, the American public voted much like it did in 2008. We came out in force and we voted for change. That change doesn’t extend too far beyond the Oval Office, however, making sweeping reforms just as unlikely as before.

Whether you identify as liberal, conservative or something in between, the beauty of an election cycle is that promises made on the campaign trail give us a scorecard for the next term.

In his speech at The Emporium Tuesday, Mr. Zeldin outlined some of what Republicans hope to accomplish in the next two years. Specifically, he outlined five somewhat measurable agenda items the public can review before making up their minds in 2018. Here’s what he said:

• We are going to repeal and replace Obamacare.

• We are going to simplify the tax code.

• We are going negotiate better trade deals.

• We are going to improve the quality of education.

• We are going to repair national infrastructure.

It’s up to each of us to monitor our federal leaders’ performance to see if they accomplish these goals in a way that improves our lives and raises our level of satisfaction in each area.

While Mr. Zeldin and Mr. Trump were the biggest winners in Suffolk County Tuesday night, there are a few other people who should be feeling good based on what they saw. (Or deflated in the case of Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter, whose supervisor term referendum received very little support.)

Local environmentalists must be ecstatic about the overwhelming support for the Community Preservation Fund in the five East End towns. And Long Island’s incumbent state senators and assemblymen should be thrilled the public voiced its support for the job they’re doing.

Lastly, Gregory-John Fischer of Calverton received 41,976 votes against a 40-year incumbent. And that, to anyone who’s ever met the man, should be viewed as the biggest win of the night.

Top photo: Congressman Lee Zeldin celebrates victory Tuesday at The Emporium in Patchogue. (Credit: John Griffin)

TR1226_Staff_Parpan_C.jpgThe author is the executive editor of Times Review Media Group. He can be reached at [email protected].