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smith182Now that the most divisive and deeply disturbing U.S. presidential election in memory is over, we face the difficult questions: What happened? What now?

On Sunday, November 20, Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award-winning author and producer — and part-time Orcas Islander — Hedrick Smith returned here for an Orcas Currents lecture addressing these questions, titled “The Great Populist Earthquake of 2016.”

In his view, the 2016 presidential election process was not the typical polar clash of Left vs. Right. It was a political earthquake, a fundamental clash of Up vs. Down, between rank-and-file Americans and what C. Wright Mills called “the power elite.” In both major parties, primary campaigns unleashed mass mutinies against the political establishment, exposing profound rifts in American society. People rebelled at gaping economic inequalities, a broken political system, and gridlock in Washington. For a spellbinding hour that Sunday, Smith presented a thought-provoking analysis.

Hedrick Smith served as New York Times Moscow Bureau Chief from 1971 to 1974 and as its Washington Bureau Chief and Chief Correspondent from 1976 to 1982. He is the author of five books, including bestsellers The Russians (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize), The Power Game: How Washington Works, and Who Stole the American Dream?

In 1989 Smith turned to producing television documentaries for the Public Broadcasting System. During the next two decades, he created 26 prime-time specials and mini-series for PBS and FRONTLINE, including Emmy-Award winners “The Wall Street Fix” and “Can You Afford to Retire?”

For those who attended, thank you for joining Orcas Currents supporters and friends for what was a stimulating, rewarding afternoon trying to understand what is happening to our nation and its democratic government — and what the future may portend. This event was cosponsored by Greg and Pat Ayers.

Videography: Orcas Video