Pledging (to not waste) my time
I hope this will be the last time I succumb to the “twitching impulse to speak my mind” on the subject of this election. I intend it to be; there is no sense spending the precious little time I have left on this. I plan to resume pretending that whether the Timberwolves win basketball games or not matters.
A simple twist of fate
One day before the election I wrote in smug assurance
(Winter is Coming) that a majority of Americans would never vote for “the most spectacularly unqualified major party candidate ever nominated for President in the history of our country.”
I was right on both counts: about his qualifications and about the votes. By a very narrow margin, Hillary Clinton received more votes than Donald Trump. But in January, for the second time since 1888, the winner of the popular vote will lose the real election (see Bush v Gore, 2000). Sadly for slightly more than half of us, that’s just the way it goes–it’s only ineffectual sour grapes to grouse about this now. The system favors the party now in power and it’s not going away anytime soon. Ladies and gentleman, your Electoral College!
Most likely you go your way and I’ll go mine
What I got very, very wrong was to focus on “the deplorables” supporting Trump’s candidacy. They exist, and the video I shared shows how hateful they can be, but to focus on this element is a losing strategy. My rhetorical “surely Trump voters can’t all be lumped together with this crowd?” wasn’t nearly enough, I’m afraid, to convince any well-meaning Trump supporters who may have stumbled upon my blog that I wasn’t applying this epithet to them. I’m sorry I wrote it.
I am sorry, and yet I am beyond disheartened and dismayed that so many were able to vote for a man whose very public utterances have been so full of ignorance, bigotry, and hatred … for years.
Most disappointing to me personally are the so-called Christians–many I have been happy to have as friends and not a few beloved members of my family–who were able to reconcile their faith with a vote for a man who kept a book of Hitler’s speeches beside his bed and appears to be utterly unfamiliar with the Bible. Yes, I know how self-righteously fervid believers in the (unbiblical) notion of the sanctity of unborn human life justify their hypocrisy. There is, after all, that famous New Testament verse about the ends justifying the means.
I won’t unfriend anybody over this, though I will struggle to overcome my profound disillusionment with many. Some may unfriend me and I couldn’t really blame them. I am aware how uncharitably I have expressed myself here.
A hard rain’s a-gonna fall
On the morning after the election my distraught wife lamented the fact that we really can’t just pack up–along with our daughters, their husbands and our granddaughter–and flee the country. “I just can’t live in a country that can elect this man” and “I’m ashamed to be an educator,” she said. But we do live here, and we have been. We just didn’t know it like we thought we did.
What is a bloodied bleeding-heart liberal to do now? One of the first things I read on November 8 was Garrison Keillor’s “Trump voters will not like what happens next” (I liked it so much I saved a PDF copy). It is a lovely, elegiac piece of comfort. But in its appeal to our impulse to withdraw and to indulge in schadenfreude, it can’t be our response.
Those of us who dream of a kinder, more just and inclusive society cannot simply withdraw. We must not succumb to the urge to engage in a tit-for-tat obstructionism and hope for nothing but failure and darkness so our side will win future elections. We know what the past eight years of this tactic by the other side has wrought. We must be better.
The best thing I’ve read this week on the subject of the election has been Nathan J Robinson’s “What this means, how this happened, what to do now” in Current Affairs. It contains some hard truths for us progressives. The tone of much of this post shows how far I have to go to learn its lessons.
Ultimately this will not be my fight. I am unlikely to see the midterm election of 2018 and all but certain to be out of here by 2020. I can only hope to see before I go a hint of a spring to come at the end of what I fear will be America’s long, dark winter.
Everything is broken
Here, as a somber slideshow, I present some of the post-election Facebook posts that hit home for me in one way or another. They are a mix of sad, frightening, and hopeful. Below the thumbnails, a poignant musical coda.
I considered Dylan’s “Everything Is Broken” (in R L Burnside’s bluesy cover version), Tom Waits’s “God’s Away On Business”, and They Might Be Giants’s “Your Racist Friend” (live version). Instead, here’s a more positive offering from the late, great Leonard Cohen. He died last Monday at the age of 82, one day before the election: fortunate, perhaps, for him; certainly unfortunate for us. He will be missed.
- I’m paraphrasing Elvis Costello’s “All the Rage” here. A snippet:
The twitching impulse is to speak your mind
I’ll lend you my microscope and maybe you will find it
Is it in that ugly place that’s just behind your face?
Only Bob Dylan’s “Idiot Wind” matches it for caustic wit in a breakup song:
Blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot, babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe
I hope someday to not think of Donald Trump when when listening to these tunes. [^]
- The Electoral College, which gives greater weight to votes cast in less populated states, should have been abolished as soon as reliable, near-instantaneous long-distance communication was established. [^]
- See Business Insider’s 2015 account of Trump’s fascination with Hitler. [^]
- I will resist the urge to go off on a tangent in support of my contention that opposition to abortion is nonbiblical. Maybe another time. [^]
- In the Gospel According to Machiavelli. [^]
- For those who have any doubt about the GOP’s eight-year effort to block any Obama initiative–even those they believed to be good for the country–see Washington Post editorial from March. Don’t like to read? Watch the shortest video I can find on GOP Congressman Robert Draper’s account of the meeting held on the very day of President Obama’s first inauguration where this strategy was adopted. Shameful. [^]
- The author repeatedly writes that we just “cannot know” how a Trump presidency will play out. A week in, though, based on members of Trump’s transition team and rumored appointments, the outlook is bleak. [^]
- All but two were shared publicly. I have obscured the nonpublic post originators, and I will seek permission to use each of them where possible. [^]