Those of you who've followed my blog for a while know that I basically don't talk politics here. I'm mostly of the opinion that most of my fellow-Americans, for a variety of reasons of their own, vastly overestimate the significance of politics, and its ability to affect their lives in meaningful ways. Perhaps that's a quirk of my own, but I'm far more interested in the ways things like love, family and friendship work in my life, than I am in politics. But I don't live in a vacuum, and there are strange doings afoot these days. . .
Holy crud! I don't know how or when it happened, but we are clearly living in some sort of strange, Twilight-Zone alternate universe or something. I mean, the evidence is there for anyone to see:
- Bob Dylan wins a Nobel Prize (which he himself doesn't even seem to accept)
- The Cleveland Cavaliers win the NBA championship
- The Cubs win the World Series (and beat the Indians to do it)
- Donald Trump (I mean, Donald Freakin' Trump!!!) is elected President of the United States
What in the world is going on here?!?
Let me start by saying clearly what I've been saying all along (mostly in comments on other people's blogs) - I am not, and have never been, a Trump supporter; I did not vote for Donald Trump (the guy I did vote for was so far off the radar that I haven't even been able to find anywhere how many votes he actually received; so no, you probably haven't heard of him). I regarded both of the major candidates in this election as catastrophic in one way or another. So please, don't take this as any kind of gloating on my part, because it isn't. I am just as concerned about the future of our country as I was before the election, and I wonder what the future holds for all of us, not least for me and my family.
I will admit, however, to a certain measure of schadenfreude at the discomfiture of my friends on the left (I'll probably end up taking that to confession someday soon, sinful man that I am) (and yes, I do have friends on the left). . .
I went to the polls on Tuesday to do my civic duty, and exercise the privilege extended to me as a citizen of this free republic. Along with most of the rest of you (even you Trumpkins, if you're honest with yourselves), I fully expected that, sometime before my normal bedtime, I'd turn on the TV and learn that Mrs. Clinton had won the election, and become the president-elect, on her way to becoming the first woman elected President of these United States, and blah-blah-blah. But the polls had been tightening up in recent days (as they always do), and I was curious as to how it was going. . .
Almost absent-mindedly, I turned on the TV, sometime around 9 o'clock, and saw the drama unfolding. It was the most incredible, dumbfounding thing - it couldn't be happening, but it was. One after another - Florida, North Carolina, Georgia - big electoral-vote 'battleground' states fell Trumpward, all close. The juggernaut just kept rolling and rolling, and no matter how much my better judgement kept telling me it was time to go to bed, I couldn't look away. Finally, sometime around 1AM, when Pennsylvania rolled over from Clinton leading to Trump leading, I could see where it was headed, and I finally called it a night. Even my home state of Michigan, which is pretty reliably 'blue-leaning' for the national offices (the previous six presidential elections, and one single Republican Senate term in the last 40 years), fell on the Trump side, by less than 11,000 votes out of almost 5 million cast (less than a quarter of a percent, the closest margin of all the 50 states). I mean, this wasn't supposed to happen. . .
But happen it did, to my astonishment as much as anyone else's. I hasten to be clear - I had no horse in this race. I'm not happy that my guy won, because my guy didn't win, and the guy that won is, let there be no doubt, NOT my guy. It's just an astonishing, didn't-see-this-coming occurrence. 'Dewey-Defeats-Truman' astonishing.
And now, the bitterness and rage from the losing side have commenced in earnest. And thus, my schadenfreude. . .
See, I have this in common with the the Trumpkins - both of us are loathed by the Democrats. They used to be better at hiding it, but lately, not so much. As far back as 2008, Barack Obama, on his way to becoming President, spoke of those who are "bitter, cling[ing] to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them. . ." And in this campaign cycle, Mrs. Clinton herself spoke of the Trumpkins as a "basket of deplorables".
It's really hard to miss what's being said - "You people are losers; we're smarter than you, we're more virtuous than you, we're more educated than you, we make more money than you. And besides that, we're on the right side of history, 'cuz we just see more deeply into the future than the rest of you. Hell, our kids are cuter than yours, and they take oboe lessons. We're just better people than you in every imaginable way. So, the best thing for you is just to shut up and do what we tell you, because we know what's good for you, better than you know it for yourselves."
And increasingly, they have shown an inclination to make life hell for those who dissent from their vision of how things are. I'm thinking bakers, florists, and photographers; even pizza-parlor owners who will probably never be asked to cater a wedding reception, but have the poor judgement to offer an unpopular opinion when asked. I mean, really? These are the people you're goin' after?
So, as I see it, all these 'bitter', 'deplorable' people people just stood up and said, "Yeah? Well, deplore THIS!!" (*insert finger gesture here*)
So now I'm seeing a lot of borderline unhinged stuff coming out in the news - it was 'White Nationalists' who won the election for Trump (I'm sure the KKK wishes they had that kind of clout). Or all the standard 'Rural = Stupid' tropes we've seen for the past few years. There is no such thing as a 'disagreement' with these folks; the only possible explanation is that you are wicked or stupid, or both. And seriously - email-bombing Republican electors to change their votes?!?
I suppose it's understandable, on one level; I mean, these are people who've come to regard it as their birthright to hold hegemony over the culture; they have not tired of admonishing the rest of us not to be on 'the wrong side of history'. So, when history proves not to be quite so co-operative as they had imagined, these all-knowing wise ones don't know what to do. . .
I'm thinking, they don't get it; they just don't get it. They live in an insulated world where they're so convinced of their own superiority as human beings that they just can't imagine that everybody else can't see it, too. Or that we'll all be anything but happy about having our noses rubbed in it. I mean, for people who fancy themselves as tolerant, there sure are a lot of people they can't tolerate. And, for people who claim to stand for the interests of 'the little guy', there are an awful lot of 'little guys' they regard as 'deplorable', and they're awfully eager to stomp on those same 'little guys' when they don't get in line. For people who profess to hate bullying, they bully awfully well. . .
Anyway, that's what passes for political analysis around these parts. . .
One more time (realizing that I risk seeming to 'protest too much'): I'm not a Trumpkin; I didn't vote for Trump; I'm as concerned as anybody about his character, and what kind of President he'll be. In particular, I keep telling my evangelical Trumpkin friends that I think they're kidding themselves if they think he's their friend, but we will see what we will see (I also tell them that it's not a good look when you go after Bill Clinton for his sexual peccadilloes, but wave off Trump's; do you stand for principles, or is it just a matter of which side is engaging in the debauchery? Just askin'). . .
But, come next January 20, he'll be our President - all of us, whether we voted for him or not, whatever we think of his character.
I also think that one of the most amazing things about this country of ours (maybe THE most amazing thing) is the unbroken string of 44 consecutive orderly transfers of power, spanning 228 years. Now is not the time to break that string. . .
And, if you're interested, here is an article that captures my thinking very well. . .