Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Abandon all audacity of hope, ye who enter here





     Donald Trump won.
     An incredible turn of events which, when you pull back and look at the globe this past year, makes a grim sense. We should have seen this coming. Maybe we did see it, but it was so incredible we couldn’t believe the evidence of our eyes.
     Across the world, globalism is in retreat. Great Britain dropped out of the European Union in June. The Philippines elected a murderous madman as president, in the form of Rodrigo Duterte, who promptly began to fulfill his promise to kill drug dealers and drug users.
     Like it or not, the United States is part of that world.
     Seven years since the end of the worst recession since the Great Depression, Americans lost patience with the old politics. With regular politicians. And elected a man who violated all the usual norms, gleefully, without consequence. Howard Dean yelped and his candidacy was dead. Trump famously declared that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and not lose one vote. He did about everything else but fire that shot, insulting, in no particular order, Mexicans, POWs, women, Muslims…it might be easier to list the people he didn’t malign.
     Now he’s our president-elect.
     On Monday, Trump said in Scranton, Pennsylvania, “You have one day to make every dream you’ve ever dreamed for your country and your family come true.”

     And the country believed him.
      A stunning repudiation of Barack Obama and everything his administration stood for — his cerebral approach, his inclusiveness, his care for immigrants, for health care. “The Audacity of Hope.” All out the window now.
    
     Any minority, particularly Hispanics, Muslims and Jews, who have been feeling increasingly frightened by Trump's embrace of the "alt-right"—a motley of heretofore obscure haters and far right reactionaries—can't help but be even more afraid now. What will our future be like?
     The presidency of the United States of America is the first elective office that Donald Trump has ever held. While that was true for a number of U.S. presidents, they were either military men, like Andrew Jackson or Dwight Eisenhower, or held appointed public offices, like William Howard Taft and Herbert Hoover. Donald Trump is sui generis, a figure unprecedented in American history.
     For now, the markets will plunge—500 points in Dow futures last time I looked—the world will gape in shock. And we will get to see just what Donald Trump will actually do. Will he build that wall? He promised to. Will he start deporting 11 million undocumented Hispanic immigrants? He vowed he would. Temporarily bar Muslims from entering the country? He suggested that, too.
     Nations have stood at the crossroads before. In 1932, the United States elected Franklin D. Roosevelt and Germany elected Adolf Hitler. The results don't need to be elaborated upon here.
     The polls were wrong. Hillary Clinton led most of them, for months. She won every poll of the American people except the one that counted.
     Trump is a man who has never run a city, never mind a state, never mind a country. Who deals in crude generalities, who makes promises that not only can't he keep, but also that can't be kept.
     Trump promised to "Make America Great Again." The slogan implied, directly, that we were no longer great. That our greatness had been stolen by invading Mexicans, by—get used to hearing the phrase, because he promised to say it a lot—radical Islamic terrorism. By job-snatching Chinese and untrustworthy Europeans. And that global conspiracy of bankers.
     Hillary Clinton argued that our greatness was in our diversity, that we were "Stronger Together." But Clinton lost, and Trump won. What that means we will begin to understand in the weeks and months and years to come. It would be overly dramatic and premature to say that the light that America held to the world has gone out, dowsed by electing an unashamed bigot and demagogue. But it sure is flickering, for a lot of people, the ones who aren't rejoicing tonight.
     I predicted this at the end of September. Just as I wish I had been wrong about his winning, I hope I'm wrong about the dire results. He was a Democrat once. Maybe he'll go back to being a Democrat. In his second term. I suppose I should leave you with some words of comfort. We are still the United States of America. We survived the British burning our capital and a Civil War, the Great Depression and World War II, the Cold War and the 9/11 attacks. We'll survive this too, somehow. Buckle your seat belts, it's going to get bumpy.
     And Donald. Guess the system wasn't rigged after all, eh?



25 comments:

  1. One can only hope there will not be a second term. I assume you don't read Frazz. It was only one panel with this little kid holding up a sign vote like you can explain yourself in 20 years. I have a feeling that 20 years from now there will be millions of people that will not be able to do that.

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  2. Of course it was rigged. It's the only explanation I can hold onto. As a woman, a Jew, an American, I am extremely frightened.

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    1. Nah, I don't believe that. We elected the guy. You break it, you bought it.

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    2. The "rigging" was Comey's remarkable reveal of a Clinton investigation at the 11th hour, and the ever more desperate Assange's acquisition and dissemination of Clinton emails with apparent Russian help. In a contest this close, these suspiciously timed revelations stage managed by people who don't like Clinton nurtured the victory for Trump.

      After 30 plus years of being told by the Murdoch empire that government is evil, the media lies, and that words have no meaning aside from being weapons, that Clinton isn't just a scoundrel and a criminal, but the devil herself, a critical mass of easily led people were ripe for the picking. Research shows that the single most intoxicating trait people are drawn to in others is confidence. Most of us aren't confident and it is refreshing to spend time with a confident person. Unfortunately, confidence is a component of narcissism, and Trump is the most obliviously confident person on the planet, a textbook malignant narcissist. Given the suspicion of government that Murdoch's outlets have inculcated in the populace, Trump's mad confidence is a virus our angry brethren have no immune system to fight.

      A dangerous narcissistic conman for supreme leader. What could possibly go wrong?

      Heaven help us.

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    3. Maida, don't be frightened, be like Woody Allen in Zelig and do the Chameleon. Black out a few of your front teeth, and wear a "Make America Great Again" cap. Don't be a dummy, be a smarty, pretend to join the Republican Party!

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  3. Dear God.

    I woke up this morning with that horrible feeling I used to have as a kid when I did something really wrong and had either been punished or was about to be punished. Queasy, joints that don't want to move, shuddering every few minutes.

    Only this time it wasn't my fault, personally. It was the country's. I just share in the guilt because I live here.

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  4. Is this the real life?
    Is this just fantasy?
    Caught in a landslide
    No escape from reality


    Who is responsible for this bloody mummers farce? There is a limited supply of good karma to go around each year. Unforunately the Cubs and their fans took more than their fair share this year. I hope they're happy now.

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  5. Neil, I guess you weren't wrong to worry about Trump winning. But while some think the answer is for Democrats to go more left, I say they need to moderate back to the middle or they lose the moderates. Come up with better candidates too. This isn't Sweden. And let Europe start paying more of their fair share of their NATO bill. The election results are disappointing but the U.S. will weather this as other challenges in the past. Why did 29% of Hispanics and some suburban moderate women go for Trump? I'm a voted for Hillary holding the nose type but the Dems have some soul searching to do. Let's see what happens with big insurance though and if the jobs are really brought back. The ultra conservatives in Congress may be his worst enemies. But this isn't the end of the world. Let's keep our cool. (okay let the tomato throwing begin)

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    1. A serious post and wise suggestion. After Bernie Sanders lost the nomination, Hillary should have triangulated back to the moderate middle. I expected her to embrace Bill's excellent record of economic recovery, and vow to faithfully implement his policies for growth. Instead it seemed as if they were channeling Nixon's political tactics. The personal attacks were justifiably accurate, but excessive, and it didn't advance her like-ability.

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    1. And note that areas that had gone to President Obama,whom I supported, did not stay Democrat this time around. I don't think it is just due to sexism either.

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  7. A dark day indeed. I'm depressed but not suicidal, trusting to the complicated machinery of government created by the Founding Fathers to preserve us from the most impetuous actions. One fears for our country long term, but age probably insulates me from personal harm. And Dr. Johnson provides a reason to retain perspective about elections that don't go well:

    "How small, of all that human hearts endure,
    That part which laws or Kings can cause or cure."

    Tom Evans

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  8. Let's hope for Trump's success as President and pray that it doesn't cost us our reputation, our integrity, our compassion, the lives of children here and abroad, and money of course, the old bottom line.

    john

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  9. I don't believe he will do any of the things he promised. I also think in a very short time there will be buyers remorse from his supporters, just like the Tea Party voters had. I guess we could call this Tea Party 2.0 However I feel the adage attributed to H.L. Menken applies here:
    Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

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  10. Depressing morning for my 15-year-old daughter. She went from looking forward to our first woman president (very positive for her) to the election of a crude misogynist and bigot. It just seems unbelievable.

    She's studying American history and the constitution, and her interest was, at least temporarily, destroyed. It's hard to think of our history as a progression today.

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  11. If a man didn't care for Hillary, that doesn't automatically make him a misogynist. He may not have liked Trump either.

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  12. I think a Hillary lover could justifiably infer from Trump's own words that at the very least he tends to value women more for their pulchritude than their acumen. Though I'm not counting the "nasty woman" remark he made in a debate which actually worked for him, given that Hillary had just insulted him -- she could have come back with "nasty man," but didn't.

    john

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  13. Pretty much the official end of sanity and decency in the US, of which there wasn't much left anyway!

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  14. Trump sounded presidential in his speech last night. Hillary gave a gracious concession speech today. President Obama was unifying as well. The stock market is up right now. Let's move on, accept the election results, and work together to fix our problems.

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  15. From HOPE AND CHANGE to DOPE AND STRANGE

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  16. Step off the ledge, folks. The sun still shines. Now perhaps the DNC will not run things Wasserman style. Go to the DNC facebook page and see the angry Bernie folks on there.

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  17. I have literally been sick to my stomach since last night. He certainly cannot do everything he promised (crime will end in Chicago a week after he's inaugurated!), but with a Republican congress and the Supreme Court, he can do massive damage. Bye-bye Obamacare (not perfect, but does provide medical coverage for millions), bye-bye Roe V. Wade, bye-bye to anything resembling a fair Supreme Court. I'm retired and live on SS and a couple of tiny pensions; what horrible changes can a Republican congress do to Social Security and Medicare? Who knows what damage he'll do and how long it will take to repair it? Yeah, the sun came up today and the Earth is still revolving on its axis, but I still have this feeling that we're doomed.

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  18. Excellent column by Reich in the Sun-Times on Wed., he was a cabinet member under B. Clinton on how the Democratic party has changed, forgot the working class and has become too close with Wall St. fundraising.

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  19. I'd hoped to wake up this morning and discover we'd come to the end of the Trump Circus, he and his band of con artists would disappear from the airwaves. The depression set in when I found he'll be front and center, representing our country for the next four years. I wonder how long it will take his rabid followers to realize they've been lied to, his promises unattainable, their prospects worsened by his election.

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  20. I hope he remembers he wasn't elected by a majority, that so many of us don't even want to be American any more because of him that we might have crashed the Canadian immigration website. If that thought gives him a tiny bit of humility, if because of that he's willing to spend a tiny bit of time with his ears open and his mouth shut, maybe the next four years won't be an unmitigated disaster. Unlikely, I know.

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