There’s no real post here, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent to me that if I don’t organize my thoughts around Tuesday’s tragic turn of events, I’ll never get back to sleep. That’s all this will be, the text version of thinking aloud.
Not My President
I’m seeing an awful lot of #NotMyPresident floating around, which to me seems insanely ignorant. After 8 years of bitterly complaining about the folks attempting to de-legitimize our electoral process, now you’re going to start because you didn’t get your way? What an impossibly asinine way of handling an already terrible situation. What possible good can that do? What possible good has that level of divisiveness done for us so far?
Trump will be our legitimately elected President provided that nothing interesting happen with the electors between now and late December when they determine the next representatives of our executive branch.
Electoral College Shenanigans
There has been some discussion of the electoral college breaking faith with the election results and voting in a different way. I’m of two minds on this:
On the one hand, this is precisely what the electoral college is for. The electors are meant to be something of a circuit breaker to defend against the “tyranny of the majority” electing someone who isn’t sufficiently qualified. It’s why the founding fathers put it in the Constitution, and I honestly can’t think of a more appropriate application of such an act than now, and I can’t think of a less qualified candidate that we’ve ever had in our nation’s history.
That said, I can think of no way to better cleave an already divided country completely in two than to “prove” to a group of people who already are pretty hazy as to the actual contents of the Constitution they claim to defend that the game is “rigged.” If you want blood on the streets, I suggest that this will do it.
This part of the discussion is mostly moot anyway; our states have slowly removed the ability for the electoral college to do its job, and 29 states now bind the electors to vote for the party that nominated the elector, so I suspect we’re unlikely to see this hail mary play out.
How Shitty is This?
It’s really hard to gauge. On the hopeful side, I think there’s a very real chance that Trump will do what Trump does and alienate those around him, vote petulantly and unpredictably, and otherwise make it profoundly difficult for the legislature’s Republican majority to do their thing. I think that the Republicans in the legislature will do what they’ve already shown a propensity for in subverting the will of the executive branch as effectively as a lobotomy. There’s a chance that some of the worst shit won’t be able to come to pass because—like the Three Stooges trying to paint a room—there will be too much in-fighting to make progress.
Unfortunately, even in this hopeful scenario, remember that the Three Stooges always left the room a mess; and we’re looking at a mess. Even in the most hopeful scenario, Trump is putting someone very conservative in the Supreme Court—possibly multiple someones. We will almost assuredly lose ground that has been covered in gay rights and women’s rights, but also coming up the pipe are cases related to patents, whether or not immigrants can be legally detained without bond hearings, and numerous examinations of the legality of different types of searches and seizures.
More pessimistically, having all three parties heavy on the conservative-bordering-on-teaparty-crazy train could mean the rapid fulfillment of a number of pretty terrifying campaign promises: rounding up of immigrants and Muslims; allowing drilling, fracking, and running of pipelines that have been restricted to date; elimination of the ACA; withdrawal from various trade agreements; and ruining the middle class with taxes. Lest you think I’m being melodramatic here, most of this was reiterated as his 100 day plan.
To circle back to my earlier optimism, though, McConnell has already showed signs of resisting Trump on several points; all signs point to a less-than-friendly relationship between the executive and legislative branches.
It’s notable that even my most optimistic point of view can best be summarized as “we won’t be as fucked as we could be.”
Yeah, we’re pretty fucked on that front.
Listen, Trump being elected is terrible; but more terrible is that it has highlighted the dark, ugly, racist underbelly of our society. The facade of civility has been peeled back revealing layers of rot and decay beneath.1 Even if we managed to have elected Clinton narrowly, we would be wallpapering over that rot. We should address the underlying damage rather than cover that up.
I don’t know.
Growing up, I always found it interesting that when we had to do research into how WWII could have been prevented, everything seemed to focus on times members of party leadership were almost killed, or on preventing certain alliances, or on allowing him to fight communism unfettered, or a dozen other weird policy choices. It was always (and remains) incredibly difficult to find discussions as to how the people problem could have been addressed.
How do you address the concerns of a group of people that are so angry about jobs, and the economy, and immigrants, and terror, and everything else—seemingly without reason during this time of economic plenty in the US? How do you explain to people that genuinely think that they have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps without any help from anyone whatsoever that people that find themselves unable to do that aren’t lazy? How do we convey to people who are economically distressed that they’re right, they ARE being screwed, just not by who they think?
I suspect the answer to these questions—answers that are way beyond my intellect (especially at 3:30am)—are the answers to the bulk of this.
So What Do We Do?
Another unsatisfying answer: I don’t know.
Earlier I said that we need to stop pretending that Trump isn’t our President (or, more accurately, that he won’t be our president come January), but that doesn’t mean that we stop fighting. Let’s fight intelligently. Liberals scoffed at the inherent un-American-ness of Trump’s followers threatening a bloody coup if he wasn’t elected; let’s remember how un-American that is in our time of grief. Peaceful protest; supporting the ACLU, BLM, and other organizations that will help see us through the next four years; and being vigilant for opportunities to help keep our elected representatives doing the right thing for the next four years; these are a few of the things at our disposal.
More importantly, consider doing something most of us clearly aren’t: get politically active outside of once every four years for a presidential election. Get educated and vote in the midterm elections. Vote locally in state and county races. Get to know what is going on, and get active. 50% of people just didn’t vote at all, work to change that.
Most importantly, educate people—and that includes yourself. There is a huge gap between the folks that found it in themselves to vote for Trump and those that didn’t. We aren’t bridging that gap through protest.
A Note for Trump Supporters
Now would probably be a good time to shut the fuck up.
No, seriously, hear me out.
It’s pretty fair to say that you and your ilk were—charitably—whining, shitty babies for the last 8 years. You claim that “leftists” created a divide without taking ownership of the fact that you have collectively been contributory to that same divide.
If you’re smart (and, I say that with at least some sense of irony based on your most recent voting record), you’ll give liberal America a chance to take the high road and work on healing the country. They are human beings though; allow time to grieve. You can go back to being yourselves later, be good winners. I’m assuming you don’t want to take over a country that is actively on fire.
Four years ago, President Obama made the statement that we made him a better President. That we made him more determined and more inspired and our focus made him better. The most that we can hope for is that we can, in the same way, inspire Trump to be—if not great—at least the greatest incarnation of Trump possible. Not in a trite, cliched way; in a serious sense, our futures are collectively bound to the job that Trump does for the next four years.
I read someone who described the conservative hatred of Obama as being in a plane and hating the pilot so much that they want him to fly them all into a mountain. Trump takes the yoke in January and I, for one, strongly do not wish to see us all plummeting toward the earth. We need to lend President-elect Trump our wisdom, strength, and—brace yourself—our kindness if we and the people we love are going to survive this.
I need to get some sleep; I think we all need to get some sleep.
1 This is not to say that all Trump voters are racists, misogynists, and xenophobes. It is to say, though, that all Trump voters willingly support a racist, misogynist, xenophobe. There’s no way around that. I get that many of you felt that lower taxes, or jobs, or hating Hillary was worth supporting racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and hate; but make no mistake, you made that decision willingly. Own that, and recognize that. Every one of your hands will share a little of the blood that is likely to be shed by the now empowered hate machine. No judgement here, but keep that in mind in the coming months. I genuinely hope you’re happy enough with a repealed ACA for it to be worth it. (back)