Sunday, November 13, 2016

Reflections on a Disturbing Election

Last weekend was my birthday, so I celebrated by eating too much, drinking too much, going to see Doctor Strange, and spending lots of time playing D&D and Heroscape with my kids.*  And definitely not thinking about the upcoming (at the time) election.

Now, I’ve made no secret about being a liberal, which many people conflate with being a Democrat.  The truth is, I really don’t care for the Democratic party.  It’s just as corrupt and hypocritical as the Republican party, and just as repsonsible for the two-party stranglehold on our system.  Furthermore, I don’t care for Hillary Clinton.  I liked Obama (before he got into office, anyway), but Clinton I never liked.  She’s too facile, too adaptable to whatever audience she’s addressing, and I don’t believe much of anything she says.  But, you know: that’s how I feel about most politicians, so that’s no great surprise.

And, while I staunchly protest against being labeled a “Democrat,” it’s certainly true that I voted for more Democrats than anything else on this past ballot—and on every ballot I’ve ever filled out, if I’m honest.  I only voted for a single Republican** this year, and that was really only because I had to pick two people out of ten candidates which included eight avowed Republicans.  (And one total nutjob.***  As much as I typically dislike Republicans, they’re still better than nutjobs.)  Which I suppose is the perfect segue into talking about Donald Trump.

But let’s be clear: I don’t disparage Trump because he’s a Republican—truth be told, he’s not much of a Republican.  I disparage Trump because he’s a nutjob.  And, in some ways, worse than a nutjob: he’s the worst sort of scummy salesperson, the kind of sleazy used-car salesman you run away from and decide that riding the bus isn’t so bad; he’s a “rich” guy with six bankruptcies who managed to lose nearly a billion dollars running a casino; and the only time he’s not saying whatever (some) people want to hear is when he’s saying things that are utterly insane.  Most bizarre of all, we now have a “grab-em-by-the-pussy” president.  When I can’t repeat the words of the president-elect of the United States of America at work because I would be committing an HR violation, I have to believe there’s something seriously wrong with our country.

And I’ve heard, and greatly respected, the words of some excellent speakers who have urged us to move on, and to heal, and to try to understand the position of the other side: Stephen Colbert, and Trevor Noah, and Chris Hardwick, and others.  Hell, Thandie Newton appearing on The Late Show was surprisingly (and beautifully) eloquent on the topic, telling all of us that we need to reach out to the people on the other side, and reminding us that the speech of hate is generally motivated by fear.

And I wish I could go along with that.  But I can’t.  Because of the whole “grab-em-by-the-pussy” thing.

And, yes, I keep saying that, and I’ll probably say it a few more times before we’re done, and, yes, it might offend you, but that’s a good thing.  If it doesn’t offend you, and you voted for Trump, well then I totally understand that and I’m not surprised.  But if it does offend you, and you voted for Trump anyway, then I have a problem with that.  Because, sure: Trump’s not a politician, and all politicians are scum.  I’m right there with you—hell, I voted for Ross Perot, once upon a time.  And Perot was a bit of a nutjob too, and quite probably a bit of a scumbag in business, just like Trump.  But he wasn’t morally repugnant.  And you were voting against Clinton, who is a liar and quite possibly an unconvicted criminal.  I’m with you on that one too, but the problem is that Trump is a liar and quite possibly an unconvicted criminal as well, plus he’s a bully, and a racist, and he said it was okay to grab women by the pussy.

Hopefully I’ve offended you again.  Now, it’s entirely possible that every person who voted for Trump was a racist misogynist scumbag just like he is, but I don’t believe that.  Mainly because I don’t believe that very very close to 50% of the people in this country—or at least 50% of those who voted—are that sort of person.  I’m a cynic, you may recall, but also a romantic, so I retain just enough optimism to refuse to believe that we have that many Ku Klux Klan supporters, and xenophobes, and male chauvinist douchebags.  Oh, there are a lot of them, I know—I’m related to a whole bunch of them, in fact—but half the country?  I’m just not buying it.  So, if you voted for Trump, but you’re not in one of the above categories, then I’m still having difficulty wrapping my head around it.

Oh, sure: I understand not voting for Clinton.  I didn’t vote for her either.  But you could have not voted at all, or voted for Johnson or Stein (or several others, even less well-known), as I did.  We whinge on and on about only having two choices, but no one put a gun to your head and said “pick one of these two.”  Now, many of my co-liberals are now going to scream at me: “you voted for a third party?!? people like you is why Clinton lost!”  I understand that viewpoint.  But it’s oversimplified.  For instance, I happen to live in California.  As I told my eldest while being bitched out for voting third party, it ain’t like if enough people had voted for Hillary California could’ve gone double-Clinton in the electoral college.  Sure, it’s true that in certain places (such as Florida) the difference between Trump’s votes and Clinton’s votes was smaller than the total votes for Johnson, but to assume Johnson cost Clinton the election means assuming that every disaffected Republican who voted Libertarian would have voted for Hillary if he hadn’t been an option ... and that’s just silly.  There were plenty of Republicans who voted for Johnson—or just plain stayed home—and that’s perfectly reasonable.  But they were never going to vote for Clinton.  And the ultimate point is, I have to believe that if only the Klan-loving, woman-hating extremists had voted for Trump, there’s no way he could have won.  (Note: Technically speaking, he didn’t win.  But the vagaries of our electoral college system are the subject of an entirely different rant.)

So I’m really trying to wrap my brain around the rationale for a rational human being voting for Trump.  Because, you may recall, this is a man who said it was okay to grab women by the pussy.  Now, I’ve heard a few defenses of this comment.  One of them goes like this: it’s just locker-room talk.  As Trump himself said: “It’s just words, people.”  Oh, good: because it’s not like we need the president of the United States to be able to talk to people or anything.  Nope, being a leader never involved actually speaking.  So that’s a moronic defense.  Here’s another one I heard today: we just don’t know what Trump will be like as president, so we need to give him a chance and see what he does.  Well, sure: we also don’t know what Charles Manson would be like as president, so let’s elect him next.  You know why we don’t know what Trump will be like as president?  Because he has no fucking experience.  He’s never been in charge of anything other than his daddy’s money.  So, yeah, we technically speaking don’t know what Trump will be like as a president.  But I know what spoiled rich boys are like, and I know what entitled old white men are like, so I think I can make a pretty good guess.

And, you know what, you could accuse me of stereotyping, and being prejudiced in my own right ... except for that whole “grab-em-by-the-pussy” comment.  It really does all come back to that.  I am prejudiced if I assume that Trump will act in the worst way of entitled rich white men if all I know about him is that’s entitled, rich, white, and male.  But the fact of the matter is, I don’t have to make any assumptions about his actions—I don’t need to pre-judge him.  I can actually judge him, because he’s quite open and outspoken and rather blatant in his distasteful, shameful actions, and his almost pitiful need for attention.  People, this is a man whose handlers no longer trust him with his Twitter account.  But we thought he could be trusted with the most powerful military in the world?  I honestly just don’t get it.

I want to move on.  I want the country to heal, and I want to try to empathize with the disaffected and the disenfranchised and the ignored.  But I’m not sure I can.  Because it seems like a significant number of Americans may not have been racist and misogynist themselves, but they’re apparently okay with having a president who is.  And I’m not okay with that.


* And missing another blog post for you guys.  Sorry about that.

** That I know of.  I voted for three people with no expressed party affiliation, so any or all of them may have been Republican as well.

*** Well, actually, I think one of the Republicans may have been a nutjob too.  But I wasn’t completely sure.

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