Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Congratulations America!

You have elected the President you deserve.

Last night, after spending hours watching the polls, I stumbled fearfully into bed with the thought that I could wake up in the morning and Donald Trump would be president.  It wasn't looking good for Clinton, but I couldn't give up hope for an eleventh hour miracle.

Kevin and I were both sleepless.  I tried to stay away from my phone and computer, but during his periods of wakefulness, he would check the news on his phone.  I finally had to ask him for the bad news.  All he needed to say was, "He won," and now I don't know if I will ever sleep again.

I remember in 2000 feeling such horrible dread when George W. Bush was elected.  My dread was justified.  He was terrible for this country, starting with his monumental failure to prevent 9/11 at the beginning of his presidency, to the Great Recession at the end of it.  What I feel now does not even begin to compare.

What have we done?  Why?  What has made anyone believe this man has any qualifications to run the country?

Back in March, when it seemed impossible for Donald Trump to come this far, I wrote a blog post about my greatest fear concerning Trump's political career.  It didn't matter if he won or not.  He opened Pandora's Box and made racism acceptable.  He has wrapped up his hateful words in cynical blanket of anti-political correctness, but the dog whistles are growing louder.  Here is a snippet from that post. 

Those who praise Trump say that he says what's on his mind without fear of offending anyone or a need to be politically correct.  How has this become a good trait?  How did treating others with kindness and respect suddenly a character flaw?  Do you think a fear of offending people has gone "too far"?  What makes it too far?  Isn't it better to try to be kind and respectful to everyone than it is to cease to care about how others feel?

It's not about anti-political correctness and not offending people.  Republicans are just as likely to be offended by others' language.  It's just not the same language that offends them.  (Try wishing a Republican "Happy Holidays" this December and you'll see what I mean.)  Donald Trump is saying out loud what others are afraid to say because we all know on some level that what Donald Trump is saying is wrong.  Those who support him desperately want to believe that he is right.  They want a world where good and evil are clearly defined and everything is black and white.  He is making it easy to choose sides and not think. 


When Trump says he wants to "Make America great again," he is really saying he wants it to go back to a time when it was dominated by white males and alternate voices were suppressed.  He wants to go back to a time when only one religion was allowed to dominate the public square.

He has grandiose claims that sound great on paper.  It would indeed be great if manufacturing jobs were brought back to the United States.  He has promised this over and over, but no one seems to notice that he never really outlined a plan for how he will do this.  He promises there will be a border wall blocking Mexico, but he can't come up with a believable plan for how to pay for it.  He spent his campaign selling a fantasy and his voters never demanded to  know how he plans to make those fantasies a reality.

At this point I almost began to rant about the stupidity of the American electorate.  How ignorant and complacent have we become?  Why aren't we making politicians more accountable for the promises they make?  Why has no one noticed Trump gives broad and evasive answers to every question anyone ever asked him?

I know it's not stupidity.  It's desperation.  Just a few decades ago any unskilled American could be assured of a manufacturing job and create upward mobility for their families due to union wages and benefits.  There was job security, assurance of education and a better life for younger generations, and a smaller gap between the haves and the have-nots.  Now even well-educated workers are now barely making ends meet in low-paying service jobs with no guarantee of a living wage and no healthcare.  It seems reasonable to hope a president can somehow bring back the old days instead of finding the best ways to move forward in the system we currently have.

The problem with desperation is it creates a breeding ground for dictators.  The French were desperate when Napoleon came into power.  The Germans were desperate when they elected Hitler.  They Russians were desperate at the time of the Bolshevik revolution.  I like to think Americans are not that desperate, but as a white, employed, upper-middle-class woman living comfortably in a wealthy suburb, it's hard for me to know or understand the true struggles and feelings of the poor and working class in less prosperous areas of the country.

I do have to consider that maybe Americans are truly stupid.  I read recently that only 12% of Trump voters actually like Trump and agree with his views.  The racist "alt-right" may be vocal, but they are not the majority of the Republican party.  That means most voters were not voting for Donald Trump yesterday, but were voting against Hillary Clinton.

Let that sink in for a moment.  The American electorate would rather vote for someone with no political experience, who sells a fantasy rather than a plan, running on a platform of racism and anti-intellectualism, than a woman who has dedicated her life to public service.  Donald Trump isn't even a particularly good businessman.  He's not an entrepreneur.  He is not a good money manager.  He had made his money from brand licensing, lawsuits, and celebrity appearances. Hillary Clinton,  worked for years in non-profit advocacy groups and has a background in both legislation and foreign policy.  I don't think any party has put up a more qualified candidate than Hillary Clinton in decades.  All Americans care about are scandals that never happened and a lack of a cuddly personality.

Maybe we are truly all that stupid.

I have a fantasy of my own.  I like to think Trump is going to realize quickly he isn't cut out for the job.  He will pull a Sarah Palin in a year or two and step down.  I don't like the idea of President Pence, but he may be able to hold things together until 2020 when we can oust the whole crew from Washington.  For all we know the Republicans could win again, but maybe they will have seen the error of their ways and elect a better candidate.

At the very least, if we get out the vote in 2018 we can keep working to flip Congress.  If Trump stays in office, we need a Congress that can keep him in check.  If he hangs on until 2020 and messes up as much as I expect him to, the Democrats will be back in the White House in short order.

I hope this country learns its lesson.  I hope this lesson will not take too big of a toll on our economy or on our relationships with foreign countries. I am embarrassed for my country right now.  We can do better than this.  I really hope we can.