There was a tweet I saw a couple months ago when Trump won the Republican nomination that made me laugh but now haunts me. If you’ve seen the Netflix show, Stranger Things, you’ll understand. “This is the Upside Down and We Are Barbara. We Are Barbara!”
If you don’t get it, think of it this way. We are all partying on the Titanic and the iceberg just scraped by. We have no idea what we are in for.
Throughout this ridiculous election session I, along with millions of others, have been living in denial. “Trump couldn’t possibly win.” No matter how much he continued to win we kept telling ourselves this. “Surely the American people can’t be this racist, this sexist, this xenophobic, this dumb, this crazy.” Last night we found out how wrong we were.
I can only hope at this point that Trump’s actions will prove to be less radical than his rhetoric, and that the dreaded “establishment” he ran against will somehow be able to keep him in check. Neither of these possibilities seems likely at this point and I fear millions of Trump voters will soon be forced to admit that they too were living in denial about what a Trump Administration really means.
I’m still in shock but it’s being to turn to disgust. I’m upset at the poor choices the major parties gave us and the pathetic efforts of prominent Republicans and Conservatives to do more to stop this madness. I’m also upset with myself for not doing more. Sure, I wrote and spoke out against The Donald from the start but I should have been yelling on the street corners and rooftops. I know, you’re thinking that probably wouldn’t have worked, but most everyone a year ago thought that a Trump candidacy probably wouldn’t work and look at how that turned out. A good argument can be made that Trump has proved the wisdom of the old old Spartan war cry: “He who dares, wins.” May we learn from this and prepare to fight again another day.
Since writing this yesterday I have been thinking about how easy it is for people to dismiss my words as more hyperbolic rhetoric. We’ve all become so used to politicians being denounced as corrupt, immoral, evil, the worst thing since Hitler, etc., that we’ve become numb to it. Sure, he’s bad, but so is she, and it all become the same meaningless computation in which everything is equally bad. Should a candidate come along who is uniquely unqualified and dangerous this is dismissed as another, “boy who cried, wolf,” non-event.
I understand why Secretary Clinton and President Obama felt they have to play nice and tell us to give Trump a chance. They figure there is nothing to gain from harping on the problems they have identified with the man at this point but this also makes their previous words feel like just another game; just more rhetoric; just name calling, rather than reality. I was very disappointed in Mitt Romney, who correctly identified Trump as someone who should never be given power, and invoked John Adam’s famous warning that democracies die of suicide. His efforts were too little, too late, to stop the Trump Train but now they have been completely wiped out in a single tweet:
One statement I did find myself identifying with was Van Jones question on CNN about how we explain this to our children? He is right to call this, “a nightmare,” and not just for minorities. I too don’t know what to say to my son. Even when children are too young to understand all the horrible things that Trump has said, they still know that Trump is a bad man and bad men should not be president. I wasn’t happy when Obama won in 2008 and 2012, because I voted for the other guys, but I never bought into the denunciations that he was unAmerican or maniacal. In fact, he seems like a very good man and I was proud to tell my son, “That’s our President. And we respect the presidency.” But now, how can I point to a President Trump (the words still sounds like a bad joke), who embodies everything I do not want my son to be, who does not respect other human beings on so many levels, and tell my son to respect him?
It genuinely sickens and frightens me that a man who courted the White Nationalist (i.e. hardcore racist) vote and has excited them like no other candidate in my lifetime, was actually voted into office. Even if Trump does not live up to their expectations, what will they be inspired to do? Just look at what they are saying and ask yourself, “Why are they so happy about this election? What does it mean to them? And what will that mean for us?” I know that in his victory speech, Trump tried to play the role of unifier, but who can actually believe any of this? We all know that’s not who he is.
I realize that 99.9875% of the population is, “So over it,” and just needs to move on with their lives, but I can’t pretend that this was just another election. I think the Titanic analogy is an apt one. The Titanic was built to withstand a direct hit by an iceberg, just as our Republic was built to withstand the power-hungry machinations of a single man, but under the right (or wrong) circumstances, you never know what will happen, because these protections depend on certain assumptions about the danger at hand and Trump clearly doesn’t follow standard assumption of normal behavior. Will Trump sink the Republic and kill more than half of us? Probably not. But will he be just another president, and maybe even a good one? Certainly not. Believe me!