Post Trump-election thoughts (Wish I could say post-Trump!)

 

Ok, this is beyond the obvious armageddon thoughts, disownment of the homeland, wishes that –once again, like after the blood-on-his-hands second Bush Jr. election –“Blue America” could just separate itself.

These are just disordered thoughts before I forget them.

“Love Trumps Hate” was kind of a stupid campaign slogan. Of all the qualities Hillary was bringing to the table, who was she kidding with that pitch? So it was a little clever in an obvious, rather unclever way. All you need is love? Please. She could have chosen something tougher, more political-intention driven, like maybe fighting for the working-class at home while maintaining America’s status as a world leader abroad. This was especially inept in view of the kind of voters she needed to bring aboard.

She sunk to Trump’s reality-tv emotional level of appeals. She moved to his terrain from hers, which should have been the relevant one –of policy, leadership and governing.

Adding to her tone-deafness in the final run, parading around with and pop-culture celebs, she set herself firmly on the wrong, the Hollywood, side of the traditional “culture” divide separating dems and repubs. She undoubtedly sent fence-straddlers scurrying to their usual side with the rappers, etc., who don’t seem to represent her very finely anyway.

It”s easy in retrospect to see this as part of a misguided strategy (and what of Hillary’s campaign wasn’t cold stratagem?). Her campaign clearly decided she already had the numbers to win, as long as those numbers got out and actually voted. So she swerved to her base. Allying herself with Beyonce and Lebron felt no less inauthentic than the version of her campaign self during the 2008 democratic primaries when she was slugging back boilermakers and boasting about shooting guns as a little country girl.

That line would probably have served her much better this time round.

I also knew something was amiss when she brought the former Miss America with her for her Florida end run. I mean, a politically-disinterested someone who long ago received some unkind comments from her opponent? Are we gonna have some kind of women’s-tv commiseration fest? I remember thinking “is that all you got?” Is that supposed to lure center-leaning white men who might have a problem with Trump’s flagrant disregard for truth telling and total lack of presidential temperament and preparedness?

Easy to say in retrospect that Hillary was particularly ill suited to run in a year where voters were fed up with the system and its makers. (Though we may never know how much was that compared to straight [no pun] tribalism and bigotry.)

The polling was off. Again, hard to say how much was respondents embarrassed to admit they were voting for Trump versus pollsters underestimating the continued momentum from the FBI’s intervention. It was wishful thinking that the downward spiral had  levelled off. A couple thoughts on that  game changer: First, innuendo works –more even than recorded evidence, like in the many cases of Trump. Second, retractions are less newsworthy or influential. Hard, I guess, to unsee or unhear. Third, isn’t it strange we should even talk about momentum guiding serious decisions like these, and why should that particular “momentum” extend to down-ballot candidates totally uninvolved?

Some of us were deluding ourselves, thinking that after voting day Trump & his support would be a historical footnote, a little blip, a last gasp of old ignorance and prejudice in an otherwise uplifting trajectory of electing our first black president and then our first woman. The relevance of the Trumpist tempest shouldn’t depend on one or two percentage points though. The consequences for sure, but not what it says about who we are. And however you want to slice it, this wasn’t just a few old, angry and poor white men. In an election apparently all about demographics, he also got a majority of white men earning over fifty grand a year. That hardly strikes me as destitute.

In this (mushroom?) cloud, silver linings hardly abound. But maybe, since there’s no sign Trump cares about anything or anyone besides himself, he’ll not bother to follow through on his campaign rhetoric. Maybe he’ll shed his dipping-bullets-in-pig-blood tough guy shtick and revert to his soft playboy self now that he’s sated himself by winning –which was presumably all he ever wanted. Reagan, the last tv-movie blowhard elected president, never followed through on his tough rhetoric against the “evil empire,” never started WWIII and actually became buddies w/ Gorbachov.

If any of Trump’s upcoming legal problems lead to his impeachment, we’ll at least have the more seemingly stable and sane hands of Pence. But would we truly rather have a right-wing ideologue than an amoral narcissist? He would probably be less likely to start a nuclear war out of spite or irritation, to capriciously end decades-long treaties and alliances, but perhaps more dangerous to long-term alignment, particularly at the judicial level. Pence would likely be much more effective in ferreting out fundamentalist-conservative justices ready to attack Roe vs Wade and generally push a radical right-wing agenda. Trump, on the other hand, would probably pay less attention –and feel less bound –to any lip service he gave the religious right, maybe selecting someone who turns into a mild surprise, like David Souter.

Living abroad, this serves as a good example of the difference between being embarrassed and ashamed. I can’t be ashamed of something I didn’t do. But I sure am embarrassed. Not only because just months ago I was assuring students there was no way such a man could carry a national election, going on as I did about how radical bases are catered to during primaries but national elections get won in the center. Whoops. Hillary probably should have moved there anyway.

Oh, and about Hillary’s so-called scandals: why is no one talking about Colin Powell doing the same with his emails? And he was the only other Secretary of State to use email. No one has claimed she even did any harm. The Clinton Foundation: Yes, the couple has hobnobbed w/ big money people over the years in a way I’m a little uncomfortable with. But I haven’t heard the foundation’s money was ever used for anything other than truly philanthropic good throughout the world. So what if they used their personal influence to generate money to feed and clothe the needy. And contrast that to Trump’s illegally classified “foundation” whose money he only uses on himself.

Finally, the electoral college system bites. Californians and New Yorkers know their votes hardly matter. Shouldn’t every citizen’s vote be counted equally? Thought we’d learned from the Gore/Bush fiasco. System needs to be changed.

Plenty more to be said, but let’s do it in the comments below. Rage freely.

3 thoughts on “Post Trump-election thoughts (Wish I could say post-Trump!)

  1. Mehdi says:

    Thank you Jon for this nice read. It is true that America will likely to go through some winters during Trump’s administration and unlike some other theorists who posited that this would shake the system and create new paradigms that bring about change and get rid off the negative routine found everywhere. Also, it’s true that Hillary paved her way of being defeated but this election also uncovered a American societal issue that needs to be tackled with this fissure. America is a country of democracy and diversity that is its founding principle, and therefore, threatening it would mean threatening America as a nation.

  2. Mehdi says:

    Thank you Jon for this nice read. It is true that America will likely to go through some winters during Trump’s administration and unlike some other theorists who posited that this would shake the system and create new paradigms that bring about change and get rid off the negative routine found everywhere. Also, it’s true that Hillary paved her way of being defeated but this election also uncovered a American societal issue that needs to be tackled with this fissure. America is a country of democracy and diversity that is its founding principle, and therefore, threatening it would mean threatening America as a nation.

  3. Esther says:

    I understand your, so linguistically skilled, angry and embarressment. I have known, with your writing, more in deep the reasons for the dems total failure ( besides a bundle of new expressions) in the recent election. And wellcome to the new people that (we) are totally desagree with the politicians that represent us.

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