In another thread, @Hari_Seldon said, “Even in 2016, I have to say. I mean we knew that Trump was bad, but no idea how bad.” I will say that I really was pretty sure I knew how bad Trump was in 2016. A good friend knowing that I was sinking into abject depression over the election sent me this article in the Atlantic with a “chin up” message. I responded with an off-the-cuff but I think pretty accurate assessment (spoilered below) of how bad I thought Trump would be. I for one, think I knew what we were getting into. Did you know how bad Trump would be?
I’m still devastated. That article is idiotic though. It’s true - we have a largely divided, partisan country. I thought it was a partisan divide marked by matters like whether reducing capital gains taxes will increase investment or increasing capital gains taxes will fund education, both largely with the goal of increasing prosperity for a lot of Americans. In some ways, this would be like arguing whether the Red Sox or the Yankees are a better team, Instead, we can’t agree on whether baseball is a better sport than global thermonuclear war. A significant percentage of American voters seem to be goading us towards the latter. This election has revealed that our heretofore mostly civil partisan divides were masking a subtext of racism, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, raw hatred, and naked self interest.
A near plurality of Americans can’t agree that they don’t want as their president a man who is interested in women solely as sexual objects; who will trade away global political stability as long as as he receives fawning praise from the Russian president; who doesn’t believe that global warming is even real; whose abandonment of constitutional values has him endorsing torture, curbed freedom of speech about political figures, reduced freedom of religion if you are Muslim, and racial profiling in policing. This is a man who no thoughtful, right-thinking person could truly support. Even if you searched hard and found one or two redeeming features – and I can understand why, for example, pro-lifers could find at least some of his statements heartwarming – you cannot escape the conclusion that he is so insincere, untrustworthy, biased, and ignorant that there is no way he could be the president he pretends to want to be, and he has no intention of even trying.
He is a real-life troll that was somehow elected president of the United States of America. He did so when competing against a woman who is better prepared for the job than any person who has ever held it before her. A woman whose greatest critics can only say that perhaps she used her influence to solicit money for a highly-effective charity and that she definitely took some risks with her email in order to shield largely innocuous things from the glare of unfair conspirators agitating against her. People who criticize her for those things fail to note that our president-elect’s idea of charity is illegally diverting income to his charity to evade taxes and soliciting funds from others to spend himself. Who has ties to organized crime figures. Who believes that only suitable staff are the fruit of his loins. Who caters to white nationalists. Who, by some accounts, conspired with Russian agents interfering with our election. Who spent months campaigning against everything the current White House has accomplished but who also waited until after the election to Google how Obamacare works. And who fails to grasp the basic rudiments of government, like that he will have to hire his own White House staff.
With this election, the very idea that America is a meritocracy is dead. All we can look forward to is learning whether it is soon to become a kleptocracy, a fascist dictatorship, a failed puppet state whose policy is dictated by foreign interests, or, perhaps, if we are very, very lucky, maybe just a country who loses the opportunity for advancement and shared prosperity for at least the next four years while we regret what we did last Tuesday…
No, this election revealed a lot more about America than basic partisan politics. We are divided on the very notion of decency. We seem to share no common goals or beliefs. We are riven and many of us are living with newfound fear that the people around us have values so far divorced from our own that those others cannot be trusted. This is mortifying.
- side note - I won’t claim I was being hyperbolic about Clinton but, in retrospect, I clearly overstated her qualifications. I my view, she was more qualified than almost any president but, I really think George H.W. Bush was the best qualified president in any of our lifetimes. Obama was probably the least. And yet, I think Obama was certainly a better president than Bush the elder. Qualifications ain’t everything.