— Now the real work begins.
As this issue gradually emerged, I planned on providing myself with about a thousand words on the election (and its befuddling current since). Ultimately, a wonderful issue revealed itself, which left me with just a page.
It’s probably for the better. Regardless of what side we represent, who among us since the morning of November 9th hasn’t been impacted by some of the many penetrating observations but isn’t also exhausted with the near-endless eruption of commentary—a hypnotic blend of keep it coming and enough, already!
A few concerns stand out, among many. He didn’t win the vote—he beat the system. As he’d bragged about throughout the campaign, that’s what he’s been doing his entire life, on every level. A larger story for someone else to tell—which is being told relentlessly—hourly, daily, monthly … thankfully.
Not a whisper about climate change during the final debates. Shame on Hillary for that one—though, oddly enough, I just read that we can now add climate change to the mounting list of items Trump is pivoting on—in a Washington Post article titled How Long Before the White Working Class Realizes Trump Was Just Scamming Them?
Much worse, he built a campaign around racism, misogyny, intolerance, demagoguery, reactionism, and zero political skill or strategy (old news, I realize). He behaved and presented himself like a national disgrace from the start. Colin Powell hit the nail on the head.
But what’s more ridiculous? Donald Trump on the campaign trail? Or the Donald Trump we see now: spinning on just about every promise he made, settling (admitting) his Trump University fraud case, being exposed for fraud within his Foundation, and shamelessly re-branding 18 months of vitriolic gibberish as mere campaign rhetoric designed to get votes.
So now he’s just a liar that said horrible things to get people to like him? Well, the KKK certainly gobbled it up. The alt-right fools loved it. Neo-Nazis signed on in mass. Oh yeah, and so did over 60 million every-day, ordinary folks we bump into at work, school, family gatherings, church, sporting events, the grocery store, etc. If that doesn’t stop you in your tracks, nothing will.
A note to the press and everyone else in America. This isn’t normal. DON’T NORMALIZE IT. EVER.
You didn’t have to like Clinton; I’ll be the first to say she ran an uninspiring campaign and simply didn’t connect with enough of modern America to get the job done (or did she?). At press time, National Popular Vote Tracker has her popular vote lead at over two million, and growing.
Regardless of how that plays out, it’s easy to see that the current condition of politics in this country is in shambles. The system is broken, without question. How else could a comic-book villain walk through the front gate unrestrained? Bernie’s been saying it for years, never louder than 2016—and yet, as it unfolded, he was crowned the campaign’s official quack.
As a head-shaking side note: Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” its word of the year last month. Suddenly, everyone is talking about fake news and false facts. I can only imagine why.
Predominantly, I worry for the young people in this country—who are already critically distracted and exceedingly entitled in many ways. They watched a man show the nation and the world that you can be as reckless as you want to be—say and act however you please without regard for anything or anyone but yourself—and still find traction, opportunity, status, even success in this country. It’s tragic to think of the example that sets, and the ripple it will have moving forward—regardless of how quickly he comes and goes.
Is there hope? Absolutely. There’s always hope. I can’t remember a time in my life when I saw so many people of all ages and types engaged in politics. Within that emergence, our leaders have been put on notice. The people are watching; they’re discussing your mode of operation; your career is not assured. And the above-mentioned young people, while distracted and entitled, have also grown up in a world where an African American president isn’t unprecedented, it’s normal. Where LGBTQ Americans have equal rights. Where the Church’s ability to judge a woman based on her personal business is deteriorating. And where climate change is real, including the solutions.
There’s also hope in learning. And we learned many lessons in 2016—all of us, about ourselves and about our government. Mostly, we learned that no system is so resplendent, no individual so ordained, that it can’t be undone, that they can’t be outrun, by the most unlikely of crusades … or the most implausible of crusaders.
No matter what side you’re on: we’ve got a lot of work to do.