Treading water

There are no end of speculations on what happened. My enthusiasm for politics morphed into dread recently, so I stopped putting items in my Politics category. My reaction to the election is personal. So for a while I’ll sputter on in this category, bereft of my usual highly insightful references to academic work. I do have some blogging to do on two academic works I’ve finished, but those entries will go into other categories.
Watching interviews and reporting on t.v. or listening on the radio engenders cascading thoughts which I then lose as I sit to write. Just now I watched a bit of A.M. Joy on MSNBC I recorded Sunday morning. What I remember from Joy before the election was her concern over the normalizing of Trump. Indeed, this has slipped up on us as more and more routine people kiss the ring at Trump Tower and those strange family members of his slide in and out of the scene carrying who-knows-what to the Big Man. Richard Cohen likened him to the Godfather. Indeed – and I may be using the word “indeed” a lot these days even though it is a bit literary for me – an air of inner circle insularity and suspicion circulates slowly in a dense, odorous pall around the President-elect. Wow! My prose is purple – that last about “an air …. circulates” doesn’t even make sense. Treading water might be the best choice of analogies as we wait to see how many sharks there are in the water around us and how close they get in their passes.
How much attention should we pay to crazed neo-nazis heiling the Führer? Should we be more concerned that Romney, the stalwart Mormon calling us to the moral high ground, is bending low to kiss the ring? Isn’t it normal for people to flock to the President-elect? Countless red flags are raised: foreign business entanglements, relations with unsavory persons like Putin, wild threats against dangerous adversaries and wilder threats against critics, secret financial holdings with no glimpse of tax records, a rapid settlement of a law suit he said was insubstantial, a list of accusers regarding sexual misconduct, nepotism similar to Saddam Hussein’s……. I can’t begin to complete this list. And yet we see the high and mighty trooping to Trump Tower.
Two things then:
My greatest regret is not the election of Trump nor of the head-in-the-sky certainty of prognosticators and pundits that he would lose, but the loss of a person who has more knowledge, skill, and experience than anyone imaginable to be president. And I hope two things: that, just as with Obama, the history books will show a competent if not always perfect person, and that she might run again in 2020.
The other thing is that our watchdogs will remain vigilant and courageous. It is terrifying to think the media will retreat in the face of threats of cutting off access. My god, in other countries, reporters stop pursuing stories under pain of death. We fear loss of access?
Here is a prediction, two predictions: I will feel better, especially if I get involved in supporting Democrats and democratic principles (donations are easiest for us) and Trump will reveal his devastating unpreparedness and eventually, through insane appointments, will cast this country into an abyss just as George W. Bush did. Maybe then we’ll learn.

Later – I got to thinking, the biggest challenge for me, I would guess, is to continue treating my fellow citizens who voted for a totally unfit presidential candidate as free of malice. Trump has violated most civilized norms, the most serious breach being to treat nuclear weapons lightly, and yet his followers/supporters/voters voted for him anyway. What am I supposed to do with someone who says, “I know he says he will round up undocumented persons and he will tear up treaties and he speaks of women as trophies or pets or worthless and anyone who crosses him is a loser and on and on, but all I heard was jobs.” Do I excuse them? Do I empathize? Do I rend my garments for being indifferent to their pain? There is no way I can look someone in the eye and say, “I know you voted for Trump, but let’s put all that he is and all that you have brought into the White House and just talk about how anxious you are about your future and your children’s future.” I have to shout at them, “Look what you’ve done!” But I don’t think they care. The deplorables among them revel in being obscene, offensive, blasphemous, and they mock our horror, our concern.

But it’s the Trump voter who seems to elevate his beliefs to the level of fact, who seems to think there’s something suspicious about people who are different from him, who firmly believes things were better in the 50s, and who admires Trump as a businessman, who challenges me most. I am supposed to treat him with respect, but that is like normalizing Trump. It normalizes hate radio, Fox News, Internet trolls, and, most of all, it normalizes sheer ignorance. Ay, there’s the rub. My class prejudice shining through.

Yes, it is the lack of education, the willful ignorance, the clinging to ancient folkways, not to mention guns and bibles, that most galls. My eyes feel pulled by a mighty gravitational force as I look down my nose at these people. And I hate that. But it is fear, my fear, that the lady who said she no longer feels secure in her own country because she sees suspicious people all over these days (meaning swarthy people who might be terrorists), will back an authoritarian regime that will isolate the country, turn it over to oligarchs, abuse our military in foreign adventures, give free hand to police authority to spy and repress, all in the name of protecting her from suspicious people. She is a bigot. But I call down wrath on myself for calling her that.

Let’s look at this from a foreign perspective: the Brexit vote. Just as people in Iowa feared mugging by a Black thug more than did New Yorkers, so Englishmen in isolated villages resented foreign immigrants more than did the people who lived in big cities with foreign immigrants. But now, as I read about it in the NYT, they have brought down upon themselves an unpredictable and possibly catastrophic chain of economic and eventually social events in withdrawing from the European Union. Is it fair to blame old Archie out in Bucktoothington Shire for voting to keep England English? Is it fair to blame Dougie boy in Lancaster or Phoenix or Eureka for voting for a man who swore to him he would bring back the good jobs Dougie remembers from the 50s and 60s? But blame falls on those who heard the message, the whole message, and voted for Trump anyway, just as the people who heard the news broadcasts and read the papers and voted to exit the E.U. anyway. Damn the experts!

The sneaking suspicion many of us Liberals have, and I’ll speak for all of us, is that a lot of Dougies kind of enjoyed the put-downs of women, the marginalizing of minorities, the attacks on the press bordering on inciting to riot, and just the general “I don’t care about all your fancy high-society Liberal ways, we’re just plain folks and good Christians and we haven’t had a pay raise in 20 years nor a job in 10 years.” OK, Dougie probably wouldn’t use “nor” —– oops! There’s my class bias again.

It is education, not race or income or region or social class or religion that divides us the most. More on that in this my gut reaction to the election.

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