I think it was the Chinese who had a curse that went, “May you live in interesting times.” Yes, a curse, not a blessing. “Interesting times” are times of chaos, turmoil and hardship.
The “unthinkable” has happened. Donald Trump has been elected president. People are in a tizzy. Since he hasn’t even taken office yet, we don’t really know what his presidency will entail. This post will be about, not Donald, so much, but people’s reactions.
Of course, the Right is jubilant. They won, after all. The rest of us should just “get over it,” they keep reminding us. Many people have weighed in. Michael Moore pointed out that many Americans have just been abandoned by the Democratic Party. They want their damned existence to be acknowledged and they will achieve that by voting for the other side. “Trump’s election is going to be the biggest ‘fuck you’ ever recorded in human history.”
Then there are Leftists who consider Hillary so corrupt that it either doesn’t matter which side wins or that Hillary is worse than Trump. There are plenty of those around on Facebook. Laura Phipps said, “Hillary Is a consummate politician. Knows how to lie smoothly, which Trump can’t do. No, I don’t like Trump. But if you had bothered to educate yourself on any of her terribly horrific lies and other crimes, you would know she is far far far worse. Sorry for the HE&R. I used to publish with plenty of documentation. But right now I am too stressed out for that. And it is really upsetting to me that so many people don’t see her for what she truly is.” She went on to say, “I have wanted to keep certain information confidential, but I really can’t deal with this election stuff while sitting on it. So… at some risk… I know more about NWO than I let on. I have belonged to that group in a recent lifetime. I know what is there. It is NOT “theory”. I look for people I know are part of that group. I look for signs of active participation. I see who they are friends with. I don’t believe Hillary is NWO herself. But they are all around her. They have control of her. And I have also noticed they actively draw her more deeply into their world.”
Christopher Allen Driscoll takes an even more dire view not only about Hillary but about Obama. “As America’s premiere Soviet-Russia expert, Stephen Cohen, has said many times in the last year, this period under Obama has brought us closer to nuclear confrontation than any since the Cuban (really, the Turkish) Missile Crisis of 1962. It looks as though Obama has been chastened by the opposition of the American people and is now backing down from WW3, but he still has two months in power. The price of survival today is constant vigilance. Now that the batshit crazy nuke-wielding banshee has been defeated and sent into retirement, don’t relax. Stand up to Obama’s nuclear ambitions and don’t relax till he’s gone.”
Then there is Jill Stein who ran as a third party candidate while saying Trump is “less dangerous” than Hillary. She has also said a Trump presidency would help the movement grow. Nader said the same about a Bush presidency. We know how well that turned out.
On the opposite extreme, are people who supported Hillary and really believed in her. Jenni Silberstein (my sister) said, “Hillary is not a liar. She would have made an excellent president. Trump is an unmitigated disaster whose election (not to mention his plans for nepotism and his appointment of Bannon the Bigly Bigot) may protect the Second Amendment from ANY background checks or restrictions on automatic weapons but spells a serious weakening of the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, the press, and religion.”
My own opinion is that Hillary is a corporate drone. She stands for neo-liberalism, business as usual, the status quo. Bernie Sanders would have brought change. Hillary is a grievous disappointment. Many people, myself included, are bitter about how Hillary seemed to fight Bernie more vigorously than she did Trump. I blame her for Trump’s victory. She was a weak candidate. I also blame Stein and Johnson. Johnson took enough votes away from Hillary to give Trump Florida. I also blame Bill Clinton’s failure to protect fair voting. That allowed enough voter-suppression to also have made the difference.
The clearest and most on-target statement about the significance of Trump’s victory came from Bill Ayers. He reminded us of how racist Trump’s campaign really is. He nailed the pundits for their many platitudes trying to minimize the seriousness of what has happened.
But the outcome should not have surprised us. This election was, among other things, a referendum on whether the United States will be a straight, white nation reminiscent of the mythic “old days” when armed white men ruled, owned their castle, boasted of unvanquished military power, and everyone else knew their place. Henry Giroux’s new book America at War With Itself made this point with clarity and foresight two months before the election. The easy claim that Trump appeals to legitimate working-class populism driven by class anger, Giroux argues, ignores both the historical link between whiteness, citizenship, and humanity, and the American dream of wealth accumulation built on private property. Trump’s followers are not trying to redistribute the wealth, nor are they all “working class”—their annual median income is about $72,000. On the contrary, they are attracted to Trump’s wealth as metonym of an American dream that they, too, can enjoy once America is “great” again—which is to say, once the country returns to being “a white MAN’s country.” What Giroux identifies as “civic illiteracy” keeps them convinced that the descendants of unfree labor or the colonized, or those who are currently unfree, are to blame for America’s decline and for blocking their path to Trump-style success.
For the white people who voted overwhelmingly for Trump, their candidate embodied the anti-Obama backlash. Pundits who say race was not a factor point to rural, predominantly white counties that went for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but now went for Trump, and to the low black and Latinx voter turnout. However, turnout was down overall, not just among African Americans. Post-election analysis shows that as a percentage of total votes the black vote dropped only 1 percent compared with the 2012 election, even while the number of black ballots counted decreased by nearly 11 percent. (Why this happened is beyond the scope of this essay, but one might begin with Greg Palast’s findings about voter suppression and the use of “crosscheck” to invalidate ballots.) Moreover, claims that nearly a third of Latinxs went for Trump have been disputed by the website Latino Decision, whose careful research puts the figure at 18 percent. The turnout does not contradict the fact that Trump drew the clear majority of white votes. This is not startling news.
Ayers points out that Bill Clinton was, himself, a force for reaction. Clinton “oversaw the virtual destruction of the social safety net by turning welfare into workfare, cutting food stamps, preventing undocumented workers from receiving benefits, and denying former drug felons and users access to public housing; a dramatic expansion of the border patrol, immigrant detention centers, and the fence on Mexico’s border; a crime bill that escalated the war on drugs and accelerated mass incarceration; as well as NAFTA and legislation deregulating financial institutions.”
I am burned out of politics. It looks like an enormous effort with little result. Those who can still remain active and have the optimism to keep fighting are amazing. I hope they will win. Maybe with the Millennials and the Third World, there is a chance. For myself, I see myself on a wild ride. I am hanging on for dear life, hoping I won’t be harmed too much by the “rough beast slouching toward Bethlehem to be born.” I have read first-person accounts of life under the Third Reich. Well, I guess we’ll get to experience fascism first hand. Hopefully, the number of voters on Social Security will keep zealots like Paul Ryan from demolishing the program. I know Obama was no friend of Social Security. His “chained CPI” bullshit alienated me from him forever.
This is where I live, in the heart of the beast. If nothing else, life is going to be “interesting.” Many parts of the world have it a lot worse than I/we do. With a little luck, I will die before my own country reaps the chaos it is sowing. Until then, I’ll be a “good German” and keep my head down.
- 5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win. Michael Moore
- If Elected, Donald Trump Will be the Last President of the United States. Moore
- Where Do We Go From Here. Bill Ayers
- Jill Stein Explains Her Plan to Stop Trump by Electing Him.
- Thinkin’ Stein. “Trump is better.”
- Jill Stein’s gambling Donald Trump Won’t go Rogue. The Hill
- How Jill Stein and Gary Johnson helped elect Donald Trump. CNN
- Ralph Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon