November 13th, 2016

Moose With Mug

The State of the Moose (Musings on the Election #3)

Well, I can state with a slight hint of hyperbole that Trump's election affected me, a straight white male. Yesterday, I suffered a very predictable hive attack, given my lack of sleep, emotional stress and amount of comfort eating and drinking that started at exactly the moment I realized that Trump may very well win the election. In fact, I should have anticipated the attack as I prepared to go out for my walk on Saturday morning. As luck would have it, I planned on including a stop by the grocery store as a part of my walk, and my backpack still contained from my last trip to Philly the requisite amount of necessary Benadryl to take care of it. Of course, I was loopy as for much of the rest of the day and needed a couple naps to recover from both the atttack and the medication, but by the end of the evening I was able to enjoy a couple hours alone with TeenLitGirl after the kids went to bed.

This election has been a very difficult one for me to recover from. Even as I write this, I am still in shock that Der Katzegropenführer is going to be our next President. I do take a small, but certain, amount of comfort in know that he didn't win the popular vote -- according to one estimate, he may have lost it by as much as 1.8 million when all the absentee and early ballots are fully counted. However, that doesn't change the fact that he won nor what type of horrible repurcussions almost certainly await this country under a minimum of two years of solid Republican control of all branches of government.

But, that is looking ahead. At the moment, I think what most concerns me is the degree to which my fellow humans have rattled my faith in their intelligence and empathy. For many years now, I've stated that my opinion of humankind is that we are selfish, near-sighted species and that the best thing that could happen to the planet is some kind of event that wipes us out and gives another species a chance to evolve and do a better job of taking care of this planet and themselves. When pressed, I've been happy to backtrack that sentiment by acknowledging the amount of secular progress that has taken place since the Age of Enlightenment. It hasn't always come easily and we have seen numerous instances of "one step forward, two steps back," but I will gladly admit that in the grand scheme there is reason to be hopeful.

I feel like that this election successfully assassinated my optimism in our collective future with the type of cold-hearted precision that would've both impressed the Stasi and made them jealous. This election should have been a Reaganesque landslide. Trump is absolutely and utterly unqualified for the office in a dazzingly array of different ways. Yes, I will acknowledged that Clinton was an unappealing candidate in a number of ways, but she was no worse than any career politician on either side of the aisle. This was simply a triumph of tribalism and willful ignorance combined with healthy doses of racism, sexism and xenophobia. Again, it wasn't the majority of voters who fell for it, but it was in sufficient numbers to cause the winner of the popular vote to lose the Electoral College for the second time in five elections.

It shouldn't even have been close enough to make that a possibility. Yet, here we are.

I recall all too clearly what happened the last time this happened, in 2000. We got "deficits don't matter," a war of choice in Iraq financed completely with debt, the creation and subsequent expansion of security state apparatus, the Dixie Chicks fiasco, the insistence that if you didn't support the war then you hated the military, and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And all that happened with a President who, though I severely disagreed with him, was reasonably-qualified for the office.

Clearly, the short-term memory of far too many people is defective. Worse, they voted for a man whose business record made it clear that the only person he ever cared about and worked for was himself. He has a decades-long history of screwing over his employees, business partners, and creditors, as well as a vindicative side that stops at nothing to gain revenge against those he feels has wronged him. Furthermore, the way he acted during this campaign made it clear through his having no compunction whatsoever about lying, even when confronted with his own words, that you could trust nothing that came out of his mouth. Yet, people voted for him nonetheless. It is the most striking case of mass cognitive dissonance to occur in my life.

This is the reason why my faith in my fellow humans is so thoroughly shaken. Yes, there's a good chance that in the long run we as a nation will somehow dig our way out of the mess that will result from President Trump. However, this nation still hasn't entirely dug out of the mess caused by the last time the Republicans controlled all the branches of government. I can't, and don't want, estimate what the chances of this country recovering form what will happen over the next few years, but if I did know those chances, they would probably terrify me.

Look, I don't want him to fail. I would love nothing more than to be thoroughly shocked and proven wrong. However, that doesn't change the fact that ~47% Americans saw it fit to elect him for Preisdent. Already, it's given some racists, sexists, and xenophobes the courage to lash out at fellow Americans who haven't done any harm to them. I feel like we have stepped onto the proverbial slippery slope and started falling into a scenario that's far too similar to Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here than anyone should be comfortable with. THe fact that he has already named white supremacist Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist does absolutely nothing to assuage my fears.

And I haven't even started on what a Trump presidency means for our international affairs or global climate change. Anybody who lives in the reality-based world should be terrified at what he will "accomplish" there.

Humankind has let me down, and I don't know how much or what kind of optimism about our future I might ever feel again.

More tomorrow.