Technicolor Gamut of Electoral Emotions

Posted on November 13, 2016

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Right off the bat I want to note that I’m dissatisfied with what happened on November 8. I also hate the fact that I ended up being right, but I don’t want to use this occasion to point fingers or make a rational dissection of what went wrong. I want to move on, unite, organize and stand up for everyone’s rights and the common good. But before I can become more reasoned and perceptive I have to exorcise what makes me alternately want to cry, to hurl, to hurl something and break stuff.

I am a leftist, progressive, academic, intellectual, elitist, old ex-hippie. I make no bones about it and I’m proud of it. I’m also incredibly proud of my country, being American. There’s no contradiction here. My patriotism does not consist of wearing an American flag pin on my lapel, or waving flags. I know my love for my country and I don’t need to prove it to anyone else using these kinds of typical displays. I value my country, and above all, I value government — the social construct that runs on the principle that we can achieve a lot more by collectively joining our efforts, and that also by joining collectively we can make the best effort to let no one individual be exploited. Government — what binds us together socially and culturally — is the answer: We can achieve more together than separately. As no individual is perfect, no group of individuals will be perfect. I always think we can get better, do better — so I am critical of government. I’m not saying government can do no wrong. It’s not my country right or wrong. If it’s wrong, then it’s time to make it right. When I was a teenager, I had a hard time explaining to my father who served in WWII how proud I was of his service and that my refusal to serve in Vietnam was not a reflection on his service, but that I felt that that war was wrong, unjust and needless.

Right now, one spectrum of emotion is that of grief and sadness. As I said, I love my country. And a good deal of people — for whatever reason(s) — voted for someone who I find reprehensible as a human being. Setting aside whatever policies and substance he has set forth, the president represents us as a people, as a country, and should be an example for others to emulate. The list is long, but it is incredibly painful, and sickening, that our country has chosen someone like him to lead us. The reasons are too numerous, but I’ll just list a few: that he openly mocked a reporter with a disability and people cheered him on; that he has called women pigs, fatso, nasty, etc.; that at 60 years old he was still acting like an ill-bred immature horny teenager bragging about forcing himself on women; that he feels he can do whatever he wants because he is rich; that he commonly steals from those he hires by refusing to pay what he agreed to; that he insulted a prisoner of war; that he insulted a Gold Star family; that he promotes violence by provoking his crowds to beat up protestors; that he accords no one respect since all he does is call them names; that he thinks everyone can be bought off; that he continually lies and says the same lies over and over; etc. etc. Back in the 1960s Nelson Rockefeller chose not to run for President because he felt that being divorced would be seen as a grave character failing. My, how much we have changed since then where our president-elect can be thrice-married and who openly cheated on all of his wives, and brag about being a sexual predator. Such a noble paragon! And his two chief apologizers — Giuliani and Gingrich — are no better. The former informed his wife in a news conference that he was divorcing her; the latter cheated on his wife and divorced her while she was sick in the hospital. These are paragons of virtue? This is the person who will represent us to the world? A guy who brags about his penis size in a televised debate, as if that’s something that matters to the free world? Silvio Berlusconi, and his bunga-bunga, was an embarrassment enough to my Italian heritage. I’m saddened that nearly 60 million people say that it doesn’t matter that this guy with so many character flaws — many of which border on the pathological — should be the one to represent the USA, to lead us. I truly hope that there is no parent out there who is telling their children that it’s ok to act like the him, and I am aghast that his election enables a whole slew of people who feel his behavior is acceptable, if not to be emulated.

It just sickens me that this face will be the face of the USA for the next four years. The face of someone who has led a coddled, entitled life, someone who is only in it for himself and takes advantage of people right and left. I was willing to go to jail for my beliefs on the illegality of the Vietnam War. He had his rich daddy get doctors to sign off that he had terrible bone spurs that prevented him from serving, but didn’t prevent him from missing a season of downhill skiing.

That grief and sadness and sickening feeling morphs into shame. Shame that he represents me. Shame that this is what we present to the world as the best that we can do. Shame that he is now a model for behavior. Shame that my fellow countrypeople are either blind to the tremendous — his word — amount of character flaws, or that these flaws do not matter to them.

And then we come to the anger. When you go past his character and listen to what he says, and his effect on people, it raises my ire. Whatever substance is there plays on fear. Fear of immigrants, fear of Muslims, fear of Black people, fear of those with intelligence, fear of anyone who is not like you. He makes wholesale condemnations of whole classes of people — from undocumented residents who are Latinx, to Muslims, to African-Americans, etc. Our fault does not lie within us, but with others. The message is clear: people are to be judged and spurned based on the color of their skin, their ethnic heritage, their religion. This is bigotry plain and simple. I am angry at that prejudice and I am angry at those who refuse to acknowledge the core of hatred and bigotry that goes to the heart of what he says.

I’m angry that he has painted a picture of an America that does not exist. An America smoldering in ruins. Yes, he is right, the American dream has failed some, but it’s guys like him who weasel their way out of taxes, who ship jobs overseas, who buy and manufacture elsewhere, who demand more and more tax breaks who have picked people’s pockets. It’s a good con man who can make his marks feel like they have won when their pockets are being picked. Congratulations, my fellow countrypeople, you’re willingly going off to be fleeced, and I’m angry because I’ll have to endure the same financial consequences when the shit hits the fan. I know of no one personally — save my wife who is worse off now than she was 8 years ago because she took a cut in pay to have a shorter commute and to work for an organization she believed in — who is worse off now than they were 8 years ago. I don’t know anyone personally who has lost their job to an undocumented worker, who has suffered violence from radical Islam, or by an undocumented resident. Most are doing fine, or even better, so where is this apocalyptic vision of America in ruins, where running to the grocery store is a life or death situation? That’s not it. Those people who voted for the new president are angry that a Black man has been president for 8 years, that there are people different from them speaking Spanish or Arabic, that there is some malaise in their life they need an external scapegoat for. But, yes, I do know some touched by violence, but a violence unleashed by the lack of sane, reasonable regulation of firearms. Some who survived Sandy Hook.

I’m angry that so much of the hatred that he stirred has made so many of my fellow Americans fearful themselves. His campaign of inspiring fear has emboldened others to act on their fear. He has emboldened those to be vocal and open about their racism, their sexism, their bigotry.

I’m angry that others are so angry at the “system” they do not see that they have voted in a prime example of the system working at its best. That their blanket condemnation of politicians has brought in someone who has no clue, who is incompetent. It’s their feeling that not knowing how government works, he can do no worse than professional politicians. I’m angry because these people think so little of our country, and themselves, that they would prefer a jackass at the wheel. It’s like being dissatisfied about how your teenager is driving so you put your 5-year-old at the wheel. All these nihilistic movements — like the Five Star Movement in Italy, or Pirate Party in Iceland, or the old Yippies of the 1960s — are good protest vehicles but ultimately handing over your country to a bunch of jokers who don’t know what the fuck they are doing is just plain stupid. So chalk up my anger at stupidity.

His ignorance of government, and his lack of competency towards issues of utmost importance, are frightening. No one in their right mind would hire someone who came so unprepared to the debates as he, and certainly no board of directors would hire a CEO so ignorant of how their business functioned. It’s mind-boggling that people would consider him fit to govern. It would be one thing if he were a competent, successful businessman, but he has a string of notable bankruptcies and failures (where again investors were left holding the bag). It’s astounding that almost a billion dollar loss gets to be called a smart move. If he had taken his millions he got from his rich daddy and put them in indexed funds, he would have made twice as much money as claims he did. That’s some kind of businessperson! If you wanted to elect a businessperson with no political experience, maybe pick someone who has been truly successful, like Bill Gates.

Speaking of stupidity, I’ll couple that with hypocrisy. There’s so much hypocrisy engendered by the president-elect’s campaign, it’s not silly. I’ll just focus on one aspect here: namely that anger towards the “system” and professional politicians. Obama has been enjoying fairly high favorability ratings and Congress incredibly low ratings. But what has happened? A candidate who vowed to extend Obama’s policies loses and the Republican Congress is maintained. There’s absolutely no sense here. If you are tired of the Washington quagmire, why return the same idiots to Congress? Something else must be working here. Something like racism and sexism.

The tacit trust given angers me. If there’s nothing to hide, then why hide behind not releasing tax returns? Because he is so rich, he is incorruptible and cannot be bought? He’s a special interest unto himself. And if he doesn’t need big money, why did he keep asking individuals to contribute?

What angers me most is that nothing has changed in 50 years. The bigotry of then is still alive and well, and now feels like it can crawl out from underneath rocks. It’s no surprise that the KKK, white supremacists, etc. have endorsed our president-elect. It’s not enough for him to reject the endorsements because the endorsements speak volumes. If you don’t want the endorsements, then stop promoting what these groups find acceptable.

I’m sorry, but this “new” America that will be made great again shows itself as having no place for Muslims, Hispanics, the GLTBQ communities, for Blacks who know all too well the micro- and macroagressions of individual, societal and institutional racism. There are those who feel if they speak up, they will be retaliated against physically, or sued for libel.

This election was a moment to show the best of ourselves. This is what we have got.

I’m angry and disappointed that people cannot see the consequences of their vote. People insured by exchanges set up by the ACA might very well lose their health insurance. The tax breaks, economic plan, scrapping of trade deals will only send the country’s economy into a tailspin. The transition team is littered with Washington insiders (so much for “draining the swamp”). Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are on the block. They are ready to take the fetters off Wall Street. All of the gains — economic, social and political — that the working class and the middle class have made since the Depression are at serious risk. The only people who will profit from all of this will be guys like our new president — guys whose greed, lust and self-interest know no bounds.

Jut look at it: The government during the Depression felt that no elderly person should have to retire and live their final years in poverty so they came up with a program to ensure that could live out their lives in some financial comfort — Social Security. This is not a hand-out, but a pay-in. A government-regulated and administered retirement system. This pissed off Republicans who felt that it was robbing the monied class of an opportunity to manage and make money off the lower classes’ retirement. Medicare — another good development to make sure the elderly had adequate health care in retirement when they would not have as much income. But Republicans hated this too since it was a way to hold down health care profits.

So there’s been a long-time animus of Republicans towards these programs because they rob them of opportunity to make even more money, and their existence runs counter to their Ayn Rand-styled Social Darwinism that everyone should be out for themselves and only the most selfish, and greedy, should survive and thrive.

Couple that with what happened with Nixon. He rose after WWII as a rabid anti-Communist, which also meant that he was a rabid pro-capitalist. He became vice-president and virtually ran the country during Eisenhower’s illnesses. He lost the presidency barely to JFK by underestimating the power of theater — of TV. But 8 years later he learned and made good on securing the presidency. Nixon was not the nicest of guys. He had a public persona of a white knight for the American way, but privately he was fueled by a paranoia, by a need for vengeance (s0und familiar?) and by a lust for power. He engineered the Watergate break-in convinced the Democrats were spying on him (which they weren’t). His burglars bungled and it was exposed, eventually leading to him as the lead conspirator. This was the Watergate scandal that Congress investigated, leading up to starting impeachment proceedings. Rather than being impeached, Nixon resigned in disgrace. Many Republicans never forgave that effort to unseat Nixon, who basically was a moderate conservative in the party. One key figure in the investigation was a moderate Republican senator from Connecticut, Lowell Weicker. The conservative wing of the party was greatly aggrieved. Also, a bit player in this drama was a lawyer named Hillary Rodham, who worked as a legal aide to the congressional investigating committee. Her prime task was to research the procedures and protocols for impeachment.

In the 1980 election, moderate Republicans lost out to the angered and empowered conservative wing of their party and nominated Reagan, heralding in our era of conservatism. Moderates like Weicker became dinosaurs, few of them are left. Come 1994, Rodham had become first lady, and she and her husband, Bill, represented those liberal hippies of the 1960s, many of them blamed for the supposed witch-hunt against Nixon. It did not help that Hillary was involved in the Watergate investigation. So these Republicans, led by Gingrich’s Contract with America, took out a contract on the Clintons to exact revenge for Nixon. That spirit of revenge still engaged the Benghazi and email hearings of the past couple years. Revenge for Nixon. Make sure she could never accede to the position she usurped Nixon from. Couple that with Republicans’ lingering distaste for Social Security, etc. It was the perfect shitstorm, and that shitstorm will continue.

I’m angry at my profession — the media in general. The mainstream media have shifted from covering policy to entertainment and ratings. The loss of the Fairness Doctrine hurts. But his candidacy was fabricated by free attention. What will he say next? The other candidates got lost. And he knew full well it is not good publicity or bad publicity — it’s publicity. Policy is no longer covered. It’s antics and talking heads spinning their yarns. I’m angered at the self-serving stance of the media that they are astounded at what happened. Of course this happened. Mainstream media is owned by large corporations, which tend to like to look after and promote their own interests first. You, unfortunately, are just eyeballs for their advertisers and whatever helps their bottom line.

And I’m angry at all the misinformation out there. From the mainstream media, from the alt-right, the right and the left. I’m frustrated that so much misinformation gets exponentially compounded and spread, especially by social media.

So, again I’m angry that so many Americans got suckered and voted against their own interests. I’m angry that any attempt to move us forward, out of the past, has been stymied. I’m angry that so many Americans are so insistent that this is solely their country, and that anyone who is not white and not straight does not belong here, does not deserve courtesy and respect.

This is not about political correctness. This is about kindness, courtesy and respect. It’s not being politically correct to say “Happy Holidays” to a stranger. You say that because you should know not everyone is a Christian, and it doesn’t take away from your beliefs to recognize that someone else might have different beliefs. What I’m most angry about is a general decline of our culture that does not recognize the simple humanity of all of our fellow countrypeople. I mourn the loss of people who live by the dictum “Do unto others as you would want done to you.”

You will not let the unspeakable happen to anyone if you view them as if they were the same as you.

 

ANNOUNCEMENT:

On January 20 at noon Eastern time, stop whatever you are doing and remain silent for 20 minutes, then go back to whatever you were doing.

For those at work, stop doing your job. If you can walk away, go to a common space inside or outside your place of employment where you can join others doing the same thing.

For those at school, get up from your classroom and go to a common space inside or outside where you can join others doing the same thing.

If you are at home, or elsewhere, stop whatever you are doing and go to a common space inside or outside, even if it’s just to go outside your house or hotel, or wherever you are.

Do this in silent protest. No slogans, no chanting. While Trump takes the oath, we stand against hate and bigotry and lies. If millions can do this quiet, brief protest, it will speak volumes.

If you agree and will participate, please share this on Facebook, or in any other way possible. We need to stand up for ourselves.

 

 

 

 

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