Home 2016 elections Thoughts in the Wake of This Terrible Loss

Thoughts in the Wake of This Terrible Loss

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With Lowell’s permission/encouragement, I am starting this thread to share my thoughts and feelings in the wake of last night’s catastrophe. I’ll start with an opening thought, and time will tell how much more will appear as the day goes on.

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BEREAVED

They say that when a person’s spouse dies, the survivor should not make big decisions hastily. They should wait until the person’s circumstances and feelings get sorted out and then, on a more stable foundation, make their choices about what their new life will be.

Last night’s shocking election results feels to me like a loss of nearly that magnitude.

In some ways smaller, as the day-to-day domestic situation in which I live, with its love and its companionship and its comforts, is still there to provide the nest in which I dwell.

But also in other ways larger, because the ascendance of Donald Trump to the presidency threatens to inflict untold injury to so much that I love—the nation, the international order, the planet. Not just for four years, but conceivably for generations to come. (Got a text this morning from my younger son, saying of his two young nieces and my two young granddaughters, “Poor Dahlia and Leora.”)

So in some ways, I am a widower this morning, having lost a battle to protect our Constitution, to advance justice in America, to get a Supreme Court that is not in the pockets of the Money Power, to act responsibly to combat climate change.

And so I am not making any fast and firm decisions in the turbulence and despair of this moment.

But for right now, I believe this election will be life-changing for me. For more than twelve years, I have been fighting with all my might to defeat a destructive force that I’ve seen rising in the realm of the American political system. The results of last night leaves that Force in command of the entire field.

My sense of the moment, in response to that terrible and really unbearable darkness, is that I may now retire from the battle. That it may be time for me to turn to other endeavors where I am not compelled to peer all day into what really might well be called the face of evil.

At three-score and ten, and after all these years of looking into the heart of darknesss, I’m just not sure I’ve got the strength of heart to continue the fight while the enemy has this apparent stranglehold on our destiny.

But the beloved is newly lost, and this is not the time for firm decisions. But oh, how my heart aches!

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TALKING ABOUT THE ELECTION ON THE RADIO THIS MORNING

This morning I did my monthly radio show, to talk about politics on the Harrisonburg AM station, WSVA. My interlocutors every month are the host, Jim Britt, who is a mainstream Republican, and Joshua Huffman, a young man who is a libertarian not delighted with the Republican Party with which he has sometimes been connected.

Today of course the topic was Donald Trump’s victory last night over Hillary Clinton.

I feel good about my role in that conversation, and I comment the show to your attention.

WHERE AND HOW IS THE BATTLE TO BE FOUGHT NOW?

It’s good, I assume, that people are talking about “redoubling our efforts.” But that raises (not “begs,” please note) the question: how is the battle to be waged from here?

One of the more trivial losses of last night is that I’ve been building up a small trove of what I think would have been excellent ideas for how Hillary and her gang could fight and prevail in the battle that clearly lay ahead of her had she won the presidency: the battle to overcome the obstructionist intentions of the Republicans in Congress. I’d written one piece I was planning to post tomorrow. (This would have been the second in the series, the first having been an earlier piece about her “Campaign After the Campaign” that I posted here a few weeks back.) And I had several other good strategies that I planned soon to write up and present here– “Attention Vice-President Elect Kaine,” in the hope of getting these ideas into the inner circle of the hoped-for President-Elect.

Now, of course, those ideas have been rendered obsolete by events.

But with the Republicans in control of every component of the government — the presidency, both houses of Congress, and I presume soon again the Supreme Court — I’d like for someone to describe where the battle is to be engaged, and how it can be fought effectively.

Surely, the business of speaking the truth about what’s happening will never be exhausted. (But once again we see how, as I used to say in my congressional campaign against Bob Goodlatte four years ago, “the lie too often defeats the truth.”) But can someone present a scenario for how some kind of good results can be achieved in, say, the next several years?

I’m not saying it can’t. But at the moment, I don’t see a way to “get purchase,” as the expression goes, on the dynamics of our new situation.

WILL THESE BUYERS EVER UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY’VE BOUGHT

My older son just spoke with me on the phone about the “buyer’s remorse” he anticipated these non-college-educated white men are likely to experience when Donald Trump — who likely doesn’t really care a fig about them and their frustrations — doesn’t deliver for them. Or, even worse, when/if he makes a terrible mess of everything, as someone like Trump as president might well do.

That brought to my mind the question: If, four years from now, Trump has made things quite terrible, will the people who put him in office recognize that their guy has messed things up? Or will Trump, who has been able over the past 17 months to convince a lot of these people of some thoroughly false things, be able to persuade them that all the fault lies not with him, but with others he points to –the blacks, the Latinos, the global bankers (read “Jews”)?

Which also opens up a potential line of answer to the previous question, i.e. about how the battle is to be waged: is there anything people like us can do to minimize Trump’s ability to use lies and scapegoating to protect himself from being held accountable by his supporters?

STIFFED

Which reminds me: I fear that there’s a big component of the American people who have become such strangers to the truth, so incapable of drawing clear conclusions from clear evidence, that they may never find their way back to reality.

One particular question: In view of all the evidence that Donald Trump has regularly not kept faith with people who place their trust in him — conning the people who gave their money to Trump University, stiffing contractors he’d hired to do work with him — what made all these angry white people believe he would not stiff them, too?

My stock in trade has always been ferreting out and telling the truth. If there are enough people in America who are wedded to falsehoods to elect a man like Trump president, I am not sure how useful my “trade” can be in the political realm.