As you have surely heard, the revolt of the Never Trumpers fell short on Electoral College Day yesterday. Far, far short. Just as it fell short in the primaries and on Election Day. More electors who were pledged by their party to vote for Hillary Clinton declined to do so than did Trump electors decline to vote for him. Anyway, it’s over. He’s fully president-elect and will be actual president one month from today, unless he gets a better offer.
Regular perusers of this space have perhaps detected roughly how heartbroken and horrified your humble and obedient ink-stained wretch feels about this. In truth, I’ve been holding slightly back the strength of my feelings out of some vestige of older-fashioned journo-norms.
Yes, I’m very concerned about his likely policies — although, in truth, he never seemed policy-driven and may not do much that he promised or threatened to do. The real horror is that someone of his egomaniacal character, ignorance, prejudice, cruelty and self-absorption could occupy the office that the first Republican president so ennobled. He is the unLincoln or the anti-Lincoln, whichever sounds right.
As someone who has scribbled his way to a living for 40-some years now, trained in the dark arts of informing the electorate through good and bad times, I had picked up more than my share of skepticism about the fundamentals of democracy.
But I didn’t see this coming. I don’t mean that the week before the election I believed the pollsters. I mean that via some uncorrupted core of optimism about my country and my species, I didn’t think that Homo Americanus could overlook this level of lying and shapeshifting self-dealing and lack of feeling for those who struggle in ways that he never had to. The lying was especially hard on me because my lifelong craft is so worshipfully in love with the idea of facts and rational logic, and the idea that they matter. But, apparently, not as much as I thought.
So, I don’t blame Hillary Clinton, I don’t blame James Comey, I don’t blame Vladimir Putin. I don’t blame Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or those who voted for them. I don’t blame the media, either, except that the new media landscape and norms have made it so easy for so many to imbibe only those facts and falsehoods that suit their hopes and their dreams, their emotions and especially their anger and their grievances.
It really creeps me out that in this country, where I gratefully abide thanks to the courage and pluck of my immigrant grandparents, so many of my fellow Americans have become so obsessed with whatever they feel is wrong with their situations that they have lost sight of anything that is right with it. And so they bonded with a foul, greedy fat cat whose slogan was based on the premise that America is no longer a great place to live. Maybe some people need to look around the world, and I don’t mean just at Finland.
I don’t really blame the president-elect, either, because — although he would’ve if he could’ve — he didn’t elect himself. He needed tens of millions of Americans to volunteer for the twisted Vulcan mind-meld he offered. Ultimately, this was done by those who voted for him and, to a lesser degree, by those who didn’t vote. I don’t believe he is the answer to their problems; I don’t believe he is going to make their lives better. I have no idea whether or when they might realize this or what might happen when they do.
And, of course, what difference does it make whom I blame? As if I am authorized to judge others for how they choose to exercise (or not) their precious franchise. I’m not so-authorized any more than you are to judge me. I’m just an old scribbler who is entitled, at least until the Constitution is amended to the contrary, to his opinion. And I hope the opinion I’ve just offered is in error. It wouldn’t be the first time.
MinnPost will soon be moving into holiday mode, so I’ll make this my last piece of 2016. Hope to see you in the Happy New Year.