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Down to the wire. And if he wins…?



Well, tomorrow’s it. This horrible election season will be over. God knows it’s been hard on all of us, I know. I, myself, have not been able to watch any of the news channels for the last two weeks: too upsetting. It’s actually affected my physical health. And me, the biggest political junkie in the world! So instead of news I turn to Turner Classic Movies, just an old man who prefers sweet nostalgia to the confusing, hostile nihilism of Now.

I think Hillary will win, barely, but Trump might; I’m reconciled to that possibility. If he does, I shall have to do, personally, what Democrats will have to do collectively: deal with it. The way I feel now, I cannot forget, or forgive, what these Republicans have done, to Hillary, to Bill, to the Obamas, to Democrats, to our country, to me. They have insulted and pilloried the people and values I hold dear, which my parents inculcated in me: fairness, decency, inclusiveness. Their lies—Trump’s, especially—are intellectually repulsive to my intelligence and sense of fair play. I was raised to respect all people, not hate them, the way Republicans so often seem to hate, with such easy smugness. I suppose that’s the biggest difference between the parties: not issues per se, but attitudes. Republicans find it so easy to hate “the other”: gays, Muslims, Mexicans, blacks, the poor, liberals, urbanites, educated people. As a Democrat and a human being, I will confess that I am not without hate, although “hate” is perhaps too strong a word: resentment is better. I see people doing things of which I disapprove. I can relate to the feelings of some Republicans that America has become too soft, that Democrats have become the party of leniency.

But I don’t like that judgmental part of myself. I struggle against it every day of my life, not always successfully; but it is a struggle I owe to my better angels. If I cannot purge myself of negativity, at least I can work hard to free myself from it, to not give in to the simple temptation to hate. It forces me to try and understand others, difficult as that can sometimes be. This way of being, it seems to me, is the essence of being a Democrat: empathy.

But it seems that Republicans have ceased to struggle against that hateful, judgmental part of themselves, even though so many of them profess to be Christians. The tea partiers who call Obama a “nigger” or a “monkey” or “an Islamic radical”…the homophobes—embraced by the official Republican establishment—who still call gay people “faggots”—the vicious, violent smears of Hillary Clinton, a “cunt,” a “bitch,” a “castrating Lesbian”—I can almost conceive of how a Republican might think such things, in the privacy of his innermost being. But I cannot understand why that Republican should not be alarmed at this soul-eating sickness, why he should not fight against it with all his power. It’s a puzzlement how this Republican Party can have so fully embraced hatred—not just allowing its camel’s nose to snoop into the tent, but to welcome the entire beast, foul and stinking, inside, there to feed it until it swells to monstrous proportions.

If Trump wins, those haters will also have won. The white Christian women with their Trump hats and snarls, the white southern men with their guns and “Jail Her!” buttons, these are the Americans who will now be in charge of our national destiny, aided and abetted, perhaps, by a rogue F.B.I. Trump will immediately move to make good on his campaign promises: repeal the Affordable Care Act. Drop Merrick Garland like a bad rash and nominate an anti-abortion, anti-gay, Christian conservative for the Supreme Court. Destroy the environmental movement that has formed to combat climate change; wreck America’s decades-long bipartisan foreign policy and throw the world into chaos. He will increase America’s involvement radically in the middle east, in the guise of destroying ISIS, risking further wars and thereby hugely raising the Defense budget, at the cost of domestic investment—even as he cuts taxes for his rich friends. He will drill, baby, drill. He will pass, or attempt to pass, the harshest anti-immigrant laws since the nineteenth century. And on and on. And it will be done in a spirit of vengefulness: Trump’s followers are vengeful, and so, clearly, is Trump himself. Congressional Republicans, particularly on the Senate side, may not be psychologically vengeful, but they will get sucked into the darkness. There will be retribution against Democrats, and Hillary Clinton will be the first to feel the lash.

It’s said that Democrats don’t have a plan if Trump is elected. Well, we will be shell-shocked if it happens: so will the world. In the event worse comes to worst, we will have to go through a series of Kubler-Rossian stages of grief: the first, denial, won’t last long; the second, anger, will be strong and deep. The third is where the work starts: bargaining. But with whom are we to bargain? Even if we are willing to bargain with Republicans politically, Republicans are not willing to bargain with us. They have shown this repeatedly. President Obama spent his first term trying to be bipartisan, and Republicans told him to go fuck himself. If Republicans are victorious, there is absolutely no chance they will find themselves in a more conciliatory mood than they’ve been in for the past eight years. What, then, does “bargaining” even mean?

We’ll have to wait and see how this all shakes out, but I do want to warn any Republicans who might be reading this (fat chance): if you win, you had better move fast to make nice with Democrats. This will mean you have to shut off your extremists, the most hateful and divisive of your tea party-Trumpster cult. They got you your victory: now, you will have to distance yourself from them, since you recognize—I would hope—their mental instability. (They are “useful idiots,” if you will.) If you don’t—if you gloat and rub it in (which is a tendency Trump, a mean man, has), you will tear this nation apart so badly that all the King’s horses and all the King’s men might never be able to put it together again. Which would be an unmitigated catastrophe for all of us, including your children. As for Democrats, if Hillary wins, I promise you, reconciliation will be among her highest priorities.

Finally—last point! We all know that this has been the nastiest, ugliest, most distressing Presidential campaign of our lifetimes. As I said earlier, it’s made me physically sick, to the point I needed to see a doctor. Who made it so ugly? Some people say both candidates. I say, that’s a lie. Thought experiment: If Hillary were running against, say, Jeb Bush or John Kasich, do you think it would have been this ugly? Or even against Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz? It would have been about issues. Who made it not about issues, but about insults, smears, put-downs, personal invective, rudeness, bullying, sexual predation, bragging, dehumanizing, innuendo, lies, threats? Trump threw this campaign into the sewer because, let’s face it, that’s where his soul dwells. No matter who wins, I hope History records that Trump is the most vulgar, disgraceful candidate in American history.


If you haven’t yet voted, vote for Hillary! Thank you.

  1. Ah, Steve, you are the consummate professional, sorry to hear you are torn up by this election as I am. Kudos for being open on your position. My thoughts, FWIW, as we await the tally…

    On Hillary vs Anyone Else Republican: Steve, the shit spewed about Barack Obama (I was a huge supporter in 2008, to the point of driving to Colorado to help, I believed in collaborative, inspired leadership… to pave a path to change), the shit spewed about Obama was really ugly and yet his presidential race was never about that ugliness, because he never engaged in it. Hillary does. To so many, she’s really not a solid offering; merely reigning queen of the other Big Party guilty of putting party first and people second, paid for by entrenched corporate/lobbyist interests protecting themselves. We need more parties. Real ones. Parties that stand for their constituents, don’t spend half their time fundraising at the phone banks, propose better ideas than endless government spending and endless international meddling, parties and candidates with nobody but their own platform and constituents to answer to. I’m afraid of her, I admit; I don’t think she understands what debt is, nor the terrible burden of the ACA as implemented–not transformational, not going to be better with only 10% more to enroll as she trumpets, just a windfall for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

    Republicans: (I don’t include Trump in this category) For heavens sake as my mother would say, they need to get over their evangelical moralizing and re-define a political party that stands on economic issues and leave the church and God to the church and God. Shudder the thought what the discussion would be today with Ted Cruz as the “other.” Did that guy not sound like a parrot of a TV evangelical? At least Trump, along with all the embarrassing blather, raised a few interesting questions and ideas on trade and the cost of our international policing. After all, who DO we think we are to police the world, and where DOES all the money come from to support that? And at what cost to us here? I CAN understand why some folks overseas hate and resent us, and why some folks throughout the U.S. hate and resent their government.

    Trump: More power to him if a guy wants to spend his own money trying to be President. He chose the Republican train to ride in on, and they didn’t offer a candidate that could beat him. Remember, Republicans hate/fear him even more than you do… In my opinion, it’s a big mistake to overgeneralize “Trumpsters” as white racist bigots. Here is a great piece on the subject of Trump support and on classism in general, a brilliant piece of real journalism:

    What we need are more options.

    I too am emotionally exhausted by this race, by the lack of restraint in language. The lack of integrity in journalism. The unwillingness to give SOME space/time to the 3rd and 4th party on the ballot. It’s just worse every four years, as if the last two weren’t bad enough. I struggle most with two things about this election discourse: (1) people not questioning the simple soundbites fed to them by candidates and a corporate or partisan owned media (heck, people not questioning period upsets me, when did questioning cease to be an important character trait?), and (2) people being pressured to vote other than their conscience. Our vote is a hard-fought right. It matters. I believe more than anything in market mechanisms, in consumer sovereignty, and in political matters, that consumer is the voter voting… if we keep buying Pepsi and Coke, it’s all we get.

    The decision is tough… down to the wire for me. Looking at the issues and platform and character, I think I’ll be exercising my right to be heard by casting my vote for Jill Stein. I respect her position on healthcare delivery and on international affairs. I wish Bernie had joined up with her. I am disappointed in her website, I wish she’d make it easier to hear her speak on the issues, as it’s not very costly today to grab a camera and film yourself… The point: I hope the post-mortem on this election by those who analyze ALL the votes will help us get out from under this binary chokehold, the duel-to-the-death fight over who gets the glory of the helm, while the ship heads for the reef at top speed… I do know what a balance sheet is, and our debt is a real problem. Our MediCare cost is out of control (due to the market mechanisms rewarding illness, not health, in our current “health care” system, and private insurance companies taking all the money out of the system from age 1-64, leaving MediCare with the tab of a chronically ill population starting at age 65).

    Gratefully, I don’t really fear a Trump presidency. It’s one office. The ongoing problems in our nation fall squarely at the steps of the houses of Congress, if you ask me. Even an inspired, smart, educated, collaborative leader as Obama in the oval office could hardly get anything done in eight years… Maybe Trump being elected signals the first chapter in the long game of breaking up the paralyzing duopoly.

  2. Emily, thank you sincerely for your work on the historic campaign of Barack Obama. Concerning your other points, I respect your idealism–but it is very unrealistic at this point in America to be talking about “more options.” Perhaps down the road, but in this election, sane people need to line up for Hillary.

  3. What we ask for will come. We have to ask first. Nobody handed women the right to vote, and our country didn’t give black women the right to vote until much later! Nobody handed gay Americans the right to marry. They all had to risk personal safety and harsh criticism to make it happen. I’m willing to ask. One election is just a step in a long process that desperately needs to get started. If you believe in Hillary, if you believe her policies are sustainable, you are voting your conscience, and I respect your choice. But to do it under pressure of fear of having only one other choice, nearly sounds like an authoritarian government, doesn’t it? The kind we fight against in other parts of the world.
    I’ll be so relieved when this day is over. Thanks for letting me share my view here 🙂

  4. I meant to respond to another aspect of your post, the Republican obstructionism. Let’s hope that Donald Trump hijaking their party to get nominated teaches these irresponsible folks a lesson. Let’s hope the party splits, and the extremists go sit together in the lunchroom, and those who are socially inclusive and believe in small government form their own party, so that party can have a voice in a rational debate to help construct policy changes. If we had intelligent debate and discourse in congress, we would all be able to get back to our jobs. I can hardly work, this insanity is so upsetting.

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