Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Welcome to Trumpistan!

Well, it happened.

The thing that everybody (myself included, sadly) dismissed as being too crazy, too far out there, simply too absurd ... happened. Donald Trump is our new President-elect.

I need to let this sink in for a moment. A man who is going to trial for fraud, who has allegations of rape leveled against him, who mocked the disabled, who called for a ban on immigration based solely on a person’s religion, who bragged about being able to sexually assault whoever he wanted because “when you’re a star you can do anything you want” ... this is who was elected.

I have seen a lot of posting on Facebook from my circle of friends, all of whom are expressing shock, grief, outrage, anger, and fear -- as they should be. Despite all the polls, pundits, expectations, hints, and predictions, our better nature did NOT prevail, and our wisdom did NOT kick in as expected. Nate Silver of fiverthirtyeight.com, who as late as Monday night had pegged Trump’s chances in the 30% range, is probably spending the day today scratching his head and saying “What the fuck?”

I have also seen people casting about desperately for someone to blame for this debacle -- again, myself included. Some have blamed it on the media, some have blamed it on the third-party vote, some have blamed it on Hillary, some have blamed the DNC. And there is some truth to all of these. However, it doesn’t really matter.

What does matter is that we have been dealt an incredibly shitty hand, by a corrupt dealer who has absolutely no qualms about rigging the game in his favor, and we just have to make the best of it. We are facing a Republican-controlled government with a radical conservative agenda and a raving lunatic at the top. Apparently, the obstructionism of the past eight years has paid off. So here’s what we can look forward to.

The Supreme Court will be stacked with conservatives. Roe v. Wade will be challenged and likely overturned. The NRA will enjoy an almost unfettered ability to write legislation, as will corporate interests. The Affordable Care Act will be dismantled, and there is nothing with which to replace it. Environmental protections will be gutted or scrapped completely. Climate change will be ignored, and in some cases outright denied. Voting rights for minorities will come under further, more serious, attacks.

In short, it’s gonna be ugly. So what can we do about it? Well, there are some things that we definitely do NOT need to do.

We do not need to point fingers. Sure, a post-mortem is appropriate, and finding the issues and/or people and/or organizations that led to this loss is needed, but only to improve things next time ... NOT to create scapegoats.

We do not need to encourage the same sort of obstructionist nonsense the GOP has been practicing for the past eight years. They’re much better at it, and preventing anything from getting done will only hurt the average American.

We do not need to question Trump’s legitimacy, his fitness for the office, or his ability to compromise. None of these things are new; they’ve all been said before. It will not move the ball one bit, and will only embolden his supporters to become even more intractable.

We do not need to demonize his supporters. Yes, they adopted (or brought out of the closet) some horrifically ugly viewpoints, exhibited behavior that was borderline criminal (and in some cases outright treasonous, as when a sitting Congressman suggested that Hillary Clinton be shot), but they are still people, after all, and each and every one of them is someone’s brother, sister, father, mother, son, daughter, and they are trying to navigate the twists and turns of life as best they know how -- just as we are.

On the other side of the coin, there are things we can -- and MUST -- do.

We must ignore the Republican playbook, and continue to put country ahead of party. For eight years, the GOP has had a single goal: to control the reins of power without Democratic involvement. Well, now they have it. And even though it will be painful for most Americans, and may very well end up sending us plummeting into an economic tailspin that makes the Great Depression look like a bounced check at the grocery store, we have to accept that they are going to do what they are going to do, and simply be ready to pick up the pieces afterward.

We must stick with what HRC said on the campaign trail: “When they go low, we go high.” There will be shameless gloating from Trump supporters today, and possibly for his entire Presidency. That doesn’t mean we get down in the gutter with them -- we simply stay on our path, trying to make things better.

We have to get ready for the next round. Even though this election has taken all the conventional wisdom there ever was concerning electoral politics, wadded it up, and flushed it down a gas station toilet, history has shown that, when a President enters office with majorities in both Houses, the following midterm elections usually see a switch in the majorities in Congress. Bill Clinton entered office with a Democratic majority in 1992; in 1994 Newt Gingrich’s “Contract For America” swept in a GOP majority in both the House and Senate that endured for the rest of Clinton’s Presidency. In 2000, George W. Bush entered with that majority, and in 2002 the Congressional majority switched back to the Democrats. A similar flip-flop occurred in 2010. This indicates -- but in no way guarantees -- that Democrats stand a fairly good chance at retaking both Houses in 2018 (of course, in 1994, 2002, and 2010, Congressional districts were not gerrymandered in favor of the Republicans to the degree they are now, which makes it more difficult).

Above all, we cannot piss and moan about how “Hillary done me wrong.” She put forth her best effort in the face of unprecedented opposition from not only her opponent, but also Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange and Wikileaks, the alt-right movement (including associated media outlets such as Breitbart), a latent, untapped nativism that many were shocked to discover existed, and younger voters who became caught up in the idealism of Bernie Sanders’ campaign and were either unwilling or unable to look at the pragmatic reality of the need to stop Trump.

So where do we go from here?

Become informed. Be kind. Love people. Stand in solidarity with those who are likely to be royally screwed by this monstrosity that is the new Republican Party: minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, women, the poor -- in short, anyone who doesn’t look and act like Trump -- and refuse to allow them to be bullied by anyone.

Most importantly, though, hold your representatives accountable for their votes, and if you don’t like ‘em, vote them out in 2018. Trust me, the midterm campaigns are getting underway today (already!), and many of them are going to be based around an anti-Trump message. The goal is to regain a veto-proof majority in both Houses so that Trump and Pence can be held in check.

I won’t kid anyone ... this is a devastating setback. Nobody expected this. But we can either cry and complain about how horrible things are going to be (and let’s face it, they will be), or we can get to work on minimizing the damage.

I vote for the latter.

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