Well, when I spent the past several months praying for a Democratic blowout, this was definitely not what I had in mind.
Where to begin?
I have spent the past 12 days since the unthinkable became a reality, sorting through every aspect of it. I have worked through a variety of emotions--disbelief, anger, despair--trying to figure out the best way to respond. If I were inclined to make a totally selfish decision, I think that I would just pack up my most cherished possessions and head for the hills, getting myself as far away as possible from the Republican police state likely to be terrorizing us all after January 20.
I can't do that. I have a family--a wife, two children, two children-in-law, and two grandchildren. One of those grandchildren may very well have her life (I repeat: her life) threatened by the repeal of Obamacare that may now become a reality. I have clients, some of whom will be facing a future far more uncertain than mine; after all, I am not in danger of being removed to a country I have never lived in. I have a number of charitable interests I am happy to help support, especially with regard to historic preservation. Most of all, I am a citizen of a great nation whose greatness is currently being threatened by people with a misbegotten concept of what makes it great.
For a few fleeting moments, I even gave some thought to giving up on this blog, not being certain of whether or not continuing it is the best way I can respond to the present emergency we face. Frankly, I'm still not certain. But, until circumstances dictate that I shift my sails in another direction, TRH will keep going. And, no matter how circumstances do or do not change, so will I.
So, with that as prologue, let's try to unpack what happened on November 8, and during the days that have followed.
Actually, I want to go back before that for a moment.
From the moment Donald Trump descended the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his candidacy, to the improbable and nauseating events of Election Night, I was convinced beyond any doubt that his candidacy, like everything else he does, was simply a promotional stunt to promote his "brand," i.e., himself. He's not a businessperson. He's a trust-funded con-artist. And con artists are always on the lookout for new "marks." What better con than a presidential campaign, to go after all of the "marks" in this country at once.
We need not doubt the truth of this any longer. Thanks, New York Daily News. So, there we have it: a President-elect who never intended to become President, trapped by a combination of his arrogant miscalculation and the need that all conservatives have to never, ever admit to a mistake or a miscalculation.
Of course, that's not the only thing that landed Trump in the White House (assuming that he moves there, which is not a guaranteed proposition).
He was voted into office by white voters who equate the loss of industrial jobs with the rise of a more multicultural society, and mistakenly blame the former for the latter because believing a seductive lie is easier than facing hard truths and working to overcome them. In the old days, when jobs disappeared in one part of the country, people moved to places where jobs could be found. Now, they sit around in states that receive more from the federal government than they give, moaning about how things used to be. And when politicians with money equates job losses with diversity, and voters reward them with votes, they expose what motivates them more than economic necessity: racism. Take a look. Then, take another. And yet another. And still one more.
Perhaps more devastatingly, take a look at this. The bigots are openly celebrating their victory. As well as this. The Germans know what a Third Reich looks like.
And what about the voters on the other side of the ideological fence?
Turnout was lower than many had expected and I had hoped, which goes a long way toward explaining why Democrats did so badly across the board. Some have blamed a failure on the part of Obama-loving millennials to turn out on behalf of his Secretary of State, and party nominees generally. Personally, I don't believe they "failed." I think that many of them, and other pro-Democratic constituencies, were blocked by the epidemic of voting restrictions enacted by local Republican officials across the county. And that wasn't the only way by which the vote was manipulated. Paul Krugman does a very effective job of unpacking the manipulation here. The Russians, the FBI, and the media all collaborated to produce the second Presidential election in the past 16 years in which the winner of the popular vote (by a margin of 1.5 million votes and counting).
And when Krugman mentions the media, note that he includes the so-called "mainstream" legacy media of print and broadcast outlets. As someone who grew up respecting the role of what we used to call "the Fourth Estate" in producing the Pentagon Papers and exposing the Watergate scandal, the legacy media's role in this election is disgraceful beyond belief. These outlets no longer see themselves as acting in the public interest. Since the days of Reagan, they have functioned more and more as profit centers, which goes a long way toward explaining why the line between "news" and entertainment is as blurred as it is now. And they are always denounced as being "liberal," meaning that they actually sometimes tell the truth about both liberals and conservatives.
As a consequence of all of this, the legacy media totally rolled over for Trump. Nothing Trump could do would make its coverage anything but constant and uncritical. Hidden tax returns? Sexual assault? Defrauded contractors? Not even the abuse of one of their own by Trump, based on a disability, could make print and broadcast sycophants do anything but follow his every move. Every time I see this, I feel like I need to take a long hot disinfecting shower. It should have knocked him out of the race on the spot. Instead, it became a TV staple, as well as an Internet one.
So, here we are, weeks away from seeing a trust-funded con artist get sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. What to do?
This much is certain. I will resist, and encourage you to resist, the legacy media's siren call to "move on," to "give him a chance," to "put the campaign behind us." This is not a campaign you can bury under any rug. It was far too filled with dirt for that. Trump went out of his way to run the ugliest campaign in the history of the Republic for an office he neither wanted nor expected to win. He owns that ugliness, and the fear that it has engendered among many for whose lives he will now be responsible. Then too, there's that little nagging voice in the back of my head, the one that reminds me of what happened the last time we gave a President the blind faith that the media told us to give him. We ended up in Iraq based on a lie, and Americans are still suffering as a consequence of that lie.
Ignore the voices that tell you that there's a great big beautiful tomorrow to be had in trying to find common ground with a banana Republican, like this one. There is no common ground to be had; even Trump's infrastructure proposals are little more than glorified privatization of existing assets. And don't spend any time hand-wringing about Democratic mistakes, as far too many are doing (here, for example, or here. Nothing in the polls provided any evidence of these "mistakes" in advance. And Hillary won the damn popular vote! There is nothing that proves how much the legacy media is in the pockets of corporations than post-election lectures about how America needs two Republican parties. America doesn't need less of what Democrats advocate; it needs more of it.
So, take a look at Harry Reid's advice. Better yet, take a look at Michael Moore's advice. Or Mark Joseph Stern's, for that matter. Or the words of The Daily Kos. Perhaps, above all, hear the words of the President with regard to the man who's about to replace him, and understand that this was no ordinary election, with no ordinary outcome. There are no Kum ba yah moments to be had here, folks. If you are troubled at all by what Donald Trump is and the potential damage he could cause to the rule of law in greatest nation on earth, if you can see that he has already emboldened our enemies and troubled our friends, if you can appreciate the harm he could do to some of the most vulnerable members of our society, then you and I have only one option:
STAND AND FIGHT LIKE HELL!
It's the only way to light a candle in the darkness that is now enveloping us. And to thereby make sure that this guy isn't right.