So America Shits the Bed

These things happen sometimes. Like many others I know, judging by my facebook feeds, the results of the 2016 elections came as something of a shock. Sure, the warning signs were there if you looked, but so was a lot of evidence to the contrary. I was wrong and most of my friends and associates were also wrong, not to mention the DNC and others. Even having had it happen, “President Trump” sounds like a bizarre joke to me. The kind of world folks say we live in, but I can’t quite entirely believe exists.

I had some trouble sleeping last night, not because I’m afraid or worried, those aren’t things I do well. It was because my mind is one that has to sort everything out and find a place for it before I can rest. It’s like encountering a new and engrossing game, my mind must make sense of it all and the process of doing so is very consuming. So I have to sort out what it means to have a President Trump, how he got there, why, and what can be done about it.

Is what you know wrong?

You have to ask yourself this. If you, like I, didn’t expect this outcome, you really should question some of your assumptions and ideas. It’s time to take a step back with an open mind and listen carefully. Challenge yourself a little. I find in any game when I’m losing, it means I’m missing something important and I need to cast around for what it is, take it step by step, break it down, form a new plan and see if it works out.

I think my surprise probably came from a belief that the DNC machine and Hillary’s campaign were savvy enough to strategise a victory that would overcome her weakness as a candidate. I also trusted that enough people would see through Trump’s BS to take a safe path rather than a risky one. That last one, I should have known. I have a phrase, “don’t bet against stupid” and I ignored it. Especially foolish since I so many times myself have bucked the traditional candidate for a dark horse (though not this year, well not during the general at any rate). I think many Trump voters were doing exactly that. They still saw Trump as a viable outsider as where I see him as just a different kind of insider.

I also think that for a long time I’ve been to isolated from rural politics and culture. Traveling the country as I do now has opened my eyes somewhat. Further, some insightful articles on Trump and his support over the past few months have further enlightened me as to what make rural American political thinking work. Finally, some study on the history of American politics has highlighted that the urban/rural divide has been a strong theme in American politics since day one.

Is it really all that bad?

I honestly don’t know, none of us really do. I’m pretty sure it’s not good but I’m not convinced it is a huge disaster either. I have a strange faith in the American system. I know many say “it has failed” but I say no. My look back at history has shown me America has faced some incredible challenges, far greater than what we face today and against far greater odds, and we survived, triumphed and prospered. And yes, we suffered too, terribly at times. But we keep moving forward and keep getting better.

I take some heart in Trump’s non-ideological nature. He takes some positions that traditional conservatives would run screaming from. For many years the conservatives decried him as the prime example of what liberal elites are all about. He’s also not a person who just does what others tell him to do. He’s not one that gets carried away by political pressure or even popular pressure. Sometimes that can be a good thing, though sometimes not.

While I think he has little respect for minorities or women, I don’t think he is a true racist or xenophobe of the Hitler / KKK bent. He’s perfectly willing to use those people, but he’s not really one of them. His disrespect is more a matter of anyone that is not Trump is fair game to be exploited for his benefit. His brand of chauvinism, racism, and other bigotry are the casual superiority rather than the active persecution of the marginalized. He’s not a friend to them, but he’s not on the warpath either. Muslims and illegal immigrants are a different story. I think there, he’s a clear and active opponent and is a great political danger to them. But also, I think his aggression is a generalization justified by, on one hand, extremists among them, and on the other, a matter of fact legal claim.

What really does gall me.

Trump is something of an anti-Sig. This is a guy who represents authority, cultivates sycophants, cares little about speaking the truth, discards wives like newspapers, preys on the weak, wins at all costs, bullies others, whines even when he’s winning, and panders to hatred and ignorance. He’s an embodiment of every phony corporate stooge, entitled elite, playground bully, and authoritarian goon I’ve had the displeasure to meet or work with. I despise these types of people. And yet…

Too often I let them win. I recognize the humanity in them, their positive traits, the good they think they are doing, and even respect the effectiveness of their tactics. And more than once they have delivered me an ass kicking in the workplace. Often when it seems others think worse of them than I do, but just let them ride roughshod anyway because they want to keep themselves safe. It’s not like I try to rally the opposition, I wait on others to take a personal stand as well. Am I failing to use my influence to fight back fiercely enough? I don’t know. I tend to feel that fighting as the underdog in the workplace tends to just be a losing battle because it’s not your ground to fight on and if I get others involved it only puts them in danger.

But this is my country, as much as anyone’s so perhaps I need to do more and I’ve every right. I don’t imagine I have any real power compared to this man, this president Trump (shudder), or even the masses following and voting for him. But like voting, just because I can’t win it alone, doesn’t mean that if enough act, we can’t win together.

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