President Trump and Beyond
EXCERPTED FROM “How The Revolution Started: Essays & Impertinent Thoughts “(Eggy Press).
Shock. Disbelief. Catatonia. We’ve observed various forms of post-traumatic stress disorder manifested in Hillary Clinton voters, very few of whom seem able to process the idea that the fiasco we witnessed unfolding in slow-motion was an election, not a coronation.
We’ve heard the tearful confessions: “I’m speechless.” “I’m frightened.” “I’m so upset I think I might rouse myself from my usual cycle of acquire-consume-repeat and actually, like, call someone to complain.”
We saw a master comedian, T.J. Miller, sputter through a laughless stand-up set in which he attempted to “process” his hurt feelings. We read a tortured editorial in The New Yorker in which smart and educated writers attempted to explain how Donald J. Trump confounded the polls and the pre-election pronouncements offered by publications like The New Yorker, one of dozens of media outlets (CNN, the Washington Post, the A.P., MSNBC, the New York Times, the TV networks, etc., etc.) that has yet to fully take responsibility for anointing Hillary Clinton the next President — during the primaries, when another candidate, Bernie Sanders, was making a devastating case against her neo-liberal worldview. Clinton’s claque dismissed him, ridiculed him and actively schemed against him, helping to deliver the presidency to a reality TV clown.
We’ve seen a lot of finger-pointing and not much mirror-looking.
Indeed, the enormous number of Democrats who are outraged, disgusted and energized now, as opposed to when this election was being rigged in Clinton’s favor by the DNC and their state machines, gives us hope. These folks were asleep. Now they’ve been awakened. These folks were told repeatedly that their candidate was at best a coin-flip against Trump while Sanders soundly beat him in every poll extant. Now they’ve been awakened. These folks were told that those of us who don’t participate in, or profit from, the global oligarchy were compelled to support the foul state of affairs — because, you know, the alternative was . . .[insert favorite groupthink phrase here.] Now we must all live with the consequences of their arrogance.
We don’t care much for Donald J. Trump, except as a Falstaffian jester slightly more entertaining than a costumed professional wrestler. We agree with him on several key points (global trade deals; interventionist foreign wars; Wall Street kleptomania); we disagree with him on almost everything else. Cheerleaders for Trump we are not. Indeed, we happily voted for Jill Stein, which felt great, because all our latent misogyny had been spent opposing Clinton. We’re Berniecrats. Our hearts and minds are with Bernie Sanders. So it might come as a surprise to those who share our progressive values that we’re actually excited for the Trump Presidency.
Just as the Obama Presidency reshaped our conception of what’s possible in America — namely, that even a half-white man can be an effective corporate stooge and constant war-maker — the Trump Presidency might prove that you really don’t have to be a professional politician or trained bureaucrat to be the boss. We might discover that it really isn’t necessary to know anything about anything (other than gaming the tax system) and still be in charge.
Obviously, it really was time to repudiate the business-as-usual agenda offered by the Clinton Foundation. Sadly, the “party of change” put forth the most reviled status quo candidate of our lifetime instead of the most inspiring candidate of our lifetime. If Clinton would have won, implementing the systemic changes our republic needs would have been forestalled at best and impossible at worst. With Trump in office, millions of engaged Bernie voters will be joined by millions of newly conscious Clinton voters, and Senator Sanders, or a revolutionary candidate like him, will become the clear and convincing alternative to whatever mayhem Trump and Company are able to wreak between now and 2020. When everything comes into focus.
For the next four years, each citizen will have a daily opportunity to define her values, to ask himself “what kind of person am I hoping to one day become?,” to identify leaders who represent the better angels of our nature. The next time we the people get to choose a President (and the shape of our national narrative), we surely will be less confused, less complacent and less willing to accept more of the same.
That’s how you turn hindsight into foresight.