November 9, 2016 – by Nel Ward
Last night I didn’t sleep much. I’m guessing that millions of people didn’t sleep much either. Fortunately, a friend had dropped off several library books, and I spent several hours reading them. By this morning, I decided that I couldn’t do anything today about Donald Trump’s election, and I needed to take care of myself. My resolution was that this is the first day of the rest of my life, and I’m going to have a good life. For the rest of the day, I cleaned closets and the garage, taking some time out to talk to a distraught friend about the disaster of watching Trump try to destroy the people in the United States for the next four years.
My friend wasn’t ready to give up her anger and grief while we were on the telephone, but she sent me the following piece from Garrison Keillor in the Washington Post. She wrote, “Sounds a little like what you were saying.” Keillor no longer broadcasts his radio program, Prairie Home Companion, that he started over 40 years ago, and he no longer has a regular syndicated column. But he has given me this comfort in a difficult time.
“Pollsters in the presidential election seem to have gone awry. Several months of polls predicted Hillary Clinton would be elected president, by winning support in key states. While Clinton started out strong, evidence shows pollsters tend to underestimate conservative voters. Trump gained support in key swing states, becoming America’s 45th president.
“So he won. The nation takes a deep breath. Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president. We are so exhausted from thinking about this election, millions of people will take up leaf-raking and garage cleaning with intense pleasure. We liberal elitists are wrecks. The Trumpers had a whale of a good time, waving their signs, jeering at the media, beating up protesters, chanting “Lock her up” — we elitists just stood and clapped. Nobody chanted “Stronger Together.” It just doesn’t chant.
“The Trumpers never expected their guy to actually win the thing, and that’s their problem now. They only wanted to whoop and yell, boo at the H-word, wear profane T-shirts, maybe grab a crotch or two, jump in the RV with a couple six-packs and go out and shoot some spotted owls. It was pleasure enough for them just to know that they were driving us wild with dismay — by “us,” I mean librarians, children’s authors, yoga practitioners, Unitarians, birdwatchers, people who make their own pasta, opera goers, the grammar police, people who keep books on their shelves, that bunch. The Trumpers exulted in knowing we were tearing our hair out. They had our number, like a bratty kid who knows exactly how to make you grit your teeth and froth at the mouth.
“Alas for the Trump voters, the disasters he will bring on this country will fall more heavily on them than anyone else. The uneducated white males who elected him are the vulnerable ones and they will not like what happens next.
“To all the patronizing b.s. we’ve read about Trump expressing the white working class’s displacement and loss of the American Dream, I say, “Feh!” — go put your head under cold water. Resentment is no excuse for bald-faced stupidity. America is still the land where the waitress’ kids can grow up to become physicists and novelists and pediatricians, but it helps a lot if the waitress and her husband encourage good habits and the ambition to use your God-given talents and the kids aren’t plugged into electronics day and night. Whooping it up for the candidate of cruelty and ignorance does less than nothing for your kids.
“We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids and we Democrats can go for a long brisk walk and smell the roses.
“I like Republicans. I used to spend Sunday afternoons with a bunch of them, drinking Scotch and soda and trying to care about NFL football. It was fun. I tried to think like them. (Life is what you make it. People are people. When the going gets tough, tough noogies.) But I came back to liberal elitism.
“Don’t be cruel. Elvis said it and it’s true. We all experienced cruelty back in our playground days, boys who beat up on the timid, girls who made fun of the homely and naive, and most of us, to our shame, went along with it, afraid to defend the victims lest we become one of them. But by your 20s, you should be done with cruelty. Mr. Trump was the cruelest candidate since George Wallace. How he won on fear and bile is for political pathologists to study. The country is already tired of his noise, even his own voters. He is likely to become the most intensely disliked president since Hoover. His children will carry the burden of his name. He will never be happy in his own skin. But the damage he will do to our country — who knows? His supporters voted for change, and boy, are they going to get it.
“Back to real life. I went up to my hometown the other day and ran into my gym teacher, Stan Nelson, looking good at 96. He commanded a landing craft at Normandy on June 6, 1944, and never said a word about it back then, just made us do chin-ups whether we wanted to or not. I saw my biology teacher Lyle Bradley, a Marine pilot in the Korean War, still going birdwatching in his 90s. I was not a good student then, but I am studying both of them now. They have seen it all and are still optimistic. The past year of politics has taught us absolutely nothing. Zilch. Zero. Nada. The future is scary. Let the uneducated have their day. I am now going to pay more attention to teachers.”
When the GOP took over both the House and Senate, they swore to accomplish something. They didn’t. Starting on January 20, they will have the entire enchilada and have to perform. Trump promised to stop all crime in the country on the first day of his presidency and then bring back manufacturing to the U.S. soon after.
By now, Republicans are sure to be suffering from performance anxiety. Braggart Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called on using the election’s mandate “responsibly” because it may not be permanent. He’s figured out that Congress won’t–or can’t–follow through with all Trump’s promises and that people will turn on the GOP if they don’t produce. Trump may be president, but he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
Thousands of demonstrators are marching in the streets tonight, not only in New York City but also in Boston, Chicago, Portland (OR), Seattle, Washington, and places in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, as a protest against Trump’s racist policies.
I’ll have more to say about the election later, but for right now, I’ll just keep cleaning out the rest of our house, reading, and enjoying my friends.