I might sound like a grumpy old man, but I think we had a better class of angry white wingnuts back before the Internet. Nowadays, every halfwit with a keyboard thinks he’s William F. Buckley.
I haven’t signed this petition. Not yet, anyway. I have… concerns.
Would President Trump do terrible things to our country? He appears to have every intention of doing so. His cabinet, this far, is full of ultra-wealthy people, united in their opposition to basic human rights for my gay friends. His grasp of international diplomacy seems… lacking. Also, the next President will likely appoint several justices to the Supreme Court of the the United States, with ramifications for generations to come (the Court has not exactly been a beacon of justice in recent years, but I can’t imagine that it would get any better with justices appointed by Trump).
But is getting rid of Trump enough reason to tell Americans (not just those who voted for Trump — all Americans), “No, your vote actually doesn’t count”? Is preventing the election of President Trump enough reason to start the next civil war? Or does permitting him to take office make that war inevitable? What will my nieces’ and nephews’ children say about us, thirty years from now? That we caused the war, or that we simply failed to prevent it?
I rather like the idea of the electoral college making itself relevant by being the voice of sanity it was intended to be. But I find myself wondering at what point “the consent of the governed” becomes less important than “doing what we know is right”. It’s a very dangerous thing, to “know” that one is right.
And yes, I know that this petition, like all such petitions, is absolutely meaningless. It’s an impotent and pointless gesture.
But that’s how it always begins. Very small.
I just had a conversation with someone who said that President-elect Trump’s intended cabinet appointments so far indicate that he is “reaching out to the opposition”. Initially, I though that was a particularly funny comment, and congratulated them for their sarcastic humour.
Except they weren’t making a joke. They apparently actually believed that. Which left me speechless.
They then went on to explain how they were reasonable, and thoughtful, and in way of example of their reasonableness, gave me a short list of their horrific beliefs. They concluded with, “We all want the same things, just have differing opinions as to how to get there.”
I replied, “I strongly suspect that you and I do not want the same things.”
“What do you want?” they asked.
What do I want? That’s a good question. I want zero-calorie, 80-proof rum. I want a reliable 200 Mbps Internet connection that costs less than $100 per month. I want every movie and TV show ever made to be available on, at most, two or three Roku channels, and for them never to be removed. I want a house where I can look out my window and see nothing but trees, and live in peace with my wife and my cat. But that’s small stuff. When it comes to the world outside my window, what I want is less easy to define, so it took me a few minutes to distill it down. So this is what I said:
I want a world where people who are decent and kind can live their lives in peace without fear of being deported, or having their basic civil rights denied because they love the wrong person, or being hooked up to electrodes to shock them “straight”, or being put into internment camps because they picked the wrong invisible friend, or being harassed and driven away because they have the wrong ancestors.
They replied that they considered themselves a realist, and they considered me an idealist.
I replied, “I consider myself someone who doesn’t want their friends treated like sub-humans by people like you.”
Which was probably not the most constructive thing to say. So it goes.
I’ve written a bit lately, urging my similarly-aligned friends and acquaintances to refrain from insulting half the country because they voted differently, or didn’t vote. I’ve urged my allies not to call people “Nazis” or “white supremacists” unless those people actually are such.
This is an example where calling someone a “Nazi” or a “white supremacist” is appropriate, because that’s exactly what this guy is: his words make that clear. Now, is everyone in the audience also a white supremacist and/or Nazi? We can’t know that, and we should not assume that. But it’s reasonable to assume that the people cheering and giving the Nazi salute are. Or think they are (I suspect that a lot of these people would be surprised to find themselves taking a train ride in actual Nazi Germany).
So the question is, how do we get people who didn’t vote, or who voted for Trump, to see that this is the result of their actions? If we want a better future, we need them to realize what a terrible mistake they’ve made. The future depends on us working together. We simply can’t afford to hold grudges.
P.S. That was kind of a clever word-play there, comparing “leftists and cucks” to the golem, a figure from Jewish mythology. He’s not explicitly saying that he’s referring to Jewish people when he asks “if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem”. Not explicitly.
P.P.S. What the heck is a “cuck”? Is he calling non-Nazis chickens?
P.P.P.S. I use the phrase “taking a train ride” in the second paragraph. As far as I know, I came up with that allusion myself — I don’t think I borrowed it from anywhere. However, on proof-reading this, I was reminded of another reference to taking a train… man. That’s dark, Dalton.
P.P.P.P.S. “Cuck“. So, that’s a thing, I guess. Ugh.
If you want to see someone as an enemy, there will always be an excellent reason for it. Hatred is the easiest thing in the world. “I hate them because they hate me” is the easiest excuse of all. How many times must we re-learn that “They hate me because they do not know me” is usually much closer to the truth? Shakespeare told us. Twain told us. Roddenberry told us. But we keep forgetting.
But we have grievances, do we not? Of course. We always do. And our grievances are just, while theirs are petty and childish. Our fears are based on reality, while theirs are based on delusion. Our leaders may be imperfect, but theirs are monstrous, and want nothing less than the complete destruction of what we value most. So we will elevate someone to leadership despite their flaws, because to do otherwise is to surrender to annihilation. This is no time for idealism.
And how dare anyone on our side suggest anything less than seeking their complete annihilation, in the face of such an existential threat? How can anyone even suggest compromise with such savages?
After all, genocides have happened. Holocausts have happened. Must we not strike first, to prevent it from happening again, to us? How can we ever live in peace unless we first exterminate those who threaten that peace?
I was just asked by an acquaintance — a friendly acquaintance — not to respond to fear-mongering with facts, “because it send[s] a message that their fears aren’t warranted.”
When one side spends the better part of a year building up their opponent into a bogeyman of epic proportions, and then goes into hysterics when the bogeyman wins, I can’t help but see the resulting terror as anything but self-inflicted.
They’ve spent the last eight years mocking the fears of their opponents, only to be devoured by their own fear-mongering. And the irony of it is lost on them. And by “them”, of course I mean “us”. Because these are my friends and allies to whom I refer.
It is disappointing.
I hope the coleopterans will be better people than we were.
(This is a follow-up to Who really elected President Trump?.)
Let us say, hypothetically, that you are an American, and today is the day you vote for President.
Perhaps you are one of the millions of Americans who are unable to get broadband Internet service at any price. Meanwhile, the smug talking heads on television assure us that in a handful of years, “everything will be online“. Book stores and newspapers are going — or have gone — the way of record stores and video stores. Every bill you get in the mail urges you to “go green” and get online statements. Meanwhile, you have to drive down the road just to get a cell phone signal.
Perhaps you or someone you know has had their life ruined not by illness, but by the crippling cost of becoming ill. And despite all the hoopla from all sides about Obamacare, the only effect that you have seen is that your health insurance has fewer options and costs a lot more. Is that the state legislature’s fault? Maybe. Does that matter when it comes time to see a doctor? Not one whit. Our system of providing health care is utterly broken (and in many cases, inexplicably tied to who you happen to work for at the moment).
Perhaps you or someone you know has lost a child, or a sibling, or a parent to a conflict in a Third World hellhole on the other side of the planet. 54% of the discretionary spending in the USA’s 2015 budget was for our military, and the United States maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries, for no sane reason.
Or perhaps you or someone you know has a loved one in prison, locked away for years or decades, for doing something which harmed no one. Meanwhile, they are slaves to the corporations who run the prisons.
Things are getting worse for you year by year, and no one in the ivory tower even acknowledges it, much less does anything about it. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump will do anything to change any of this. One is a career bureaucrat with a history of sending other people’s children to die for no reason; the other is a vulgar narcissist with a history of saying whatever appalling thing crosses his mind.
Yet you have been told, repeatedly and in the most scathing words possible, that voting for anyone else — much less anyone better — is a foolish waste of time. “These are your choices, you inbred moron,” you have been told. “Vote for a career politician who, at best, doesn’t even acknowledge that you exist, and at worst has nothing but contempt for you, or vote for an obnoxious blowhard who will literally destroy the world.” That’s no exaggeration: over and over, the arrogant pundits and pampered celebrities have claimed that electing Trump is not just a vote for someone extraordinarily unqualified to be President, but a vote for someone who will literally end American democracy, and possibly the world itself. And you — you simpleton, you yokel, you obese, illiterate Walmart denizen — you have no choice but to do as you’re told, because to do otherwise would be madness. Madness! So pull on your stretch pants and don your ball cap and drive your shitty pickup truck to the polling place, and vote for someone who hates you, you cretin, because you have no other choice.
Is it really so surprising that, faced with that “choice”, so many Americans chose to throw a rock at the ivory tower? I do not think so. My main question is if we will learn anything from it. I doubt it. We are too busy congratulating ourselves on how superior we are to all those fat, ignorant, racist, sexist “deplorables”.
It’s a mistake to assume that all — or even most — of the people who have voted for Trump are racists and/or misogynists. It’s an easy accusation. It helps us feel superior. But it’s exactly that sort of smug contempt from people like us that drove some of those people to vote for him.
So if you routinely make cruel assumptions about rural people, or assume all southerners are inbred racists, or use words like “yokel” to describe people who don’t dress like you, talk like you, and live where you live… you are part of the reason that otherwise sane and compassionate people voted for Donald Trump.
And if you are, you are probably already formulating a response to defend yourself, doubling-down on your contempt for people you’ve never met, and not even seeing the irony in that.
From my own particularly skewed point of view it seems that there are three basic factions in this game.
The first faction is controlled by the super-rich, and seeks to maintain the status quo and push us even further into oligarchy. Their figurehead is Clinton. She’s a puppet, she knows it, and she’s perfectly comfortable with that.
The second faction is basically the same as the first faction, but they are seeking to supplant the first faction by appealing to the angry and ignorant, providing easy answers and asking only that people give up their humanity in return. Their figurehead is Trump, although I don’t think he’s self-aware enough to realize that he is a figurehead.
The third faction is controlled by ordinary people, everywhere from dirt-poor up to moderately wealthy. They want to depose the oligarchs and return some portion of that power to the citizenry. Their figurehead is Sanders, and he knows it, but he does his best to keep telling them that he doesn’t want to be their figurehead — that he wants them to take that power back for themselves, and not make it about him. But people do love their figureheads, don’t they?
Replace the word “Muslims” with “Jews” and then ask yourself “Do I sound like a fucking Nazi?”
Here’s a hint: if you have to make excuses for it (“I’m not racist! Islam is not a race!”), then the answer is yes, you do sound like a fucking Nazi. So either change what you are saying, or be prepared for all of your descendants to be embarrassed to be related to you because you were an ignorant bigot.