What a wild ride; a whirlwind – a tornado almost, a roller-coaster of emotions. Up down, side to side; a crash, getting up, dusting off. Crashing again – violently this time; angry, relieved. Slipping, falling – flying. Astonished. Flabbergasted. Most people I talk to are experiencing an almost physical reaction – PTSD of sorts, but the war seems like its just beginning, not coming to an end.
There is no coherent way to describe this last week, month – year. So I choose to write incoherently; if you can’t follow this post, don’t worry – neither can I. With no desire to offend, I continue: “Walk gently in the lives of others,” it has been written, “because we never know what they have been through”.
Hate – it’s what a lot of people have been through. Oh, sure, you like to pretend the hater wasn’t you – but are you being honest?
I refuse to make common cause with the hate; any of it. And there’s so much of it, isn’t there? Ever wonder why? It’s only an election, after all. We’ve all had dozens of them; won some, lost others – and after each, life has gone on. Cereal in the morning, a beer at the bar at night. Baseball season. The Cubs winning the World Series is more noteworthy, isn’t it? Once in a lifetime – or less. I used to watch the Cubs; Junior High pastimes in Deerfield, Illinois. I’d sit down and eat slices of individually wrapped American cheese and watch the games; because that’s what autumn in Chicago is about, while leaves fall from trees outside in the crispness, a gentle wind blowing Christmas ever closer. Never expecting to win; not crying every time we lost. Sure there were tears this year – the Cleveland Indians were upset; but no marches, no violence, no seething rage directed at people you don’t know, but still slather with the vile epithets of too many “ists” to count: racist, homophobic, misogynist, fascist. Or just stupid, not ‘ignorant’, too polite, just ‘dumbass’.
I know; it’s not the same. Let me venture my guess as to why. Those who lose these periodic contests cry – but the tears are not for the contest, not really. They are in fact mourning the murder of our 10th Amendment, though they don’t know it. Limited government – those who win don’t understand the point. Don’t see it as important. Oh, but when you lose, it hits you. The use of government as a tool for social engineering becomes scary when it is wielded by your ‘enemies’. A club with which to beat our foes into submission is fine, when we wield the club! But if they get it…? And then we wonder why the fight over the greatest of all clubs is contentious?
The way the founders designed it, our states were 50 (well, at the beginning 13) competing mini-countries; beholden to the Bill of Rights as the best manmade representation of our natural laws – the rights of all people to live as they please and not in fear of the other – free to pursue our happiness. Their idea was that people could move around based upon how they interpreted wellbeing; gun owner or not, pot smoker or not, traditional marriage or not, religious or not – greater welfare support or more dynamic economic opportunities, and the list goes on. And, as 50 showcases for how to live a life more abundant, ‘we would know them by the prosperity they create’.
“This is the 21st century,” I was recently told by an angry, disgruntled non-Trump-voter. “Those principles don’t work anymore.” Don’t work anymore? We need them now more than ever – divided down the middle as we are, hating the other tribe with everything we have. Nowhere to escape from the next club-wielder, hunting us through the streets and the back alleys – an Orwellian cyber state that is also an angry, somewhat reactionary and always ill-informed nanny.
But enough of that, moving on. Imagine you are an alien. Visiting the United States from Cybetron, you’d turn on the news or pick up a newspaper, trying to learn about your host – and, for the last year, you’d only hear about this character Trump that eats babies. “What a bizarre thing,” you’d say, “allowing such a fellow to walk free – what must be wrong with this civilization?” The big losers of this year – not that they don’t know it – are the elites and their mouthpieces in the mainstream media. I don’t say this because I’m a mullet-sporting-hillbilly who likes to rail for Trump and #Brexit while I chew my tobacco and shoot at raccoons with my sawed off shotgun. I say it because I am a well-informed human who knows that a journalist’s job is to produce facts. To increase knowledge and exposure to what is going on and let folks – oh let’s call em ‘customers’ for shits and giggles – decide for themselves. “My job,” says Fareed Zacharia in a CNN commercial, “is to get the viewers to understand the world around them.” Um, except that Zacharia very obviously doesn’t understand the world around him. The press should be terrified. Because the foundation of their job is to be credible – to deliver facts that are acknowledged as such. That this credibility was sacrificed at the foot of the “Stronger Together” campaign is a fact – yes a real fact – that they now have to live with. There is no going back – they know this. In the aftermath of the battle, they probably realize what they’ve done. I wonder if they fear the consequences?
But it’s not their fault – necessarily – it’s where they live, maybe. It’s who they talk to, who they drink with, who they have on their social media feeds. I was looking at the electoral map – of the results – when one particular thing stuck out for me. Where Trump won, it was 55% to 45%, etc. Sometimes closer. But places where Hillary won – New York, Washington DC, California – it was massive, in DC almost 94% #WithHer. Could it be that there are people in our nation’s capital who have never met a Republican? Snowflakes flitting from safe space to safe space?
5 million – did you know there are five million missing men? From ages 55 to 65, in the rust belt – in the backwoods – beside abandoned railroad stations and hunkering in disintegrating towns beside dilapidated ruins of industries that moved away or were destroyed. Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia – they died of alcoholism and heart disease, these men did. They died of sadness, sitting undefended in their homes as the elites and the media tormented them over their ridiculous religion and their backward values; as Obama called them ‘clingers’ and Clinton called them ‘deplorables’ – as their betters fretted over transgender bathrooms they quietly, silently, hopelessly perished.
The ‘House that Trump Built’.
We all remember the ‘House that Reagan Built,’ right? National security hawks, social conservatives, free marketers? A triumvirate that lasted for years – until it was pronounced dead in 2012. “Republicans will never win again,” I was told. “We are a new permanent majority,” President Obama said, parroting Hugo Chavez – inadvertently of course. Yet here we are – you know the last time the GOP controlled the Congress and the White House at the same time? 2001. The time before that? 1929. And more governors, more state legislators – the GOP is thriving; but it’s a new GOP. The ‘House that Trump Built’ is different. The national security hawks, contractors, ‘military-industrial-complex’ folks have gone over to the Democrats. But the Union members, blue collar railway workers, bakers and garbage collectors and policemen who voted Democrat because their daddy did, because their granddaddy did; they are the backbone of the new GOP. ‘The Democrats are a wholly public service party now’, I have heard it said; and if you look at the voting patterns from DC, northern Virginia, Maryland you might agree. Of course, mixed in with the elites – bankers, who also work for the government since they were declared ‘too big to fail’. Actors. ‘Thought leaders’. None of who like the flyover states, with their churches and their Awanas and their bake sales and their potlucks and their long, hard working hours plowed into jobs that get them an ever-decreasing piece of the national pie – while increased taxes ‘buy’ them only the privilege of being informed of their true social evils by the “dark forces that the market cannot account for”.
“Walk gently in the lives of others.” I have friends, good friends, in both campaigns. How to find that balance? Especially on social media – where all can see. This is hard. So I try and walk gently; the last months have been so bitter. Hell, the last eight years I’ve had a tough time of it. But people are so sad – and so happy. I have my own opinions; but I don’t want to lose friends – something that many of my friends don’t seem to care about. But I try and be sensitive anyway; despite my own predilections and the insults hurled against a whole tribe that inadvertently stick to me as well – for reasons the mudslingers don’t even know.
“Walk gently in the lives of others.” My final thoughts, at least until the next ones.