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let's get this over with


ok. i have to face this before it makes me crazy.

you know what this is. it's the post-election wrap up. i planned on doing this post as a critique of the some of the past policies of the first woman president of the united states and how i thought those who had supported her with a somewhat suspicious eye could stay vigilant to hold her to the positions she'd espoused during the election.

unlike mrs. clinton, i didn't have a backup piece writen in case of emergency.

what the hell happened?

well, obviously, donald trump won. so the greater questions are how and why this happened. i don't know much about the hearts of trump voters. i know a couple of people [through facebook] who supported him, or at least had no problem with him being elected, so i hear what they're saying, but i can't speak for the population in general, except to look at statistics.

  • white college-educated women, who usually vote republican out of economic self-interest, moved slightly towards the democrats, but not by much. certainly, it was far less than expected. so white, college-educated voters still voted in the majority for trump. 
  • white non-college educated voters supported trump overwhelmingly, which was expected, but also turned out in huge numbers compared to other groups.  
  • hillary won the latino vote 65%-27%, and garnered 88% of the black vote, which sounds like a huge victory until you realise that's a substantially lower percentage of both than president obama got in either of his elections. indeed, her numbers among both groups sat around the same levels as those of john kerry in 2004. 
  • turnout was just over 54% of registered voters. 


so what can we draw from those points? well, the turnout of non-college educated whites suggests that trump's message of anger and indignation touched a nerve, which we knew. their desperation at being abandoned by both parties led them to him, but it also led them to return the republicans to power in both houses of congress. considering that they are the party that has been in power for the last two years, the party that drafted the nafta bill [although bill clinton signed it] that trump blames for the collapse of the manufacturing centre, the party that started the ruinous war in iraq [although hillary clinton initially supported it] that ballooned the debt to historic levels, and the party that deregulated the financial industry and allowed them to implode the economy... well, to give them the balance of power again is both perverse and sad. but it also points to the fact that the trend that has emerged of voters sticking with one party all the way down the ballot continues. voters are one or the other, and are voting for the party, not the person.

second is that the economic self-interest of middle and upper class whites runs extremely deep. the desire for lower taxes trumps [sorry for that pun] other interests. ironically, those votes came because those people believe that trump's economic plan will protect their status. for his base, he is the candidate of change. for the broader, richer public, he is the status quo.

clearly, the argument by both candidates that this was the most important election of their lifetime had no resonance. with nearly half the people choosing to stay at home, the message is clear: millions of americans didn't give a shit about which one of them came out on top. or who carried either house of congress. or, for that matter, who controls the supreme court, since appointing a tie-breaking justice will be one of the first orders of business for the new president. despite clinton's case that trump/ pence would send the u.s. back to the dark ages by clawing back gay rights, access to abortion, public health care, and would sell the country out to the russians and provoke war with iran; and despite trump's case that clinton/ pence would sell america out to whomever offered financial favours to the clinton's personally, that hillary would allow terrorists and criminals to enter the country by the millions, and leave embroil the country forever in an ineptly managed war in the middle east; despite either of those dramatic-sounding positions, the reaction of almost half the population was "yeah, whatever".

the thing that most disturbs me most, though, is that the vote splits among women, latinos and blacks indicate that donald trump's inflammatory rhetoric during the campaign meant absolutely nothing. he called mexicans murderers and rapists. he sympathized with the police forces who were targeted for criticism by black lives matter activists and condemned by the department of justice, and promised to strengthen them. he proposed banning muslims from entering the country and blamed them for the homophobic rampage of the shooter in orlando during the campaign. he threatened to crack down on freedom of the press. he said he would use the power of the attorney general to crack down on his enemies. he dismissed his bragging about sexually assaulting women as "locker room talk". he barreled his way through the campaign telling outrageous lies without apology and insulting all who opposed him in the most infantile fashion. he is about to go on trial for fraud and soon he will have to appear in court on charges of raping a thirteen year old girl.

and the numbers say that nobody really cared.

[note :: i'm not including "people really hate hillary clinton" as a factor, although it's an issue. i understand the reasons for hating her hawkish foreign policy, although it's ridiculous to assume that trump will be any better. i understand the profound mistrust of the mess she made of her emails, although no one bothered to mention the 22 million that the bush/ cheney administration flushed. and i understand the anger around the embassy attack at benghazi, a result of attacks on libya that she supported, although it was the republican congress that voted down the increased funding that could have been used to fortify the embassy. and although no one raised an eyebrow, much less a commission, about any of the embassy attacks that occurred under george w. bush [which killed far more than four people]. and i certainly understand why people would criticize her decision to vote for the iraq war, although no one criticized mike pence for doing the same. i'm a little less understanding of the hysteria surrounding the clinton foundation, which an independent watchdog rated as an "a" in terms of their work and transparency, especially since the trump foundation was ordered to stop collecting funds during the course of the campaign, and a washington post reporter called more than four hundred charities without finding one that had received a donation from trump's organization. the short answer is: i get all the criticisms of clinton, and they're totally valid. i just don't know why they're not levelled at others.]

i've found myself literally traumatised by this election. it's ridiculous, i know, because i don't even live there. my own prime minister announced that canada is waiving the visa requirement for mexican visitors effective at the beginning of next month. while trump and clinton were arguing whether 10,000 or 65,000 refugees was a "safe" number to let in, canada is aiming to accept 250,000 as soon as possible. prime minister trudeau went to the airport to greet the first to arrive himself. suddenly, my country is a shining beacon of rationality and democracy. but i'm messed up.

the spectre of trump and his electoral promises hangs over me throughout the day. i've dipped into my stash of additional medication, those things my doctors always insisted i keep on hand when the panic gets out of control. despite my undisputed status as a news and political junkie, i've been unable to turn on the news networks- unable to turn on the television, in fact- since tuesday night. i've read bits of both candidate's speeches, but i'm unable to stomach more than a few lines at a time, because i feel sick. i don't think i'll ever be able to handle watching the videos. i have to force myself to pay attention to other things so that i don't think about this and everything it means all the time, and i'm not terribly successful at it. i feel as if something horrible has happened. something unspeakable.

i've likened the feeling to how i imagine the people who lived in jeffrey dahmer's apartment building must have felt when they learned who he really was. that's not to say that trump supporters are cannibalistic serial killers- not at all. but that there is that same sense that the hateful and often violent rhetoric that trump employed throughout his campaign [with far more specificity than he gave to any of his positive plans to "make america great again"] was welcomed or at least acceptable to almost one out of every two voters, many of whom seem like nice people. how do you trust your instincts about people when you know that kind of feeling lurks inside them, just waiting for someone to tell them that it's ok to let it out?

at the top of this blog post is the nine of swords tarot card. although the major arcana cards of death or the tower are more feared, many scholars of the tarot feel that the nadir of the deck is the nine of swords. the death card represents the death of old ideas and places [real or psychological] that have been kept beyond their purpose- it is those things, and not the querent, that needs to die. the querent emerges from the process- which can be acutely painful- reborn. the tower, with its explosive energy signifies the violent breakdown of the things the querent considers safe, the very structure of their lives. but in its wake [and depending on the cards around it in a reading], is the opportunity to rebuild. the shock is profound, but not deadly.

the nine of swords, on the other hand, shows a figure alone, in the night, anguished but held in place but the swords around her. there is no escape route shown in the room. there is no way for her to move to rebuild.

that's where my mind is now. because i don't believe that this is any sort of grassroots revolution. all the same people are still in congress. justice antonin scalia, an unapologetic homophobe stuck to his own rigid ideas of what the founding fathers meant when they wrote the constitution [chief among them that they believed it was to be permanent and unchangeable], will be replaced by a person who shares his views- trump has promised it. trump's logic is no different than that of the republicans who've held power and shut down government when they didn't like what was being said. the powers that be just have a much louder, more vulgar [in all the senses of the word] mouthpiece. what's happened is a trap.

although i've been unable to face the prospect of writing this post for a couple of days, i believe it's made me feel a little better. i've had a lot to say in this election cycle, as i always do, and at some point, i'll return to my inborn political junkie ways. but i don't think i'll talk about america for a while. because, critical though i've been, it's always been based on the fact that i see a potential in the country that exists almost nowhere else. now, i feel that might have been optimistic, like the greatness in america is be suffocated by anger, ignorance and defensive tribalism. i don't believe donald trump can make america great again, but for the first time, i question if america can make herself great again.

for the good people who are there, i wish you nothing but the best and i hope that my feelings are wrong. if they aren't, i promise never to say 'i told you so'. if they are, i promise to admit it.

thanks for reading.

Comments

SoSuSam said…
Thanks so much for this post. I’m a political junkie, too (although a much less thoughtful one than you; usually my commentary runs to shrieking obscenities at people in power who hold beliefs I find disturbing), and like you I’ve been unable to watch or read the news since the election. I feel traumatized. That’s why I turned up on your blog’s doorstep earlier this week: to read your perspective on what happened, which I knew would be insightful and thought-provoking. And, well, funny. ("i've likened the feeling to how i imagine the people who lived in jeffrey dahmer's apartment building must have felt when they learned who he really was.”) So, yeah. As one of the people that did really care about the issues in the election, and does really care about what happens to the people in U.S. who aren’t white and wealthy and male, I thank you for everything you’ve written over the past year and a half about this election madness. If you write about it again someday, I’ll look forward to hearing what you have to say. In the meantime, I can’t wait to read about your new lipsticks. ;) I’m wearing a lot of Guerlain’s Black Perfecto these days. It’s pretty perfect(o) for someone in mourning.
Kate MacDonald said…
Believe me, there is plenty of shrieking obscenities that happens here. I'm glad you've enjoyed the posts. I've shuddered at every headline I've seen about who will be occupying positions of power, but I just don't feel like I can face it yet. We all need to hear about lipsticks. It's a much happier topic.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …