See, I take a hiatus from warning the world about its ills and you see what happens? You see?
I took a very deliberate break from writing about the state of things out there in the real world because I didn’t want to be yet another voice in the endless chorus of complaints that is the echo chamber of the politiweb.
And now, my negligence has brought us to the brink of a disaster of unimaginable scope: the Trumpocalypse. (Okay, so I may not be solely responsible.)
Now, I don’t want to give in to the temptation to perpetuate the run-away polarization in our political discourse, but I do think we need to all be clear on two things:
- Donald Trump is demonstrably a human being with many detestable traits. He has sexually appraised his daughters, one while still an infant. He has been misogynistic when dealing with women who question him. He demonstrates a woefully inadequate understanding of the role of government in the economy. He is a shameless self-promoter with no humility. He has a laughably frail ego and probably clinically qualifies as a chronic narcissist. Politically, his vision of the presidency has all the hallmarks of pure demagoguery. Let’s not forget his flagrant and casual racism. Oh, and he’s incurably dishonest to boot. This man, if elected president would be a national embarrassment.
- This is not the end of the world.
After all, the economy has rebounded. ISIS is on the ropes. The world has signed a historic global warming accord. Things aren’t as bad as they seem. We do have real problems–like inequality and corruption–that it sure would be nice to have a real leader to start to deal with. Now, for me, Sanders would have been my pick. He’s been on the right side of history on issue after issue after issue for decades, whereas Clinton has always felt free to let her views evolve based on the marketplace of ideas to be on whatever seemed to be the “right” side to get elected; and Trump, well Trump has been on the wrong side of bankruptcies and failed online steak distribution schemes.
I know, I know, I know. I see the same memes and Facebook posts equating the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to choosing between Ramsey Bolton and Joffrey Borrathean on Game of Thrones (They both really, really suck for the uninitiated). I, too, see that the right’s irrational hatred of Clinton is fueling a false dichotomy where a seasoned statesman and politician with decades of experience (and never-proven accusations) is somehow as bad as the court jester described above. (Hell, that’s an argument not even the Koch brothers can stomach.)
Yes, it does terrify me that Trump might continue his improbable rise from punchline to political relevance and somehow defeat Clinton in the general election. (It’s not too late, you know; the Democrats could just nominate Sanders, who polls much, much better than the often besmirched Clinton.)
But the Republic will survive this.
Trump could do a lot of damage, it’s true. Mostly, though, I think that damage would be to our national reputation. But other countries have elected embarrassing leaders as well, and thankfully our system is insulated against the sort of whole sale destruction an unbridled demagogue can do (for an object lesson in that phenomenon, look to Venezuela).
We’ve had rogue presidents before. One such jack-ass is only now being scrubbed from our $20 bill. We’ve given in to paranoia and fear before. We’ve turned from our best natures and betrayed the vision of what America can be.
We have failed to be the nation we want to be more often than we have succeeded.
And yet, the experiment carries on. Ever forward. Ever onward.
Our obligation, of course, is to fight, and fight, and fight some more.
We have to speak out against distractions about who uses which bathroom and remind people that the real problems with our country (which remains the world’s sole super-power and, barring gross mismanagement, will likely continue in that position) are the political corruption of wealth and ever-expanding inequality.
Bernie Sanders’s victory this week is reassurance on that front. Though it doesn’t look like he will steal the nomination away from Hillary and the plutocrats who back her over him, he has nevertheless fought his way to reassurances that the issues he’s campaigned on will be represented prominently in the DNC’s platform.
I’ve said all along that Sanders would make Clinton move to the left. If she is defeated in November, it won’t be because of her politics, but her reputation. And should that come to pass, it’s a safe bet that the Democrats will be well positioned to sweep back into power after four years of Trump’s idiocy.
The demographics speak for themselves. The GOP is imploding. Their base is old and white (according to polls, Trump’s biggest edge is his thirty point advantage over Clinton with with white males) and the future of America is not. The Democrats will be in power, if not in November, then soon.
When they are, we’ll all be glad that Sanders has reframed their agenda to face the real issues so that the republic can soldier on, seeking ever after the better angels of our natures, ever after a more perfect union.