by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
With the advent of President Trump, the absurd confronts America. His existence proves once and for all that we live in an amoral, godless universe: our current deity is a serial-lying orange-coiffed cartoon Daddy Warbucks whose business model includes fraud and stiffing his suppliers.
Trump strikes me like 9/11 did: suddenly, the veil is ripped off reality, to reveal the worm inside our apple, the ugly truth lurking behind the beautiful bliss of simply being alive.
Here is the hard face of the Real: America is now stuck in a paradigm shift that promises the chaos of anything goes and nothing matters.
Trump is the ultimate reality-distorting Braudillardian simulacra mindfuck deluxe: he spins a cosmos of "alternative facts" for us; he is the Big Lie Incarnate; he magicks the "Bizarro World" spoofed in old Superman comics, where up is down and war is peace and wrong is right, trenchantly embodied in Orwell's 1984 — now racing up the best-seller charts, as America wokes to the birthing mewls of a fascist stench turlesquing from the swamps of fake news and post-truth factoidiness and that snake-nest of sexual predators, Fox News.
1. The Words Of Our New Dick Cheney/Darth Vader
Am I being absurd? Too paranoid? Are we really in for a time of Orwellian dystopia? Can Trump wreck our republic?
Yes, he can. After all, Trump's Rasputin is the ultra-right provocateur Steve Bannon, he of Goldman Sachs, Hollywood, "Clinton Cash" and Breitbart News (marinated in sexist, racist, anti-Semitic and far-out conspiracy-theory mind bending).
The most powerful man in the White House, Steve Bannon is the man who penned Trump's dark inauguration speech; the man who deliberately wrote a sloppy ban on Syrian refugees and the 3-month suspension of folks entering the US from seven Muslim counties (with the notable exception of Saudi-Arabia, from whence most of the 9/11 terrorists came) so as to cause maximum confusion; the man who called the right-wing Weekly Standard a left-wing publication; the man who says the media is the opposition party and should shut up; and the man who is Trump's brain more than Karl Rove ever was George W's brain.
Steve Bannon does not hide who he is and what he wants to do. Listen to the words I am about to quote from our new overlord, a canny heir to Dick Cheney and Darth Vader. Listen, and be aware that Bannon speaks and understands the truth of our politics better than any man alive. Better than Hillary or Bill or David Frum or the Koch brothers or Rush Limbaugh or Paul Krugman (even better than Bernie and Elizabeth Warren, who come closest to Bannon for an intuitive feel of what America is and wants and needs).
Listen to these words and understand why Trump won and why the other candidates and the two parties stumbled around clueless, not knowing what brought them down at the feet of a loudmouth orange-assed big-con jokester. Listen to Bannon's words and get hip to WTF is going on:
1. "I am a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal, too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment."
2. "Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That's power. It only helps us when they" (the media, the donor class, both Dem and Rep pols) "get it wrong. When they're blind to who we are and what we're doing."
3. "I'm not a white nationalist, I'm a nationalist. I'm an economic nationalist. The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get fucked over. If we deliver, we'll get 60% of the white vote, and 40% of the black and Hispanic vote and we'll govern for 50 years. That's what the Democrats missed. They were talking to these people with companies with a $9 billion market cap employing nine people. It's not reality. They lost sight of what the world is about."
4. "The media bubble is the ultimate symbol of what's wrong with this country. It's just a circle of people talking to themselves who have no fucking idea what's going on. If The New York Times didn't exist, CNN and MSNBC would be a test pattern. The Huffington Post and everything else is predicated on The New York Times. It's a closed circle of information from which Hillary Clinton got all her information — and her confidence. That was our opening."
5. "Like Andrew Jackson's populism, we're going to build an entirely new political movement. It's everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I'm the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Shipyards, ironworks, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement."
6. "Trump gets it; he gets it intuitively. You have probably the greatest orator since William Jennings Bryan, coupled with an economic populist message and two political parties that are so owned by the donors that they don't speak to their audience. But he speaks in a non-political vernacular, he communicates with these people in a very visceral way. Nobody in the Democratic party listened to his speeches, so they had no idea he was delivering such a compelling and powerful economic message. He shows up 3.5 hours late in Michigan at one in the morning and has 35,000 people waiting in the cold. When they got Clinton off the donor circuit she went to Temple University and they drew 300 or 400 kids."
7. "I am Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors."
Now do you understand what's going on? And Bannon is more than Trump's puppet-master. He has plans for us. And we might very well be better off for them. (How about a trillion-dollar infrastructure investment in millions of good jobs, anyone?) Even though he appears to take Machiavelli to darkly satanic extremes. Who'd have thought we'd ever be ruled by his like?
One thing you should know about Bannon; he knows the establishment, he was the establishment, having been a big mover and shaker on Wall Street and in Hollywood (where investing in Seinfeld made him forever rich). But when the 2008 crash came — and Wall Street got bailed out, while Bannon's Dad lost all his savings — Bannon freaked: destroying the establishment became a personal vendetta. "Everything is a fight for him," a friend has said about Bannon, and torpedoing the status quo is for Bannon the fight of his life: personal, heartfelt and fuck-you serious.
2. The Genius Of Non-Politician Trump At Being A Politician
Here's what makes the Trump/Bannon convergence as spookily Darth Vaderish as that other nefarious combo, Bush/Cheney: Trump is devoid of all moral authority. He is the very antithesis of a Gandhi, a Mandela or an MLK. The man has no north star outside his own ass. The world begins and ends with him and his ego. He is, as many shrinks have told us, a classic case of narcissistic personality disorder, if not an outright sociopath. Never has a being so flawed, quite possibly the lowest form of humanity, stepped into the highest office in the land.
Yet Trump was the only presidential candidate who read America's economic angst, cultural fears and anti-Establishment rage right.
He was the one who looked into our eyes and saw our souls. He was the smartest candidate of them all, the most charismatic, the most newsworthy, the most watchable, the most media-savvy, the most colorful, the alpha male of males, the man who said the vilest things to appeal to our vilest instincts and thereby emerged victorious.
How did a billionaire grok the souls of the put-upon Americans who were worried about their jobs, recoiled from new cultural norms, and hated the elite, of whom Trump is a sterling example?
For a start, he's a real-estate guy from Queens. It's not like he grew up patrician; he's a guy from the sticks who launched himself into high-society Manhattan as a vulgar nouveau-riche wealth-flaunter. He speaks like a real-estate guy from Queens, in the earthy argot of the blue-collar working class. He's not daintily elegant and cerebral like Obama. He's Mister Rough-and-Ready. Also, Trump knew how people felt who felt fucked-over, because he has been fucking over folks all his life: suing them, refusing to pay them for jobs they did for him, demeaning them, insulting them. He is well-versed with the lamentations of the fucked-over, because he saw how thousands reacted to him fucking them over. He knew their bitterness first-hand, having been the author of that bitterness in the folks he habitually screwed.
He is a man who loves mulching his enemies to pulp. He learned from his mentor Roy Cohn to hit back at anyone who attacks him ten times worse. He is the scrappiest, dirtiest, shittiest street fighter ever. Perfect for politics. No wonder the Jeb Bushes of this world never had a clue what hit them, because Trump hit them from behind and from below, where they had never been hit before.
Trump saw what shits we are, and told us he is the biggest shit of them all, and if we want America to be as shitty as we are, we should vote for the biggest shit in the land. We deserve him, because he took our pulse and he got what we were about.
The rest of them, from low-energy Jeb to lying Ted to little Marco to crooked Hillary, were clueless pols, their butts totally out-of-touch with the hearts of their base.
Hillary had the most meaningless slogan I ever heard: "Stronger together." Wowie, that really gets me going. So inspiring.
Trump, on the other hand, had the real red meat: "Make America Great Again. Drain the swamp. We'll build a big wall and Mexico will pay for it. Lock her up."
Most of all, Trump had the visceral emotional connection with his peeps, the way Bernie made his peeps feel the Bern, too. Hillary could just not muster the same enthusiasm: maybe because she's been around too long.
Both major parties were anally savaged by Trump, which tells you what ineffectual wankers they turned out to be. At this point, one wonders if establishment Dems know who their voters are, or have ever met one of them outside their cosy neoliberal Davos-elite circles. A pox on Clintonistas! (Mind you, I love Hillary: the crap that spunky gal has had slung at her for decades, and still she smiles, still she smiles, her head held high, a proud example to all women doomed to suffer the sexist slings and misogynist arrows eternally fired at womanhood.) The Clinton crowd has never done their party any favors. Bill Clinton is the biggest disaster ever to happen to the Democratic Party: more about that later.
Does Trump represent America? Is he characteristic of us? Is he our essence?
Yes and no. He is undoubtedly the quintessential ugly American, a poor man's idea of what a rich man should be: a full-of-himself, private jet-flying, supermodel-marrying, luxury-branding, gold-toileted vulgarian with his name stamped bigly on properties all over the world. As Matt Taibbi put it: "He's what a lot of Americans would be if they had a billion dollars: they'd build grotesque castles, bang models, and grow fat." (A man far richer than Trump shows us how a superrich man can actually be a decent fellow: Warren Buffett, who has lived in the same modest house all his life, breakfasts at MacDonald's, complains that his secretary pays a higher tax rate than him, and is determined to give all his money to charity.)
And those of us in the majority, the people who voted for Hillary, almost 3 million more than voted for Trump, are we organized enough to oppose this orange-tainted darkness?
3. Trump's Big Favor To America: Uniting The Country Against Him
Fortunately, a variety of forces have arisen to fight Trump. The man has done us one big favor: he has united all sensible and sane Americans — the ones we might call the progressives — against him. He has awakened the sleeping giant of the little decency that may remain in us.
Who are these anti-Trump folks?
Number one, women: they marched in their millions against Trump the day after his inauguration.
I was there in Washington with over half-a-million marchers, and here are three impressions.
One: the march reeked of your classic 60s feminism. It was a heart-felt outcry against basic sexism. My favorite poster there: "The Patriarchy Can Suck My Clit!" And these were the words stitched on the most official of the many knitted pink pussy hats: "Patriarchy Advisory: Feminist Content." Another slogan carried by many women: "The Future is Female."
Two, the march recognized the strongman fascist appeal of Trump. Another favorite poster: "Not mein Fuhrer."
Three, the marchers knew in their collective bones that Trump, unlike the decent fellow of cerebral grace who preceded him as President, is a graceless pussy-grabbing a-hole. My favorite chant from the protesters: "We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter."
The next big force against Trump: our youth. They started making their voices heard when students burdened by crippling student debt and unable to find good jobs, founded Occupy Wall Street — the movement that burned income inequality into the national brainpan.
Young people today differ from their elders in that they consider climate change the greatest threat to our planet and prefer socialism to capitalism, and have no problems with queers, abortion, or atheists.
One other thing: they are the folks who backed Bernie Sanders en masse, the only candidate in the primaries who exhibited rock-solid integrity, who ran on policy and policy alone, whose ideas, far from being ultra-left, are now as mainstream as they come. Bernie Sanders tells us that Washington does not regulate Wall Street, but that Wall Street regulates Washington. He stands for common sense: a living minimum wage of $15-an-hour; free community college tuition; getting big money out of politics; higher taxes on the rich; breaking up the big banks; a financial transaction tax; Medicare for all; infrastructure spending that will create millions of good jobs; fighting climate change; and wrapping all this up in his call for a political revolution. (To me, Bernie was the only candidate who made actual sense.)
Another massive force against Trump: Black Lives Matter, there to remind us that racism — our nation's founding curse — is still very alive and sickeningly well.
Another force against Trump: Latinos. His Mexican-rapist-and-wall talk has set an entire minority — the fastest-growing one — forever against the GOP, and will prove to be their greatest demographic miscalculation ever.
And let us not forget this force against Trump: our homegrown Muslims. Never was there a more exemplary example of patriotic Muslims than the Khan family, who gave their son to die a hero's death in Iraq, and whose father pulled a pocket Constitution from his inside pocket at the Democratic Convention to ask Trump if he had ever read it, and occasioned massive sales in pocket Constitutions. And today in New York, we have protests coming from our Yemeni Bodega owners and our Syrian cab-drivers.
These peeps — women, youth, blacks, Latinos, Muslims (your basic Obama coalition of women, millennials and minorities) — represent those aroused to action by Trump: what we might call "the solidarity of the shaken." Hillary couldn't wake them up much, but Trump sure has.
The election revealed that there are two diametrically opposed Americas. Our nation ding-dongs between two dizzy-making bipolar extremes: Trump America vs Bernie America. In-the-dark regressive America vs enlightened progressive America..
In the middle, of course, are the forever-silent majority, your average regular Americans, the lumpen TV-sedated couch potatoes, the eternal fence-sitters, who will never commit to ever being citizens with an actual voice, and remain content to be the bystanders to history. They only feel comfortable on the sidelines. There will always be more of them than of those with the nous to think, vote, act, organize, march, and get out and do something about shitty stuff: the folks who matter in life, who actually have a life, and make a life for themselves instead of just sleepwalking through it.
4. Who Are We?
A decision confronts America: who are we? How we conduct ourselves in the next four years will be very telling.
In choosing Trump over Hillary, electoral college-America decided it was OK with sexism, racism, nativism, fear of the Other, and rage against the bi-coastal elites. We have revealed ourselves to be the sick man of the world.
So who will we choose to be now that Trump is us, now that this orange-tainted dumpster fire is the actual face of our nation?
Th philosophy of existentialism, perhaps the closest that philosophy has ever come to self-help instruction, tells us that existence precedes essence: how we act creates who we are. Our actions determine us. Every choice we make, is a choice about who we are.
We are the only creatures with that freedom: to choose who we are from moment to moment. In a godless, absurd universe, that's all we have: our freedom to choose who we are. We are condemned to freedom. That's our only out.
And we must use our freedom not only to be righteously ourselves, but also to engage in society. We must commit ourselves to the freedom of the Other as well as of ourselves. Ours is not the only ass on the line.
So: how will we choose to be, here and now, in the absurd cosmos that made Trump our president?
Our decision to make Trump our president tells the world that we are a sexist, racist, scared-of-the-Other lot.
It shows us acting in bad faith: which for Sartre, the most central existentialist, means that we don't act freely — freely creating who we are — when we portray ourselves as passive creations of our race, class, job, history, nation, family, hereditary childhood influences, events, or even hidden drives in our subconscious which we claim as out of our control.
We cannot use these facts of our existence as excuses not to act freely in the world. This is what many followers of Trump are doing: acting in bad faith because they are acting from their racist and/or sexist urges instead of out of freedom from all of that.
We are not free when we follow Trump, because he calls on us to act from our chains. So: now that he is there, telling the world that we are like him, un-free, slaves of our un-free urges, we have a new choice: Are we really like him?
I say, no. And I hope our country does, too. Trump is an existential threat to our very essence. Our entire country has to say we are not him: our freedom lies in denouncing him and all his works of un-freedom.
We are really up against it, folks. Per Matt Taibbi, our most perceptive political writer, who also happens to write the best sentences: " If Trump is just a tool for an evil racist revolutionary like Bannon, who actually has a brain in his head and is capable of strategic thought, that would be really bad. If he's just an amoral narcissistic lunatic, as he appears to be, that's also bad. I could easily see him hate-tweeting us into a war."
Still, the fight is not against Trump and Trump alone. Trump is but the symptom of a multi-tentacled disease thriving in our hearts and bones.
5. The Evil Forces Within Us That We Have To Overcome
What are the instances of our disease? Who should we be fighting against?
1. The first fight we need to have, is with the only political vehicle left to oppose Trump: the Democratic Party. Unlike the Republican Party, who discovered their soul with Goldwater, and has ever since known that they have true believers and fellow-travelers, and have always returned to their true selves at one stage or another … the Democratic Party under Bill Clinton compromised its soul so much as to lose it forever.
Let us count the ways in which he butchered the soul of his party.
Bill Clinton turned on the working class in favor of global capitalism — he destroyed thousands of good American blue-collar jobs by exporting them with NAFTA.
Bill Clinton created the 2008 Wall Street crash and the Great Recession that still ails us when he signed two really bad laws. One: the law that repealed Glass-Steagall and gave conventional banks the freedom to speculate wildly with their clients' deposits. Two: the law that freed risky financial derivatives from all oversight. Probably the two worst laws signed by any president ever, they gave Wall Street the freedom to screw the world, which Wall Street inevitably did.
Bill Clinton exploded the size of our Black and Latino prison population with his harsh 1994 crime bill and the building of many privatized prisons.
Bill Clinton's presidency left Americans jailed, poorer, and brutally screwed in every sensitive orifice. He forced many of us outside his Davos circles to eat an eternal shit sandwich, a record of destruction topped by George W. only because W committed the satanic war crime of the Iraq War.
It's all because Bill Clinton was a consummate neoliberal, whose agenda favored anti-labor-union big business (via the right-leaning Democratic Leadership Council), with its faith in a fundamentalist global "free market" ideology that wants to privatize all economic activity and drown government in the bath tub.
Few Americans know that in concert with the abominable Newt Gingrich, Clinton was secretly getting ready in 1997 to privatize Social Security, before he got distracted by America's discovery that when he pulled his stiffie from Monica Lewinsky's luscious mouth, he splooged presidential pearl jam all over her dress. (Just like Obama, another neoliberal, was getting ready to give up Social Security benefits to make a grand deficit-cutting bargain with the Republicans, only to be frustrated by their unwillingness to work with him on anything.)
Bill Clinton moved his party to the center and turned it into a neoliberal vessel for the global elite to help rip off the middle class and destroy it.
The Democratic Party never found its soul again, which is why it was possible for Trump to ace the party with their natural constituency, the working class — that used to be protected by labor unions, which the Democratic Party in its alliance with the global elite did nothing to defend and in fact helped destroy.
Fortunately, the spectacular success of Bernie Sanders as a vote-getter, especially among young voters, has brought the Party within fighting distance of finding a soul again, instead of greasing the wheels for big business to run over us willy-nilly— which is the Republican Party's agenda that Bill Clinton nicked from them.
2. The next big fight is at this point impossible to win. The conservative right has built a grassroots infrastructure of talk radio shows, conservative think tanks, NRA, evangelical churches who practice unchristian Christianity, Tea Party people, and school board and state level takeovers, fueled by Big Dark Money from the Koch brothers and others, that it is now impossible for the Left to either replicate or fight. The only counter to that was our labor unions, and they've been crippled.
Why do so many folks in rural America believe that crime is rising, that job loss is increasing, and that the stock market fell under Obama, when in fact it nearly tripled? Take a trip through rural America and listen to AM radio.
As a very wise commenter in The New York Times pointed out: "Unless there is a counter from the progressive left at the grassroots, this situation cannot be altered. The left has a number of luminaries at the top: intellects such as Krugman, sharp wits such as Seth Meyers, and exemplary celebrities such as Meryl Streep. But we have nothing at the grassroots. It is all very top down and overly intellectual. Suppose you are a person in Dover, TN, with progressive inclinations. You will drown in a sea of rightist propaganda with nothing to hold on to. It is unfortunate that progressives such as Keith Ellison, who try to change the situation at the grassroots, are opposed by the liberal elite with links to mega-donors. Keith's grassroots organizing, by the way, is the main and sole reason HRC held on to MN."
3. The GOP. A difficult fight to win. The Democratic Party has not yet found a way to counter the racism that keeps the GOP alive and winning — the GOP's raison d'être being to wink to voters, hey, vote for us and we will not take your hard-earned taxes and funnel it to poor people, especially not poor black people. Until demography destroys white supremacy, until our minorities finally become our majority, supposed to happen by mid-century, there is very little the Dems can do to beat the GOP at their racist game.
We have to realize that the GOP represents the essential and inherent indecency of our society. Two current examples: now that Obama is not there to veto their indecencies, the GOP have this past week scotched Obama's regulation to make it harder for mentally diseased folks to obtain guns — the GOP actually want to see deranged folks like the Newtown fellow get guns so they can go out and massacre people. They've also made it easier for coal mines to pollute the rivers near their mines. It seems that the GOP sees it as their day job to promote bad, evil stuff.
4. Global capitalism, big business, Wall Street: this is a fight that can be won, given that Occupy has brought income inequality into our political conversation. In fact, both Trump and Bernie ran against global capitalism, and both found enthusiastic support with it.
5. The hysterical fear of America about terrorism. We are a bizarre people: we don't think we are really alive unless we are scared shitless. Terrorism is a nothing issue (you're more likely to be killed in your bath at three o'clock in the morning by lightning than to be killed by a terrorist), but the GOP keeps this going as an issue, driven as it is by Islamophobia and our primal fear of the Other, whether this Other be Black, Mexican or Muslim. How easy it is to scare Americans! We simply love to be scared, whether it's by bizarre notions of Reds lurking under our beds or bad terrorists living right next door.
6. Demonizing the poor. It's very unfortunate that the GOP has successfully demonized our poor — of which we have far too many, given that we are the richest nation on earth — so that we turn a blind eye to their plight. Nothing has been done for our underprivileged since the long-ago days of LBJ's Great Society legislation. Given that none of the very poor vote, it is only too easy to ignore them, and more, to do them harm. Bill Clinton never lost a vote when he came down hard on our poor with his welfare reform.
7. Our elite. Someone once said that democracy's first job is to organize society so as to prevent the elite from stealing everything. Well, tootikins, we have not come anywhere near preventing our elite from stealing us blind.
Regular voters have no influence on our government: only rich people do. Our government does not represent the people or help them in any way whatsoever. Bernie Sanders is right: we are an oligarchy, not a democracy.
8. Our deep-seated amorality, perhaps America's greatest enemy. Yes, we are an amoral nation at best, and an immoral nation at worst, and it appears to be a fight within our own heartless hearts that can never be won. As Joe Bageant, the deceased red-neck philosopher and pundit blogger extraordinaire put it:
"The brutal way Americans were forced to internalize the values of a gangster capitalist class continues to elude nearly all Americans. Most foreigners too. This is to say nothing of how our system replaced our humanity with ideology, our liberty with money, and fostered fascist nationalism through profound degeneration of the people's mind and spirit. It's not as if one can ever escape that sort of thing. We are made in America's image, whether we admit it or not, and America's image is the face on a ten-dollar bill."
We believe in the free market that makes money the measure of all things. We believe in technology to the point of it having reduced people to manipulated human resources. To us Americans, human life means nothing, especially foreign human lives. We went out and killed somewhere between two hundred thousand and a million innocent Iraqi women and children for no good reason at all, and feel no need to apologize for our war crime, or to atone for this genocidal sin of ours, or to feel an iota of guilt about having done something so evil, it ranks with what the Nazis did to the Jews. I will never forget this exchange between Madeline Albright and Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes in December 1996. Read it and weep:
Lesley Stahl on the dire effect of US sanctions against Iraq: "We have heard that a half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And you know, is the price worth it?"
Secretary of State Madeline Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it."
Our inborn immorality is our biggest enemy. It's terrible to say so, but it never has been, and never will be, less than a crazily uphill fight to remedy our evil, given how cruel American society is at its very core. Look at what we do to animals with factory farming. We just don't see life as anything precious. The fact that Obamacare actually saves a lot of American lives every year means nothing to the GOP: they're still intent on repealing Obamacare.
6. What You Can Do Yourself Personally
What can you do yourself in your everyday life? How can you be a true-blue resistentialist?
You can do your civic duty and act like a full citizen of our republic. You can go existentialist, and become engaged in society, and exercise your freedom to be a good person.
Vote. Harass your congressman. Show up at their meetings and embarrass them with tough questions. Make your voice heard. Run for office. Yep, run for office! Aren't you smarter than most pols out there? Isn't your heart in a better place than the bigoted anti-women anti-poor Mike Pence? Or that zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan?
Give money to Planned Parenthood. Join the ACLU, a labor union, Move On. Christ, if we have to go down, let us at least go down with dignity.
Last thought. You can't fight Trump unless you forgive the folks who voted for him. Yes, you heard me right. Please understand, though Trump scooped up the racist and sexist and evangelical very-un-Christian vote (the notorious trifecta of shitty Americans), many of the folks who voted for Trump had voted for Obama. Yep, that's right. Obama voters went for Trump. Why? Because of basic kitchen-sink quotidian shit: jobs, ferchrissake. Their pocket books. It's the economy, stupid.
So you can't blame them. Here comes this rich guy, this very wealthy businessman, this glossy picture of success, and he promises to bring back their jobs, and he tells them their jobs were stolen from them: robbed by big business that outsourced their jobs to poor countries; stolen by Mexico and Mexican immigrants; obliterated by global trade deals; hijacked by China because they diddled their currency.
Who were these job-worried folks supposed to believe: Hillary or Trump? What did she promise them? A basketful of nada. She just kept saying she's a nicer person than Trump and that he's unfit to be president. Fat lot of good that line did her.
In forgiving Trump voters, we gain the freedom to talk to them, to persuade them. We will also, I believe, have to forgive Trump, and we have to do that in order to forgive ourselves.
Yes, forgive Trump, forgive ourselves, and forgive Trump's voters most of all, and then do for these voters what neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party has ever done for them. Give them back their dignity and their jobs.
Of course, you will have to change the Democratic Party to do that, but don't despair: Bernie Sanders has made a terrific start at turning that party from a neoliberal donor-class Wall Street elitist club into a party that may one day actually represent we, the goddam people.
Also, have no fear. Bannon cannot keep total control of the extremely unpredictable Trump forever. Our narcissist-in-chief is sure to flame out before the end of next year. He will screw up bigly, and probably get disenchanted with his job — after all, he can't stand bad ratings, and his ratings are heading down the toilet already. And when Trump goes down in the flames of his own furnace, we will still be here to pick up the bones of what is left of our beloved nation and put back some healthy flesh on our bare-stripped screwed-over skeletal remains.
Trump will leave a bad taste in our mouths, and go down in history as one of our really stinky mistakes, but we will spit out that taste and eat some vanilla ice-cream with chocolate sprinkles, and wonder what the heck happened in 2016.
What the heck did happen? Simply this: we were just Americans being Americans, and hey, who ever said we were perfect? Sometimes even those privileged to sit in a shiny city on a hill befoul the nest.
Not that I, or most of us, had any idea that we were that full of crap.