Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016--Election Postmortem

I called an old friend late last week to commiserate about the results of the election.

It was three days after the fact and she was still morose. "I'm too old to move to Canada or Europe. Friends in England called to invite me to stay with them for at least Trump's first six months. They said his first hundred days would be over by then and it would be possible to see how bad things were going to be. They said if by then he overturned most of Obama's major accomplishments, I could apply for asylum in England. But then of course there would be Brexit to deal with."


"Really. I'm thinking about it."

"Do you think things are that bad?"

"Potentially. Did you see who's on Trump's short list of possible cabinet members?"

"There's a lot of speculation but . . ."

"Forget 'but.' How does Sarah Palin as secretary of the interior sound? Say goodbye to our forests. Remember 'drill, baby, drill?' Or how does John Bolton for secretary of state sound? I think his favorite quote is John McCain's 'bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.' McCain was probably making a joke but for John Bolton it could sum up his foreign policy agenda."

"Sounds like a nightmare."

"And worst of all, as a lifelong feminist, I hate what Trump and his even-worse vice president, Mike Pence, say they want to do about women's rights. Say goodbye to Roe v. Wade. That alone is making me sick and depressed."

"I hear you," I said, then, "Therefore this may not be the best time for what I want to say but . . ."

"Say it. There's nothing you could say to make me feel worse."

"I'm not sure about that. But you know on my blog I've been writing critically about progressives who I feel did things to unintentionally help elect Trump."

"Too many didn't turn out to vote."

"That's part of it and related to my critique. For me a big part of the problem was that too many liberals lost touch with what was smoldering in that part of America they don't know because they live in isolated urban coastal enclaves, live comfortably, and look down on people who have different lives and value different things. Also, we have lost touch with people who are finally fed up with the false promises that have been made to them for decades by both Democrats and Republicans. In many ways Trump was like a third-party candidate."

"So far I don't disagree with you. We've grown very complacent."

"Worse, in that complacency and out of feelings of superiority, we've lost the activist spirit. I was looking again at Kevin Phillips' Emerging Republican Majority written way back in 1969 after Nixon in '68 won all but one of the southern states. He lays it all out there and conservatives have been using it successfully as a kind of playbook since then about how to take control of governments at all levels from the local to the state and now the federal. All three branches."

"I remember that. Isn't he now disenchanted with the right wing he helped empower?"

"He is, but it's a little late. Among other things he wrote about how the so-called silent majority should begin the process of dominating all levels of the government by running for school boards and then work their way up the political food chain. They've done this successfully so that now they control 33 of 50 governorships and most state legislatures."

"Fair points," my friend said.

"But here's the even harder part--I know you really well and how you live and what activates you. So let me ask you a tough question."

"Fire away."

"You're very passionate about preserving the reproductive rights of women from being able to get contraception to . . ."

"And Mike Pence," she snarled,"wants to block that."

"Totally terrible," I said, "But people who agree with him about that and who are also obviously anti-abortion, have for decades set up picket lines at abortion clinics, harassing women who are seeking to terminate pregnancies. I've visited and worked in almost all the states and pretty much everywhere I've seen those nasty pickets. But, you know one thing I haven't seen?" I paused but my friend remained silent, "I've never, not once seen a picket line of pro-choice people there to help women enter the clinics." More silence.

"This to me is a terrible and condemning reality. And I'm including myself. I never was out there trying to offer support for those brave but harassed women. And while I'm on a roll, have you ever . . . ?"

"Never," my friend whispered, "I should have but now I'm old. Too old for that".

I let the silence remain uninterrupted between us.

"You could be right," she finally said.

"I think I am," I said, "And if I am, by our inactivity--maybe excluding some check writing to Planned Parenthood--we left this political opening to the more motivated people who are trying to take away rights that we believe are protected by the Constitution."

"My biggest worry is the Supreme Court."

"We should be worried. But here's my bottom line--Progressives are very good at marshaling facts and articulating opinions, but not so good as fessing up to how we've become complacent, waiting for government to take care of and protect us, much less getting mobilized and activated in support of the things we value. And until we do, what happened last Tuesday should not be a surprise. Also, though it may be hard to acknowledge, as I said, through our inactivity we helped bring about the debacle. And worst of all," I concluded, "too many of us secretly agreed with Hillary that Trump's people are deplorable."

Before I finished I heard the sound of my friend hanging up.

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