Friday, November 11, 2016

Trumped Up Change

Those who voted for Donald Trump came in at least three significant categories. First, there were the ones who were the most visible face of his campaign, those whom Hillary Clinton called "deplorable," the ones shouting racist, sexist, and xenophobic chants and wearing obscene t-shirts and assaulting those who did not look quite like them (as in: were not white). Second, there were those in the great swath of counties across America who are not racist or misogynist or homophobic, etc., but voted for Trump because they felt that their country had forgotten about them and they needed it to change. Finally, there were those more educated voters who voted for Trump because, though he is awful, they just couldn't stand Hillary.

I'm not interested right now in the first and third categories. It's the "change" voters I wish to address, for I think that there is no doubt whatsoever that they will see a change in this country. I just firmly suspect it will not be the change they wanted to see.

It's Day Three and I'm still wishing that something in my life would just seem *funny*; I have not felt such uncategorical and insoluble despair since the days immediately after 9/11. And it strikes me that what I despaired for then is what I despair for today: a cataclysmic event that has altered the very fabric of my country in ways that I cannot fully comprehend yet, but I know will be irreparable and will leave me in a place I simply don't recognize, a place that has changed, but much for the worse.

My reaction to this event is the opposite of my reaction back then: in 2001, I found myself masochistically glued to the TV set, watching everything I could about the disaster, my insatiable need to learn and understand it overwhelming everything else. This time, I have not watched TV at all. There is no point anyway: it has, in the fifteen years since 9/11, become so absurdly fragmented and partisan that one really can't get impartial news that way. And anyway I find that I just don't have the emotional strength for the post-mortems. We didn't have eighteen months of non-stop coverage of combative, destructive, outrageous preliminaries before the World Trade Centers were taken out, before a plane blew a giant hole in the Pentagon. Osama Bin Laden was evil as hell, but he didn't hold endless rallies in which he encouraged his followers publicly to beat people up while we watched on the nightly news. We didn't have to watch daily coverage of new nightmares. No one in Al Qaeda ever tried to grab a woman by the pussy. It was a much simpler time. We lived in a country back then where it was actually possible to rally at about a 90% approval rate around a President whom most of us disliked. He had been placed in office barely ten months early by a hugely controversial Supreme Court decision after losing the popular vote. His first seven months in office were, to put it mildly, weak and ineffectual. He was intensely disliked by Democrats and hardly liked by his own party. And then: on 9/12 the whole country was behind him. The whole country believed in him.

We knew then, of course, that the world had changed. We knew that life as we had known it would never be the same. And it wasn't. Under the over-reactive PATRIOT Act, we became a nation of paranoids. Spying on pretty much everyone became something we learned to tolerate. Insane delays for security at airports became a normal part of flying. We still have to remove our shoes because one idiot tried to turn his into a bomb fourteen years ago. And there were repercussions. The USA—stronghold of freedom in the world—violated the Geneva Conventions and didn't seem to care. Regular people learned to be suspicious of everyone, especially anyone looking like a Muslim, even though (to his everlasting credit) President Bush explained time and time again that the Muslims were peaceful people and that 9/11 was the work of extremists, not of regular, rational people. But it was a new world. It was the age of "24," when Keifer Sutherland foiled one attempt after another to destroy our country every season, for our entertainment. It was the age of black sites. It was the age of Gitmo.

When Obama was elected in 2008, I thought that too might have been the start of a new age, a dividing line in the history of the country where one could *feel* the difference between the "before" and the "after." It was another time when things would change. I was right about that, but not in the way I'd imagined in those joy-filled days of Hope. How could I have known the politically-fueled racism that the GOP would intentionally stir up against him so that they could de-legitimize him and make it impossible for him to get anything done? How could I have known the intensity with which those fires would be fanned across the country? Throughout his two terms, even at his highest approval ratings, there remained a staunch core of arch-conservative internet trolls whose posts caricatured him in racist cartoons, who spouted hatred and vitriol in unprecedented ways, who were, in short, the ugly underbelly of America.

And it didn't take long before that underbelly exposed itself in the form of the Tea Party, which the GOP welcomed into its ranks. Their rallies were "populist" and claimed to be about taxes and other economic issues, but you'd never know that from the racist dog whistles on the signs they carried. Between them and the trolls, the GOP had plenty of outside help to further its agenda of simply blocking any and all bills the President sent to Congress, and what had started as a "do-nothing" Congress just grew worse and worse. And so did America, its internal divides starting to unravel. But it was not until this election season that they overflowed into pure venom.

Trump's campaign ripped open the wound, inviting the ugliness into the open where we could see it oozing out. Hillary unwisely (though accurately) referred to it as "a basket of deplorables": and though, as i said above, most of Trump's support was not this seething open sore of America, the most visible part of it was, a part that he was, shockingly, encouraging, giving them a voice where before, out of basic human decency, they'd held their tongues. But his victory means that basic human decency has suddenly become a notion as quaint as sock hops and actual tea parties.

And so America has fundamentally changed once again: today we live in a country where it is suddenly perfectly OK to say and do all of the things that the Trump crowds did in their rallies. School kids have already been bullied by kids in Trump hats for being black or Muslim. Middle school bathrooms have been spray-painted "Whites Only." A gay college student was beaten by a Trump supporter who told him "We have a new President now, Fag." A group of people of color were seated on a New York bus when some white 20-somethings got on. One young woman told them they should be sitting in the back now. A teenager was hit in the face by a beer bottle. Buildings have been defaced with Nazi symbols.

And the man isn't even in office. It's only Day Three.

As I said, there is nothing about any of this that is funny. I can't even find anything funny in reports that Sarah Palin is being considered for a Cabinet post. It's Day Three. Day 1500 is a VERY long way from now. That is a lot of time for a lot of potential changes. I hope there's someone left to commemorate it.
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it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

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