Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Dear Dad: You did not live to see this election. At the least, I know that you're safe from whatever happens over the next four years.
You put on a uniform and served this country. You would be furious with me if I ran and hid now.
Besides, even if I were able to do that, it might not do any good. Stock market futures have already dropped more than they did on September 12, 2001. In other words, Donald Trump, even before he was officially President-elect, had already done more damage to America's economy than Osama bin Laden.
And we thought he was a bad businessman before!
Whenever one side or the other on the political divide loses the Presidential election, apocalyptic visions come up in their postmortems. Already, people are trying to rein those in, saying we survived our Revolutionary War, a Civil War, the Great Depression, the Nazi threat, the Communist threat, McCarthyism, Nixon, Reagan, both Bushes, and the aforementioned 9/11 -- so we can survive this. They say.
This is different. This is Donald Trump, the most unfit President-elect we've ever had. One of two things is going to happen:
1. He's going to be as bad as we think he is, and there will be great repression, the return of discrimination on a massive scale, the threatened deportations, a million Trayvon Martins, a million Matthew Shepards, a million "Central Park Joggers" -- after all, if Trump can sexually assault women, and brag about it, and get elected President, that means anyone can do it, right? They can even blame it on black teenage boys, and get away with it, since Trump still refuses to accept that the defendants in the Central Park Jogger case have been proven innocent. And new wars. With Vladimir Putin pulling his strings, so that Russia can do to us what they could never do to us in a 40-year Cold War: Take control of us.
2. He's not going to be as bad as we think he is. He's actually going to do a good job.
It's the fear of the known (or, in this case, the suspected) against the fear of the unknown. #1 didn't happen under any President yet, so maybe it won't happen under this one. But, given everything Trump said during the campaign, is it really so far-fetched?
#2 is the unknown. #2 is Trump proving he was just full of a lot of hot air, pandering to this "Basket of Deplorables" just for the sake of votes, for his ego, and for the power. These people who voted for Trump expect #1 to happen. They wanted "their country" back.
What if he doesn't deliver? He's not going to build a wall. He's not going to deport all of those people. He's certainly not going to defeat ISIS. And he absolutely is not going to bring back the coal mine, the steel mill, and the manufacturing jobs like he promised. And if he doesn't restore white "Christian" supremacy...
These people voted for Trump, not Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat, or any other Republican -- not an establishment Republican, not a Tea Partier. They chose him. Why? Because he was an "outsider" (as if anybody that rich, or as rich as he wants us to believe he is, can ever be one of those), because he owes nothing to any politician (except, perhaps, Putin). The liberals, the "Blue Dog" Democrats, the establishment Republicans, and even the Tea Partiers have let them down. They believe Trump is the one guy who has never let them down, and won't.
What if he does let them down? What if he does govern like a sane, competent man who believes that all of us are created equal? And it works? How will they react to that? And what if it doesn't work? Who, or what, could they turn to next? Will the admit they were hoodwinked by the ultimate con man? Or will they try to find someone so in tune with their beliefs that he makes Trump look like the freakin' Dalai Lama?
That's the truly scary scenario: What happens when the people who betrayed our country last night, because they feel that everyone else has betrayed them, end up feeling betrayed by Trump?
No one knows what's going to happen. With Hillary, we could have guessed. With Trump, I shudder to think.
But, Dad, my threat to run away to Canada wouldn't just be an insult to you, and to everyone who ever served our country in any capacity. It would be pointless, since whatever damage Trump does, if he does any, would have residual effects on the rest of the world.
You may never have seen Margaret Cho. She's a comedian, a little older than I am. From San Francisco. Korean-American. Bisexual. Tattooed like crazy. Outspoken to a level that makes some people, even her ardent fans, uncomfortable. Doesn't take any crap from anyone.
In 2005, right after George W. was re-elected, she collected some essays she wrote, and put them in a book she titled I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight.
She did not abandon women, nonwhites, gays, and whatever other constituency she might have had, then, even though, with money, she had the means to do so.
I've got five good reasons to stay and fight, even if none of us yet, in this context, knows what "fighting" means.
A mother. A sister. And three nieces. Or, as you would call them, your wife, your daughter, and your grandchildren, including the new one that you never got to meet.
The first two girls, they still remember you, but, eventually, their memories will fade, and I will fight to keep those memories fresh. The third one, I tell her about you, even though she's too young to understand. I show her your picture, even though she cannot know who she's looking at. And I tell her how great you were -- even if I never really told you. I should have. I'm sorry. And I tell her how much you would have loved her. And I tell her that I will love her as much as you would have.
Mom is very upset. She can't believe that, at last check, over 58.2 million people voted for this guy, only 57.7 million for Hillary. To put that in perspective, John Kerry got more than 58.2 million in 2004, John McCain topped it in 2008, and Mitt Romney beat it in 2012 -- and they all lost.
Barack Obama got 65.9 million votes in 2012 -- down from the 69.5 million he got in 2008. Somehow, Hillary lost 8.2 million votes -- 1 out of every 7 that Obama got. Whether it was her own fault, or that of the people attacking her, or that of the media for not using their power against Trump the way they did against Romney for his lies and his elitism, for the moment, does not matter.
What matters is that Trump got fewer votes than the losers of the last 3 elections, and still won. What matters is that we have not "a 50-50 country," like Chris Matthews of MSNBC likes to say, but a 45-45-10 country, and the 10 who didn't show up, because they couldn't bring themselves to vote for Hillary, messed things up every bit as much as the right-wing 45 did.
Mom feels like the country she knows and loves is gone. Well, that's her Sixties idealism, which you shared. I grew up in the Seventies and Eighties, with cynicism. This is the country that I've known my whole life.
And yet, progress has been made. And the 45 that's with us, and the part of the 10 that wanted to vote for a liberal but didn't realize that their third-party vote, or their no-vote, would elect Trump, while emotionally crushed, has been through these fights before.
We'll be ready if Trump turns out to be as bad as we think he will. And we'll be ready for 2020. Not with a compromised candidate like Hillary. Not with a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren type, who would be equally easy to destroy. Lest anyone think that Bernie would have done better, last night, a Republican won the Governorship of Vermont with 53 percent of the vote. Bernie would have been the first guy to lose in a 50-State sweep.
In 2020, we will be ready. We will find the right candidate. And he, or she, will be ready. Ready to tell Trump what he told Hillary: "Wrong. You're a disaster. You're fired."
Will I make it? Will I still be both alive and out of prison -- or a concentration camp -- on November 3, 2020? On that question, I am in no position to make any promises.
But I've got five good reasons to stay and fight. All female. All with a lot to lose during the Trump Administration.
Our side did not take the threat seriously enough this time. We will learn. And we will take the sadness we have now, and turn it into determination.
We owe it. To you, and to everyone else we've lost. To those who are still here, and who still need us. Senior citizens like Mom. Working people like Melissa. Children like Ashley, Rachel and Mackenzie. Disabled people, worse off than I am, like the reporter Trump so cruelly mocked in a speech. People who I don't share a status with -- nonwhites, non-Christians, gay people -- but who still need people to fight for them.
We lost this one. Because we weren't prepared.
We will prepare. And we will gather our strength. And we will stand up and be counted. And we will move forward. And we will win.
That's what you taught us.
We let you down this time.
We will not do that again.
UPDATE: As of December 14, 2016, Hillary had 65,790,019 votes. Trump had 62,951,513. Each total is more than any previous Presidential candidate has ever gotten, except Obama in both 2008 and 2012. Hillary led by 2,838,506 votes -- about as much as the margins of victory of John F. Kennedy over Richard Nixon in 1960, Richard Nixon over Hubert Humphrey in 1968, Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford in 1976, and Al Gore over George W. Bush in 2000 combined. And only about 200,000 less than Bush over John Kerry in 2004.
Hillary got 48.2 percent of the popular vote, Trump 46.1 percent. But 7,755,052 people, or 5.7 percent, voted for somebody else. Trump won by less than 11,000 votes in Michigan, less than 23,000 votes in Wisconsin, and less than 45,000 votes in Pennsylvania. If it wasn't for about 80,000 people in those 3 States falling for the lie that Hillary was "corrupt" and either voting for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, or not voting at all, then, instead of Trump winning with 306 Electoral Votes to Hillary's 232, Hillary would have won 278 to 260.
Instead, the people's choice is not the President-elect. Trump wanted the ultimate validation that comes from being elected President. But he's getting the office, and all the responsibilities of it, while knowing that he was rejected by the American people.