In anger and in sorrow

I am going to write some things about my reaction to this disaster. I don’t think they will do any concrete good. I don’t intend for them to convince anyone to do or think anything. It’s just that writing is all I know how to do.

  • I can’t believe this. I’m fearful of the practical consequences, of course, but those would be broadly similar to any Republican. What most gets me is sheer revulsion at Trump. I don’t want his face to be greeting me when I return from abroad. I don’t want him to be the first thing every foreigner wants to ask me about. The thought of having him as president for the next four years leaves me feeling humiliated and ashamed. And it scares me that a lot of the reason this happened is because a critical mass of Americans felt the exact same way when a black man was elected.
  • This is the second Electoral College mismatch in my adult life, the second in as many decades. We all enjoy the Electoral College fan fiction that dominates the months leading up to the election every four years, of course, but I’m increasingly disgusted with how we’ve normalized it. In civics class, we learn that the Founders instituted the Electoral College because they feared direct democracy, and that’s partly true. But from a logistical perspective, it’s also a way of squaring the circle of the Three-Fifths Compromise — how can you give the slave states their disproportionate representation while still allowing for a quasi-nation-wide vote for the presidency? Yet another way that we’re still living in a compromise to keep the slavers on board, even after it spectacularly failed to keep the slavers on board when push came to shove.
  • One thing that’s hard for me to take is the thought that many of my family members contributed to this. The party they supported and taught me to support led to this, and they should have known. The religion that they inculcated in me, evangelical Christianity, has proven itself to be utterly bankrupt theologically, morally, and even strategically — who would want the generation of young people who will be able to stomach the thought of remaining in a church led by men who would shill for an utterly worthless and malign piece of human trash as some kind of savior?
  • The Girlfriend is taking it hard. She asked me why there are so many people who hate her. I’m remaining cold and bottled up, as is my habit, but I know the feeling. Readers know that I’m no great fan of Clinton, but at the end of the day, she was someone I could identify with — educated, meritocratic, sophisticated, worldly. A vote for Trump is also, perhaps even primarily, a vote against that kind of person. A vast plurality of the American public is telling educated professionals and elites and experts: fuck you. And they’re not wrong to do so, even if the specific form that gesture took will probably turn out to be shockingly destructive to them and their interests as well. For decades, the smart people who know have increasingly offered the average person nothing but condescension. Resentment is a hell of a drug.
  • I’ve decided not to cancel class but to offer absence amnesty today. Partly it’s for selfish reasons: I personally need to keep busy today. But in a small way, continuing to engage in the life of the mind by reflecting on one of the greatest products of human creativity, Dante’s Inferno in this case, feels like an act of resistence — or if that seems overblown, then at least defiance. A man who embodies everything I hate is going to be demanding my attention for the next four years. I can choose to redirect that attention toward something of enduring value.

3 thoughts on “In anger and in sorrow

  1. I feel you. My wife is a naturalized US Citizen, but has been here since before the Soviet Union collapsed. But more to the point: if people ask you about how this could happen, remind them this is happening all over the world, and depending on where they are from, you might answer the question with “What about Le Pin/Golden Dawn/insert the white natavist of your choice here. Here are a couple of places to have handy if you need the name to insert:
    Plus Putin’s tapping into the same vain of anger, plus mixing up the church with it. It’s not unique here, though it’s certainly more grotesque.
    One thought that keeps wandering through my mind: his wife is an immigrant. He’s had undocumented workers, and plenty of immigrants working on his properties. He’s sent manufacturing jobs over seas: I cannot help but wish that he’s just pulled the biggest con in US political history. Seeing a huge untapped electorate that the Republicans have poorly managed, and the Democrats ignored, and he just talked the talk needed to get nominated, adjusted his talk just enough to get elected, and now is going to do whatever the hell he wants: He’s got his presidential library, and will be talked about for the rest of history: enternal fame. What does he care about the proles now? Or this could simply be a bedtime story that will help me sleep again.

  2. Two and half months ago when I was teaching my Sociology of Religion class down here in NZ we were discussing Weber’s notion of Charisma and the Weberian prophet and then discussed Peter Berger on Nomos and anomie. I told my class (that included American study abroad students)- to their disbelief- that this is why Trump will win…
    I am extremely sorry that I was correct – but it does prove the value of religious and social theory even into the 21st century…

  3. I knew Trump would win, because this year has been just terrible. We had Brexit, which I was connected too and felt a confident win slip into worry, disbelief and deep rooted shock that took me days to recover from enough to get on with my life. I don’t feel as deeply connected to America, but it unfolded just the same yesterday and I did feel the same shock despite my prediction. This has far wider implications, it has generated fear in millions of citizens, and his policies and views are going to straight up murder a lot of people: sick people who will no longer have healthcare they need, acceleration of climate change, not to mention the racist attacks and protests which are already happening. This is the worst thing to happen in a long, long time. All because half of America is uneducated and bigoted. I’m disgusted and frightened, and still in shock.

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