Saturday, September 24, 2016

Because I Said So!

Maybe the hardest part of the nightmare that is the 2016 Presidential Election is Himself's dogged determination to be unfazed by it. He will toss and turn all night, anxious about incurring a 25¢ library fine but even when I cite the most outrageous of Trump's outrageousness it is impossible to get a rise out of him. My husband is beyond cynical about the state of the union and has faith only in the inevitable erosion of democracy. Which won't matter anyway, as far as he's concerned, because global warming or the hole in the ozone will obliterate the planet first.

I am card carrying advocate of free speech but also believe that no one should feel marginalized so I often straddle the political correctness line. Himself however is vehemently opposed to any sort of exceptionalism, believing that all accomplishments and failures are the result of personal accomplishment. And as a genuine misanthrope, he believes that there are generally more occasions of failure than of accomplishment.

I try to keep my mouth shut at home as much as possible but this election is making me insane. I check poll numbers at Real Clear Politics and Nate Silver dozens of times a day. As I write this, Hillary is back on top on most of the polls. When Trump does show a lead it is typically in polls that rely only on landlines which don't really present a true demographic picture. Nevertheless, for several days this week when Trump is beating Hillary, I nearly open a vein. I am still not entirely certain that Hillary will win, but I strongly suspect that she will. What bothers me enormously is that it is shaping up to be a close race. My cup of American patriotism doesn't overfloweth but I do believe that the U.S. is among the most progressive nations in many ways. I am invested in feeling proud of my country and even if Hillary decisively trounces Trump I think many of us will remain in shell shock.

Colin Powell's leaked email notes that, “everything Clinton touches she kind of screws up with hubris.” I'm sure I'm not the only one to wince upon hearing the “basket of deplorables,” comment. While I think that the basket metaphor is kind of quirky and imaginative, this demonstration of insensitivity merits a collective slap on the wrist for all liberals. Flies with honey. We should make nice to Trump supporters. We try to learn their language and reel them in using words they'll understand. While she shouldn't have said it, the “deplorables” comment isn't far off the mark. Just replace “deplorable” with “dumb as fucking dirt.” These are people who still don't believe in global warning, Obama's provenance and that being LGBT isn't a choice. The conservative movement doesn't have hegemony on crackpot ideas. Liberals rail about GMOs and vaccines, despite scientific evidence that both do the planet far more good than harm. I exempt anyone with an IQ below 85 but there is no excuse for people in the normal range of intelligence to be buying into such malarkey.

This is not the “new stupid” bristling against big-word spouting college types. Joe McCarthy ranted about “pin-headed intellectuals,” and remember Spiro Agnew on “effete intellectual snobs.” In the 19th Century Schopenhauer posited, “ All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” The miracle of the Internet has changed the rules, ironic that this technological miracle has spawned a resurgence of medieval ideation. Now, truth is ridiculed, then violently opposed and finally rejected in favor of something unproven that, for whatever reason, is more palatable or convenient. “I believe,” is synonymous now with “This is a proven fact.”

Even if Trump receives only a small percentage of the vote, his ascendancy says some very sad things about the state of the nation. The election of the first African American president threatens a whole lot of white guys and Trump seizes on this anxiety by suggesting that in truth our president is a Kenya- born Muslim. And as luck would have it for the Donald, the same demographic that experiences feelings of impotence when Obama's elected, is even more threatened by the prospect of a female president than a black one.

There are many examples of men feeling that their masculinity is questioned in some way, while, for the most part, women seem generally more secure about their gender. There really are no feminine counterparts really for “emasculated” or “man up.” Most of the pejoratives used to diminish a man imply feminine qualities. You are a pussy if you behave in a manner that can be construed as feminine or pussy whipped if a woman assumes a superior position. And Trump, with his long history of piggish-ness is an effective balm for insecure maleness. I suspect that if the Democratic nominee were a white male he'd likely be running against Jeb Bush and that Benghazi, e-mail servers and charitable foundations wouldn't be much on the radar.

Inevitably I'll be biting my nails until November 8. I hope ultimately that I will be proud that the first African American and first female presidents were elected in my lifetime. Still, there is the huge swath of dogged ignorance to contend with. Trump, even as a failed candidate may have done irreparable damage. His lies are so profuse that it's hard for the news media to fact check consistently without being accused of bias. Have the floodgates opened now for pathologically lying politicians? I know I'm preaching to the choir here and that while this piece may result in a bit more hand wringing, but is unlikely to raise anyone's consciousness. Himself refuses to vote for any candidate that he considers a mere lesser of evils so I presume his choice will be “none of the above.” Fortunately this isn't particularly meaningful in California but if we lived in a swing state it would likely result in divorce.
I'd get the dog. And I'm with Her. 


Sultasto said...

just as physical activity relieves depression, the remedy for cynicism is activism. Vote!

Jerome said...

Pretty heavy
Do not check polls more than once a day- you are making yourself crazy mad.
Tell H (j) that no one creates his or her own culture, that we are social creatures, no one accomplishes anything in a vacuum, and "personal" accomplishment always involves others.

And that systemic barriers exist that impede and have historically impeded personal accomplishment and fulfillment ranging from genocidal persecution like that visited upon Iraqi Yezidis to the simple fact that working class Americans are raised to be so much more risk-averse than middle and upper class Americans that they will not take many chances that would allow them to attain personal fulfillment and look back on meaningful personal accomplishments.

John L. Murphy / "FionnchĂș" said...

Didn't Spiro call the lefty press, and me by extension, "nattering nabobs of negativism"? I agree w/ Jerome as I also am from that risk-averse working class, and he makes a good insight.