Running On Empty

Robert Christgau took the words right out of my mouth.
This situation is not conducive to anyone's coherence including my own, hence my decision to bullet-point a reaction piece that was going nowhere slowly. Of course, the end of the world as we know it isn't conducive to coherence either.
Several times over the last few days I've reached for the laptop, looking for the inspiration to write something, anything that could encapsulate what I'm feeling; indeed what we now know to be the majority of the voters' feelings. And I've come up empty each time. Christgau's "end of the world" was the best I could do. Because that's what it feels like.

Not that there haven't been topics to write about. From Tim Ryan's challenge against Nancy Pelosi for minority leader of the House (go for it), to whether Democrats should be open to negotiating with the Trump Administration (fuck no!), to abolishing the electoral college (way overdue), to the normalizing of Trump by the media (surprised? You shouldn't be), to whether or not President Obama should just go ahead and appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court during the coming recess (ballsy, but a bad idea), to Jill Stein pushing for a recount in the Rust Belt states (why is she spearheading this and not the Dems?). But every time I sit down and start to type, I hit a roadblock.

The simple truth is I'm exhausted and stunned. Exhausted at the events that have occurred over the last three weeks; stunned that this nation, allegedly the greatest in the world, could elect a man that embodies everything the Founders would've found revolting. These were learned men with principles and a vision, who went to great lengths to ensure that someone like a Donald Trump could never rise to power. To a man they must be spinning in their graves over what happened November 8.

Forget for a moment the obvious policy consequences - Obamacare, gone; the Paris Climate Agreement, gone; Dodd-Frank, gone; the Supreme Court, gone; Medicare and Social Security, gone - what has happened here is nothing short of appalling. Again, Christgau's words hit home: "The validated racism and xenophobia of Trump's coalition not only disgusts me, it breaks my fucking heart."

And the thing that hurts the most is the knowledge that a lot of people I know - some of them family members - voted for him. Not all of them, I hope and pray, are racists, but all of them, to a man and woman, had to have been aware of the dog whistles that permeated every aspect of his malignant and hate-filled campaign and yet chose to turn a deaf ear. Not everyone runs towards the flame; some try to dance around it in the naive belief they won't get singed. In the end, though, both are consumed by the fires.

All this week I have been under the weather with a stomach virus. I'm confident it had something to do with the election. Wednesday night, on my way home from work, I tried to brighten my mood by playing some Christmas music. Not even Linus and Lucy could lift my spirits, though You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch seemed strangely apropos. So under the weather was I that I was unable to attend the traditional Thanksgiving feast at my wife's family's place, the first time in my life that I celebrated the holiday alone.

I've never been one to believe that God takes a personal interest in who gets elected president; he doesn't care who wins the World Series or Super Bowl; he continues to allow countless wars and disasters which have claimed the lives of millions of innocent people; and no matter how hard you pray, that job you're looking to land will end up going to the person best qualified. Those who hold onto some misguided belief that God personally directs every aspect of human activity would do well to read up on their scripture. The evidence is overwhelming: Man often gets what he deserves.

Which is why I'm terribly worried about the next four years. Not only worried, frantic. Let's face it, we've had some doozies in the White House over the last couple of centuries, and we managed to survive them all - even Bush. Though to be fair, the citizens of the Middle East would probably beg to differ. The damage Bush wrought in that region will take decades to repair.

The point is we've never had anyone like Trump as president before. Sooner or later even the luckiest of nations runs out of luck. Just imaging him in the Oval Office is enough to turn my stomach. And the nuclear launch codes? Jesus, sweet Jesus! I feel as though my country died election night and I've been attending the wake ever since. The funeral is January 20, and the entire world will be watching.

I still can't wrap my head around how this country can go from electing a man like Barack Obama, the first African American, as president to electing someone like Trump. It not only defies all logic, but all human decency, as well. I am both outraged and embarrassed at the same time.

I don't know where I go from here. Like my friend Steve in North Carolina, I feel as though I'm done with this. The passion's simply not there. For the past eight years, I've written about politics, primarily Washington politics. Obama versus the GOP and, sadly, sometimes versus even his own party. And being the good wonk that I was, I feel I did a fairly credible job.

Now what do I write about? The final death knell of the greatest experiment in representative democracy since the ancient Greeks? Because that's what we're talking about here. I am under no illusions about the gravity of the situation. This is no mere presidential election. The nation did not choose Mitt Romney or John McCain or fucking Paul Ryan to be the leader of the free world; it chose the most ill-equipped, completely unhinged individual ever to run for public office. And there are consequences for such choices, profound consequences.

Maybe all this will pass in time. Maybe I'll rediscover that passion and start hitting the keyboard once again. But, for now at least, I'm signing off.



Steven Munson said…
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