Anger, without a better plan

Nobody needs my view of the election, but I won’t be the first publisher to misuse his platform for personal expression.

I saw a neighbor walking to school today with her children, sobbing as if she’d lost a loved one. But she was sobbing for her view of her country. It gave me had a brief window of empathy for those who awoke to what seemed like a horrible result eight years ago.

Some might say that, when the pain softens, she can take solace from the fact that eight years after millions were deeply dismayed by an election outcome, the country today is actually a lot better off than it was. But I can’t say that. I cannot see how that situation is analogous to this one.

Donald Trump is not Barack Obama in any admirable or useful or hopeful way that I can discern. I see his election as a big f-u to the established political order, which I also am disgusted by. I’ve been waiting for a voter uprising.

But now that the up has risen, I fear it.

The change I've been waiting for is to get money out of politics, by (almost) any means necessary. Under the sway of Lawrence Lessig, I’ve been saying for quite some time that if we can all work together to change this one circumstance, we can return to our respective corners and come out fighting on an evened battleground.

I saw the success in the primaries of Trump, and of Sanders on the other end, as two expressions of the same impulse. If I squinted hard enough, I could almost see a version of what I’d been looking for — the outer left and the outer right, working toward a shared goal.

But the right — much more dissatisfied, apparently — destroyed the union and everything in it without considering what the new guy might do. Meanwhile, the timid left had its affair and slinked back to the marriage, in part propelled by the prospect of our first woman president. I was part of that timidity; I didn’t think Sanders could govern the country.

If I’d know Trump was going to be the right’s candidate, I could have easily voted for Bernie. He’s got a record of compassion, consistency, and holding actual beliefs. Trump has none of those, and no other qualities to balance those voids that I can see.

It was my opinion — wrong! wrong!! wrong!!! — that voters hadn’t yet had enough revulsion over the current system. I thought we needed another dose of politics as usual — which is what I expected from Clinton — so that next time, we could be angry enough to sweep out not just the establishmentarian, but all the bums. But no matter how much we hate Congress, we love our congressmen and women more.

I fear we have shot our load of discontent without any chance for campaign finance reform. And the standard-bearer we’ve chosen is a thin-skinned, self-involved braggart who thinks he can work with Putin. I think Putin is licking his chops — and the chops are us.

I remember trying to bargain my way through the outcome of Bush-Gore: OK, maybe we’ll get through four uneventful years, voters will see it was a mistake, and we can skate by. It seemed to be working out that way, until 9/11.

By the time Bush had left office, we were amid our worst financial crisis in 85 years and thousands of armed-service Americans were dead or maimed, not only without a worthwhile goal having been accomplished, but having lost substantial ground in national debt, global standing, and military objectives.

As horrible as that was, I think we’ll be lucky if those are the worst outcomes of the Trump presidency.

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