Friday, November 11, 2016

2016: The Conclusion

My inbox is full of defiance.

The Center for Biological Diversity email spoke of shock, sadness and tears, and then of resolve. "We're warriors. It's what we do. We know what we're up against."

"Yesterday was hard," said .350, the climate crisis group. "Today is hard too, but it's not too early to start figuring out what comes next."  The email announces a a live strategy session with leaders from the climate movement, the immigration justice movement, the Movement for Black Lives, Center for Community Change, a Latino group and other groups concerned about bigotry as well as other issues.
Climate Reality dwells on the progress made outside the federal government, even on election day.

They're clear on it.  It's defiance.  It's working on other levels, in other ways.  It's going to make for some strange allies.  The hope of the climate is apparently now China, which seems about right, being as crazy as the election.  But it could happen, and  at best it will doom the US--and the so-called American values-- to being a second class nation in every respect.  Maybe that's all this country can handle.

Scanning the news, apart from previews of the coming apocalypse, there are the many efforts to normalize the situation.  The peaceful transfer of power is in some sense part of the job, but what must it feel like?  To me it feels like observing Germany in 1933, as Hitler became the elected chancellor.

I try to avoid a bitter version of Schadenfreude for what some of these previously powerful people are going through, as a result of their failures.  What must it be like, for example, to be a persona in the news media and have to treat this is a normal political transfer of power?  An ignorant demagogue that the compromises and failures of media helped to happen?  Knowing as well that any false step could soon bring powerful wrath down on them?

Do the Democrats realize that they've failed just once too often? Do Susan Surandon and Jill Stein realize their self-indulgence contributed to this?  Of course not--that's the definition of their self-indulgence.   Why hasn't James Comey resigned in shame?  Why hasn't he been fired?

Most of these people are millionaires.  They'll be fine, except for living with profound humiliation, if they're capable of it.

How many of them are going to be heiling Hitler in three months?

It will be other people who will take the brunt, and the slaughter of other life on this planet accelerates to its doom.

Can you even imagine what the inauguration is going to like?  All the white faces gathered in hate, as Americans gape at their TVs and smartphones to see a profoundly ignorant man be handed the most powerful office in the world, a man who can't read a briefing book to save his life, or ours?  A profoundly sick man to lead a profoundly sick and sickened country, and a riven world.

I haven't been able to stomach reading much on all this, but I did read David Remnick in the New Yorker:

"On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety...

All along, Trump seemed like a twisted caricature of every rotten reflex of the radical right. That he has prevailed, that he has won this election, is a crushing blow to the spirit; it is an event that will likely cast the country into a period of economic, political, and social uncertainty that we cannot yet imagine. That the electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world of vanity, hate, arrogance, untruth, and recklessness, his disdain for democratic norms, is a fact that will lead, inevitably, to all manner of national decline and suffering."

"In the coming days, commentators will attempt to normalize this event," he warns, correctly. He recites some of the arguments we're already hearing. "There is no reason to believe this palaver. There is no reason to believe that Trump and his band of associates—Chris Christie, Rudolph Giuliani, Mike Pence, and, yes, Paul Ryan—are in any mood to govern as Republicans within the traditional boundaries of decency."

"For eight years, the country has lived with Barack Obama as its President. Too often, we tried to diminish the racism and resentment that bubbled under the cyber-surface. But the information loop had been shattered."

"To combat authoritarianism, to call out lies, to struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals—that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do."

I may not be doing that here, but while I am still here, that's my message: it's not normal.  It's not acceptable.  The darkness is coming.

Addendum: As the "Not My President" demonstrations continue, Michelle Goldberg in Slate notes that the normalization process has begun, including from Democrats.  Only Harry Reid, she says, has acknowledged the fear of people across the country.  She notes the hate crimes and violence that are already being perpetrated by Trump supporters, the off-the-books violence which also was the first step with the Nazis.  The Klan held a victory parade in North Carolina.  That's where we are.

I understand, even through my lack of sleep since Tuesday, that things were not ideal in this country before.  But some slow progress was being made, basically repairs, with some real investments in a better future.  Some of it took initiative and creativity, some just prodding, some of it was to stand back and not resist changes whose time had come.  The forces arrayed against even that were and are powerful.  Now they are ascendant and there is much less to hold them back, and plenty to encourage them.

This, I'm sure some would say, only proves the fragility of the current system.  Our era can be seen as governed by a messy evolution like past history, or perhaps as a transitional period to the larger changes that must come if civilization is to survive.  I understand the impatience with this process, the desire for some quick revolutionary change.  I just don't think anything like that has ever succeeded.  I just see it causing immense pain and suffering.

This civilization is dying of its own weight.  But it's a complex civilization, with currents of change running in all directions.  Maybe this country will eventually benefit from the shock of a Dark Age, if it survives it.  I very likely won't be around to see that.

This has been an evolutionary challenge.  Had humankind, in this free industrious society, reached the maturity, complete with intellectual understanding and psychological self-awareness, to save the planet from the consequences of its brutal past?  Obviously not yet.  But for the past eight years it was at worst buying time.  It looks increasingly like time is running out anyway.  But now that path is gone, and I don't see a new one that might work.  And frankly I don't think anyone else does either.

Maybe this country deserves the darkness for the injustices it has continued to perpetuate, the self-interested ignorance it built into its institutions, all of them driven and shaped by money, with the slowly changing but still powerful undercurrents of hatred for the Other.

In any case, darkness is what we're getting.  The darkness will first engulf the most vulnerable.  For some it will make the bad worse.  For others it pushes the tolerable into catastrophe.  It will touch some of the currently entitled, which is partly why we're seeing the rush to fawn.

As for myself, we may be able to keep the lights on here for awhile.  But all I have left to say requires a different context, with a different focus.   And I simply cannot acknowledge, or even put those two words together, the one that begins with P and the other with T.  Not ever.

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