Tuesday, November 08, 2016

What Happens When the Unthinkable Happens

As I begin writing this, it hasn't happened yet, but it seems all but inevitable.  And it might well be that my home state of PA will seal the coffin lid.

First let's deal with the shock.  It's the Kennedy assassination.  That's the only analogue I can think of.

The dimensions of this are unprecedented in my lifetime.  It is a political crisis that may well become an economic crisis, and that's even before Trump takes office.  I'm not watching cable TV.  So I don't know the speculation about recounts and so on, nor possible urban riots.  Thuggery however was apparent at polling places all across the country.

The first thought I had was the irony, if that's not too weak a word, of the fact that the person who will have to guide the country through this is President Obama, for the next crucial couple of months.

And I certainly would not like to be Hillary Clinton, when these vengeful assholes take over.  If there is any attempt at reconciliation I will be as shocked as I am at this outcome.

The second thought was that Russia won this election.  Not only because of any possible role the wikileaks meddling had but because of the global realignment that may result.  The rest of the world is already freaking out, and when that is exhausted, there are going to be meetings about forming new alliances and understandings because the United States is just too crazy to be this powerful.

If the US withdraws from the Paris climate treaty, it will fall apart, and the last known hope for addressing the causes of the climate crisis will collapse.  So yes, the apocalypse is hastening down the wind.

There will be postmortems but not here, because I don't care "why" this happened. All I need to know is that even in exit polls more than 60% said that Trump is not qualified to be President, and however the final numbers play out, that is not reflected in the vote.  Only Carl Jung could explain why this happened.

Yes, as I'm sure many will be saying, this is Brexit cubed.  And it is even more fateful.

In my generation, some of us have long had quiet conversations about whether we were going to outlive the apocalypse.   For me, what's happening with the rapid destruction of the natural world, the poisoning of the oceans, the rapid extinction of animals, the slow response to the climate crisis, suggested quite recently that this civilization might hang together past the middle of this century, but not a lot longer.

But it would be tested.  And a sensible government, and public trust in it, would be essential.  Both of those have been shattered.  We survived Reagan.  We survived Bush II.  It is not impossible to survive four years of Trump.  But just as we are suffering Reagan's legacy now, the next four years may well make the future a hell of a lot shorter.

This is a different America and a different world tomorrow than it was today.  Nothing is safe--not the dollar, not the banks, not civic peace and civility, and that's just the rest of the week.

Personally,  I had already decided to end my political commentary at the end of this year.  I wanted to post some farewells to the Obama presidency, and move on.  That's certainly what's going to happen now.

I'm 70.  I've been involved somehow in elections and politics since 1960.  I've had great nights, and I've had my heart broken.  This is one heartbreak too many.

People like President Obama will counsel us not to freak out.  I get that.  So I will keep my fears for my survival to myself.  Apart from the economy generally, Social Security and Medicare are no longer secure.

It's going to be very hard to hope, but people with a stake in the future--young people, parents--eventually will choose to fight, to make things better within their sphere of influence.  They may do this out of patriotism and/or necessity.

For if this election was legitimate--and while so many states won by just enough both seems suspicious and also to obviate the likelihood of any kind of systemic tampering we're familiar with--the message that will be hardest to confront is that this time, hate trumped love.  It happened in Nazi Germany, apparently.  Its effects will only be worse if met with passivity.

But I'm done with it. Anything I have to say at this point in my life and in this position is irrelevant anyway.  I will try to write as if deepening the meaning of my past and orienting those insights to the future actually might matter to maybe a few.  But I've got nothing to say anymore about the present.

And I'll support my friends and family as best I can.  But I can't pretend this is anything but apocalyptic.

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