Thursday, December 15, 2016

Who Knows What Tomorrow Will Bring

My plans to write about something other than politics are not going well. I swear that one of these days, I'm going to write up my latest quick and easy weekday dinner recipe.

But not today.

I guess it was ridiculous to think I could write about something other than the thing that I'm worrying most about. President Obama has announced a news conference for tomorrow, and there are media reports that he has decided that an orderly transition is not the top priority anymore... and yikes. I still don't know what is going on, but to say I am unsettled is an understatement. Frankly, I'm scared, and I have been for awhile.

I have figured that Obama and other leaders with security clearance and the need to know do indeed know a lot more than they are letting on. I have assumed that there is a strategy being played out, and that I would not know the details of that strategy. I guessed that maybe it would help if I kept putting pressure on elected officials to investigate the Russian interference and the massive conflicts of interest, so I did that. But otherwise, I've been waiting. Maybe tomorrow, I will know more. Maybe not. Maybe we'll be in a better place tomorrow. Maybe not. 

I'm scared, because I think instability is coming and that is not likely to be safe. I suspect that how unsafe things get depends largely on how Republican leaders react when they are forced to acknowledge that there was foreign interference in our election and that some of them knew about it and did nothing to mitigate it. Their past behavior does not fill me with confidence, but I am heartened by the Republican leaders who are speaking out. So I have not lost hope. And I have not lost hope and faith in my Republican friends, who I know don't want chaos anymore than I do.

But our safety also depends in part on how the segment of our population that thinks it is OK to take up arms because they don't like how the federal government handles government land grazing rights reacts to whatever happens next. Their past behavior does not fill me with confidence, either, and there, I can find no sliver of hope to hold on to. The best I can do is hope that there won't be many of them, no matter what they do.

I always looked at Trump and saw someone dangerous. I feared he would lead us into fascism or racial violence or both. But I didn't have the imagination to fear whatever this is. I am as guilty as anyone of not taking the "Russia hacked the DNC" story seriously enough. It was just one of many outrageous things going on during the election, and I confess that I found the words and behavior of Donald Trump more concerning. 

I am still unable to really understand how so many people looked at a man who mocked a disabled reporter, called Mexicans rapists, picked a fight with Gold Star parents, made up blatant, racist lies about the crime rate and the state of our inner cities, hired prominent white supremacists to help run his campaign, refused to repudiate the endorsement of the KKK, called for violence against protesters, and was caught on tape advocating sexual assault, and decided they'd vote for him. I also don't see how anyone looked at his past behavior and statements and thought his administration would be anything but the mess of conflicts of interest we're seeing now.

I have had email conversations with a few Trump voters now, and what has come through is that they didn't think all of that stuff was serious. They thought it was an act, and so they ignored it and voted for him because they support some specific policy they think will get enacted. Or they thought "political correctness" was getting out of hand, and wanted to make a statement against that, assumed he'd deal with his conflicts of interest, and didn't think other people would take their anti-PC stances to the point of violence. They had never heard of the "alt-right" and didn't realize what sort of people Bannon hangs out with. They were as shocked by the swastika outbreak after the election as I was, but unlike me, they didn't see it coming.

Whatever the reason, enough people voted for him that Russia's hacks achieved more than I suspect Putin thought possible, and now we're in this mess. 

Russia interfered with our election, but it was our own weaknesses that made that interference meaningful. It was our own news media that focused so much attention on the emails. It was our own racism and sexism and run away partisanship that made such fertile ground for a man like Trump to run for the presidency in the first place. It is our own growing income inequality that stokes that feeling of an unfair system that makes it easier for people to fall for false nostalgia and long for a time that seemed simpler and "better," while overlooking that the earlier time was not "better" for anyone who does not look like them.

I wish we had confronted the sins of our past and present before they exposed us to this danger, but we did not. I can only hope that once we come through whatever comes next, we will find the courage to look at ourselves more honestly and tackle our worst impulses. I meant to write a more hopeful post about learning from our history, accepting the dark parts, and embracing our own imperfection while striving to always get better. But I'm not feeling the hope tonight. Tonight, I'm mostly feeling sadness and fear, which I'll tamp down now, so that I don't scare the crap out of my kids. After they're in bed, I can have a good cry. Or maybe just watch some escapist TV.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I hope for the best, but am trying to prepare myself for things to get scarier still. 

Sorry for the downer of a post. Here's a bunny as an apology:

Honestly, that bunny island twitter bot may be what is keeping me holding on right now. Perhaps I should go find more accounts that post cute bunnies and follow those, too. I can retreat into a happy, bunny-filled place....


  1. I'm not surprised that you are very worried and scared.
    I'm feeling both of those things and I live in Australia, not the USA.

    I am scared about how Brexit and Trump's election and similar forces across the world are enabling racism and bigotry. I think we are living at a time of massive social change.
    I think we are heading for dark days all over the world.

    Unprincipled leaders have always capitalised on fear, but the new element (in our modern lifetime anyway) is the "Post Truth" environment.
    This is the quote I thought was particularly insightful earlier today...

    " You don't actually need to censor the media if you just make them drunk on trivia. If you can get a population to cease being able to tell the difference between the true, the trivial and the blatantly manufactured, then you don't need state censorship"...
    -Scott Stephens paraphrasing Aldous Huxley on "The Minefield" podcast (An excellent podcast about ethical dilemmas and moral minefields).
    He continues..."It's not that we are addicted to fake news, it's that we have lost the capacity of really being interested in telling the difference between the true and the trivial."

  2. Maybe I'll call my senators today and ask them why they haven't supported Lindsay Graham and John McCain's condemnation yet. Though I'm not sure anybody will be in the office since I believe their vacation officially starts today, even though they voted last week to get out early. (Their staffers were working this week even if congressmen voted last week to give themselves an early vacation.)

    I've been pretty frightened of Russian infiltration with not just this election but also the parts of our government that are supposed to protect us from such intrusions (FBI in particular). Part of that is a function of having colleagues/friends who study national security. Sadly, I figured HRC would take care of it when she got into office after beating Putin's puppet.


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