Always Winter, Never Christmas

Image result for the white witch

I have been unable to clearly think through all the possibilities, or impossibilities, of a Trump presidency. Honestly, it has been much too terrifying to contemplate, to imagine. I just can’t do it. Maybe later.

Right now, what I have mostly is a feeling.

In C. S. Lewis’s fairy tale, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the White Witch put a spell on Narnia: there would always be winter and never Christmas. Nothing to look forward to except more bone-chilling cold. That’s what this world with President-elect Trump in it feels like to me. A chilling winter with no end in sight. And this paralyzing season doesn’t come with a blanket of beautiful, stunningly white, fresh-fallen snow. The snow I see piled up everywhere is spoiled and dirty and unsightly. Kids can’t play in it. Thoughtful grownups can’t look on it without dread. And fear. Fear that it will never melt, never go away, that a thaw is not in sight. It appears that no amount of low-heat light from a low-sky sun, no flip of a cosmic calendar, no miraculous forecast, can deliver us from this Narnian nightmare.

For some of us of advanced or advancing age, we may never again awake with this nightmare behind us, forgotten with the newness of another day. Four years, we might tell ourselves. Four years isn’t that long. “We can and will survive his term,” we might be tempted to whisper as therapy for our pain. But it isn’t just four years. Or eight years. It’s a generation of a Supreme Court lost to the forces of reaction. It’s a generation or two of young Americans who will face the consequences of doing nothing about a warming planet. And it is the lingering doubts about our democracy. That it is on the brink of a breakdown. That, paradoxically, it may be too late to save it from its own hands.

How fascinatingly ironic it is that it was the Founder’s fear of the ignorant and noisy rabble—a fear that fathered a system in which the popular-vote winner doesn’t win— that will now ensure that the ignorant and noisy rabble will rule. The Electoral College, which was designed to subdue the will of hot-blooded people and cool the nation’s temperature, will soon bless what feels like a perpetual chill. When it votes in December, the Electoral College will in effect become Trump University. It will be perpetrating a democratic fraud by making him president, so he can go on perpetrating his own fraud and enriching himself from the White’s House.

But the Electoral College-turned-Trump University actions next month will do more than make a bloated and bigoted grifter our leader, a leader who, as we can already see, will bring with him to Washington hearts and souls like his own. The electors empowered to vote will memorialize a sad and disturbing truth about us as a people: too many Americans are in love with their prejudices and pale-faced pride. And now they have a champion willing to make them feel at home, feel like they have retaken once-lost ground. And that national fact about some Americans makes too many other Americans, the majority who actually voted for Hillary Clinton, dangerously suspicious of a system that allows a minority of Americans to plunge us into a melancholic wintertide. If that suspicion turns into an incurable cynicism, we are truly doomed.

We now know that a great number of our fellow citizens have a very different understanding of citizenship, a very different set of political and moral values. That’s why it feels so much like a winter without Christmas, a winter without the hope of spring. Trump and Trumpism represent an open rebellion against, a repudiation of, what we thought were unimpeachable American values, what we thought was a universal thirst for equality, a collective hunger for tolerance, and a welcoming spirit. A summer of American progress now seems like a distant memory, or a good dream that has evaporated with eye-opening reality.

All of this brings on a dilemma, as most crises do. For those of us who see Trump for who he is and see his voters as either fools or willing participants in his pageantry of bigotry and hate, what are we to do? Can we tolerate and welcome Trump and his voters in a spirit of reconciliation? I have heard many voices this week try to articulate a need for us all to make peace with each other and move on. The peaceful transfer of power is the one American value we can all agree on, these earnest and hopeful people, including President Obama, tell us.

Well, sure. Peace must rule or ruin will certainly come. But there will be no reconciliation. At least as far as I’m concerned. It is one thing to be friendly toward and tolerant of people who don’t share your politics or your political solutions to the country’s problems. And it is one thing to break bread with people who have different religious views from yours. Or who don’t like your favorite sports team. Or who hate your kind of music. Of course we should make an effort to understand and appreciate all kinds of people who don’t share our religion or our politics or our likes and dislikes.

But it is quite another thing to pretend that our friends or family or neighbors or coworkers who posted or promoted hate-filled bigotry during this election cycle—and there was a lot of it on Facebook and beyond—are people with whom reconciliation is possible. No, no, no. As strange as it sounds to say, there is no tolerating the intolerable. There is no welcoming those who want to tear down an inclusive America, who don’t value diversity. There is no welcoming those who are willing to reject learning and knowledge and science in favor of ancient pride and prejudices. There is no embracing the unembraceable. Hugs won’t fix the divide between those who think Trump is a national savior and those who believe that if he is the savior then the nation is not worth saving.

Trump does not deserve my respect. He did not respect President Obama. He bullied his way into the electorate with racist attacks on Obama’s citizenship. He didn’t respect the job of president enough to learn anything about it or the world. He literally trashed the process and anything or anyone who got in his way. He said he would jail his opponent. He invited in the Russians to sabotage her chances.

And Trump voters do not deserve my respect. By electing him they did not respect our national values and appreciate the beauty and power of a nation of immigrants. Many of them were cheerleaders for his ignorance, for his racism, for his verbal and predatory misogyny. Others had a cultish attachment to him. Still others saw him as a way to blow up a system that so many people depend on.

And Republican Party leaders do not deserve my respect. They sabotaged Obama’s presidency from start to finish. They made the government dysfunctional and then capitalized on the dysfunction by lying to the electorate. They erected barriers to voting for too many young voters and voters of color. They failed to appreciate the fragility of a nation built on an idea, an idea that has evolved over time to now include “all people” under “all men are created equal.”

Finally, there are those who didn’t attempt to vote and those left-wingers who voted for a third party. In some ways these people deserve even more scorn than Trump voters. To purposely not participate, when an authoritarian-talking, vengeful, disordered monster was on the ballot, is unforgivable. For them to say they thought Trump could never win, or to say that there were no good choices, or that they were too busy working, is no excuse. At least Trump voters had the virtue of actually fighting for something, albeit a horrible something. There is no virtue in apathy.

And for those on the left who did see the danger of Trump but failed to distinguish that danger from their hatred of Hillary Clinton and who then voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, they may be the worst of all. My contempt for these people is probably deeper because I am closer to them in their vision for the country. We share many ideas and many policy prescriptions. That’s what makes their behavior so disgusting. They knew Trump’s presidency will end up hurting vulnerable people. But they didn’t really give a damn. Some of them openly rooted for a Trump victory, so the country could hit bottom, so then a bottom-feeding electorate would turn to the left for its next meal. Well, to hell with these people. Their temperament and tactics are no better than the Trumpers.

So, there you have it. My feelings four days into our new cold world. None of the people above deserves my respect. And they will not get it. All they will get is a promise of peace, as I find a way to make it through this long winter and, in some way, break the spell of the White Witch.

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18 Comments

  1. middlechildwoman

     /  November 12, 2016

    Thank you for voicing what I feel. I’ve sure cleaned house a lot this week. I’ve resolved not to attend Christmas with my many siblings and their racist, Obama-hating offspring. I have three wonderful adult children who are also aghast at this unbelievable election. Where is the outrage about the Russian involvement in our elections or the lies and racist, misogynistic statements by these deplorable people spewed? The ignorant editorial in The Globe today written by a man full of his own self-importance absolutely infuriated me. I wash my hands of all of these buffoons and will just keep cleaning, reading, walking and searching for somewhere to do good. And possibly an underground resistance group.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean, Penny. There will be plenty of resistance, that’s for sure. Just wish that in Democratic strongholds in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (and elsewhere) the resistance would had showed up on November 8. I refuse to subscribe to the Globe. Never will as long as Caldwell is writing for the paper. That is unforgivable. Contributes to the fact here in Newton County, Clinton barely received 19% of the vote.

      And now I can add CNN and MSNBC (except for Joy Reid and the evening folks) to my list of media outlets I will avoid. What I saw on those channels this campaign season cannot be defended. Since dropping those two “news” channels, I have followed politics very differently and am better informed. Imagine that.

      But I’m even pissed at the New York Times. Obsessed with Clinton’s phony email scandal and stolen Wikileaks bullshit and now won’t even accurately portray (on its news pages anyway) the man who helped Trump win: a racist named Steve Bannon. Bad times for the world’s best newspaper.

      At least Thanksgiving with my family will be an anti-Trump feast.

      Keep your head up and keep walking. That’s what I intend to do. Until I can come up with a plan for fighting back.

      Duane

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous

     /  November 13, 2016

    Helen,

    I signed the petition. The electoral college was enacted to give slave states owners credit for the 3/5 vote of the slaves they owned against the power of the vote of the majority. That act aided and abetted racism at the time, and obviously is doing so today even if slavery has been abolished. The will of the majority has once again been overruled by remnants of racism. I hope Trump is unable to defer his court date for fraud perpetrated by him and Trump University.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I sometimes think our country accepted Obama as only 3/5 of a president, else what could be their ground for thinking that his supreme court nominee should not get even a hearing, much less a vote, and yet they believe Trump has already earned the right to appoint. I worry though, that if Trump is removed, then Mike Pence would be even worse, becasue he actually *believes* in that hateful agenda, and he is more competent, and he has the connections to get things done. They’re seems to be no good move out of this dark corner.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Helen,

        No good moves, indeed.

        A while back I used that idea of a three-fifths presidency, when Republicans decided to deny Obama his last year of being a real president. It struck me exactly as it struck you. Sickening and corrupt to the core.

        Domestically, I think Pence is much worse than Trump, too. Problem is, I don’t think Trump has, or will have, the slightest interest in running domestic policy. That is way too much (unintersting) work for him. He is going to turn most of it over to Pence anyway, as Pence’s appointment as head of Trump’s transition team demonstrates.

        The only question that remains for me is whether Trump will turn his sights on personally conducting our foreign policy, or confine his interests merely to promoting his own businesses abroad and leave the security and war-making stuff to others. I am terrified at the prospect of Trump personally outlining and supervising foreign policy and national security goals for the country, and only slightly less terrified at the prospect of those doing it whom he will appoint.

        Talk about a dark corner.

        Duane

        Liked by 1 person

    • I think slavery was definitely involved in the Electoral College disaster, but I also think it could not have been conceived and written into the Constitution by people who loved and trusted democracy. The Founders obviously didn’t love and trust democracy in the sense we do today and the Electoral College is a testament to that fact.

      Like

  3. Caleb Crain, writing for The New Yorker, opens with these discouraging words:

    Roughly a third of American voters think that the Marxist slogan “From each according to his ability to each according to his need” appears in the Constitution. About as many are incapable of naming even one of the three branches of the United States government. Fewer than a quarter know who their senators are, and only half are aware that their state has two of them.

    The efficacy of a representative democracy has never been more in doubt since Tocqueville’s comments two centuries ago. Logic, in fact, would seem to find this form of government quite impractical, something Crain’s article explores at length.

    It is apparent to me that elections are much more visceral than cerebral, and politics much more an art form than science. Political science is an oxymoron. The “robotic” Hillary, similarly to the technocrat Jimmy Carter, chose the wrong approach. They worked very hard to limn the most practical solutions to economic and social challenges. That isn’t what appeals to the common man. No, they just want someone to fix the problems and not bother them with the details. They want someone like the avuncular Ronald Reagan who opted for grand solutions while disdaining the details or the costs (e.g., Star Wars). They are like teenagers, they want attention but not a lecture, praise but not control. They want Christmas but they don’t want to worry about the prices.

    The next four years, I submit, will be the start of the realism phase, and it will be painful. The only question is, what kind of personality will emerge from it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know, Jim. I can’t imagine what will emerge. That is partly what is so terrifying. But you are absolutely correct about the visceral v. cerebral dynamic. I remember reading a Sam Harris essay some time back that made the point about the futility of arguing with or debating people who hold moderately strong or strong points of view. Harris is essentially a public intellectual who spends most of his time trying to persuade. He fails, admittedly, almost all the time. Most people, whether you call it tribalism or whatever, don’t come by their views rationally and won’t be talked out of them with rational argument (and even “rational” people are hard to convince with rational arguments that refute their positions). This election should put an end to the idea that campaigns can reach voters through reasoned policy discussions. Most voters don’t bother to process their choice that way. They take the easy way and simply confirm what is already in their heads or react to something other than logic.

      Related to all this, simply the name TRUMP, as a great linguist said, conferred definite advantages on him with the public that had to be overcome. They weren’t. Others talked about his forceful speaking style that was attractive to a certain kind of person, obviously a person with little regard for rational debate. It is hard to admit that something as important as a presidential election can turn on an attribute like the sound of someone’s name, their air of authority, or their appearance. But it is so damned true.

      And, sadly, Clinton overcame all that, overcame bad press and all the rest, and won more votes–but didn’t win. Representative democracy is definitely in a heap of trouble.

      Duane

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  4. ansonburlingame

     /  November 14, 2016

    Duane,

    I thought when you wrote “goodbye” you meant you were going to withdraw from the fray. For sure I would understand why you would feel that way. But the depth of your anger and utter contempt for some 60 million voters expressed herein surprises me.

    I am sorry my column in the Sat Globe “infuriated” your reader above as I was honestly trying to share my own fear of what might happen next with GOP, whatever that means today, real dominance of all three branches of government soon to happen (unless a Dem filibuster over the next two years in the Senate keeps SCOTUS at the current 4-4 split). As I often wrote herein before the election, my goal in voting to was to keep a divided government for at least the next four years. Neither Party has a clear and convincing path forward to resolve burning issues in today’s American and global politics.

    There is nothing I can write herein to appease or give pause to think to you or any of your supporters. So I won’t try. But if you continue to write in this blog, I will still read it. When more specific issues arise and you object to the next thing Trump tries to do, I may as well offer a countering view or even, maybe, support for your positions.

    Anson

    Like

    • Sorry, Anson. I hadn’t seen this comment before I responded to your earlier one.

      I had to (for therapy) write something about the voters who either elected Trump directly or indirectly. I was particularly angry with the voters on my side of the ideological divide who either voted for Johnson or Stein or who stayed home and didn’t vote at all. They should have known better and been better. I follow a lot of left-wing writers who simply took a hatchet to Clinton nearly every day. Over time, that has an effect on younger voters, who failed to show up in the numbers Dems needed to win (that wasn’t the only problem, though). I will personally hold those asshole leftists responsible for what happened, even if there were obviously other factors. This election was no time to air grievances about Clinton’s alleged lack of attention to pet issues of socialist-leaners or other left-wingers who championed some worthy policy goals that this electorate was obviously not in a mood to consider, or who bed-wetted over privacy issues and so on. This was mostly an election about general American values of equality and inclusion and decency, not specific policy goals. Some jerks on the left simply couldn’t see that obvious truth.

      As for whether I will stay in the fray, I haven’t decided what I am going to do. I am in a weird phase right now. I’m sort of regrouping in several different ways, including how to spend my time. I am also trying to figure out just how the Democratic Party should approach this travesty. I see a split coming, a split that could lead to more Republican wins in the future, provided that Trump doesn’t rip that party in two with his personality disorders (and terrifying cabinet choices). Democrats seem to be heading back to that old post-Dukakis period: Lefties want to go more left and centrists want to go more center. The center won that fight last time and (according to convention) got us Bill Clinton and, then, Barack Obama–16 years out of the last 24. I think the left will win the one approaching.

      In any case, thanks again for the kind words and here’s to hoping that Trumpian stupidity will make a centrist Democrat out of you.

      Duane

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  5. ansonburlingame

     /  November 16, 2016

    Duane,

    After reading the above I went back and found your “good” remarks to a pre-election comment that I wrote. I attempt to “wrap it up” in this comment, where I am now after the election. I make no attempt to be “politically correct” in doing so.

    My long and difficult thoughts on how to vote this election took place over months. To help me resolve all the inner conflicts I read and participated in your blog. I of course did other reading and talking as well seeking a path to vote that made sense to me. Bottom line I did as I indicated earlier. I wrote in Jim Webb for president and voted GOP down ballot.

    Some will say I voted as a bigot, a racist, …………. In fact I simply voted to keep the federal government divided. With the outcome of “conservative” dominance of all three branches I am as worried about our path forward as you are, but for different reasons. When Trump goes too far I will join you in outrage, particularly if he moves farther towards the overreach of the “religious right”. When those assholes try to dictate how I make extremely difficult and moral decisions that should be very private and personal, well my gloves will come off, again, in opposition. As for gun control, I believe ALL handguns should be outlawed, simple as that.

    My wife is screaming at me and I have to “go” for now. More later, as heartfelt as I can write.

    Anson

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  6. Anonymous

     /  November 16, 2016

    Anson,

    I can understand your wife (a Democrat) screaming at you. I have screamed at my brother as well, as he claims to be conservative, yet voted against a conservative Chris Koster. Koster is supported by the Missouri Farm Bureau, and you can’t get more conservative than that. But yet, because some think only Republicans can be conservative, we elected a con man, who refused to release his tax returns, as Governor. I expect those returns would have shown him bleeding a charity, this his refusal.

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  7. ansonburlingame

     /  November 16, 2016

    Duane,

    Back again. And yes, my wife is very upset over the election. She is as angry as you are if not worse. But we are doing fine as well. We just don’t “talk politics”, period. Yes, each of us “slips” from time to time. But the point is we are working hard on our life together and not letting politics interfere. And yes, I still have to tolerate MSNBC on daytime TV these days so she can hear again, all the reasons she is still mad!!

    I can only summarize my choices in voting by restating what I have said before. A divided federal government, one in which nothing much is done without compromise, is our best path forward, for now. Both parties represent our “dumb-bell” politics right now and either party would like nothing less than to jam it down the throats of the other party. I will do whatever I can to prevent that from happening, one party government in America.

    I wrote both McCaskill and Blunt a letter after the election. I said that any bill passed or defeated in the Senate should have both their votes in support of whatever outcome it might be. Pick any issue you choose. My message to them was you two must compromise, period. Pipe dream for sure, but …….

    I have more respect right now for Obama than ever before in his Presidency. He is going all out to call for a peaceful transfer of power. I believe him. Now is Obama going to scheme and plot to thwart Trump in the future? You bet he will and I suspect Michelle will be a candidate for President in my remaining lifetime. And I will probably oppose their efforts in that regard because of political disagreement, but not bigotry, etc. But as well you can bet your wealth, all of it, I will be called exactly such when I do, again, reject “liberal” policies in some areas of government, lack of balancing any budget being my personal top priority in our federal government.

    I close by assuring you that “I am scared”, scared because of dominance of one party only, either party. But so what as the “American people have spoken”, including 60 million or so “deplorables”. Unlike you I suspect however that total number is about evenly split, 30 million or so “crazy lefties” and an equal number of idiots on the right as well.. Such dominance will not last “too long” however and I doubt my life, or yours will change substantially in the meantime. That is unless we both really “go crazy” over politics and let such matters, matters actually beyond our control, do us “in”.

    One last “plug” if you will. If in fact we have millions of “stupid voters”, I submit the best way to “fix that problem” is through dramatic improvement, radically, dramatic improvement, in public education. Rarely if ever do we discuss that herein. Might be interesting if we did so.

    Anson

    Like

    • Anson,

      First, my sympathies to your wife. This election, and its results, are terrifying. It’s not like recovering from a normal political loss, like, say, to a Romney type. It feels much more like a death in the family. All things will change in ways too horrible to contemplate right now. I do not share your belief that what is so terrifying is one-party rule. That is certainly bad enough. But you seem to ignore the fact that at the head of that party is a sleazy, incompetent, greedy businessman who has no idea how government works, or, more important, how international relations work. He is not only not tied to any coherent ideological principles, by which one could anticipate his actions, but he also lacks any moral principles. He is absolutely a man without ethics. I really mean that. His entire history screams it. His only consistent attribute is how comprehensively he nurses his own insecurities. That is, as many people have pointed out, what makes him much more dangerous than you are giving him credit for. You really should, if you haven’t already, take a look at his business practices up close. They will tell you how deplorable a human being he really is.

      Second, I will address what you said about compromise. In a better world, the one we used to have before the Republican Party went to hell, your solution is optimal. That is how the country has mostly been run and why we continued to improve. Both sides gave and we moved. Not any more. There is no compromise possible with the zealous group of Republicans in charge now in the House and to a slightly lesser degree in the Senate. None. It won’t happen. There won’t be anything of consequence done that has the assent of Democrats precisely because the GOP is going to use Trump’s ignorance to get him to sign off on their most ridiculous, and ridiculously extreme, policy proposals. I predict that if the Senate keeps the filibuster rule, which is in some doubt, that Republicans will simply get Trump to do much of what they want done through executive order, claiming that Democrats are thwarting “the will of the people.” I know that sounds absurd, since the right has attacked Obama ceaselessly for his slight expansion of executive powers, but watch it happen. 

      Third, about education. I have given this some thought since the election, in an attempt to figure out how people could have seen something in Trump that made them want him to be our leader. Many of them aren’t educated people, but many do have college degrees. As of yet, I have been unable to come up with anything, in terms of how the education system played into all this, except for the fact that people are educated on the essentials at home: they are indoctrinated from their youth with prejudices and bigotry, as well as brainwashed with religion. It is difficult for the school system to undo that homeschooled education. Add to that the fact that no small number of teachers in our education system are also victims of their own parents’ indoctrination and brainwashing techniques, techniques that, in the case of religion, are deliberately employed so that kids become Christians (or Muslims, etc.). I have some ideas for fighting this, but they are in their infancy right now and I don’t hold out much hope for them anyway. People are hard to change and the arc of change is much longer than what’s left of the rest of my life. 

      All in all, as you can tell, I am still quite depressed.

      Duane

      Like

  8. ansonburlingame

     /  November 18, 2016

    Duane,

    When we first engaged in blogs, and met face to face with Carol and others, I saw in you a liberal that did his homework. I saw the same hard work, briefly, in your son during probably the worst class I ever had to substitute teach. He stayed out of the fray and indicated he wanted nothing to do with “hoodlums”. Good men generally raise good sons. I also remember the first time I met you while I was walking and you were on your mail route. I was carrying “The Bell Curve” and you commented on the book. a rather dense and difficult book to read was impressive to me. I still use that book to help form views on public education today, as you know.

    You are now depressed over an election. I was too, in 2008 and 2012. I knew our country was going to “turn liberal” to a far greater degree that I hoped that it would. You of course are now firmly convinced, and nothing I can write will relieve that conviction, that America is has now “gone over a cliff”, present tense, not future or future perfect tenses. Check back on my use of that phrase long ago.

    I was wrong back then and I HOPE you are wrong, now. You did your best to support Obama and I chipped away at what I thought were his failures. But unlike Obama right now, you and yours are continuing the campaign. I on the other hand HOPE, rather desperately, that Trump will “grow into the job”. I will at least give him a chance to do so.

    But I have found that writing helps relieve my own depression. It makes me think about issues (other than myself) at hand, think hard to reach conclusions and then write about it as coherently as I can. Not bad therapy and I hope you continue to write. And I, for my own therapy, will continue to read your views and comment as coherently as I can, usually in opposition. But in the end, who gives a fat damn what I think. It’s the therapy, stupid!!

    Anson

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