The Radical Moderate 6: Chill, Everyone.

keep-calm-and-do-not-despair-2

I went to sleep last night with the election undecided. I woke up this morning to learn that Donald Trump had won. I also woke up to find half the country losing its mind.

I did not vote for Trump. I am a constitutional conservative/classical liberal, yet despite the fact that a Hillary Administration would almost certainly have further eroded our constitutional rights, I couldn’t give Trump my vote; it’s the first time in my life I haven’t voted for the Republican candidate at the top of the ticket. So let’s say that this morning I’m feeling mixed emotions.

But I have one thing to say to both sides of this year’s bloodless war (because that’s what elections are).

Chill, everyone.

And I mean that sincerely.

A little perspective might be in order, here. For those who were politically active or aware, eight years ago when President Barrack Obama, our then most left-leaning US senator, won the White House, there were people on the Right firmly convinced that he was going to create a corps of Brown Shirts, put dissenters in re-education camps, etc.

Didn’t happen, of course, but today a significant number of otherwise intelligent people are convinced that Donald Trump is going to inaugurate a wave of government thuggery against racial minorities, against women, against homosexuals, against illegal immigrants, against everyone not of the Master Race (and I use MR intentionally, since many of them pretty much think Trump is Hitler).

But that’s not going to happen, either.

And yet the fear and despair is very real. I’d be tempted to call it overblown, except I remember many feeling variations of all this when Reagan won, when Clinton won, when Bush won, and when Obama won. Reagan was going to trigger WWIII, Clinton was going to abolish the 2nd Amendment and socialize the country, Bush was going to sell the country to his cronies, Obama was going to (see above).

Why is that?

It’s really very simple. Everyone has the quite rational fear that the opposition’s victorious candidate will try and push the country in a direction they won’t like. That’s what elections are about. That makes the day of their loss a day for gloom, naturally.

But the fear? I have a rational and intelligent friend who wrote on Facebook this morning:

 “I woke up this morning and cried. My heart is broken and I’m terrified of walking out my door. I don’t know if violence against people like me, people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, is going to be state sanctioned or not.”

Another wrote:

“Sanity lost the Executive and Legislative branches tonight. And, there will be seats to fill on the supreme court in short order. All the branches of the US government are now poised to bring about the apocalypse. There may not be a minimum safe distance, folks.”

And why shouldn’t they? After all, the liberal pundits are saying pretty much the same thing.

“We thought that the nation, while far from having transcended racial prejudice and misogyny, had become vastly more open and tolerant over time.

“We thought that the great majority of Americans valued democratic norms and the rule of law.

“It turns out that we were wrong.

“I don’t know how we go forward from here. Is America a failed state and society? It looks truly possible. I guess we have to pick ourselves up and try to find a way forward, but this has been a night of terrible revelations, and I don’t think it’s self-indulgent to feel quite a lot of despair.”

Paul Krugman

“Our little gathering broke up in confusion, with more than one of our guests wondering if they would actually have to move. It’s something that I, as a native-born, white male — some of whose family were probably in this country circa 1620 — will have to consider, too, if my wife and I are to have any form of health care before we reach Medicare (assuming that Medicare will still be there, either). These are words I never thought I would have to write. This has indeed been a campaign full of surprises, and I fear it will take away all our words for good.”

Kevin Baker

And of course, this is the way they think about those who voted for Trump;

no

I will say it again: Chill. I would be saying the same to those on the Right in despair if Hillary had won.

Because this is what happens with every election; both sides demonize the other side’s candidate and voters to an extent that you would think, listening to them, that civil war is imminent. That the triumph of Fascism of The Left or Right is imminent. That the winning candidate is Hitler.

Underlying all this, naturally, is The Syllogism.

  1. I am a rational/good human being.
  2. Because I am a rational/good human being, I believe X.
  3. If you do not believe X, you are either ignorant, stupid, or evil.
  4. Because you are ignorant, stupid, or evil, it is useless to debate with you and pointless to listen to you.

During the heat of the election season, with candidates, supporters, and political pundits on both sides throwing every possible accusation of EVIL at each other, of course The Syllogism prevails. And on Election Day this means that, in the eyes of half the country, in the ashes of their loss, the ignorant, the stupid, and the evil, won.

Some people never recover their mental footing after an especially rancorous election; if you thought that Bush Derangement Syndrome was bad (and yes, Obama Derangement Syndrome), just wait till you see Trump Derangement Syndrome.

A little more perspective; when President Obama won, coming into office with a Congressional majority ready to help him advance his agenda, many Democrats believed that the voting shift foretold a Permanent Democratic Majority. Some Republicans thought so, too. It plainly wasn’t so. Yes, from the perspective of the Right great damage was done, but the Permanent Democratic Majority failed.

There will be no Permanent Republican Majority. And in the meantime, while from the perspective of the Left, great damage may be done, there will be no goosestepping gestapos knocking on their door. There will be no state-sanctioned violence against them. This is not the End Of America. It’s not even The End Of America As We Know It.

There are two reasons for this.

First, the great majority of those who voted for Trump are not, despite the frothing of much of the press, ignorant, homophobic, xenophobic, racist, sexist, haters. Just as when President Obama won, Trump has been swept into office by a protest-movement. And for most of the people in this movement it hasn’t been about racism, sexism, etc.; it’s been a populist and anti-establishment movement. Trump managed to pitch himself as the populist anti-establishment candidate, and won. The poisonous Alt-Right didn’t elect Trump, in fact they hurt his chances just like the racialists on the far Left hurt Hillary; both sides declared the other to be the full embodiment of their lunatic fringes. No, Trump won because he seized the tide and ran against a candidate just as noxious to the Right and much of the Middle as he was to the Left and much of the Middle.

That means that the above meme from American NewsX got it wrong, and America has not been revealed as Conrad’s new “heart of darkness”. As impossible as it is for many to believe, last night most Americans on both sides voted  with good intentions.

Second, we are a constitutional republic. While respect for the limits of federal power (and especially of executive-branch power) has taken a beating in this past administration, the checks and balances built into our system remain strong and so we’re not going to go the way of Venezuela. The Right has managed to take both the executive and legislative branches of government; well, the Republican Party has been in this position before. So has the Democratic Party. It won’t last, and while it does the Republican party is far from monolithic; factions within the party will check its excesses.

Meanwhile, despite recent erosion of the 1st Amendment, respect for our constitutional rights and liberties remains high; American citizens who voted Left are in no more danger now than American citizens who voted Right were before. Racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities are not in danger, any more than religious folk and gun-owners have been in danger under the Obama Administration. The Right is not now about to commence a march into fascism; it couldn’t even if it wanted to.

That’s the beauty of the American constitutional system. It thwarts all attempts at radical and rapid change.

The winners will exult for a time, until the more optimistic ones find that Trump is no more a wonder worker than President Obama turned out to be. The Right will win some legislative and policy victories. Then the pendulum will complete the rightward swing of its arc and swing left again. The cycle will continue.

Meanwhile:

dont-despair

Be kind to your friends and neighbors. Many of them have had a bad time.

M. G. Harmon

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About George

I am a reasonably successful self-published author ("successful" means I can pay the bills and am highly rated in my Amazon category), former financial advisor (writing is more fun), and have something in common with Mitt Romney and Donny Osmond. Guess.
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12 Responses to The Radical Moderate 6: Chill, Everyone.

  1. James says:

    Thanks for your good sense!

  2. Michael D'Auben says:

    Probably the most rational response to the election results I’ve read so far.

  3. James says:

    (Is your server on Greenwich time? My post was made at 10:50 in the morning (CST), but it says 4:50pm.)

  4. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard says:

    But but …. Everybody knows Trump is Hitler! 😉

    Just had to get that out of my system. 😀

    Note, I think “chilling” really is the best thing to do.

    I’m basicly glad that the election is over.

  5. Max Woldhek says:

    I just hope he’s a big fat liar, because if he tries enacting even half of all the things he’s promised to do…

  6. Karen says:

    I fear Trump. I am of the opinion that a man who cannot be trusted with Twitter should not have access to nuclear weapons.

    I fear Pence. This is a man who has supported re-education camps – excuse me, “conversion therapy” camps – where children are abused until they stop claiming they are gay.

    Most of all, I fear what they have done to this nation. They have given a voice to the alt-right. They have encouraged it. And already there has been a spike in the number of hate crimes reported; the number of bullies tormenting children that are not white, straight and Christian; the number of people assaulted and killed for being “other”.

    I have friends that are creating an underground railroad of sorts, with the intent being to get LGBT people out of the areas hostile to them, and over to Cascadia.

    I’m not that brave. I’m leaving the country. I cannot stand by while it is destroyed from within. Nor do I feel safe right now; I’m buying a firearm next week. I’ve never felt the need before, but since I travel for work I will obtain a CCW license and take it with me where possible.

    -Karen
    -White, Atheist, Transwoman, “Lesbian” (actually bi, but been monogamous for 20 years.)

    • George says:

      I am sorry that you feel that this country has become a hostile place for you. Nobody should feel that way. However, as a strong believer in the 2nd Amendment, I am glad that you are taking the positive step of acquiring a firearm for your defense; take it seriously and go beyond just the basics needed, so that you can be a responsible and safe carrier.

  7. Karen says:

    Oh yeah,one more thing: Trump is DA’s dream candidate.

  8. Jack says:

    … I think you should consider how this is going to impact on the books. Astra has a very friendly relationship with her government; I think that reflects how inoffensively moderate Obama is. you can imagine him being pretty tolerant towards metahumans. Now most of your readers are most likely going to be living under a president they hate, which is definitely going to hurt that “reality plus superpowers” world you’ve built. Touching Clouds would be coming up to her term limit, since you implied she was there well before Astra arrived and you mentioned election season in the last book. I think you need to create a more “Trump esk” national leader. And it would be a good power limiter, if Astra no longer had the automatic support of the US gov.

    • George says:

      President Kayle served nearly two full terms, which means Touches Clouds was sworn in in year 8 PE, just two years before Hope’s breakthrough. It’s now been about three years since the beginning of Wearing the Cape, so Touches Clouds is now in the first year of her second term. Even if she was nearing the end of her administration, I would not replace her with a “Trump esk” national leader. I could have gone with an “Obama esk” political figure in Wearing the Cape and its sequels; instead I went with Touches Clouds.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard says:

        IMO no author who want a broad readership should have “real life politicians” (especially controversial ones) as models for his world’s politicians.

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