Unforgiven

Harry Enten over on FiveThirtyEight posted a piece yesterday about how registered Democratic-leaning voters did not vote and therefore cost Clinton the election. And I was like, oh right, I’m pissed at those guys, too. And I am. But who I’m really pissed at is conservative and Republican-leaning voters who should have known better.

I know several of these people. Erstwhile principled conservatives who, early in the electoral process, bemoaned Trump’s progress in the GOP primary but who, by the end, didn’t just decide to vote for him, they advocated others to do the same. These are people who know history. Who have nuanced and interesting political positions. Who claimed to believe in the special role the United States has in the post-WWII world.

And yet, they voted for Donald fucking Trump. A person who is so clearly unsuited for the job. Emotionally, experientially, intellectually — literally in every way. In this case, they didn’t do the principled, ethical thing and vote for Evan McMullin or write in Mickey Mouse or simply leave the box empty for lack of an acceptable choice. They either decided there was something that superseded their responsibility to put a reasonable person in the White House or that it didn’t really matter as long as there was an “R” after the guy’s name in the history books or, most horrifically of all, that they thought he’d be great at the job. That is simple self-delusion fueled by a blind and irrational hatred for his opponent.

There is absolutely nothing that’s happened since the election that has highlighted the complete shitshow Trump is going to be as president that wasn’t perfectly obvious prior to the vote. Not a thing.

So yeah, I’m pissed at feckless Democratic voters with sore fee-fees who sat on their thumbs on election day because they didn’t fall sufficiently in love with Hillary and, at the expense of vulnerable populations all over the country they claim to care about, allowed a monstrous orange manchild to take the highest office in the land. Those who had a reasonable if imperfect choice and decided to follow a course of action those who did not should have. But I am more angry at those who put their higher reasoning skills in neutral so they could check the Trump box. Those who should have fucking known better. Those who are likely now, as they lay in bed at night and the reality of what’s happened really starts to sinks in, feeling a deep and dreadful buyer’s remorse. My God, what have we done?

Voting is an affirmative action. You vote for someone. There should be no such thing as hate-voting. Voting for a person only to vote against someone else. That’s wrong. And because they did that, all of us — not just in America, but around the world — are stuck with the consequences. I’m embarrassed for them. I am ashamed of what they allowed to happen. The damage their affirmative choice has done and will continue to do to this country they claim to love. And I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive them.

Our test

The way I see it, last night’s debate gave us a pretty clear choice. On one side of the stage, a person who was prepared and briefed, who understood the issues and had a point of view of how to proceed. On the other, we saw a bombastic, misogynistic, xenophobic racist who seems to revel in his lack of knowledge and preparedness. You know, the same two we’ve seen over the course of this entire election, except now they were face to face and lots of people who have otherwise been distracting themselves with The Voice started to pay attention.

There have been a metric shitton of pieces written about the debate and a healthy percentage of them have asked the question as to whether or not last night’s performance will make any difference in the election’s outcome. Yes, the notion that she won the debate is nearly universal. Yes, all his warts and shortcomings were apparent. Yes, she was her usually driven and hyper-prepared self. But will it matter to people who have already made up their minds?

The other day, I saw a meme on Facebook comparing Trump to Hitler. I think that’s ridiculous inasmuch as it seems very unfair to Hitler. Adolf had a plan. He had a consistent (and very much fucked up) point of view. He knew what the problem was, he knew how he thought it should be fixed, and he drove towards that every single day, even from prison. Everything he did, he did towards a singular purpose: Take over Germany, throw out or destroy the Jews and other sub-races, restore the German people to their rightful place atop the world. Ambitious and horrible, but executed with precision.

Trump has no plan. He just says things. Sometimes, he says things that are clearly contradictory to things he’s said in the past. Usually they’re at odds with facts and reality. Words stream from his mouth in a sometimes random assortment. When he does make a point, it’s often counter to what the very voters he supposedly represents think is important. He calls into question obligations to our allies in Southeast Asia and Europe and, despite his endorsement by the NRA, is the only candidate who’s called for police to randomly stop people and confiscate their firearms (just to name a few). But he just pushes on like a hog rooting for a truffle.

Hitler’s supporters looked to him to amplify and hone their hateful rhetoric. Trumps supports are often looking past his gaffs and pronouncements and decide to support him anyway.

When it became clear Trump was going to obtain the Republican nomination, I thought it was good news for Democrats and the country. Trump didn’t represent any of the ideals or values of the Republican voters I knew well. I assumed they’d either not vote in the race or vote for someone else (write-in a name or go for Gary Johnson or something). But I was wrong. What I’ve seen instead is a gradual and inexorable alignment towards him. To a person, they seem prepared to exercise their franchise in support of someone so obviously unfit for the job. Someone so obviously out of step with their own viewpoint on the world. All because, presumably, he’s not her.

There’s another large group of voters who seem to view Trump as a thumb in the eye of everyone else who cares about who inhabits the White House. Perhaps they’ve never cared about the presidency because they never saw how it affected their lives, but now they have a champion willing to tell everyone to fuck off. When Trump said he could literally shoot someone on the street and not lose any votes, he demonstrated a keen understanding of his appeal. When these people vote for him, they’re consciously choosing the side of the schoolyard bully over the four-eyes know-it-alls who look down upon them.

So no, Trump is no Hitler. Not even close. But his voters might be like those who brought Hitler to power. The people whose blood pumps harder when they hear his hateful rhetoric. Who feel they cannot get ahead if anyone else is. Along with the ones who have tricked themselves into believing literally anyone is better than Clinton and, besides, how much trouble can he get in with the courts and Congress and 200-some years of established tradition standing in his way? The unthinkable has become normal. The walking internet comment section has become mainstream. And people like it. At least something just under half of them do.

So will the debate end up mattering? That he was awful and bombastic and clearly out of his league? None of these things has been in question up to now. Nothing happened last night but a confirmation of all that came before. For me, it comes down to a test of the basic goodness and fairness of the American people. Will they come back to earth? Regain their sense? Realize we’re playing with the kind of fire we’ve never come close to before? Or will they turn their backs on all that and choose the ignorant bully because he’s the ignorant bully? Will they demonize Hillary so perfectly as to assuage their guilt for voting for an ignorant fool?

This is our test. I think we’ll pass. But I don’t know for sure.

The other email scandal

In the field of email marketing permission is a big deal. Without it you get spam. As someone who makes a living being a responsible marketer, the way in which political parties and candidates disregard the same laws they write for us to follow is appalling.

I support Hillary Clinton in this presidential election because I’m not insane. As a result, I’ve made three $100 donations to her campaign over the past year or so. This resulted in an obscene amount of email being sent to me trying to pry more money from my bank account. Sometimes, more than one message a day. Eventually, I was able to opt-out of these messages (after more than one try) and haven’t received any more. Until last Friday. What happened on Friday? Hillary picked Tim Kaine to be her running mate.

In the past four days, I’ve received a dozen thirteen emails (in the fifteen minutes it took me to write this, I got another one) supposedly from Hillary herself, from Senator Kaine, from HillaryClinton.com, from Michelle and Barack Obama, and even one from ol’ Bill Clinton. This is simply inexcusable. If I were to do this in my work life, I’d consider it a breach of professional ethics.

This is not unique to Hillary’s campaign. Obama’s was just as bad. I also recall how my email address was seemingly passed around to any and all candidates who’d have it resulting in one memorable beseechment for donations from Charlie Rangel and communications from random pols in Colorado I’ve never head of.

I’ll probably make more donations to her campaign in the months to come, but her literal spamming of me (not to mention the incessant phone calls asking for money) leave a very bitter taste in my mouth.

#ImWithHer, for sure, but I’m certainly not with her marketing tactics.

Parsing Donald

image

The above is from Donald Trump’s Facebook page.

We grieve for the officers killed in Baton Rouge today.

As do we all. Killing is killing and leads to more killing and distrust and fear.

How many law enforcement and people have to die because of lack of leadership in our country? (Emphasis added)

Who are the “and people” part? African Americans killed by police? General bystanders? Those killed daily by the incredible number of guns in the United States? This was probably a tweet before it was a Facebook post so Trump only had so many characters, but this (to me) odd “and people” inclusion leaves more questions than it answers. I can’t tell if he’s expressing empathy with victims of violent crime and/or police misconduct or trying to make those who aren’t feel as though they may as well be.

He then does the usual “if only someone strong was in charge” thing by saying people are dying due to lack of leadership. As if all we need to fix these issues in our culture is a leader…like Donald. Not a leader with answers (he has none other than platitudes), just a leader willing to face the obvious truth and lead.

We demand law and order.

So do a lot of people. African Americans who feel their disproportionate targeting for stop, arrest, and killing by police demand those things. As do the loved ones of deceased police officers killed in deranged race-based violence.

The notion that the solution to social turmoil is “a leader” who delivers “law and order” would, I imagine, sound very familiar to those in 1918 Russia and 1933 Germany. Law and order is a byproduct of justice, a feeling of shared community, and a sense of hope for the future. It doesn’t come easy and the answers won’t be found in 140 characters.