Having watched Arrival and learned the language of the aliens, it seems I posted this the year Donald Trump was born. Some will suggest I should’ve done a very nasty thing to him in his crib, but I’ve read enough of the literature to know that trying to outsmart time is usually a bad idea. As to what’s going to happen after he becomes president, well, nobody likes spoilers.
newest addition to the Lost in Translation Keep Calm collection
Since the election I’ve been trying to figure out how to process Trump. I mean besides the usual OMG!, which I honestly don’t feel (OMG!!). Although I didn’t follow him and barely clocked his utterances for most of his run, knowing full well that seekers of political office will say practically anything to get elected, I did stay up half the night to watch the ‘debates’, even the VPs-to-be; they provided more than enough ammunition to make any thoughtful person properly worried. And yet, I will admit to an outrageous glimmer of hope on seeing him elected(!!!). What gives? Am I one of those people so disgusted with the status quo that *anybody*, even a man critics are comparing to Hitler if not Satan in all his unholy blood orange majesty, would’ve been preferable to Clinton?
Somebody was going to get elected. The thought of Hillary in the Oval induced a dull acceptance of dreadful business as usual. You know, endless wars with the added frisson of a new cold war with Russia, continued enabling of the bloodthirsty vampire squid sucking financial sector, a term or two chock full of grand words (if less eloquence than Obama) but serial disappointments. That Trump won was, at its most basic, validation of the notion that we are given a choice on election day. Part of my pleasure was getting to witness so many people choose not to swallow what the enlightened media/celebrity complex was trying to force feed them.
This has been compared to Brexit. I know something about Brexit. I voted Brexit. This was no Brexit. OK, it was a bit-ish, I just wanted to pull a Lloyd Bentsen. Still, Brexit was fundamentally about autonomy, not temporary regime change. I was not best pleased when Obama weighed in about another nation’s referendum; it was also not cool to lecture African Americans to take care not to besmirch his legacy.
Brexit turned my head around. It’s the first time I’ve been way outside a group I normally identified with – lefty liberal sorts – and seeing how organs popularly associated with the left reacted to the result was very much an OMG! moment, though perhaps it shouldn’t have been…
It may have been at Daily Kos, aka the Great Orange Satan (oh no, another one), that I first came across the phrase “throw under the bus”. As in, Michael Moore/Paul Krugman/pick-a-liberal-icon doesn’t currently agree with me, out he goes. If I’ve found myself drifting away from John Oliver and even Jon Stewart, it wasn’t because I couldn’t abide them straying from my worldview, it was because I was starting to feel I had outgrown their often kneejerk and facile bashing. (Not to mention that the likeable Stewart had long thrown softballs to powerful people who deserved a harder accounting.) Pie is more my guy these days. I don’t make the mistake of having to always agree with him.
We almost all of us live in bubbles. I do try to see outside mine. I read The American Conservative as well as The Intercept, and lots in between, though I now draw the line at DK, which spectacularly threw Bernie under the bus, joining the forces who arguably enabled Trump’s victory. I try to be fair to alternative points of view. I’m sure I fail regularly.
One could do worse than to take a page from Rudyard Kipling: keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.
If you’ll forgive my own translation from that old bestseller, everything is permitted, but not everything is going to keep you from going WTF? Social media (can it be any great surprise America elected a Twitter addict?) is a notorious black hole of earnestly wasted time. Have fun, but try not to be part of the problem. Avoid fake news sites. Question sources, including that, and don’t drink too much from the same one. Cultivate a sense of what’s wheat and what’s chaff. Think for yourself. #notmypresident is a bandwagon going nowhere.
I was one of the millions suckered in by Hope & Change in 2008. I let the critical thinking part of my brain get flooded with endorphins released by the gloriously broken colour bar, with the result that the droner-in-chief progressively drained me of any capacity for belief in the pretty words of progressives who are anything but.
I believe the status quo is more dangerous than the best of what Trump offers, should it come to pass (less military adventurism, more investment in infrastructure, term limits, a wedge shoved into the revolving door between government and big business, a breaking of the stranglehold of money in politics). I have hope that the worst of his pledged policies simply won’t come to pass any more than the best of the promises of others so often don’t.
Will Trump make life better for most of us, Americans and otherwise? Will creative chaos, if that’s what’s on offer, yield a net benefit? Can we keep our heads and sense of humour? As my wife put it, the world being a safer place has nothing to do with how many body parts he personally may have grabbed. I have hope because Trump, for all his considerable faults, seems to have an open mind. Or at the very least, I’m keeping an open mind about the state of his.