Что делать? What is to be done?

Becky O'Malley
Friday November 18, 2016 - 12:42:00 PM

Looking through my enormous pile of meaningless unread political mail after election day, I came across a small but thick envelope from Emily’s List. Normally I don’t subscribe to that organization, since over the years it’s backed some truly awful women out of a misguided—I was going to say “feminist patriotism”, but that’s a linguistically foolish construct, so let’s call it—“matriotism”.

In this case however, the envelope contained four small square black-and-white bumper stickers saying “Women can stop Trump.” I’d ordered them on the internet at the Emily’s List site after seeing one on a car, and I really hoped they were true.


Since I never got around to handing them out to my daughters or putting one on my own car, I now have to decide what to do with them. Throw them away? No. They’re a valuable historic artifact which should be passed on to my all-female descendants, as a reminder that we’re all in this soup together, women and men both.

As I promised last week, this week I’ll indulge in some brief ruminations on what went wrong in the presidential race on November 8, and where we go from here.

First, of course, we won. 

That is to say, Hillary Clinton was chosen by the majority of voters, perhaps a couple of million more than chose Herr Drumpf. But thanks to the archaic electoral college system, he nonetheless gets the prize. There have been suggestions that the electors exercise their putative constitutional right to vote for whomever they want. That came up on my neighborhood NextDoor thread, but it was greeted there with horror, much to my surprise, by the renowned Joe Grodin himself, per Wikipedia “ lawyer, law professor, and a former Presiding Justice on the California Court of Appeal and an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of California.[1] And one of the very best liberal justices of all time, I might add. I'm pleased to see he’s still a neighbor. 

He spoke up for not changing the rules after the game has been played, and I must agree: “Strikes me as a very bad idea to ask electors to ignore the vote of the people who selected them: contrary to the premise of the electoral system, a very bad precedent, and, if it were to succeed, certain to produce violent opposition.” 

Though the consequences could easily be epic, as far as the election was concerned it was statistically just about a tie. What concerns me about the race is not just who won, but the apparent fact that roughly half of the country voted for a lunatic narcissist whose campaign featured, among other things, breathtaking vulgarity, blatant sexism and hitherto unseen racism. 

However. As I told my weepy granddaughters, I’ve seen many presidents elected who I was sure would bring the end of the world upon us, and it didn’t happen. 

Tom Lord’s piece in this issue about The Graduate reminded me of the night we saw the first-run movie in Ann Arbor, and came out to hear on the car radio that Lyndon Johnson had decided not to run for another term. We were gleeful, having spent most of his term organizing against the war in Vietnam—we thought we’d won. 

Well, not so fast. His successor turned out to be Richard Nixon, not such a prize after all—but he did end the war. Only a good bit later, I, along with others, learned to appreciate how much Lyndon Johnson had done to advance civil rights, the other cause which I devoted most of my twenties to promoting. It’s not over until it’s over, is it? 

And then in 2000 we went to the inauguration in Washington with the late and much lamented Patti Dacey to protest the outcome of the Bush-Gore election. It was bitter cold, and our presence made not a whit of difference, and now the president-elect makes awful old W-Bush look like a statesman. 

What happened this time? In the more than half century since I’ve inhabited the revolving door between journalism and politics (with an 18-year break to make a living) I’ve learned that there’s one slogan which always works: “It’s time for a change.” I don’t know if it was invented by Plunkitt of Tammany Hall (“I seen my opportunities and I took ‘em”) but it affects almost every election where there’s a previously-elected candidate in the running. 

In this race, DT won by using the Xtreme version: “Throw the rascals out !”. He and his operatives managed to convince enough suckers on the Trump/Sanders right-left axis that Hillary Clinton was a crook that it won the election. 

This is where I get so angry as to be incoherent. Hillary Clinton, like most politicians, is not without flaws, but she’s much more sinned against than sinning. I have absolutely no patience with the fringe pseudo-leftists who have a sacramental view of what voting’s all about, who consider it just another opportunity to express their inner selves instead of a consequential decision. 

Luckily, Kurt Eichenwald has summed up my opinion exactly in his Newsweek column, The Scoop. Rather than foaming at the mouth myself, I’ll just quote his piece at length here: 



“Could Sanders still have won? Well, Trump won, so anything is possible. But Sanders supporters puffing up their chests as they arrogantly declare Trump would have definitely lost against their candidate deserve to be ignored.  

“Which leads back to the main point: Awash in false conspiracy theories and petulant immaturity, liberals put Trump in the White House. Trump won slightly fewer votes than Romney did in 2012—60.5 million compared with 60.9 million. On the other hand, almost 5 million Obama voters either stayed home or cast their votes for someone else. More than twice as many millennials—a group heavily invested in the “Sanders was cheated out of the nomination” fantasy—voted third-party. The laughably unqualified Jill Stein of the Green Party got 1.3 million votes; those voters almost certainly opposed Trump; if just the Stein voters in Michigan had cast their ballot for Clinton, she probably would have won the state. And there is no telling how many disaffected Sanders voters cast their ballot for Trump.

“Of course, there will still be those voters who snarl, “She didn’t earn my vote,” as if somehow their narcissism should override all other considerations in the election. That, however, is not what an election is about. Voters are charged with choosing the best person to lead the country, not the one who appeals the most to their egos.

“ If you voted for Trump because you supported him, congratulations on your candidate’s victory. But if you didn’t vote for the only person who could defeat him and are now protesting a Trump presidency, may I suggest you shut up and go home. Adults now need to start fixing the damage you have done.” 



Don’t believe him? Read his whole piece here: The Myths Democrats Swallowed That Cost Them the Presidential Election. He’s got the goods on Sanders. 


And if he’s talking about you, hang your head in shame and weep. 

We must take some responsibility for giving space to the paranoid left, I suppose, but as a free speech advocate I think it's better to help irrational people put their silly ideas right out front where they can be refuted by cooler heads. 

My partner in crime call it a “Trotsky Moment”—from the belief that enhancing the contradictions might bring on the revolution. He told this to our friend the Petaluma chicken farm heiress, who describes her parents as having different old leftist tendencies which they endless debated at the dinner table when she was growing up. The slogan she remembers from that era is “The worser the better.” 

How can we grown-ups fix things? That’s a topic for later. Judging by today’s news on Trump’s appointments, it’s not going to be easy. We’ll see what happens, but don’t hold your breath. 

P.S. On Sunday after this was published I had a visitor, a bouncy pig-tailed second-grade girl, African-American, about eight years old. She noted with approval the Clinton sign on the fridge and complained loudly about the election results. Then she noticed my mail stack, with the above-mentioned "Women Can Stop Trump" sticker and seized on it with glee. She read it aloud a couple of times, then asked if she could have it. Of course! She peeled off the backing and stuck it to her teeshirt, saying that she'd put it on her mom's car when she went home. And you know, she might just just be right. She will be old enough to vote in only ten years, and if we haven't stopped Trump (or his ilk) by then she and her sister and their mom and some friends might just take care of him themselves.