This is my last column about this miserable presidential election!
By this time next week, it’ll all be over. I hope.
I suspect, however, that the grotesque circus we’ve been enduring for more than a year will result in a collective case of campaign PTSD. Whenever we hear words “the polls show …” we’ll curl into the fetal position and weep.
I’ve seen many elections come and go, but none as horrid and divisive as this one. Sure, bitter partisan strife is the bone structure of American politics, but it’s mostly about policy. Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on the goals, let alone how to achieve them. Election years magnify that basic schism by a thousand.
This time however, it’s not about policy. This time, it’s personal. Sarah Palin did the “set” on desensitizing the public to crude, ridiculous and vile speech in 2008, and Donald Trump made the “spike” in 2016. Trump has enabled closet racists and sexists to emerge from the shadows and spew their venom without consequence.
Yay! It’s OK to hate again!
Trump has cracked open the Pandora’s Box of human ugliness, and should he win on Tuesday, the lid will burst wide open.
Yes, I said that: Trump may win.
Sure, the polls show Hillary ahead by a slim margin. But how reflective of actual voters are those polls? I’ve never been called by a pollster in a presidential election. Have you? I suspect that most Trump supporters haven’t been called by pollsters either. I fear we’ve underestimated the hateful legions, and that the Angry White Undereducated contingent will flood the polling booths.
Consider Brexit. Most of Great Britain went to bed thinking it would be defeated. They woke up the next morning and discovered it wasn’t. Sadly, as the stock market crashed worldwide and the world somersaulted in anxiety, the No. 1 topic googled in the UK was “What is Brexit?”
The majority of Brits were so disgruntled with their own government — so angry, so frustrated, feeling so powerless, disenfranchised and hateful toward immigrants — they used their vote as a protest, not even grasping what the protest meant. It just felt really good to vent their anger and aim it right at their own government.
Besides loathing our government (while using the postal service, driving on national highways and being protected by the military), most Trumpsters are driven by a blind hatred of Hillary Clinton. However, if you take emails and Benghazi off the table, most can’t articulate why.
“She’s a criminal!” they squeal, ironically parroting the words of a man being sued for fraud over his sketchy university (mass fraud, by the way — more serious than email). If you ask them what crimes Hillary has been arrested for, let alone convicted of, you get “Duhhhhh…”
That’s because Hillary hasn’t been convicted of any crimes. Period. These are the actual facts. She was investigated for Benghazi and cleared. She was investigated about her emails and, while chastised for being careless, was cleared of wrongdoing. She is not a criminal, and anyone who claims otherwise is either ignorant or a liar or both.
“But there’s a new Hillary email scandal!” the Trumpanzees howl. (And also disgruntled millennials who weren’t old enough to appreciate the Nader Effect in the 2000 election, and insist on voting third party as a matter of integrity. Enjoy your precious integrity, Mills, while the country collapses under the weight of a catastrophic Trump presidency. I kinda hope you choke on it.)
As for this latest “Hillary email scandal,” some recent polls indicate that it has swayed some voters away from Hillary and toward Trump. Never mind that these emails aren’t even Hillary’s. Never mind that the FBI hasn’t indicated that there’s even anything criminal in them. It just feels so delicious to perpetuate the myth of Crooked Hillary, because wah, we still have poopy diapers because Bernie lost.
Those emails were a gift from Russia to the RNC, and are serving as a Hail Mary to defeat Clinton — the RNC’s singular goal for years. You didn’t think the Benghazi hearings were really about Benghazi, did you? That was orchestrated to derail Clinton’s bid for the presidency.
Benghazi was intended to be the ace in the RNC’s pocket, and the RNC was so certain she’d lose, congressional Republicans refused to confirm Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court last spring. They were banking on a Republican president in 2016, surely Jeb Bush, who’d pave the way for a justice committed to unraveling whatever social progress we’ve made and thwarting any more to come.
And then came Trump, and all the wheels came off of the RNC bus.
Still feeling smug, congressional Republicans? You’ve got a much bigger problem on your hands than a dreaded Hillary Clinton presidency. You’re responsible for the anger that allowed Trump to bubble to the top of your noxious partisan brew, and now you’re stuck with him, poised as he is to dismantle your own party.
There was an interesting NPR interview last week with former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, a Republican, in which he commented that he no longer recognizes the Republican Party, and that rather than one unified party, it has splintered into factions with conflicting values and goals. In other words, the party that Republicans know and love no longer exists.
The bigger threat, however, is that if Trump wins, our democracy may cease to exist. In addition to plans to sue all the women who came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct, Trump has declared his intentions to sue journalists that write stories about him that “aren’t nice” — factual, in other words (goodbye, First Amendment) and to throw Hillary in jail without a trial (goodbye, Sixth Amendment).
But I doubt that an assault on the Constitution matters much to Trumpanzees, gorged on Crooked Hillary red meat and ready to swarm to the polls. Which is why it’s all the more important for the rest of us to do the same.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com