Tuesday morning I got up, actually happy that the day had finally come. I could cast my vote for Hillary and Ted Strickland and Marcia Fudge, and while I knew that Ted had no chance against Rob Portman, the other two would come through for me. My wife and I rode the short distance to the polling place on Columbus Road, showed our IDs and got our ballots, marked them and slipped them into the reader / scanner when we were done. We had well and faithfully done our bit for our country and its democracy.
The day passed pretty much as days have for me. As I’m retired, there’s no regular work to be done, so I filled the day with running errands and doing my online thing here on Atheist Nexus and elsewhere. Dinner was excellent: my wife’s patented meat loaf, put in small, individual serving pans, one for each of us, plus a baked potato. I had resolved not to get all caught up in the news reporting madness of election coverage so, after our repast, I adjourned to the family room and cued up Star Wars Episode VII, phone in hand to track what was going on by way of fivethirtyeight.com.
I watched the movie and checked my phone, roughly at half-hour intervals, noting that Hillary’s estimated chances at achieving the White House continued to hover around 70%, plus or minus. The thought occurs to me that perhaps I should have pulled up another movie after the first one, because it wasn’t long after Rey properly spanked Kylo Ren that things started going south in a big way. Moving from family room to office, I monitored 538 while browsing here, there and elsewhere … until the shit hit the fan. Ohio went for Trump, which I had expected, and Clinton’s chances slewed from 70% down to the 60s. Then North Carolina and unbelievably, Pennsylvania! The West Coast broke blue as it virtually always does, but it wasn’t enough. I began watching AronRa’s election hangout, where the impact of these developments were not at all lost. Aron himself was so disturbed that he resorted to a bottle of Captain Morgan to drown his sorrows. I almost felt embarrassed, holding my snifter of Glenlivet Founders Reserve in my hand. This shouldn’t be happening, I thought. Americans are smarter than this. Apparently not, since this morning’s Plain Dealer’s headline reads as plain as day: “Trump Triumphant.”
Well, we really went and did it, didn’t we? We gave our country to a petulant child in a man-suit, a person who may have been P. T. Barnum’s worst nightmare as regards that old saw about “one born every minute and two to take him.” This is a person who insults women, castigates immigrants, denies science and insults our intelligence with a facility which would shame the most accomplished con man. We were given the choice of two candidates, each with an admitted surfeit of baggage and chose the one with a plurality stake in Samsonite.
The fallout is likely to be swift, too. Trump will be inaugurated on January 20th, and Obamacare is likely to be history come the 21st. Citizens United will have no chance of being overthrown, and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau will either have its funding cut to nothing or be voted out of existence because it has the unmitigated nerve to attempt to protect consumers from predatory corporate practices. Worst of all, Trump will replace the late Antonin Scalia with a clone … whereupon decisions from Obergefell v. Hodges to Roe v. Wade may become vulnerable to the Republican version of “legislating from the bench.” And we’re not even talking about the first 100 days in office.
I have to ask: did we get too complacent? Did eight years of a thoughtful, incisive, well-spoken president lead us to think that we had it all locked down? Did successes with gay marriage, health care and consumer protection make us think we could rest on our laurels? I would like to believe that there’s not a single person reading this piece that didn’t vote (and one would hope, didn’t vote for Trump). Are there that many people who were angry or disaffected or thought that change is necessary, while failing to recognize that while all progress is change, not all change is progress?
In any case, we can’t afford complacency now. We have to hold Republicans’ collective feet to the fire. Their ability to control this Frankenstein’s monster of their own creation is questionable at best, and what he may do to us and this country has to be relentlessly confronted and challenged. They want to turn the clock back and will likely be more than a little successful at it. We have to be in their faces about it every time they reach for the minute hand, diverting or stopping them wherever possible.
Tomorrow isn’t that far away. It’s time to get to work.