A CITY ON A HILL | After the disaster

Well. Not too many people around here saw THAT ONE coming.

Except for several Clinton-hating women of my acquaintance, who (while identifying themselves as leftists) totally bought into the alt-right lies and exaggerations about Clinton's past.

They, it turned out, were listening to the same narrative many swing state voters were listening to, as false or exaggerated as it was.

In this mostly made-up view of things, it was Clinton who was the crook, the shady operator, the champion of billionaires, the enemy of working people.

The truth (that she was an institutional/corporate centrist, like EVERY Democratic presidential candidate since Carter) didn't matter to this theory's true believers.

What was supposed to have been a clear victory for progressive ideals (or at least for centrist, institutional politics) turned into hopes and prayers for automatic recounts in some of the swing states. And from there into all the Elizabeth Kubler-Ross stages of grief, starting with anger and denial.

A candidate with no experience in government, who deliberately exploited every strain of hatred, fear, and bigotry, got just enough votes in just enough states to squeak through to the highest office of the land.


How did this happen? Pundits are still trying to figure that one out, more than a week later.

I have my own guesses, of course.

I've already mentioned one of them.

One could also assign partial blame/credit to:

  • Social media (particularly its susceptibility to spreading rumors and made-up stories from fake news sites).

  • The "old media" (valuing celebrity personas more than the issues).

  • A rural, white working class that had felt ignored by both political parties' higher ups.

  • Some of the "Bernie or Bust" leftists, who may not have moved en masse to the Green Party but who also didn't work hard enough for Clinton — if at all.

  • The "coalition of hate" involving overt racists, sexists, homophobes, etc. of many economic classes, who'd not had one of their own as a major presidential candidate since George Wallace (the last third-party candidate to win any Electoral College votes) way back in 1968.

But all that's just speculation and punditry. It doesn't tell us what we need to do now.


So … what is that? What do we have to do to correct this?

As Congressperson-elect Pramila Jayapal said at her election night party, "We will have to fight for social justice like never before."

We'll have to keep fighting against the forces of reaction and bigotry.

We'll have to keep fighting for a woman's right to choose, for race and gender justice, for affordable health care, for an economy that works for more of us, for the triumph of love over fear, for the future of the planet we all live on.

We'll have to fight for a Democratic Party and a progressive moment that more effectively speak for more of us.

We'll have to bring our message to every county, every district, every economic caste that's been left behind by an economy of "disruption."

Yes, that includes many of the rural and suburban people that left—of-center people have traditionally dismissed with snobbish "hick bashing." This is no time to wall ourselves off in a fortress of our own imagined superiority.

As the state minimum wage measure (which passed in Washington's "reddest" counties) proved, people in these areas WILL support our ideas, our ideals, when we can prove a direct benefit.


And we'll need to take care of ourselves and our own.

For some of you, this may mean a few days away from both the national news and social media.

It may mean taking deep breaths and thinking about the good things in our lives and in this country.

It may mean doing relaxing things, preferably with friends and loved ones.

It may mean staying away from depressants such as alcohol, at least for a while.

Then, perhaps even now, it will be time to get back into the public sphere, to get together and come out fighting.