I finally found the stomach to read Donald Trump’s victory speech. It was a mistake—both the speech and my reading it.
It was a blathering discourse filled with meaningless platitudes—a perfectly logical conclusion to a campaign that comprised empty generalities and vacant musings, that appealed to the worst in all of us as individuals, then asked us to join with the worst in everybody else. And here we are.
I took it well yesterday, almost philosophically. Now I realize I was only numb—that the anger had been anesthetized by lack of rest and some degree of denial. Today I’m well rested—four hours of occasional sleep will allow that—and I’ve had the time to turn that speech over in my head. It’s a mess—the speech, not my head, though one could make a case for either.
Trump says he will rebuild the infrastructure—a bone for the Democrats, I suppose—but he has no plan. The last infrastructure America rebuilt was in Iraq, handled by Halliburton, blessed by Dick Cheney. There was no plan then except to line the pockets of the companies who worked on it. Expect more of the same with similar results.
In foreign policy, he says, “We will have great relationships. We expect to have great, great relationships.” Saying “great” three times is not foreign policy—something he would know had he ever been Secretary of State or spent a single second in government service, or even read a history book—done anything, in fact, other than maximize his own wealth…which he’s also failed at.
Then he’s going to fix our inner cities, but his vision of them dates to the 1970’s when he refused to allow Black families to live in his rental properties. How did half the American voters allow that damning fact to go unchallenged? I don’t mean the racists—I mean the others who should have known better. How could they vote for him?
And this man, devoid of intellectual curiosity and world vision, now possesses the power (and the will) to declare our greatest international crisis, climate change, a hoax. Island nations are disappearing and sunny-day flooding in Miami has become commonplace. And it’s still a hoax? This, above all, illustrates a lack of awareness so profound—a global awareness so shallow—as to disqualify anyone from any political office, let alone the presidency. And yet here we are.
I thought all along that this lack of intellectual curiosity would eventually do him in, but instead the same failure did us in. When it came time to make that choice last Tuesday, we out-stupided Donald Trump. And I say “we” not because I voted for him, but because I was part of the climate that allowed him to proliferate, that gave him space to occupy, that treated him like a serious political candidate and a reasonable human being instead of the shameless buffoon he is.
Some have theorized that much of the blame for this disaster falls upon the baby-boomers who, coddled and spoiled in their 1950s Leave-It-to-Beaver childhood, became in their old age Trump’s most ardent supporters. They want that childhood decade returned to them, those years when minorities and women and foreigners knew their place and stayed out of the way. Of course those children grew up and went to college and got married and bought a color TV and a second car—not realizing that the money needed to pay for it all would require two incomes and presage the end of that era. I was born a year too early to be a true baby-boomer, but I’m close enough and embarrassed enough to apologize for the rest of us. I’m sorry that we chose a sociopath to govern our great country at a time when our generation is getting ready to disappear. I’m sorry that getting a senior discount wasn’t good enough, that we left a mess for our children and grandchildren to clean up. That’s what baby-boomers do.
Except…Hillary Clinton was a baby-boomer also, one who devoted her life to public service and the well-being of others. Maybe she was the exception we couldn’t recognize, so just to be safe we voted for the worst of us. And here we are.