This Mother Should Know, Colltalers
Donald Trump has already won. You may not like it put this way, but at this point, whatever happens tomorrow won’t change the fact that a considerably more frightening America will emerge from this election. What we do about that new reality will make us better or destroy us.
That being said, what happens tomorrow is still crucial. Both sides will remain influential after January, but only one will have a mandate given by the majority to veer the country into a certain direction. The vote will determine whether that mandate is inclusive or exclusionary.
For what it’s worth, we support Hillary Clinton. The reason we’re all so critical of her is because, for almost 30 years, she’s been under public scrutiny, and her every bad decision or character flaw have been broadcast to the world. She’s still managed to get better at every turn, though.
No other American politician in recent memory has been so vilified and kept at it, mostly on the side of good causes, and often admitting to being wrong. Even in this particularly ugly campaign, she never claimed to be the voice of those she represents. She just spoke for them.
These are two important qualities any leader should be about. And yet, they hold so little currency in a culture that privileges notoriety over merit, and being famous over being accomplished. To millions of women, Hillary’s steely ambition is an inspiration for them to succeed.
Yes, even those who’ll vote for her must exercise independence of thought, express criticism about whatever misguided positions she takes, or has taken in the past, and fulfill the obligations of any responsible constituency. Latin America and the Middle East come easily to mind.
For instance, we must press on about her role in the 2009 Honduras coup, which ousted democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya, by the U.S.-backed military. Recent murders of green
activists and a general state of lawlessness only underscore what that cost the country.
Wikileaks-released private emails show that some of her actions related to Honduras, and also to Israel, are in contradiction to her public positions on them. Then again, South America hasn’t been a priority of U.S. presidents for a long while, and none would have gotten elected, without declaring unrestricted support to Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, however grandstand-ish and uncritical that support may be.
Also, it’s arguable that any of the assorted U.S. ‘policies’ dealing with the Middle East has been effective or less than disastrous. That includes pretty much everything that Hillary has stated about Syria, for example, from the Fly Zone proposal down to arming so-called rebels.
There are other relevant issues that President Hillary will have to be questioned about, and some that will require her to downright change her mind about. But that’s exactly it: she will be open to be questioned about that and anything, because that’s her nature. And we need that kind of humbleness. Unlike probably anything Republicans are ready to throw at her, this is the kind of issue worth thoroughly discussing.
Truth is, one has to go back perhaps to Jimmy Carter to find the last ‘principled’ American president, and we’re not sure whether the fact that he’s excelled as a world-class humanitarian since the end of his term isn’t clouding our view. But if it is so, so be it. He’s above reproach.
Everybody else got elected on sheer politics, and that’s not saying it’s a bad thing. However, if any of them had been charged with the ‘crimes’ Hillary has been, for the entire length of her political career, none of them would’ve been elected, support to Israel or ‘values,’ or not.
There are clear indications that much of what’s leveled about her is because of her gender. Just imagine a black woman running for the U.S. presidency. Or going further back, a draft-dodger, ex-drug and alcohol abuser. Or a promiscuous (not to say, womanizer) candidate. None of these facts about our last presidents, going back to the 1990s, would allow a woman to even have a shot at running for office.
One word about President Obama. The overwhelming politics of race in this country prevented anyone from seeing what we now know: that he, and his wife, are truly principled people, who since early on had an understanding of what public service means, in all levels. The same for Bernie Sanders, whose 40 years of YouTube videos only show what he still is: someone whose life and career are dictated by principle.
U.S. presidents are not known for being ideologues, or voted to the White House based on moral convictions. That’s a useful reminder to those who despise Hillary’s public persona: Americans long ago have learned to loath ideologies, specially about the leaders they choose.
As for Trump, where to start? And who should be blamed for his straight-through run to the most powerful job in the world? These would be challenging questions to answer only for an editor, in charge of picking just a few examples, out of hundreds, due to space constrains.
Obviously none of the considerations described above – moral, political, historical, or of gender -, are relevant when it comes to him. Unlike his propaganda machine, he’s the one being favored by the ‘liberal’ (read, establishment) media, and not for lack of substance but style.
That starts to answer the second question. For the state of mass communications in the U.S., circa 2016, is so appalling that someone who’s aiming at controlling the lives of billions is judged by the way he looks on camera, and is handy with one-word zingers and catchy slurs.
Yes, one could certainly point fingers at his enablers, the usurpers of the Republican Party, who turned it into a promoter of the economic interests of the 1% (remember them?), while manipulating an aging working class into believing that they’re acting on their behalf.
For years, the GOP has used race politics, and xenophobia, and crass moralism, as tools for inflaming their base to vote for their restrictive agenda. Until they simply gave up. Then, along came Trump, with the same purpose but a slightly more straightforward rhetoric: the ‘different,’ the ‘other,’ ‘them,’ are the problem, and they’re all out to get ‘us.’ I, and I alone, can give you back what you never had. It worked.
And how. He stepped into a political vacuum, and it’s really unfortunate that Holocaust, and Fascism, survivors are no longer a meaningful demographics. They could remind everyone how they heard it all before. And what it allowed those who followed it, to do to dissenters.
The thing about charismatic dictators is that they impersonate a benevolent father figure to hordes of dispossessed outcasts. Trump’s blatant cult of personality is similar, and has arguably blinded many in his camp. American politics is not too familiar with such self-aggrandizing terms, but they’re common at its fringes; those there now feel welcome in the mainstream. No wonder the KKK endorsed him.
To his supporters, Trump’s only flaw is perhaps not articulating enough their idealized, and dangerously unhinged, views. To everyone else, is the fact that’s he’s a prolific liar, an unrepentant sexual predator, an unforgivable misogynist, a dishonest business owner, and a tax cheater.
That’s why Trump already won. Because between 40 million to 50 million Americans will vote for him tomorrow. That means, they endorse not just those but a laundry list of other character flaws, none of which he has show any inclination to walk back or apologized for.
They will be saying that it’s OK to abuse women, specially the vulnerable and the young, it’s funny to mock the disable, that Muslims should be denied entry in the U.S., Mexicans immigrants are rapists, and that John McCain and Capt. Humayun Khan’s sacrifices were meaningless.
While some busy themselves with Hillary emails, the rest of us feel a deep, throat-clogging sentiment of shame and guilt for letting down billions around the world. We allowed an objectionable individual to come this far and stand a chance to lead earth’s most powerful nation.
Once again, we teared apart the little trust left on us, squandering a bit more the solidarity and support we got on Sept. 11, even that everyone knew we were no innocent lambs. Again we found a way to put our navel-based politics above the interest of those we so often crush and invade and promise to do better the next time around. Those millions of Trump supporters are our latest ‘screw you’ to the world.
That’s why the least that we can do tomorrow is to vote him out of contention. For there will be others like him, for sure. Better Trumps, smarter, younger, more handsome. Those behind him have learned the way and will follow it through. For now though, he must not win.
We owe to the future to support candidates who’ll fight climate change, are committed to equal pay, and won’t stand for race injustice. Little can be done to ‘improve’ a con man, but electing someone who actually listens will make us better. It’s about time for a Madam President. WC