We lived in Australia for all of the 1990s, and so were not in America during the Clinton years. Today, as I am in despair and inconsolable, I am again reminded of that fact, as we seemed to have missed the reasons for the vicious hatred of Hillary. We thought we were paying attention from afar, but apparently we missed something. I have absolutely no comprehension of why this woman has been rejected by so many in such a hateful way. That 35 million people could allow themselves to vote for the most incompetent, vulgar demagogue instead of allowing a woman, who, despite all her human flaws, has been a public servant for 40 years is heartbreaking and incomprehensible.
But by the 1990s, we were already feeling that something was wrong with America. It was part of the reason we were happy to be in Australia–where we were also on September 11, 2001. Max had just returned to the States to start college when he called us at 2 a.m. (our time) to tell us to turn the TV on, and we witnessed the second plane flying into the World Trade Center. In the morning when the full extent of the situation dawned on us, I turned to George and said “America does not have the moral capacity to deal with this in a humane and grown up way.” And so it was, and here we are, 15 years later, having elected a man who is an embarrassment and a hatemonger of a near criminal sort.
For all of this, I blame the media, who gave so much attention to every horrendous comment Trump uttered, because it was sensational for ratings. What is impossible for me to comprehend is the enormous number of people who were duped by his con, and who are now emboldened to continue their hateful, racist, misogynistic activities feeling that their attitudes have been vindicated. That these people will get NOTHING from Donald Trump seems to be irrelevant.
I really feel now the way intellectuals in Germany must have felt in 1933: in shock, and unable to believe that the world that they had spent their lives nurturing was destroyed by small-minded, disgruntled people caught up in nationalistic fervor. Everything that I have lived my life for–education, art, music, nature, inclusiveness, multiculturalism–has been swept away. And for what? Racism, xenophobia, anti-intellectualism, anti-Semitism–you name it. And just because old white men (and, incomprehensibly, women!) couldn’t bear the fact that a black man had been a GOOD president, and this American world was not the one they wanted. What world they DO want is what I cannot understand.
We know better than to jump immediately when in such distress. We have three months to figure out what to do, but I’m pretty sure it means we have to leave this country, and are starting to make plans to that end. I mourn for my children and grandchildren. The best we can hope for is four years of hideousness, then some return to sanity. And here’s the reason for some hope: the map of the country by the votes of the 18-25 year group:
So we have to stick together, try to be brave, and strong, and recognize that a new world must happen. American liberal democracy has been shattered; let’s work to replace it with something even better. I just don’t know how.