Monday, December 19, 2016

The Five Stages: A Democrat's Guide to Grief

It will all soon be over.  No, really.  I mean eventually on a long enough time line we all live and die and spend way more time being dead than we ever spent worrying about money, relationships, the environment or politics, but that is not what I am talking about.  The Electoral College process, the end result of which will be (just as it is now) a man named Donald J. Trump as the President-elect.  Then, on January 20th, he will officially take the oath of office and proceed to loot the country blind as his designated cabal of corporate raiders descend en masse onto Washington to flick on the flashing "Open for Business" sign, lest some lobbyist or corporate scumbag kickback agent not get the memo right away.  We have seen this movie before, sadly.  Rest assured, with the system we have in place, we will again.  Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

But there is still a flicker of hope this week amongst spurned Democrats, a flicker that will be stamped out under the cheaper-than-it-looks polished shoe of Donald Trump.  That flicker of hope is that somehow, someway, someone will rise up and, with the will of the Electoral College's bravery behind them, will silence all critics and banish the Donald back to the television from whence he came.  Surely there has to be a storybook ending to this roller coaster ride we've been on these last eighteen months, right?  The good rise up to slay the bad guy?  Hate to say it folks, but life is not a storybook.  It's ugly, messy.  And it looks to be both ugly and messy for some time to come.  No, the electors will not save us.  I am here to map out the stages of grief Democrat/Hillary supporting folks will experience this week as events unfold as I think they will.

Stage 1: Denial

This one we're already in and have been since November 8th: not MY president!  Love Trumps Hate!  In protest after protest, all across the country, sloganeers have been sloganeering on countless signs, shirts and poster boards, usually hoisted high by someone screaming their contents at the top of their lungs.  Surely this cannot be happening.  Surely he did not win.  But, look at how many popular votes Hillary got over him!  How could he win when he said all those horrible things?  Look, I'm sympathetic.  Really, I am.  I was a Bernie supporter but I never wanted Trump.  But this is the system we're stuck with, sadly.  I urge you to weigh the consequences: we continue on with the system we have, leaving it intact for 2020 when we have a chance for someone to throw Trump out on his ass, or we upend the whole apple cart and make it impossible for anyone to ever win ever again.  Do you honestly think this country could rationally amend the Constitution right now, to make things fairer?  Do you honestly think we would not immediately descend into chaos if the electors did not vote how they were allocated under the system we've had in place since this country's founding?  Quote Hamilton all you like, he would not even come close to comprehending what happened in this election, so I doubt his words are very instructive right now.  Just stop.  Hillary lost, and there are many legitimate, controllable ways she could have won.  Destroying the system to help her, or anyone else, end up being President next January is suicide, pure and simple.

Stage 2: Anger

We'll see this starting today: protests, protests, protests.  We will see the following in the next few days, mark my words: large, loud, angry protests in existing flash points like Seattle, Oakland, Portland and other Democratic enclaves, despondent editorializing aplenty, social media reports of angry, sometimes violent confrontations between Democrats and Trump supporters, and enough half-informed memes to make you want to crawl into a warm cup of cocoa from now until New Year's Day.  It will be noisy, and it will be ugly.  Ignore it as best you can.  The anger right now, the death threats against electors, it is all an incredibly misguided waste of time.  Do not waste or use up your anger now.  You will need it later on, when it serves a practical and actionable purpose.  But many will not heed my advice.

Stage 3: Bargaining

The manifestation of this stage, to me and as it pertains to this election, is the Russian hacking narrative.  Is it possible that things happened, possibly things that need some sort of Congressional investigation to get to the bottom of?  Well, they spent four years in Congress to find that Hillary herself did absolutely nothing to warrant any criminal action, and with her defeat chairman Trey Gowdy quietly closed up shop on December 7th, so why not investigate this?  That seems only logical.  But it ends there.  We may never be able to prove Putin knew anything, that Russia had some sort of collusion with the Trump campaign, or that any of this mattered on Election Day.  It may be years before we have any answers at all.  But no matter what we find, it does not change the history written on November 8th and 9th: Trump won.  He lost the popular vote, but captured the requisite number of electoral votes to ascend to office.  Nothing we find on the subject of the Russians or anything Wikileaks did will change that.  I do recommend we find out everything we can, to prevent it from happening again.  But it changes nothing in the here and now.

Stage 4: Depression

This is obvious.  Trump becoming President is depressing.  Having a staunch EPA foe and climate change denier running the EPA, and surely gutting it from within, is depressing.  A Secretary of State cruising the globe to make it easier to burn every drop of fossil fuel possible between now and 2020, with untold damage done to the climate as a result, is depressing.  A union hating fast food chairman as Labor Secretary is depressing.  A cabinet full of Goldman alums surely put there to rub the place blind and blow another bubble guaranteed to explode and cost the taxpayers even more billions is depressing.  But we have to rise above this, to obstruct, to take action, and to expose corruption wherever possible, and use the impeachment process if possible.  But this can only happen after he takes office.  We cannot let depression make us complacent though.  Trump must be obstructed wherever possible.  Act like a Republican and Just Say No.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Optimally the many forces against Trump will be united in criticizing him, obstructing him and defeating him politically in any way possible before the end of his first 100 days in office.  This requires the Hillary supporters currently pushing this "faithless electors/Russian hacking" narrative now to accept that these were losing strategies, just as encouraging Hillary supporters to not worry about picking up Bernie supporters and ignoring much of the American heartland to campaign in coastal liberal strongholds were losing strategies.  Optimally, we're all in this together in 2017 and beyond but honestly, going forward the defeat of Trump is so important, and its base of potential voters so broad and wide-reaching we may not even need most of them to come to their senses.  But hopefully, most of them will.  We accept what happened, and we accept our duty to do everything we can to change it and make sure it never happens again.  Will it happen?

Time will tell.


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