January 12, 2017
In a self-imposed fit of reflection just raw hours after the candidate I didn’t want to win the presidency did just that, I wrote a column headlined, “Mourn what could’ve been, but accept President-elect (Donald) Trump’s win.”
It included lines like, “Pray that Trump’s bluster was that, and now that he’s navigated unfamiliar waters, he will transition into a leader for all the people like he said he would.”
Well, with age and experience comes the wisdom to admit when you were wrong, so here goes nothing: My plea for optimism on November 9 was naively misguided, and I owe y’all an apology for that.
It was pie-in-the-sky to start with, I knew, but thinking ideological sledgehammers can be fended off with wait-and-see politeness was pretty damn foolish, even in a fantastical sense.
Time and again – over the course of November, December and January – the president-elect and his team, fueled by condescending aggression, have made it clear they have absolutely zero intention of uniting anybody.
In fact, they seem content to do the polar opposite whenever an opportunity to do so arises to their benefit. When your supporters are rage-stoked against imaginary bogeymen and bogeywomen, they’ll follow you anywhere.
Those among us who can't see they’re only in this for themselves need to wake the hell up. This especially goes for vulnerable types who may not realize Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act are one in the same, and those who buy into the “fake news” label for any legitimate story with which they disagree.
They’ve regurgitated words to the extent of “we won so we have a mandate and there’s nothing you can do to stop us from doing what we want to do” – ethics, morals and basic human decency be damned. That’s trickled down to their rabid following of roughly three million fewer people than voted for his opponent.
It’s the type of line that’d get you smacked in the face on the playground as a kid. And in adulthood, it’s the sort of mentality that earns no better than a Bruce Springsteen tribute act to fete you at your inauguration.
They’ve rewarded friends with positions for which they’re nowhere near qualified, including:
• The rich donor with little to no experience in academic leadership to head the Department of Education.
• The Putin pal and oil-company exec with no political resume to helm the State Department.
• A chill former brain surgeon to logically step in atop the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
They’ve pretended blatant lies are so factual that people would be foolish and anti-American to question them. People who want to believe in the next president lap it up as if they’re intellectual wing bowl contestants.
Making the media the enemy is nothing more than a powergrab for control of messaging. If people distrust facts, they’re more apt to buy into anything he or his people say.
And when he asks “Are we living in Nazi Germany?” because an intelligence leak – y’know, the sort of thing which damaged his opponent’s campaign – went against him, it doesn’t show his “sense of humor."
It’s projection, pretending others are doing to him what he and his folks are trying to do to the country – albeit from a propaganda standpoint.
It’s not a “press conference” when you cede the stage so a lawyer can babble about something or other near stacks of papers which either proved the president has taken steps to avoid conflicts of interest between politics and business, or were merely blank. It’s stagecraft for an audience he’s trying to pit against fact-reliant citizens, and it shouldn’t be accepted on face value.
He seems to know that. It’s why he hid behind a “fake news” sneer while avoiding questions from a reporter whose outlet he didn’t like, all because it reported on another outlet’s unconfirmed report about a rather sticky situation in Russia.
No, it doesn’t hurt my feelings to be scapegoated by his ilk. It does stands as proof that there was never going to be a push toward unity at all.
Hopes for societal reconciliation have gradually eroded since the election. The sides are even more entrenched than before.
As Trump stokes distrust in others amid his following, it only serves to make him seem less worthy of trust himself. As things stand, many people – myself included – have zero trust in his ability to do the right thing by people outside his immediate circle.
Today isn’t the first time I’ve had these thoughts, but I wanted to hold off sharing them until after Wednesday night’s Run the Jewels show at the Electric Factory.
If Trump tapped into a movement because of a right-place, right-time glitch, that rap duo is hitting its stride at the perfect time, as well.
In some ways, their songs are driven by anger at people trying to get over on others which is a perfect environment into which to drop nine days before Trump’s inauguration.
When the show was coming to a close just before midnight, Killer Mike (a staunch Bernie Sanders supporter) and El-P couldn’t leave the stage without imparting a message upon the overly-diverse crowd.
It focused on the fact that the unity in that room, despite cultural differences, represented what was good about an America that, outside those walls, was splintering more and more by the day.
“This is what the f*** this country, we are, supposed to be,” was the money quote in the NSFW video below.
He was right.
People coming together to celebrate a common purpose is what the f*** this country is supposed to be.
I felt a lot more comfortable within those walls than when I walked back outside, hopped in an Uber and drove back toward the reality of America Vers. 2017.
As the sides get more entrenched in their isolation – by choice or political manipulation – it’s becoming more difficult to see us ever getting there. What America as a whole needs most right now feels like the impossible dream.