Last Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, there was an election. A seeming impossibility when our now President-elect first announced his candidacy last year, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton. What at first seemed to be an absurd entry into the Republican line-up of presidential wannabees, the former “boss” of a reality television program, Mr.Trump’s tossing of his metaphorical hat into the metaphorical ring of a very literal election-to-be was initially met with guffaws, snickers, the rolling-of-eyes and immediate late-night TV comic fodder. But that was soooo long ago…
By the time the Republican debates were underway, and with each passing debate, it was obvious that if Trump was a joke–maybe indeed he’s only joking around–he wasn’t going away. His debate opponents all went away. Now, no one who was laughing before was any longer laughing. And rather astoundingly he became the candidate! For President! Of the United States! This in spite of looking and sounding as un-presidential as anyone who ever became one of the two major party choices for the Oval Office: he denigrated women, Mexicans, Muslims, mocked a disabled person at one of his rallies, and even impugned some of our military, while tossing off assertions of his “making America great again” without any policy specifics as support. While he was obsessively covered by the mainstream media, he was virtually never held to account or challenged about his increasingly disturbing opinions and accusations. Then came the election, and almost 60,000,000 voters gave him the thumbs up. Though he lost the popular vote by over a million votes, the electoral college provision of the election gave him the only meaningful numbers he needed. Trump 290. Ms.Clinton 228.
Reality TV? For many, a waking nightmare. That is, for the 61,000,000 who voted against Trump. A joyous occasion, however, for those who apparently found nothing about his language and lack of comportment, lack of tolerance for minorities or even a hint of magnanimity. But it did happen. The blame? A poorly run Clinton campaign. An irresponsible media, and the lack of sense on the part of at least 10,000,000 additional possible voters who backed Barack Obama in 2008 but who apparently passed on the ballot booth this time around, thus allowing a handful of “battleground” states to tip the electoral tide to Mr.Trump’s side.
Moving on a few days later, to November 11, 2016, we observed Veterans Day, honoring all who have served in our armed forces, long-since dead or now on active duty. Your humble blogger host served during the Vietnam conflict. Fortunately, I was not among the 59,000-plus who died in that war. Vietnam, in fact, is a war that the U.S. technically lost when, after about ten years of fighting, we bailed out entirely, leaving the North Vietnam Communist government to take over the non-Communist South. As a veteran who served during that time, I have always wondered how one country can lose a war to another country, but not suffer any consequences, as in to the victor go the spoils. Did a single aspect of the American way of life change?
If going to war means anything, it should mean there’s a great deal on the line. Hmmm. When was the last time the U.S.miltary fought that type of “win, or else…” war? My answer is: World War Two. If the Allied forces lost to the Axis forces, there would have been dire consequences, given Adolph Hitler’s and Emperor Hirohito’s clear desires to dominate the world stage, and do so with savage intent. WWII was fought by what has come to be known as the United States’ “Greatest Generation”. My Boomer generation? Well, we have had our moments (the 60s and protesting the Vietnam war and demanding civil rights for all, etc). The last couple of generations have had the first Gulf War in 1990 (a very quick victory…for Kuwait?), and the seemingly never-ending Iraq and Afghanistan invasions resulting from the 9-11-2001 terror attacks in New York City. The U.S. may have lost some military prestige since our defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, but our way of life (other than the apparent invasions of our privacy in the name of anti-terror security) is essentially still in keeping with the land of the brave and home of the free. Mostly, that is, but for this creepy era of private citizen surveillance, though we have not quite reached a Orwellian state of Big Brother. We’re still some distance from that dystopian novel’s concerns.
So, hats off to all veterans, but most especially for those who helped literally save our country from tyrannical enemies attempting to conquer us.
Next up is 11-24-2016. Thanksgiving Day. I’m still thankful I live in this country, made safe by that Greatest Generation, although now I’m more concerned with what disturbing changes may be in store with a xenophobic, racist, misogynistic, Islam-a-phobic, flim-flam man being giving the keys to the White House. He’s still about 67 days from being sworn in, and large protests have already been taking place, but overall I’m trying to think of how to “give thanks” this thanksgiving as someone who has wanted to see my fellow citizens learn how to THINK and not condone recent history’s documentation of their being out-of-touch, and rather lazy when it comes to preserving what the Greatest Generation fought to save. There may not be many WWII veterans still moving around at this point, but I’d like to think that those who are, to one degree or another, feel dismayed at what we the people have allowed this country to devolve into in the last 71 years, culminating with what occurred on November 8th, when what happened would appear to gratify only the hateful, the fear-mongering, the misogynists, xenophobes and the racists.
Hard to give thanks to that.