As I write this post Hillary Clinton has conceded the presidential election.
One can say we have made it past the election. Bruised and battered and certainly not the way many desired. That absolutely includes myself. But the night will give way to morning sunshine and the coffee will smell intense as it brews on the kitchen counter. It always does. That is the optimist in me.
But that is as far as I can go.
We lost not only the chance to have elected our first woman president, but even more so elect a person of depth and broad qualifications as our next leader. As I scroll the news sites the markets are in chaos and around the world there is deep concern about our continued role on the international stage. In our country there is a real recognition that there was a powerful anger unleashed over the past 18 months that was often provoked and will not fade away anytime soon.
I do not think that just because Donald Trump will be the next president that the rowdy voters are about to return to politeness. That would be folly. The seeds that were planted of deep division and rancor from the Trump campaign will linger. It is not partisan to state what Trump proved over this campaign cycle is that a politician can look right into the camera and tell outright lies. A presidential nominee can hold thousands in a state of ecstasy while offering up blatant hate-speech–and then have those same people still stand solidly behind the candidate. Let us be honest and say this is not the America that the men and women who came home from WWII–my parents generation–would recognize. We have crossed the Rubicon of our own making..
The damage that has been done to our political culture will not disappear just because the bunting is down and the ballots counted. We now have to recognize that being careful with facts and telling the truth going forward will not be as honored as we have desired from our politicians. What we once all stated as a goal for every presidential election–that is having a reasonable debate on the issues–will be further diminished with bombast and anger on social media.
The very political institutions that should be revered and trusted have now become mere tools for a politician to use as a means to further the end goal of winning. There is no shortage of examples such as Trump’s effort to undermine a Hispanic judge who was born in our nation, the continuous appeal to distrust the media and lash out at them, and the attempt to state over and over that any outcome from balloting that does not produce a win for the desired party means the system is rigged.
This morning a wide swath of the country–the many millions who voted for Hillary Clinton–are filled with a sense of shock about the place we now have arrived at with the election of Trump. And there remains a large unruly bloc of voters who demonstrated their anger with almost everything this year. What happens to them and how the establishment Republican Party tries to deal with them, or how Trump will further try to use them, is something no one can predict this morning.
I was hoping with the election of Clinton that a new chapter was soon to start with our national story. But there is no denying that what we have lived through will fester for years to come. What we never could have dreamed, and what no sane person would ever desire, is now a part of our political reality.
All I have to offer is make the coffee as pleasurable as you can and enjoy the small things in life.