No, I didn’t vote for Donald Trump though I must say I would have sent his campaign an anonymous $50 bill addressed in gold Sharpie if he was running against Mike Pence. Like Trump supporters, I know how unnerving it is to fear those scary people across the border. Although I currently live on the border with "those people" Trump is terrified of, it was living on a different border where I actually felt frightened by the people on the other side. I’m talking about living on the scary border with Indiana where I developed a phobia of all its people who didn’t remind me of Kurt Vonnegut. I’m not going to say they’re all rapists, but I will say that Vonnegut must not have felt especially safe among them. As during the term of the 43rd president, I most sincerely wish the Secret Service good fortune; please keep the president safe. Wacky as Trump is, I’m far more troubled by Plan B.
A photo of me near Bedford, Indiana during a ride across that state. My original 1998 caption said, "I wouldn’t draw attention to this if it weren’t for the sickening holier-than-thou Christian fundamentalism of this area." I have yet to see anything like this in Mexico by the way. And yes, I’m eating sandwich.
I did not vote for Hillary either. No, I don’t have the visceral hatred for Hillary Clinton that much (perhaps most) of the US seems to have. She’s a politician and they do shady things as a part of the job. That’s just the political environment that all politicians are encumbered by. I’d love to see that Hillary hate be turned toward the current state of campaign finance which might actually do some good. This email server issue is something I understand slightly more than normal people (people pay me to run an email server) and to me the whole issue was a ridiculous witch hunt. Overall I think Clinton is a pretty decent person. She might be a bit too good at befriending the rich and powerful in achieving her objectives but, to me, at least those objectives seem ostensibly noble.
What I really don’t like about Hillary, I doubly despise about anyone calling themselves a Republican, especially this election (and 2004). Homicide comes in two flavors, manslaughter and murder. Or less technically, careless and malicious. I think Hillary would have been correctly attacked in the debates for what in hindsight proved to be her incompetent (careless) accession to participate in frivolous wars of misadventure. In a sane world, that would have been career ending and a good legitimate cause for extreme opprobrium. However! Not coming from someone who feels no humiliation being a registered Republican! I have still never figured out what the motives were for the invasion of Iraq but I’m pretty sure that the Republicans who fooled the world into doing it were not merely being incompetently careless. For a Republican to harangue someone for agreeing to a Republican scheme to participate in a flagrantly stupid and criminal war is like Augusto Pinochet complaining about a lack of due process which amazingly also happened in real life. That kind of hypocrisy is like my personal division by zero error.
For most voters and the real majority who stayed home, it was a choice between two parties that they hated. As further evidence of how extremely weird I am, for me it was a difficult choice between two parties that I really genuinely respected and was enthusiastically positive about! I am being totally serious! Indeed, 1.7% of voting Californians chose the Green Party candidate and 0.4% chose the Peace and Freedom Party candidate. It doesn’t matter who the actual personalities running were (though they were both women) because a vote for a third party candidate is more of an endorsement of a specific policy platform than a personality contest. And unlike the indistinguishable Repulicrats, at least the Green Party and P&F Party are not shy about what exactly they stand for. All of the problems I have with their platforms are either probably for the best (like prioritizing unmanned space missions), or at least naive in a well-meaning uplifting way ("end homelessness").
While many people were horrified by the choices their fellow Americans made, I was rather pleased by my fellow Californians at least. For every 15 Trump votes, Californians sent a vote to the Greens or the P&F Party. Not bad at all folks! And hey, even most voting Americans in general can be proud to not have voted for Trump. Alas for naught thanks to the anachronistic election system but, hey, democracy subversion is a common malady in the world. Don’t worry, you’ll recover, America.
That reminds me that I wanted to say thanks to Hillary for something important. Remember that time when people who did not vote for one of the war crimesy parties were criticized as election spoilers? Remember how Greens were told to stop being so concerned about ecology, human rights, and peace because to achieve those things we had to elect people who clearly didn’t believe strongly in them? Remember that? Ya, I do too. But now it’s looking like Hillary spoiled the better-than-people-thought chances of Bernie Sanders. That’s ok. I still don’t think it’s right to begrudge people for voting how they want to vote. If you genuinely liked Hillary and were happy about the chicanery that pushed her past Sanders so you could vote for her, that’s fine. But I hope we can now safely admit that a few Green votes from time to time isn’t treason. Speaking of Greens, here’s fighter of the good fight himself, Ralph Nader, enumerating the ironic consolation prizes in a Trump win (impressively, days before it happened).
Nader also highlights an interesting observation I had as a student of Argentine history, that Trump is basically a Peronista. What is a Peronista? Well, if Democrats like democracy and Republicans like republics, Peronistas like Jaun Domingo Peron. If there’s one thing we can be sure about Donald Trump (and I do think there is only one thing), it is that his admiration for himself is yuuuge. Given that he is a needy black hole of attention, I am planning on his (apparent) mastery of self-promotion to pretty much ensure that he’ll be in office for 8 years. Maybe more! But you never know. Maybe the US will get tired of having their president be an internet troll. There’s always room for hope.
Also, this election wasn’t just about the president. I’m proud that my neighbors finally started rolling back the legacy of one of California’s most disastrous cultural contributions, and specifically his devastating "War On Drugs". (Which at the time actually entailed repealing mandatory minimum sentencing for possession and funding for treatment!) Ironically, I wouldn’t be surprised if that relatively coherent, liberal, and nice Californian would beat Trump handily if he were alive today. When a Green feels nostalgia for Nixon, well, that’s not ideal.
I will say one thing about this election and, no doubt, presidency: it is comedy gold! Enjoy the show!