Post Election Thoughts

I have the luxury of being a jumble of thoughts today. My gay friends, female friends, Muslim friends, and immigrant friends are a jangle of nerves. I can’t imagine waking up in this country full of fear, but that’s the place in which many find themselves. This feels like a massive step backward for our country, but as a science fiction author full of optimism about the future, I’m going to stick to my naive and positive ways.

First, however, my dire thoughts, so I can end on all my positive notes:

  1. The Supreme Court. The ultimate check and balance in our triumvirate is going to go conservative. I worry about reproductive rights, gay marriage, gun control, and so many more issues where progress has been made (or where we hoped it might be made). My naive optimism tells me that despite this, what we call conservative today would be considered liberal in the past, and that trend will only continue. And the Supreme Court tends to rule according to public will (see gay marriage). So as long as the populace improves, the courts will as well. Only 18% of Americans voted for Trump, and many of those because of distaste for Clinton (who also got 18% of the vote). MOST of Americans support gay marriage. MOST of Americans care about the environment. MOST of Americans want reproductive choice. The court will continue to reflect this.
  2. Free trade. Trade protectionism has been likened to shooting a hole in your own boat hoping to get your rival’s boat to sink faster. I worry about rolling back NAFTA and the death of TPP. One of the reasons net immigration from Mexico has been flat or negative has been the rallying of their economy (a wall will only make it harder for some illegal immigrants to get home!). Cheaper than building a wall is to help job growth south of the border. Guess what? They buy more of our stuff as they develop a middle class. Having a 3rd world country next door is worse than losing some manufacturing jobs.
  3. Foreign perception. Hey UK, you owe us one for making you look good.
  4. Uncivil discourse. Our top spot belongs to someone who has made fun of the disabled, the overweight, the fairer sex, African Americans, and immigrants. This can only embolden others to spread a message of hate. And the other side of the political spectrum will likely return in kind. We need an end to this cycle, and it has to start somewhere. My naive optimistic take is that a Clinton win would have put the onus on conservatives to accept the outcome and dial back the negative rhetoric. It’s not an easy thing to do. I welcome the challenge.

Now for some unwarranted and unbridled positivity:

  1. Progress is going to happen no matter what. It always has, even with some baby steps backward. Take the environment: Solar panel costs are plummeting. Solar is now cheaper to install than any other power source (even without subsidies). The economic advantage means that even Republican governors are green-lighting solar plants purely for financial considerations. Going solar, and adopting electric vehicles, are the surest long term way out of our global warming ways. This will happen even if pipelines are opened and we start to subsidize coal just to win a handful of jobs back. Those job hires will no longer be profitable. Legislation won’t save them or their polluting industry. (I dream of solar panels and robots being manufactured in the rustbelt)
  2. Social progress is going to continue as well, over the long term. The only evidence I have of this is that the trend has been moving in one overall direction for a few thousand years. Future generations tend to be more compassionate and liberal than previous generations. So even the young Trump supporters who rail against Islam don’t justify slavery or say that women shouldn’t have the right to vote. I know that previous sentence sounds ridiculous, but that’s the point. Yesterday’s social movements are today’s satire.
  3. A brief spate of trade tariffs might have benefits in the long term. No trade deals are permanent, nor are free trade deals off the table forever. Everything is negotiable and renegotiable. An end to free trade will help a small segment of the population (mostly wealthy owners of manufacturing concerns here in the States and a handful of low-wage jobs), but the cost is going to be higher prices of imported goods for all citizens. Maybe we need a reminder that this is how trade protectionism works: Every consumer is harmed to protect the interests of a small group of people, who are also consumers, and so are also getting hurt. It could lead to saner policies in the future. Here’s hoping.
  4. There’s no chance in hell of this happening, because the people it targets are the people who would be displaced, but I really like Trump’s call for term limits. Trump won the highest office while spending half as much as his opponent, defying all odds and professional punditry, with an anti-establishment cause that has some planks that might as well be Bernie’s. Maybe this will spur others to run against incumbents in the House and Senate with a primary goal of establishing term limits. I don’t like the analogy of Congress needing a grenade lobbed into their midst, but a flash-bang might not be a bad idea.
  5. Yeah, the rest of the world is laughing at us for putting a Cheeto in the oval office. But Putin might not want to laugh too long. When Trump is sworn in, future Russian hacks are going to be against HIS (Donald Trump’s) country. Right now, those hacks are against the establishment. There are going to be some 3am Tweets that arrive closer to lunchtime in Moscow. The overseas operators who enjoy screwing with us, and are cheering a Trump presidency, are going to have some regrets.
  6. Civil discourse. I was heartened by speeches from Obama, Clinton, and Trump after the election. This is how democracy works: You fight for your candidate, and when you lose, you hope your opponent does well while the other side calls for unity. Country comes before party. This is rarely how it works, of course. Politicians sabotage their country all the time to lay blame and maintain power. But the way to fight this is to lead by example, not counter every ill with more sickness.On Twitter, I joked that my leaving the country for 4 years couldn’t have come at a better time, but that’s actually an unfortunate coincidence. In truth, this is the worst time to be going. Leaving means ceding the country to those who think the past was better than the future. This election would have gone differently were it not for the drain of liberalism out of our small towns and rural America to the universities and vibrant cities where progress is made, but where blue votes cluster uselessly. Just as the rest of the world agonizes over the “brain drain” as their finest students come to our great universities to study (and often stay), we should worry about a drain of liberalism as our most worldly citizens cross borders both state and federal. Maybe it’s time to move back to Arkansas to launch that startup. Or re-friend those we’ve blocked to renew some discourse. Or to just approach those who think hate will make this country great again and offer them a hug in response.

My heart breaks for those who are now fearful of their rights and their safety. My heart also breaks for those who have lost their jobs to technological progress and globalization and who think that immigrants are to blame. We are going through a period of global upheaval, which will all be for the better, but will be painful for many in the short term. Social progress and economic progress are going to come in fits and starts. Things are changing so rapidly that we find ourselves bewildered, lost, and unable to adapt in time. Some can’t adapt to the idea that men and women have fluid genders and differing sexual preferences, and the backlash is awful. Some can’t transition careers as quickly as markets are overthrowing entire industries, and those people deserve our sympathy as well. White men can’t deal with an end to a millennia of power, and this is the last-gasp death-spasm as demographics change forever.

You can’t convince me that 2100 won’t be a better year to be on Earth than 2016. Even as we build levies to keep back the rising sea, we’ll build them together. Even as computers, AIs, and machines take more of our jobs, we’ll transition together. More of our world will thaw, and maybe that won’t be such a bad thing. Perhaps in the future, we’ll be looking at moving to Canada not out of protest, but because of the weather.

Whatever happens, we’re in this together, the entire world, every human being. As I come out of the state of shock from the election results, I find myself wishing Donald Trump well. Despite all the vitriol and all the ways that I disagree with him. Despite the fear his policies place in the hearts of those I love. I hope the weight of the office, and our collective well-wishes, and the awesome strength of our people, make the next four years ones of progress. I care more about this country than I do the letter beside someone’s name, or who wins power in the next election, or who gets credit for our steady march onwards. What I care about is that onwards means upwards.

Now to write some more science fiction. These dystopias don’t create themselves, you know.

 

 

COMMENTS (28)

It may be time to abolish the electoral college as this will be the second time in 20 years that the winner of the popular vote does not actually become President.

Some are calling for this to happen through laws enacted in state legislatures instead of a constitutional amendment, and they are more than half way to the goal of making it happen: http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/

And some are calling for it to happen this time through the constituional right that electors to the college have to vote their conscience: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/employ-electoral-college-avoid-donald-trump-presidency

The latter would precipitate a constitutional and political crisis of epic proportions, but then it would be a fitting end to this most bizarre election.

I admire your optimism, and it’s nice to hear some positivity. I find it difficult to imagine that the man who was just elected will suddenly grow wise and lead us toward a better future. But I remain ever hopeful.

Like you, I am heartened to see that the arc is long, but it bends toward justice.

Brilliant and insightful as always, Hugh. I spent yesterday reading and jogging and lost and finding myself in comforting others that we’d be okay. By the end if the day, I’d settled into a calmer heart space and some optimism. My consolation is that had Hilary won, it would have been far too easy to be complacent, thinking she’d handle everything. Now, we have to pick up the slack for Trump’s shortcomings. I have to be kindness and love and encouragement to the people (and strangers) who are afraid. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Here’s to optimism and a better tomorrow.

Well said. The election did not go the way I wanted it to go but I woke up Wednesday morning realizing that our forefathers had the foresight to build in checks and balances so that no one branch of government you dominate and that will protect us from the extremes of any policy decisions in the Whitehouse. The world will not end. I agree with your Flash Bang analogy, our government and our press could use a swift kick in the pants.

Reagan was elected; many people laughed and were skeptical because he was “an actor”. We elected Obama; many people laughed and were skeptical because he was “inexperienced” and some didn’t like the fact that he was black. In both instances people threatened to riot, voiced disappointment, tried to petition to get the result changed, etc. Both of these men had faults, flaws, etc., but in the end they were given a chance to lead this country. IMO one did a better job than the other but we all know what they say about opinions. Both of these men proved the skeptics wrong on many levels; both men surprised a lot of people.

There is no reason why this country shouldn’t give Trump the same chance.

I think self preservation with temper the maximum negative drift Trump will be able to influence.

The mid-terms are now less than two years away. The abilility to get reelected will be front and center in the members of congress’ minds who will now have to decide if they will vote for retrograde steps regarding legislation.

I have great faith in the republican ability to prioritize self above all else. Even Cheeto Jesus will want to put his wall plans (if he even cares about any of this stuff for real) toward term two.

Good luck America. May the odds be ever in your favor.

“…as a science fiction author full of optimism about the future…”

I don’t remember that.

“These dystopias don’t create themselves, you know.”

Ah, there he is!

Thanks Hugh – we are a country born of optimism, steeped in idealism, and resolute in our spirit. This is one more opportunity to move forward and overcome the hurdles in our path. I believe this election has spurred a simmering portion of our populace to awaken from their apathy and engage. We might not agree with what they seem to represent, but what an opportunity to now have constructive dialogue and interaction. I only hope the fervent protester of the anti-Trump movement will reflect long enough to understand that is is actually an opportunity to engage – burning buildings and cars while calling for harm to be brought to Trump supporters – or worse actively disengaging from the process is a true step backward not progress. Embrace the anger, the resentment, the fear but then understand that only as a truly united people do we create a brighter future for ourselves and those who follow. Thanks for the excellent read.

These violent delights, have violent ends.

Keep this in mind, the media created this false prophet Donald Trump (delights) and the world is horrified.

You can try to spin this as positive, but everyone else in the world thinks you have lost your collective mind.

This is a very dangerous time for your country (ends).

It’s not a “collective mind.” It’s 18% of us, mostly whites, who are slowly being displaced. And without our electoral college, I don’t think Republicans could win another presidency without changing their platforms. The history of that electoral college is tied to slave-owning states fearful of being marginalized, so we’re still trying to correct social ills from two centuries ago. It’ll happen. A few hundred years is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

I appreciate the positive attitude, but if you look back at Bush / Gore and compare the election results and factor in the damage done to your country and the rest of the world by the small percentage difference of that election.

I am not so sure you have a couple of hundred years grace on this one……

The media also created Obama, a mere community organizer who found being puppeteer had its benefits.

Trump will do just fine. I have believed in him from day one. He never would have entered the race if he felt he could not win. Yes, the balance of power will not be taken away by the progressives, no matter how many hissy fits they throw. Your time will come again. The pendulum always sways one way and then the other.

I agree with everything you said. However, I’m a little more pessimistic about the future. This is mostly due to the fact that neoliberalism economy is still striving, with consequential increase of social inequality, decrease in social benefists of the poor and lack of accountability of the finacial class. Glenn Greenwald explains this better than I could:
https://theintercept.com/2016/11/09/democrats-trump-and-the-ongoing-dangerous-refusal-to-learn-the-lesson-of-brexit/
I honestly find it hard to see a way out of this, and I believe we will see a third world war within our lifetimes. I hope I’m wrong.

Cheers

I love you, but you are a white, (sort of) Christian, heterosexual male with a good bank account and the freedom to roam where you will. Despite the depth of your empathy, I am not sure you fully grok the fear many are feeling. Donald Trump is the very sort of populist demagogue our founding fathers feared — they described him in great detail — and the very thing they designed the Electoral College and our government of checks and balances to prevent. It took 227 years, but we have finally figured out how to game even that system. He is patently unfit for the office.

I’m a very tan atheist with homosexual tendencies; I bank with Wells Fargo (which is not a good bank at all); and my home is limited to 75% of Earth’s surface. But I get your point.

I appreciate your outlook and have spent the past couple of days trying to turn around my normally positive and upbeat personality. Your posts always help me put things in perspective. But as a gay man,we must remain vigilant and still strive to be educators.
If that does not work I’m putting in my application for the position of chef, chief bottle washer, and ship’s mate for your upcoming voyage⛵️️

Thanks for the positive thoughts. You and Michael Moore are two examples of astute insight of current America.

A thoughtful and calming post, Hugh. Appreciate the serenity it brings today. You might also enjoy this:
http://waitbutwhy.com/2016/11/its-going-to-be-okay.html

I spent all of Tuesday night awake and scared. Constantly checking and rechecking only to be continually disappointed. I woke up Wednesday morning and had to console my 14 year old who was afraid her friends (and favorite band) were going to be deported. I was angry, miserable and in tears. By the afternoon, after spending a ridiculous amount of time scanning the internet, followed by lunch with my husband where NO talk of politics was allowed for a few hours, I started to feel better.
I believe that it is up to us as a people to set the example for the America was envision. You’re right in saying that MOST Americans do believe in progress and tolerance. We have to reaffirm that on every level we can. We need to be the love, the acceptance, the hope and the change. We cannot rely on the President to do that job for us. We need to be more active with our local governments and in our community.
People are afraid that Trump will get rid of the EPA, the Dept of Ed and so on. I believe that it is up to us, even in the face of opposition, to do what is right. We need to lead the fight against climate change and for our environment in any big way we can (solar and electric vehicles) and the million small ways (cleaning up a beach, recycling etc.) We need to be the ones to teach our children love and compassion and guidance for a better future.
I agree that the electoral college is an outdated system. If we were to be rid of it, more people would vote. There would be no more Red State vs Blue States. A person in Rhode Island having 1 vote should count as much as a persons 1 vote in California. And maybe take some pressure off those of us in Florida ;) (It really isnt all our fault lol)
I also agree that we need to take the time to have open dialogue with those who have views that are different from our own. You posted in a previous blog about taking time to learn where people are coming from and why they have the hate that they have. Understanding one an other is a means to progress. It doesnt always work out to a great conversation but sometimes it might.
I spoke to a friend about all of this last night and he was “impressed” by my positivity and hope. My respond was “What other choice to we have?”

This actually made me breathe a little easier.

I’m a heterosexual white male and I’m extremely nervous about what comes next (my wife and son are not white). I’m hoping Donald Trump will turn out to be a great leader since we appear to be stuck with him, but all the sniffing and madness during the debates makes me doubtful. It’s possible he’ll yet get hung up with legal issues, but that leaves us with Pence, and as a Hoosier, that idea scares me more than Trump. As for optimism, I am glad the DNC got their comeuppance for rigging the primary away from the people’s choice. Too bad it comes at the expense of all of us. I’m hoping this terrible election will be an instigator for a serious reworking and overhaul of our political machinations. It’s time to rethink the electoral college and a whole lot of other things. We’re no longer on horseback and writing with feathered quills, so the idea of individual representatives when we could all of us be voting more frequently online on issues instead of people is silly and archaic. I’m tired of a choice between two parties so deeply flawed and compromised by donor money as to be completely removed from the people. I get why Trump supporters wanted an outsider (the ones voting for reasons other than racism and sexism). My hope is that we can finally start having a conversation about what an American government could be in the future. If Paul Revere were warning us of the British today, he wouldn’t have to ride anywhere; he could tweet it.

I really like the idea of voting on issues rather than people and voting online. I agree, things are very archaic. Very nice response.

I have always maintained that mankind will not actually reach for the stars until we have made the Earth an unliveable/uncomfortable place to be Maybe this is a giant step in that direction!

Lovely post, Hugh. And a much needed one. Out of the ugliness of the election campaign, we have to rally together to promote what we all want: a cleaner environment, peace in the world, justice for all, and equality for all in every way. Like you, I am wishing Trump well and hope he has a good look at the country he’s planning on leading and understands what the majority believe and want and works with that in mind.

Great post. Thank you for this.

I share all your sentiments about Trump and I agree that protectionism, nowadays, is probably just going to ruin you. However I want to point out that the TPP agreement itself is a dangerous thing for various reasons and it should not be allowed to pass, see https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp . However I do think that Trumps plan for the TPP (if he has a real one) is probably just based on whatever will give him the most applause.

The GOP has two big hurdles at this point: 1) Trump can’t possibly live up to all the promises he made; 2) trying repeal every piece of legislation ever passed by Democrats likely won’t sit well with most people, despite they think.

One more thing: It would be funny as hell if the thing that really trips them up is if they try to enforce federal laws against marijuana in states that have legalized it.

I thought the race would be a tie, the way some of the newscasters predicted it to be 269 to 269 and maybe Clinton would win in the end. But then I saw some Michael Moore comments and I saw a blue collar worker, a woman, talk about the pain of the lack of jobs. Her intensity and need for a job was strong, powerful. I saw some of this in earlier months in the election, but the day before the election, it hit me that Trump would win. Because I think the drought of jobs is a pain that runs deep as a motivating factor for a person to vote. What surprised me was how surprised democrats were that Trump won.