Fear and Loathing in the United States

trump-snakeI am not usually troubled by writer’s block. My philosophy has always been: just write. Throw out the dreck and keep and edit the good stuff. It’s always worked well for me.

But since November 8, I have largely been unable to write a blog post. I did manage to crank out a piece on safety pins, but that was it. I’ve been so stunned, angry and terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency that I literally could not think what to write. I could always write about something else, except for the fact that I have been unable to think about anything else.

Also, I didn’t just want to list the things that are terrifying about Donald Trump. Every article I read lays his vileness out like a sacred litany, the list only getting longer day by day. I skip these articles now because I know the catechism by heart, and every new day brings a fresh load of excrement to digest.

Trump is like a juggernaut. Nothing seems to stop him. If any other candidate had said or done even one of the horrific things he’s come up with, they’d be political roadkill by now—but no, he’s going to be our president. Even the knowledge that the Russians hacked our electoral system to sway the election in Trump’s favor doesn’t seem to matter. I saw President Obama being interviewed by Trevor Noah last night, and he seemed completely blasé about the whole thing—he said we shouldn’t be surprised. That’s just what Russians do, dontchaknow.

One day I was living in a great country, where immigrants can find refuge, where people have compassion, where we care about discrimination and work against injustice. Not a perfect country, but a country always striving to be better. Overnight, I find myself in a horrific dystopian land where people in white hoods endorse presidential candidates, where Fascist policies are embraced with enthusiasm, where hatred, meanness, bigotry and scorn for science and education are the norm.

We are now waiting with a great deal of angst and dread for the Electoral College to vote in just five days. Other nations that do not enjoy the peculiar institution of an electoral college have a hard time following this. Americans are always bellowing about our proud democracy, but most of them appear not to know that the U.S. is NOT a democracy, it’s a republic. Sure, we let the little folks vote because it makes them feel like they have a say. But the REAL voters are the 538 citizens of the Electoral College. Normally, the EC votes track the actual vote, but not this time. The problem is the notion of winner-take-all. The electors are chosen by their party in each state. The New York Times says, “In every state except two, the party that wins the popular vote gets to send all of its electors to the state capital in December. In the nonconforming Maine and Nebraska, two electoral votes are apportioned to the winner of the popular vote, and the rest of the votes are given to the winner of the popular votes in each of the states’ congressional districts. (Maine has two congressional districts and Nebraska has three.)”

The number of electors depends on the state’s population. If a given state has a majority of votes for Candidate X, Candidate X takes ALL of that state’s EC votes. Electors can legally vote for whomever they please, but traditionally vote along party lines. The EC was designed by the Founding Fathers to prevent a manifestly unfit individual from becoming president, but has never actually overturned an election in the past, which would require an unprecedented large number of EC voters to vote against party lines.

It actually gets more complicated than that, but enough civics for one blog post.

For the first time in my life, some of the electors appear to be questioning the fitness of the president-elect to serve as president. Whether or not enough electors can be swayed by Trump’s scary clown act is the question of the day. I personally emailed all the electors to urge them not to vote for Trump. (I didn’t ask them to vote FOR any specific individual.) I got three responses, all canned, all from Texas. They all said they wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton—not that I asked them to. Basically, my stance at this point is “Anybody but Trump.” Even Mike Pence. Pence is an evil bastard, but he’s not actually insane. (I don’t think.) It’s easier to deal with straightforward evil than it is to work with random, ego-fueled, idea-of-the-minute craziness.

And if the Electoral College fails to do its duty, I will dedicate the rest of my life to getting the Electoral College abolished, as it clearly is not functioning as intended and in fact has become an impediment to democracy. That is, in my spare time when I am not protesting the rape of the environment, the crushing of women’s rights, and discrimination against all non-white, non-Christian, non-male citizens of this formerly great country.