“Should English be the official language of the United States?,” Ms. Merrill posited in my high school history class.
I reflexively thought: yes, this is ‘our’ country, it is an English-speaking country and everyone better learn. As we wound through the debate, Ms. Merrill discussed the difference between societal norm and legal requirement. Someone caught in the legal system in the US can access translation in their own language, for instance, rather than be forced to unintelligible judicial proceedings.
This exchange stuck with me because Ms. Merrill introduced that the US Constitution and its 33 amendments are positive in outlook. The vision confers and protects rights of the citizenry. Collectively the Constitution is a beautiful aspiration and guarantor for a nation. It is not a negative catalog of rights taken away.
Since that day I have felt there is no place in the Constitution for a negative ideal. Nor, so, the presidency.
Sidebar: for those who are about to say, ‘this is a travel blog, stick to your knitting,’ I say this is my blog and I do editorialize from time to time. There are many apolitical blogs you can choose instead of mine. Those who take the time to read my work, I thank you. Those who do not, I bear no grudge. You can see my Republicans Buy Gift Cards, Too to debate further.
A Reprehensible Human.
Donald Trump is a reprehensible human. Many who voted for him openly acknowledge the same. The reasons for a Trump vote collectively amount to a giant middle finger extended far and wide, echoes of the Brexit referendum and the Philippines’ election of a president on a platform of promised (and delivered) extrajudicial killings.
I considered each candidate at length. Any that I wanted to support were not on the ballot. By mid-summer I wished both would drop out for the betterment of the county.
Hillary Clinton never articulated why she should be president. Her campaign seemed to based on inevitability. Why not run if you can get elected? I gazed at 4 or 8 years of Clinton redux with no enthusiasm.
With the ‘deplorables,’ moment, giving many Americans a branding they relished, I thought Mrs. Clinton likely lost the election. When I heard of champagne toasts a day before the election, I saw complacency and entitlement from the Clinton family’s rise to plutocracy. Still, I voted for her as a rejection of the alternative. I held out hope she would find redemption in a new political path.
I could not support Trump because every moment of his campaign was disreputable. If I had a son or daughter I would want them to see the president as a role model. This is the first president (elect) in my life that that is inconceivable.
A Brilliant Marketer.
Mr. Trump is a brilliant marketer and persuader with no conscience at the destruction he inflicts to achieve his goals. This may be some use if he pillories the gutless Republican office holders up and down the political scaffolding that objected to him in every way except that would require courage or make a difference. As they cravenly crawl to feed at his trough in search of appointments and favors, I hope he treats them as he is reputed to those who cross him, just as I hope the citizens of this country are treated the opposite.
Indeed, as I tried to make a case to myself to cast a vote for Mr. Trump, the best I could muster was a negative one. That in the past 8 years one of our historic political parties, the party of abolition and Lincoln, the party of Eisenhower not dropping nuclear bombs on Korea, the party of Reagan facing down the USSR, has given up all presence of civic duty and governance.
That was it.
8 years of taxpayer money poured into blanket opposition for a president. How many opportunities lost for the country? How many aggrieved Americans would be better off today if the Republican Congress had a positive vision for America?
Instead: stop Obama.
A Case for a Deplorable.
The case for Mr. Trump, then, was that a Clinton victory would mean that the same people who spent 8 years working the Obama birth certificate file would dust off their Whitewater files. They would not just sit on the sideline and pout. They would strenuously undermine an elected president as illegitimate, sparing no effort to destroy her without a thought for the country’s pressing needs.
As I thought when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed way, by October key Republican figures were predictably sounding notes that 8 justices is ‘enough’ for the time being. A Trump victory and Republican Congress would force the issue of governance and responsibility for a country that needs leadership. The excuses and conspiracies would be gone.
That’s a weak case to cast a vote for US President. It is the best I could muster for Mr. Trump. Still, I am more optimistic than many who did not vote for Trump and many who did.
Those who opposed Trump see dark days ahead. Those who supported Trump see dark days behind and ahead.
This country, for all the real problems we must solve, is so much more fantastically rich and able to solve problems than much of the world that it is impossible for most Americans to imagine. If my world travels have shown me anything, it is that America is a magnificent achievement for all its many flaws, the original sins of its birth, and the crises we face.
A 4 or 8-Year Surprise.
A President Trump may surprise. He is no Republican. He may confound both parties. His burning desire for popularity that has driven him to this office may drive a rebirth. This very moment he may be hatching a plan to get a Nobel Peace Prize faster than Obama. After all, he wants to win, and winning for him is showers of praise from adoring audiences.
What concerns me about America is that the middle finger vote says that nothing matters. The system is so stacked against everyday people that it doesn’t matter who is elected. I don’t see this as purely disillusion. I see a society where we have ceased to seriously consider consequences. We do not make hard choices. Things work just enough, for just enough people, that the whole place is crumbling.
When I lived in China, a country of huge population raising itself from poverty in record time, every policy rippled through the country. Even a seemingly small initiative such as a municipal cleanup campaign last week exchanging discarded butts for tissues caused chaos. There is no democrazy in China but there is seriousness about what it takes keep advancing a society.
A 5-Finger Salute.
In America, we are sheltered from immediate trade-offs by our relative riches and generally well-functioning society and government. Without consequences felt, why not vote for a clown? Why not shut down the government? Why not put off repairing roads? Why not tear up treaties with allies?
I hope the election of Mr. Trump is a clarion call to Americans of every walk of life to become citizens again. To embrace civic duty. To seek betterment of the country. To resuscitate the positive vision of our Founding Fathers. To extend the full five fingers and shake a fellow citizen’s hand.