I’m eating crow and a slice of humble pie with some old drinking buddies — anger, disbelief and fear — feeling like I did after the Supreme Court cancelled the Florida recount, meaning Gore “lost.” A numb hopelessness won’t let go. But it’s only Day 1. Lincoln is whispering in my ear, “we must not be enemies,” and passion must not “break our bonds of affection.” He’s right, and my better angels will reappear.
So I do what I did in 2000. I read Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis, words that gave the colonists and the Continental Army hope when read to them before the Battle of Trenton on Dec. 23, 1776.
“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph … My secret opinion has always been that God Almighty will not give up a people … or leave them to perish … Neither do I suppose that He has given us up to the care of devils … Let them call me rebel, but I should suffer the misery of devils if I were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man.”
I refused to be a sunshine patriot in 2000, and I won’t be one now. Donald Trump is my president, but I will not make a whore of my soul and be happy about it. Now is the time for faith, that despite evidence to contrary, God has not given us up to the care of devils, and the course is to recommit to working for human decency by recognizing that a majority of Trump’s supporters are not members of the Ku Klux Klan. I’ve eaten with Trump voters at barbecues, some are members of my family, and each one I know is a hard-working American disappointed by a system that has dismissed and demeaned them.
I don’t know what to do right now, other than resist demonizing my fellow citizens. As I reflect, I figured Hillary Clinton would win (not because I wanted her to — like so many others, I fell in love with Bernie) because the Republican Party was imploding. Feuds between Ryan and Trump, McCain and Trump, and Pence and Trump, all indicated a party in disarray, which is a party that typically loses. Obama’s approval ratings were strong, which is a good sign for the party possessing the presidency, and Michelle delivered the best speech of the campaign. Trump didn’t represent classic conservative views of small government, held a confusing stance on abortion, and ran a weird campaign. And I wasn’t alone in thinking it was impossible that a 3 a.m. tweeting, Putin-admiring, tax-dodging, pathologically lying racist woman-hater would win.
This illuminates how obvious it is that it’s not the Republican brand in trouble, but the Democratic Party that’s in shambles, and they can’t blame this on Trump or the FBI. The Democratic National Committee actively worked against Sanders and chose a candidate with a history of scandal, whose foundation may have accepted donations from terrorist-sponsoring countries. Republicans now control two-thirds of state houses, a majority of governorships, and hold a historic margin in the House of Representatives. This should sit heavily on Democratic leaders, and hopefully, this will be the last we see of the Clintons, who have repeatedly failed the American people and destroyed faith in the Presidency. Just like 2000, Gore’s loss had more to do with a Clinton impeachment than it did with the hanging chads in Florida. Democrats have no one to blame but themselves, and only time will tell whether or not they realize that.