I’ve been seeing the lists other people are making of things to do after this election. Taking nothing away from them, here’s MY list of things to do. This is the first 10.
(Fair warning: I’m going to use the F-word, and more than once, in this post. I think this is a moment for it.)
1. Accept what’s happened
Hillary Clinton isn’t the President. It’s unfair, it’s criminal, it’s ugly, but it’s also this:
>> OVER <<<
It’s done. Finito. Deal with it.
Even if Donald Trump is impeached, even if someone dropped a massive spy satellite on Trump and Pence and the entire Republican Congress, Hillary isn’t going to end up in the White House. Neither is Bernie, or Jill. There is no hope of it, no way it can happen. The election is done and the results are before us. Feel the shock and horror, go ahead with your grieving, but eventually we’re all going to have to give it up as a subject worth talking about.
Hillary lost, Trump won, the electoral college isn’t changing, Warts and all, Trump is the next occupant of the Oval Office, and much as I hate to say it, he’s going to be PRESIDENT Trump. Admit it, put it out of your mind, and let’s get on to the next thing.
2. Take A Good Hard Look at Donald Trump
The guy was born into a millionaire family and is now, supposedly, a thousand times richer. His social class is BILLIONAIRE; he has almost nothing in common with you.
He’s never served in the military, nor will any of his kids. He doesn’t pay taxes. Has he ever done his own laundry, or stopped at the supermarket on the way home to pick up something for dinner? Doubtful. He doesn’t feed his own dog (if he has one), or water his own plants. He doesn’t pay his own household bills. He will never ride a bus or train or taxi, he has a private security force around him at all times. He doesn’t even drive.
Not only does he have nothing in common with you, he probably can’t even imagine your life. He wouldn’t want to. Any intersection with average Americans probably ends with his maids, restaurant waitstaff, the caddy at the golf course. You and all your problems and interests are so far beneath his notice we might as well be living on different planets.
He’s not even an American, really, not in any sense you’d recognize. He’s this other thing – someone who considers the whole planet his playground and piggy bank. In the same way large corporations become extranational, moving production overseas, offshoring their money and holdings, viewing America as just another market and money-mine, Donald Trump is an extranational – probably the first to occupy the White House.
With projects and holdings all over the world, he has no allegiance to the country, to the Constitution, to anything you value as an American. As we’ve seen, he doesn’t even care about the truth, much less what people will think of him from one minute to the next for his lies.
How far will he go? Think of the stories of bank robbers who said “If I’d quit with that first one, they’d never have caught me. But I kept getting away with it. I knew I’d get caught, but I couldn’t stop myself.”
Trump did all this ridiculous shit, working overtime to offend Americans of every stripe, he pushed out to the edge, zoomed past it with the hyperdrive engaged, and HE GOT AWAY WITH IT. He’s still getting away with it. And he’s not going to stop.
Aside from his own continuing contribution to a disastrous presidency, Trump will be, as Robert Reich said, dogged by “questions, investigations, revelations and scandals.” It’s already started. And it’s not like that stuff shouldn’t happen. If the public backs away from those questions and investigations and scandals, democracy itself is over.
He weakens the office of President, he weakens America itself, simply by being where he is. He can’t do the job, and he won’t allow it to be done. He is ALREADY damaging our country.
One more thing: Trump is used to fawning adulation from everyone around him. If he got any negatives, he could barricade himself behind his lawyers and his wealth. But now the negatives are flowing like a river – hell, he’s getting LAUGHED AT! – and he can’t get away. There’s no place to escape to and nobody to shield him. He’s never in his adult life had to deal with anything like this, and it’s already obvious he CAN’T deal with it. He’s acting like a petulant child in full public view, and I suspect that’s going to rapidly get worse.
Sometime in the very near future, I’m expecting Trump to suffer a full psychological break, melting down in a very public way. Eventually, Mike Pence will become president, but in the interim, however many weeks or months it takes, the United States of America will be effectively leaderless. One entire house of U.S. government will be out of the game, at a time when we already know Russia – and perhaps others – are actively working to destabilize American government.
3. Take A Good Hard Look at the GOP
The GOP is an anti-democratic and therefore anti-American organization. Someone described them as “ambitiously criminal.” (In a recent piece, I argued that almost every recent Republican president has been an actual traitor. Trump will take one giant step forward along that path.)
The GOP is almost violently opposed to democracy. Why? First, because they’d lose, but second because it’s more profitable to be that way. And because nothing stops them.
They have to work within the FORM of democracy, but they have no interest in the SUBSTANCE. Listen, gerrymandering so that your voters have an advantage over other voters is not democracy. It has the form of democracy – people still vote – but has none of the substance.
Lying to voters, and then letting them vote, has the form of democracy, but little of the substance. Suppressing the vote of minorities that might not favor you, there’s nothing of democracy about that.
It’s not just not-democracy, it’s anti-democracy.
And what are they doing? Not serving the people. They’re making money. Feathering their own nests. Gaining power. Serving the interests of the corporations and special interests who pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so.
Like Trump, the GOP can’t stop itself. Why should they even try? They keep winning.
They control the American government. They could sell off the national parks, they could imprison people without trial or charges, they could take away your citizenship. They could set up armed checkpoints in every city in America – you know, for “homeland security.”
Hell, if they wanted to, they could put Charles goddam Manson on the Supreme Court.
4. Take A Good Hard Look at Yourself and Your Allies
Yes, this was because of Them, but it was also because of you and yours. Unless you voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton, you pissed away your best chance to stop all this. This election wasn’t stolen, it was gift-wrapped and given away.
Now you can say goodbye to affordable health insurance. Say goodbye to abortion rights. Maybe even say goodbye to workable Social Security and Medicare. But hey, at least you can sleep well knowing that bitch and her emails won’t be in the White House.
Yes, you wanted inspiration. You wanted a rebel. You wanted Bernie, you wanted Jill, you wanted an outsider. You demanded angelic perfection. And you either voted for one of them, or you sat on your fat, stupid ass, staying home in protest. Or hey, maybe you “held your nose and voted for Hillary,” all the while repeating the lies about her to everybody around you. Yeah, you’re a real fucking peach.
There was just “something” off about her. There was all that stuff about Benghazi, and the emails, and the Wall Street speeches, and that business about her charity. And she practically drove Bill to his sexual escapades. There wouldn’t be THAT MUCH being tossed around if some of it wasn’t true, right?
Plus, she’s a woman, and you refused to vote for her because you hated the idea that someone should get into the White House just because of her gender. Hell yes, you’d vote for a woman in a second – maybe if it had been Elizabeth Warren – but not THIS one!
You intelligent, well-informed American, you. Sorry, but yes, this is your fault. You and yours helped it happen. You saw this piece-of-shit Ford Pinto on the lot, you listened to the sales pitch, and even though your friends warned you, you drove away with it anyway, grinning and shooting selfies. Sure, there was that well-maintained Mercedes at the same price and a dozen times better in every metric, but it had – OMG!! – mud on the tires.
Now you can just shut up and drive the goddam Ford with the exploding gas tank. Asshole.
5. Stop Falling for the Magic
Here’s something you may not know: There is magic in the world.
It’s not the Dr. Strange kind. It’s this other thing, a sort of stage magic that nobody ever tells you is stage magic, and so you buy into it, over and over and over.
If a stage magician waves his right hand in the air, or his pretty assistant smiles and wriggles, you can bet there’s something a little tricky going on elsewhere, something that will pop out suddenly and amaze you.
So why do you think Trump is tweeting all the time, all that outrageous shit? It’s not JUST because he’s loony as a goose. It’s because he’s the magician’s right hand. “Hey, look at that! Trump’s holding a press conference and he sounds like an absolute idiot! Ha-ha!” We zoom in on that, gleefully focused, and then, Alakazam! “Oh, wow, Congress just repealed the pre-existing conditions part of the Affordable Care Act!”
That little creep up front doesn’t even have to be in on the trick. The magicians in Congress see him prancing out into the spotlight, they say “Now’s our chance!” and do what they want while nobody’s looking.
Seriously, EVERY TIME YOU SEE TRUMP IN THE NEWS, doing or saying something outrageous or shameful or horrifying, turn away from him and look at Congress.
Because that’s where the REAL story is – back there behind the curtain. Right at that moment there’s something happening they don’t want you to know about. React to THAT, rather than to the orange boob’s latest antics.
On a related note: You think “those other people” are subject to lies and manipulation, but that you’re a clear-headed reality-based thinker and none of this stuff would work on you. But YOU are subject to lies and manipulation, too. You’ve been trained for it, kiddo. It started with Santa and the Easter Bunny, continued in Sunday School, then in every cartoon you ever saw, and finally in every TV show. One of the lies you learned from all that is that all stories have happy endings. That freedom and justice will prevail, that heroes will always win, and that snickering, evil villains will always get what’s coming to them. You probably secretly believe in karma – that bad people will automatically get what’s coming to them, and all you have to do is sit back and watch. Yeah, no.
6. Never Forget, Never Forgive
You know some of the OTHER people who helped this happen. The media, stuck to Hillary’s emails like a Catholic priest to an altar boy, all the while giving Donald millions of dollars in fawning, generous, free exposure. The liars on the right. Trump himself. That freak in the FBI. The paranoid fools in the outlands who acted like Obama was Hitler and Hillary was the Angel of Death.
But let’s move on, right? We have all this other stuff to do and think about. So we should just forget all that and move forward.
No. If you put it out of your mind, you’re giving them A RETROACTIVE FREE TICKET to do this stuff to you and our country, and you’re swinging the gate wide for all future shenanigans.
Hold them accountable. Hold the media accountable. Hold Glenn Beck accountable. Hold Bill O’Reilly accountable. Hold that prick George Will accountable. Never, never, never credit or believe anything they say.
Here are the bliss-ninnies: “Oh, Glenn Beck was a real nutball a year or so back, but he’s sounding so much more reasonable now. I really think he’s changed.”
No, Glenn Beck is like the guy next door who molested your son a year or so back. Are you going to forget that? No, you’re going to say “Shut up, you crazy bastard. I haven’t forgotten what you did.”
You have to see these right wing rabble-rousers for the poison they are, and you have to see them that way permanently, so that you never trust them again.
They molested our country. They raped democracy. In defense of yourself, in defense of your countrymen, never forget, never forgive.
Also never let them act like this is all just everyday politics, that this is all normal. Don’t let them normalize him.
Yes, we should have respect for the Office of President, but when the office is already disrespected by the presence of that man, there’s no reason to hold back. Insist they call lies by their proper title: Lies. Donald Trump is LYING, all the time, and that has to be made clear by mainstream voices.
7. Never Instantly Trust What You Read or Hear
There’s a plague of fake news these days — “real” fake news, not what Trump says is fake news — and we all know it.
Keep a list of fake news sites by your computer.
It doesn’t matter if a story gleefully feeds into your anger or disdain for Trump and company. In fact, those are the ones you should instantly suspect of manipulation.
And listen, if the headline contains ONE capitalized word (“GOP Congress STANDS UP to Donald Trump!”), especially if it’s STUNNED, or SHOCKED, that is a bogus goddam story. It either contains outright lies, or it’s reporting some facts but adding a phony slant to them. Real news sites don’t have all-caps in their headlines.
If you see a political “meme” on your Facebook feed, don’t trust it. ESPECIALLY if it contains no links or attempt at verification of whatever idea it’s attempting to convey. Get back to the person who posted it – tell them to never again post anything without some sort of corroboratory details.
The people who create those things can put in anything they want, and if they’re conveying something factual, you know they were looking at the news story that contained that fact two minutes ago. They could have put in the link to that story, so you could read it for yourself, but THEY CHOSE NOT TO.
Or, you know, they’re just lying. Either way, their goal is not to inform you, but to manipulate you. Because they know you or someone like you is a gullible chump, a wide-mouthed fish ready to swallow any shit they float down the river at you.
Look at the picture attached to those memes and ask yourself why they chose THAT picture. There are a thousand pictures of Hillary Clinton out there with Resting Bitch Face. But there are ten thousand other pics with her smiling, laughing, looking confident and presidential.
(The one exception to this rule: If it’s Mitch McConnell, and he looks like a constipated turtle, that’s just what Mitch McConnell looks like.)
8. Never Lie or Exaggerate, Don’t Share Fake Memes
Having said that, avoid being one of the people OTHER people have to fact-check.
Don’t spread lies. Don’t let others do it.
One of the reasons I deserted the liberal fold and started calling myself a Rational Centrist is because some very large fraction of the stuff projected at us on the left – and shared by us – is manipulative and false.
If I see a video that says “Happy cows shed tears of joy after being rescued from slaughterhouse,” but I happen to know that cows don’t shed tears, my reaction is not “Oh look, happy cows!” I’m more like “Why, you sonofabitch. If you’re lying to me about this, you’re probably lying about the rest of it.” If any part of something you see or read is a lie, there’s no reason to stay for the rest. Genesis taints the whole Bible.
These things are worst when they come from your own allies. If I’m already inclined to agree with you, but you lie to me in order to tweak my emotions, you’re no different from any other emotional manipulator. You have assaulted me, in the same way the right assaults me with its lies.
Besides, if we think we have to lie, we’re admitting our case can’t stand on its own. There’s enough true stuff about Trump that nobody ever needs to lie about him.
Never lie or exaggerate. Check your facts, check your sources. Back up everything you say with links and evidence. Don’t repeat innuendo, smears and falsehoods.
9. Stop Saying 1, 2, and 3
Stop saying “Bernie would have beaten Trump!”
No, he wouldn’t. A wild-haired, elderly, Jewish SOCIALIST? They would have eaten him alive. They would have dug up stuff on him, they would have made up stuff about him, the lies would have come so thick and fast it would have made our heads spin. Hell, they made up a story about Hillary being involved in an international child-molesting ring in the basement of a pizza parlor and millions of people found it believable enough to repeat and share. You think there wouldn’t have been a dozen of those stories about Bernie? Plus: “Socialist.” That one word would have poisoned his chances with half of America.
Some large part of the attack on Hillary was that “worst possible interpretation” of everything she ever did. (She dropped her fork in a restaurant? That was so she could bend down and look up another woman’s dress, the lesbian bitch!) Bernie would have been just as susceptible. And the people who believed the worst about Hillary — you know, all those people who voted for Trump, and probably you too? — would have believed the worst about Bernie. As to that bit about the DNC conniving to favor Hillary? —They were working to fulfill their one mission: To choose a candidate with a chance of winning.
Stop saying “They’re stupid.”
Yes, it feels good to believe Donald Trump and the leaders of the GOP are complete idiots. But it’s SAFER to believe they know exactly what they’re doing, that most of what they do is part of a plan. Maybe it only looks stupid to you because you have no idea of a deeper strategy – to lie to people DELIBERATELY in order to control and profit from them. You see the surface of the ocean, while all the important stuff happens down deep. And maybe you’re not used to thinking that some people can be consciously and deliberately and happily evil.
As to their followers, they’re pretty much like you and I. The difference is, they’ve been lied to, cheated of the truth, thousands of times, and for decades. They’re no dumber than you or I. Think of them as zoo animals – healthy and smart when in the wild, but now trapped in a cage of manipulative fantasy. But just as with zoo animals, you can feel empathy for them without forgetting they’re dangerous as hell.
Stop saying “Maybe it won’t be that bad.”
It’s going to be – ALREADY IS – worse than you can imagine. Refer to items 2 and 3 above. They can’t stop themselves. With both houses of Congress and the White House in their hands, they’re like teenage boys who’ve just gotten the keys to Dad’s Ferrari. They’ve turned the key, they’ve slammed down the accelerator, and they’re about to drive this mother to pieces.
Stop saying “I’m moving to Canada!”
First, no you’re not. Second, you might as well be saying “I’m a traitor, and weak besides.” The only people interested in what you’re saying are other weak traitors. No honest citizen, no military veteran, will respect you. People who care about their country don’t flee when the Nazis cross the border. They stay and RESIST.
Some of the brainless sheep might agree with you, but Americans who actually think about stuff are going to say “Leave, you hippie freak! Don’t let the border crossing hit you in the ass on the way out.”
Besides all that, unless you’re a Nobel Prize winner or something, what makes you think Canada wants your lame ass? Hell, you deserted YOUR OWN country.
Stop saying “We’re in a war for America.”
No, we’re not in a war. The word “war” presupposes both sides are subject to casualties.
Where will the casualties be in this little adventure? All on one side. If they cut your grandmother’s Social Security and Medicare, she gets to die, cold and sick and broke. If they cancel the insurance of your daughter with the recurring cancer because it’s a pre-existing condition, she gets to die, young and sick and scared.
Meanwhile, all those nice Republican congressmen? They get to live on, safe and free and RICH, grinning like happy monkeys the whole time.
This is not a war. It’s more like Hitler gassing Jews.
It’s only a war if you make it one. It’s only a war if you stop sitting at home muttering “If only, if only, if only,” and instead say “I am so tired of this shit!” And then stand up and DO something. It’s only a war if you go to war.
10. Stop Doing Nothing
If you’re reading here, you’re probably an atheist. Which means you chuckle when you read about nice Christians responding to a catastrophe by praying. Because you know the prayer 1) does nothing, and 2) dissipates honest caring.
Prayer is not just doing nothing, all too often it’s a type of doing nothing that replaces doing something. If there’s a fire down the street, and you fall to your knees and close your eyes, you’re doing NOTHING to save the people in that house. But because you think you’re doing something, you’ll meet any insistence that you come out and help with “But I am! I’m praying for God to save those people!”
For a lot of us, political activism can be the same way. We do a lot of little nothings (look up displacement) that reduce the pressure – we bitch about this stuff to friends, go on at great length about everything that bothers us, possibly with beer on hand to sooth our overworked throats.
But the real thing is to go out and take some sort of action.
Participate in a rally, sign petitions, write letters, start a blog, go to public meetings and speak up, volunteer as a poll watcher or pollworker, get organized, join a campaign to support someone for mayor, or city councilman, or governor, or Congress. Hell, maybe YOU should run.
Don’t stop with writing one letter to the newspaper. That can be just another way of bitching to friends. Consider a letter the bare minimum first step to action, not an action itself.
Continue to Part 2.
Ten more to come.