i still remember going to sleep the night george w. bush was reelected and waking up the next morning in disbelief. no, couldn’t have happened. he’s a buffoon. every comedian i watched, every musician or rapper i listened to, every tv show i tuned into critiqued his lacking loquaciousness or his intellectual ambivalence in some blatant or subtle way. there was no possible way a majority of americans could entrust him with four more years in office. i wrote a friend an email that night confessing as much.
it’s with that same feeling of shock, surprise and dread that i went to sleep last night, with news that a con man–and narcissist, misogynist, racist, and punchline–donald trump will, barring some miracle, become president-elect of the most powerful country on the planet. i don’t get it. just like i didn’t get it 12 years ago. the hosts of every podcast i listen to were so confident, smug even, about a hillary win. no one on my twitter or facebook feeds held up a strong argument for the man, for his policies. the soundbites i did see of trumps or one of his sycophants–chris christie, rudy giuliani, newt gingrich–disgusted me. but he hung around, he had a base of support. i sought out theories for how trump had come so far. there were new yorker features
, wnyc radio series
that went searching for the trump supporter and made compelling arguments–about a disaffected white working class’s alienation from a professional elite (clintons et al) that mocked them and how this group was courted by a cynical republican party coalition of evangelical christians and business interests that will no doubt exploit it; how talk-radio’s lunatic conspiracy fringe (received by droves of americans who no longer trust mainstream media outlets) became the blueprint for trump’s ‘tell it like it is’ rants and his rise in popularity among those who are fed up with the establishment.
still, i never thought this possible. but i should have and, in hindsight, i think how i feel tonight has something to do with the comfortable bubble i live in on twitter, on facebook, in my social circle. a day didn’t go by in the last 18 months where i didn’t share some astonishment at work, at ball, at home, at the pub over some trump insult, or retweet a gaffe or anti-trump meme, or like a comment from a friend lampooning the orangecicle or the combover. i never took trump seriously, but then when he won the primary, i had to take him seriously, but i still didn’t really take him seriously. i don’t know how you can take him seriously, but seriously, he’s the president of the usa.
the mea culpas are already coming from some of the major us news networks, as they wonder aloud whether they should have given him so much airtime, broadcast his every word, gone along with his con the whole time. on the otherside, the alt-right stars like alex jones are claiming victory and their part in this upset. (it will be fascinating to see how quickly they turn on trump.)
if you look at america, it’s become a nation of two bubbles–with two separate versions of history and two separate visions for the future, chugging along on two tracks that only ever seem to meet up every four years (or two, i suppose, with the midterm elections.) i don’t know what the future holds for that country, so obviously fractured. i don’t know what this means for canada, which owes a lot of its security to the usa and hasn’t, in my lifetime, ever dealt with an aggressive southern neighbour. (what happens when president trump comes calling for our water when drought hammers california next summer?) what i do know is, i never saw this coming because i live in an echo chamber of like-minded opinions. i imagine i’m not alone–in fact, the collective sense of surprise that many on my twitter and facebook, and in my social circle feel, tells me that they were reading, retweeting and liking the same shit. that we can go along like that, for so long, and feel so shocked when something like this happens–it’s almost as scary as the results tonight.
i went to sleep in shock and woke up, still in disbelief. i will probably check twitter and facebook–and turn on the tv–a little less often for the next while.