At 12:24 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2016, I was awakened by the unexpected ding of an unexpected text. Even before opening my eyes, I knew that whatever words were written, something had gone seriously wrong. The group text confirmed it:
“Gentlemen: Whatever happens in the coming years, know that I love you guys and it has been my great honor to your friend. Godspeed. Now: Into the abyss!”
That was how I learned that Donald J. Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton in the most surprising upset in modern American politics since Marco Rubio was defeated by a bottle of water.
Up until this time, I had blasted Trump both in print and at home, hoping that by some bewitching combination of words I would cast a spell that would keep the Cheeto-dust Balrog from crossing the bridge from his Manhattan high-rise to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
As such, I knew that whatever peace I had found in the previous few months would be undone if I allowed myself to be consumed by an endless cycle of righteous indignation and sadness. I had to come to terms with this odd new world.
The first step was writing my friends back, and so at 12:55 I wrote back: “Don’t worry. Nate Silver will find a way to say he was right.”
By 3:30, I had moved on without a care in the world. Stranger things had happened, and stranger things would occur. And yet, I would still wake up, fix a cup of coffee, send my girls off to work, and head to the office to email, edit, and eat quietly at my desk, grateful to have lived the life that I had lived thus far and humbled by the good fortune to which I had been blessed.
My friends were not faring as well. They were either engaged in an arms race of histrionic outrage with their social media compadres or posting suicide notes for the American dream without its expressed permission.
I felt for them, of course, knowing that the next four years would be rough, as they were to be consumed by the twin vultures of anger and ennui each morning only to be feasted upon the following day and the day following that.
But how we got there — that’s a question they would never really ask, at least not in any way that didn’t speak to a grand conspiracy involving a cabal of comrades, conservative con men, computer hackers, and neo-Confederates.
And they wouldn’t ask, who really voted for Trump. Or more importantly why didn’t they vote for Hillary. These were, after all, people like my parents, in-laws, friends, and co-workers. Good people. Kind people. Generous people.
There had to be good reasons for why they voted for Trump. After all, I voted for Hillary despite her past statements about super-predators, her predilection for politically advantageous warmongering, her lawyer-y attempts to deflect criticism, her poll-powered disingenuousness, her need to have a private server to circumvent FOIA laws, and the belief her presidency was preordained, even if she had to rig the primary. In the end, none of that truly bothered me. Unlike her opponent, Hillary was qualified.
And yet we find ourselves here today. And there remains a very vocal contingent who refuses to acknowledge Clinton was a flawed candidate who had the baggage of two decades as the less charismatic side of a political power couple of ride-or-die convenience.
Even worse, these same people are turning Hillary into a saint.
Last week, we were gifted the hashtag, IAmHillary, as if Clinton was Spartacus and we were all former slaves who had been freed by her and forever owed our allegiance. Here’s a sample:
“I must be Hillary b/c I have dedicated my life to helping children & even when I don’t get respect I keep on going.”
“I must be HRC, because no matter how many times something tries to keep me down, I keep getting back up to fight for America.”
“I must be Hillary Clinton b/c what the haters did to our country changed my life forever, but I still believe in love & kindness.”
“I must be Hillary Clinton because I believe love wins, America is already great, and we must press on despite heartbreak.”
“I must be Hillary because I admit when I’m wrong, apologize, and always think I can do better.”
“#IAmHillary b/c I care about people, animals, environment, the Constitution & rule of law. I believe in science, kindness & mankind.”
“#IAmHillary because I have empathy, compassion, resilience, intelligence, a sense of humor, and a deep love for the woods!”
All of this is nonsense of course.
We don’t need to turn Hillary into a saint to oppose Trump. We don’t need to heap praise upon her to rally the base in 2020. Honestly, we don’t need to mention Hillary Clinton ever again.
The abyss has spoken. Her story is over. Stay cool. Support City Paper. City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.
Stay cool. Support City Paper.
City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.