Darling children of 2036, maybe 2056, maybe even my future children, this is a letter from the past. I don’t know if you’ll read it, or have it just beamed directly into your brain, or watch your fellow children of the future fight each other with improvised weapons with it scrawled onto their tattooed, woad covered bodies. It’s the future, after all. Who the heck knows what’s going to go on, right?
2016 was a weird freakin’ Presidential election. John Oliver came up with better names for it than I ever could have, so I won’t try to replicate them, but let it sink into yourself how bizarre things have been for the last year or more. His best label for it, among so many others, was probably “Lice on rats on a horse corpse on fire, 2016.” I cannot think of a more pungent description of the insanity we have undergone and, apparently, are still in the dead middle of.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, either a cannibal witch (this was a serious charge, I’m not kidding) or an uninspiring but dedicated public servant (yeah, even a lot of her supporters aren’t super excited about her) represented the Democratic Party. Donald John Trump, either the man who’d make America great again (whatever that means) or a shrieking embodiment of the id of everything that educated liberals hate about America (more on this later) represented the Republicans. Like I said, it was that kind of year.
She ran her campaign like a short, slightly awkward robot, he ran his like he cut promos on his pal Vince McMahon back in 2005. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the man we all knew as “the Donald” won. He won, and in some ways he did it pretty bigly. Big-league? Whatever, it was huge. Tremendous. Other things Donald Trump might say.
There are a lot of reasons he won. People on the right (or what we used to call the right, I’m not sure what to call it anymore) will tell you it’s because he’s going to make America great again (they’re kinda light on the details). They will then mock you and wonder why you’re asking instead of working in a coal mine. People on the left, or what we call the American left although it is about as related to the real left as a koala is to a grizzly bear, will tell you it’s because every white man, woman and child ever born (except them, of course, and their precious, whole-grain, organic kiddies) is a demon who only doesn’t have a sheet on because it’s in the wash. They will then smugly mock you for being so stupid that you even had to ask.
And this last paragraph… that explains it, okay? It explains everything. There is an intense lack of empathy on both sides. I’ve seen Trump supporters, even more than the man himself, say horrible, unimaginable to most decent people things about black people, gay people, Muslims and others. I’ve seen more liberal Clinton supporters, supposed bastions of tolerance all, groan and bemoan the venality and stupidity that they perceive as endemic to anyone white, Christian or–worst of all–a poor, uneducated denizen of what they call “flyover country.”
Flyover country… it’s an ugly term for an ugly thought, that a huge segment of the nation is not worth even looking out at as you sweep between New York and Los Angeles. It’s as grotesque as the notion that protesters are only able to protest because they do not have jobs (what, then, about Trump rally attendees?) or that Trump won when his voters “got off work” in the evening. It’s as ugly as Sarah Palin’s notion that there is a “real” America, the very definition of flyover country in reverse.
Your Gnus Editor in Chief
And now with my letter to the future done, I address those out there now in Gnusland, the GnUSA… I don’t know what we’re calling it, yet. But here goes.
Clinton supporters… protest. By all means do! It is okay to be upset over something when you have worked hard for it and that thing did not come to pass. Mrs. Clinton, by all accounts, was in a state of meltdown when she lost. Protest, work hard and continue to be kind and good and tolerant of all those you have been tolerant of in the past. Add to them, maybe, those who are old and poor and scared. Extend to them the empathy you have to other marginalized groups and you may find the universe opening before you like a weird, ugly flower.
Most of all do not be discouraged, especially those of you who are very young and were politicized under a smooth, Spider-Man loving, Al Green singing dude named Barry Obama. You’ve just been introduced to the Democratic circular firing squad, the one that I was politicized under in 2004 when it nominated for President a lurching, aristocratic Frankenstein’s monster with Frasier Crane’s vocabulary.
I won’t tell you that you shouldn’t be afraid, or nervous, to those who are in the long list that were unkindly spoken to and about during this hideous campaign, or even threatened. I won’t tell you that it will be okay because I don’t know and I don’t like lying to people. But rest assured in yourselves and in your friends, and your fellow Americans–even those who voted for the Donald! Some of them are great people. Be bold, be daring, be willing to be afraid, if you must, but act to change your world for the better. The definition of courage is to be afraid and to act anyway, so be courageous.
Trump supporters… you won! Be gracious in your victory. Don’t mock those who lost, who worked as hard as any of you for something they believed in. Extend a hand to them in friendship and… who knows? One or two might just take it. And if they don’t? You are on the side of the angels, my good friends and neighbors and family members. But you are not there if you make jokes about “mass suicides” of Clinton supporters. Think about your words, and your actions. You voted for change? Be the change you want to see in the world, and be a good one for God’s sake.
America, when will you be angelic? That’s a quote from my favorite poet, Allen Ginsberg. It goes on, but that question resonates. This nation is glorious and horrible. It’s like a second year theater student’s coffee shop poetic review about her menstrual cycle, in some ways. It’s noisy, unpleasant and often difficult to process. No one should be subjected to it and yet, here we are. The map, at this point, reads “here be dragons.” But you know? If there be dragons here, then let us embrace our inner khaleesi and ride the little boogers. Good luck and remember, in the words of another poet named Red Green, we’re all in this together and I’m pulling for you.