I used to have faith in America, as a whole. I too believed in the long arc of justice, of the trend in history toward general betterment, toward a functional liberality–a kind of orthogenesis of history, in a sense (orthogenesis: a theory that evolution follows a particular direction and is not merely sporadic and fortuitous.)
Faith in America fled from me on November 8, 2016. Even considering the usual poor voter turnout, gerrymandering and voter suppression, it should not have been possible for Trump to be elected. I believe that several factors weakened America, to the extent that the electorate now cannot be trusted; one important factor was the death of newspapers and decent TV news, the corrosion of real reportage; another was the acceptance of the dark side of the internet, eg fake news and twitchy superficiality: “I get my news from social media”; essentially, a succumbing to a mental laziness slopping like an endless mudslide down over the most simple capacity to parse real from unreal information. And a deciding factor was the opportunistic manipulation of that informational collapse by Trump, his crypto-racist alt-right following–and by Ayn-Rand-stupefied rightists.
I suppose some decent working class people voted for Trump because (they said) at least he was some kind of clear-cut change, and they hoped he was going to get them out of their economic doldrums and back into the American dream.
But what’s the left’s excuse for not voting *against* Trump? Many on the left, both Sanders hardcore and Stein voters, succumbed, in their stubborn, kneejerk emotionality, to a massive disinformation campaign launched against Hillary Clinton–a campaign originating, ironically, with right wing propaganda. They seemed to unconsciously desire a Trump victory, perhaps blindly hoping he would bring down the system by exposing its greed and criminality; or it may be that they simply hoped a Trump election would punish liberals who supported Obama, and who were willing to support Hillary Clinton. Unconsciously, it may well be that voting for Stein was a passive-aggressive punishing of those “not left enough”.
What condemns supporters of the unelectable Jill Stein most, to me, is that *they KNEW that Stein could not win.* Oh yes they definitely knew! But making a point, scoring us off, was worth anything Trump might do as President! It was worth risking a far more extreme climate change disaster; it was worth the early deaths of tens of thousands that will likely come over time after he signs the bill effectively repealing the ACA (“Obamacare”); it was worth the destruction of wild animal habitat that will increase the rate of extinction; it was worth the inexorable smothering of women’s rights, and gay rights; it was worth the multigenerational damage–and increasing corporatocracy–that will result from his appointment of radical-right Supreme Court Justices; it was worth the end of public schools; it was worth the end of environmental regulations; it was worth the severe weakening (at least) of Medicare and Social Security; it was worth permitting a racist, neo-fascist axis linking congress and the White House that will continue gerrymandering and restrict access to voting; it was worth the egregious diminishing of respect for America when illiterate, sexual harassing, Russian-puppet President Pussy Grabber takes over; it was worth a return to the use of torture; it was even worth risking World War III since Trump has asked why we can’t use nuclear weapons.
It was all worth it–because it gave them a nice warm bath of smug self righteousness to wallow in for a time. It gave them nothing else–it did not establish a meaningful precedent; it did not help the Green Party. Really, it just felt good, deliciously good, to punish those who disagreed with them.
Perhaps my faith in America will return in a few years. But I doubt it.