A Tale Of Two Nations

Charles Dickens began his story of how the French peasants were more brutal than their aristocratic oppressors with the famous words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” But the fuller quote seems more appropriate today:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, …”

Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States today. For many, this is like a bad after-school movie, too far-fetched to be credible and too lacking in substance to be interesting. And yet, it’s going to happen, despite the twits and change.org petitions, the New York Times editorials and shrieks of illegitimacy. The rending of clothes and pervasive hysteria will not stop the peaceful transition of power that is the hallmark of America.

The other day, my pal, Radley Balko accused me of not sharing his disdain for Trump. He’s right and wrong. I’m skeptical of all elected officials. I’m disdainful of Trump. Of Obama. Of Bush and Clinton before him. What Radley meant, perhaps, was that I wasn’t disdainful enough, for if I was, I would be shrieking in anticipation of the worst of times.

Having made plain that there has never been a president as lacking in what have been our traditional qualifications to hold the office of President as Trump, it changes nothing about the fact that he will still be the president. The reasons for this are varied, diverse, despite the efforts to stereotype his supporters by his opponents. While there are a tiny percentage of racists and sexists, there are many who had enough of the failure of the federal government to improve their lives, and saw the alternative to Trump as being either more of the same or worse.

This isn’t the first time people felt this way.

While both Trump’s supporters and adversaries can lay claim to being mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, Trump was elected president. One side won. Whether you accept that proposition or want to continue to argue it ad nauseam is irrelevant. Spend your time any way you like. He’ll still be president.

There aren’t many out there who were of the view, before this past presidential campaign began, that the nation was doing great, that everything was under control. While some narrow self-interest groups were flush with the success of their parochial causes, even they weren’t thrilled about other concerns, like jobs or the cost of education. You got to pee where you want? That’s great, but there’s more to life than that. Like feeding your kids.

For years, people have believed that Washington needed to be shaken out of its complacency, its machine-like partisanship that prevented whatever initiatives they believed would best improve their lives. For years, people believed that “regular” people, meaning anyone but the best and the brightest, the policy wonks, the hyper-knowledgeable, could do a better job. People saw it as “simple,” and the elites just over-complicated everything to the point of paralysis. They saw the polarization, but blamed the other side because their side was right.

Just put a person in office who would get things done. He didn’t have to talk jargon. He didn’t have to have a fancy degree. He didn’t have to have years of political experience. After all, they don’t, and they believe in themselves, in their opinions, in their solutions. The politicians had their chance, and they just screwed everything up. Now it was time for the regular people to seize control, to have their chance to fix the nation.

No, Donald Trump is hardly a “regular” guy, unless regular guys winter at Mar-a-Lago. But he was regular in his lack of sophisticated knowledge. He was regular in his speech, which was long on adjectives and short on nouns. And the perception of him as a billionaire regular guy just meant he was better at it than they are, making tons of money in the process. This was a good thing, as they wanted to make money too, and who better to figure out how to make money than a guy who did so?

All of which infuriates his opponents, to the point where they desperately wish for his failure. They want him to crash and burn. They want to hate his supporters, the deplorables, and want them to crash as well. Why hate some nice farming family in Iowa who grew the food that went into your In-N-Out burger? Because they’re all racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes, and because all your friends hate them too.

You can’t be the good people you want to believe you are while hating other people. You can’t be the good person you want to believe you are while wishing other people harm.

Trump’s campaign slogan was “Make America Great Again.” Whether you agree that it had lost its luster or not, or whether you think it had no luster to begin with, or whether you believe America was great enough, regular people will continue to live their lives tomorrow and the days thereafter. Aside from vindictiveness, what do you gain from hoping that their lives are worse, more miserable, than they were before?

I wish President Donald J. Trump every success in improving the lives of Americans. I don’t do this because of Trump, but because of the people whose lives will be affected by his presidency. To wish ill on this administration is to wish ill on your fellow human beings.

This nation is deeply polarized, and both sides are remarkably similar though they are too blind to see it. For better or worse, Donald Trump will be sworn in as our 45th President. Regardless of your feelings toward him, hope for the best of times. Not for his sake, but for your own and your fellow Americans.


29 thoughts on “A Tale Of Two Nations

  1. B. McLeod

    Indeed, for all the liberals’ attempts to paint themselves as the followers of love and brotherhood (when they thought Clinton was winning), the hatefulness directed even at entertainers for playing the inauguration has revealed the truth. Send half a dozen into a room with half a dozen Kluxers, and it would be hard to tell who’s who.

      1. Cashew

        They are certainly not liberals in the classical sense of the term. [deleted] They call themselves liberals, and so they are. Liberal in this case meaning, “not conservative” and conservative meaning, “not liberal.” Words have meanings, yes, [deleted] and these people are liberals.

        In any event, I do hope these liberals (so-called liberals?) can manage to work with the incoming administration to the benefit of everyone. I also hope the conservative (so-called conservatives?) can work with the other side of the aisle. The chances of this are, umm, limited but we’ve seen strange things happen the past few months.

        1. SHG Post author

          “Not conservative” does not mean liberal, and I have rules here. They apply to you as well as everyone else.

        2. Ahaz

          Why the incessant need to but everyone in a box? Liberal vs conversative? For instance, conservatives purport to love limited government but have no problem loving civil asset forfeiture. Our incoming AG sees nothing wrong with it and so do so-called liberals. Perhaps, we have created these labels (used inappropriately I think) because we long for simplicity. We no longer want to accept that sometimes complex problems require complex solutions, that nuance is required from time to time. If our solutions don’t fit within our small boxes, it’s automatically attacked as conservative or liberal. And in turn, nothing ever gets done that needs to get done. The world isn’t black or white or simple, it never was.

          1. SHG Post author

            Labels are just convenient shortcuts, but the problem is that labels are so poorly defined that they don’t even serve their lowest and worst use.

  2. Patrick Maupin

    Us rednecks asked if we could pee where we want as well, but as near as we can tell, if we properly mark our own territory rather than delegating that task to the hunting dogs, we still run a significant risk of being put on the sex-offender registry for life.

    Here’s hoping Trump makes that right. There’s more of us than you know.

  3. Dragoness Eclectic

    You can’t be the good people you want to believe you are while hating other people. You can’t be the good person you want to believe you are while wishing other people harm.

    THIS! I keep telling my fellow commentators at lefty blogs this, and they Just Don’t Get It. They cannot see that they are doing the same thing they accuse racists/sexists/homophobes of doing, treating people who don’t meet their standards as sub-humans undeserving of compassion or assistance.

  4. Ahaz

    I’m always amused by the electorate. They cry for change yet keep re-electing the very same congress election year after election year. The last time I checked, it was congress that made law. Changing the President may change tone, may change how laws might be enforced, but it’s still the knuckleheads in congress that enable President.

    1. SHG Post author

      As surveys show, people think congressmen and senators all suck, except theirs. But then, you can only vote for the person who runs, and when the only people who run are all interchangeable cogs, what different does it make?

        1. SHG Post author

          Should she be elected (it could happen), she will become one member of a deliberative body of 435 people, the majority of which (for now) belong to a different political party. No doubt the other 434 will bend to her will.

          1. LocoYokel

            “No doubt the other 434 will bend to her will.”

            If they don’t she will start screaming and crying about “Congressgate” and they are all just sexist, rapist, haters and should be banned from Congress and thrown into jail forever and a day.

  5. John Barleycorn

    That last paragraph was like striking out in t-ball.

    It’s not often you tee up a perfect  Hegelian dialectic for yourself and completely wiff.

    Tsk, Tsk, Tsk, all this political gibberish as of late is fucking with your critical reasoning.

    There is no excuse for you to start swinging for the bleachers and completely misread a teed up dialectic, of your own making, just because our next AG is gonna become know as, Jeff in a Jiffy.

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