My sons were the self-possessed, sane and even optimistic ones yesterday, the day after. I had multiple conversations with my older son who works in start-up world in San Francisco. He believes, if I can sum it up, in a version of the heightened consciousness theory (that also motivated many Bernie supporters), but which requires actions rather than just words to engage people.
I find it hard to comprehend how anyone, particularly women, could support the serial rapist for president, the man who blithely, repeatedly, walked into roomsful of naked teenage girls. Over 50% of white women did so, and some of those teens may have been their daughters. The deluge of awful information was almost daily -- how deaf and stupid could people be?
He believes that in a world of celebrity, where entertainment substitutes for news and nothing substitutes for analysis, all that noise left no mark. A lack of policy debate left no mark. The ugliness of the campaign on our children left no mark.
So I asked what would leave a mark, what will awaken the electorate which gave Hillary the majority of the vote and can increasingly be considered progressive? He answered -- actions that a Republican government will not be able to resist, such as racist Supreme Court nominees, the complete defunding of Planned Parenthood, the overturning of Obergefell, and, especially, Roe. The women who are already beginning to hoard contraceptives, and those who take abortion rights for granted, will rise up en masse and swarm the Hill, and then, miracle of miracles, vote in the mid-term and next presidential elections.
Sane bureaucrats will throw a wrench into any regressive administrative actions, and steadfastly refuse to take orders from their new political overlords. Blue state governors will resist any federal meddling, and California might even secede (#CalExit) until a new administration is elected. Losing the 6th largest economy in the world would not be a positive input for the national economy.
When I responded that no fascist regime has ever voluntarily ceded power, allowed itself to be restrained, or even chose to act rationally, he replied that interwar Germany was a unique situation. The Germans had recently lost a world war, been subject to humiliating reparations imposed by the Allies, suffered through a devastating multiyear hyperinflation, and then came the Great Depression. All of that with only a 13 year history of democratic government undergirding it-- nothing like our 240 year history.
Good arguments all, but I'm less concerned about what will pass for a government that will not function well when it functions at all -- Republicans, be they fascists or not, hate government -- but rather in the actions of their supporters. Republicans do not believe in functioning government (remember Grover Norquist?). Their goal is the destruction of the federal government. Their supporters are expecting some benefits, some payback for their rage, but they won't get it, because of the governmental paralysis machine and the Republicans' historical inability to grow an economy. Bluster will not create jobs. Belligerent assertion will not create jobs. Fraudulent negotiating skills will not make deals. Does anyone really expect the Germans, Chinese or Japanese will allow themselves to be played by Trump? Chancellor Merkel didn't sound like she was looking forward to the next G-7 summit.
So what happens a year from now when Trump has been to court multiple times, more videos arise and witnesses to rape and abuse come forward? When the economy stalls or tanks? GM and Ford just announced cutbacks in the red states of Ohio and Michigan. Will white working-class America, for whom we're supposed to feel compassion, take it lying down? Or will they take it out on those who don't look or act like them?
I sincerely hope my son is correct. When I awakened this morning as my plane was landing in Amsterdam I thought, for a moment, that it was one night's nightmare. My seat mate, a lovely Dutch guy named Hugo who was returning from the Clinton campaign, punctured that balloon quickly.
I hope it's my years of experiencing the closet and studying the history of my family which was exterminated during the war that is clouding my judgment, and his youthful optimism carries the day. However, today was the first day I have felt shame at being an American since Vietnam, and I will not be telling people on my trip abroad that I am an American (though I apparently don't pass as Dutch). If I had a Canadian flag patch I'd adhere it to my bag. I never did that as a young backpacker in the 70s, but I would today.