Friday, November 11, 2016

Hoping for the best from an unfit president-elect is one thing. Expecting it is another.

Now that Donald Trump has been elected. it's human nature to try to make lemonade out of the biggest lemon America has bought in my lifetime. Even solid Never Trump people in some circles are trying to convince themselves that maybe they've been wrong.

Well, we were wrong about several things. The main one is that the historical common sense of the American people was a dependable anti-Trump firewall. We depended on it in the primaries and again in the general election. It proved illusory. Our national IQ has been trending downward for decards. Mores have become ever more socially and personally self-destructive. Ignorance about the world, about history, about religion, and about most other things has skyrocketed. The evidence was overwhelming even before Tuesday that our fabled national common sense was a thing of the past. I and many others were shocked by the election of a catastrophically unqualified and unprepared emotionally immature narcissist and psychopath. In retrospect, we shouldn't have been.

I've laughed at Trump supporters ever since the guy who represented Trump at our precinct caucus last winter made the bizarre claim that Trump- whom the polls even then showed to be the only Republican who could not beat Hillary Clinton- was the only Republican who could. The claim is still crazy; had the candidate been anyone else, I'm convinced even now that the result on Tuesday would have been a landslide. But it was I, and not the Trumpsters, who was deceived about the possibility of Trump being elected, an eventuality they insisted was inevitable all the time, while I and other centrists scoffed that they were crazy for thinking it was even possible.

We, as it turned out, were the delusional ones. The polls were wrong- and probably consistently wrong. The biggest problem probably was that they were weighted badly and failed to consider people who hadn't voted before but were attracted to the process by Trump. Non-college-educated rural whites were obviously underrepresented in the formulas that were used.

In most ways, this was a one-off election. Even in the highly unlikely event that Trump succeeds as president, he will fail his supporters. Even  a psychopath cannot govern as the idiot Donald Trump ran as. He is going to have to at least pretend to be a civilized human being. The demagoguery probably won't go away, but it will become more subtle. The wall and other impractical ideas will, of course, never be followed through upon. Reality will hit Donald Trump like a sledgehammer on January 20. He will be so far out of his depth that he will need a bathysphere, and in some ways, even Trump will be unable to help being humbled by the experience.

There are some who hope that Trump- who is unbelievably ignorant about the American Constitution and government and about the world he pontificates about-will surround himself with people who actually know what they're doing, will take their advice, and will end up governing as something resembling a responsible human being. I hope so, too. There is historical precedent for such things; not every president has been up to the job, and some have managed to avoid disaster simply by taking the advice of people who knew what they did not. But that would require a degree of humility I'm not sure The Donald can summon.

I hope Donald Trump continues to prove me wrong. I hope he continues to demonstrate that it is I, and not his supporters, who is delusional. But like the National Review in its current edition, I fear otherwise. Donald Trump's flaws cannot be ignored away, as the exit polls show that a huge proportion of those who recognized his unfitness for the presidency did last Tuesday. They are all too real, and they are fundamental realities we're all going to have to live with for the next four years.

A fascinating statistic: pollsters discovered on Election Day was that of the voters realistic enough to acknowledge that neither of the major party candidates was fit to be president,  twice as many voted for Trump as for Clinton. This dovetails with my own observation that many voters who were well aware of Trump's fundamental personality flaws and disliked the prospect of voting for him managed to rationalize catastrophic pathologies into mere quirks because they were so aware of the consequences of electing Hillary that they never thought through the consequences of electing Trump- or more often, refused to allow themselves to recognize just how catastrophic they were.

I think we as a nation understood that we were electing a time-bomb on Tuesday. But I don't think we realized that it was on a hair trigger and that its explosive force can be measured in megatons.

Oh. And yes, the author of the NR article- Ben Shapiro- is the guy pro-Trump websites portrayed as an inmate of "Camp Trump" wearing a Holocaust-era concentration camp uniform, and as the inhabitant of a gas chamber being operated by a smirking Donald Trump dressed in a Nazi soldier.

One would have hoped that the supporters he attracted would at least have served as more of a warning than it apparently did that Donald Trump was not simply flawed, but catastrophically flawed.

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