Fair and Unbalanced

img
Mike Littwin

"The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles."

Littwin: The America we thought we had, the America we’ve got

Littwin: The America we thought we had, the America we’ve got

Here’s what I tell myself: We elected Donald Trump, but we didn’t mean to.

We didn’t vote for authoritarianism. We didn’t vote for misogyny. We didn’t vote for racism. We didn’t vote for bigotry. We didn’t vote to dismantle the safety net. We may have voted for building a wall, and we might have even believed the absurd lie that Mexico will pay for it, but we didn’t vote to separate families and we didn’t vote for people to live in fear. We didn’t vote for tax breaks for the rich. We didn’t vote to lock up our opponents. We didn’t vote to strong-arm the Constitution. We didn’t vote for the alt-right. We didn’t vote to deregulate Wall Street. We didn’t vote to rob 20 million people of their health insurance. We didn’t vote for voices of reaction and the darkness that will surely descend upon our country.

Or did we?

I tell myself, because I must, that it was all a big misunderstanding, a miscalculation, a failure to appreciate the Electoral College math. If it turns out that more than half the country actually voted for Hillary Clinton, that’s another assault on democracy. But it’s not the main one. I have to believe in the miscalculation theory because otherwise, we’re forced to believe what’s plainly before our eyes: That more than 200 years into the American project, in the land that produced Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt, we suddenly decided to make America great again by electing a con man, a carnival barker, a reality-TV caricature of a reality-TV caricature to be leader of the free world.

Something else had to be at work. Yes, this was a rejection of the future, a victory for the left-behinders and the resenters who felt that no one was listening to them. Who thought that Donald Trump, the faux populist, would be their champion.

It was the election in which the Democrats’ Rust Belt “Blue Wall” came crumbling down and sufficient numbers of mainstream Republicans — the non-deplorables who aren’t American Firsters — made a Trump presidency possible. Certainly, there is some Brexit-style regret now, but it’s too late for that. We have at least four years of a Trump presidency and a Trumpian America to deal with.

Cast blame where you like. There’s more than enough for everyone. Blame Hillary Clinton as the truly flawed candidate whose most compelling message was that America would never elect Donald Trump. Blame the media for embracing the Trump circus and for failing to figure out how to fairly deal with a candidate who has so little regard for the truth. Blame blundering James Comey. Blame the email faux scandal that became the issue of an issue-free campaign and the Crooked Hillary tag line that took a life of its own. Blame all of us for thinking that the “lock her up” chants weren’t something so much darker than anything we could have foreseen. Blame a country still apparently unready to elect a female president.

The reason for surprise, for shock, is that no one like Donald Trump has ever won the presidency or come close to winning the presidency. It wasn’t just a surprise given over by Brexit-style failure of the pollsters. It was an America most of us failed to recognize, an America, as one friend wrote me, in which all the darkest elements of the American soul conspired to give us Donald Trump.

Amy Walter of the Cook Report produces these remarkable statistics on Trump from the exit polls: “Sixty percent of voters viewed him unfavorably, yet he got 15% of those voters to vote for him. Sixty-three percent of voters said they didn’t think he had the ‘temperament’ to be president, he got 20 percent of those voters to support him. Sixty percent of voters said they didn’t think he was qualified to be president and yet 18 percent gave him their vote.”

Something has happened, something dark, something frightening, and no one has any idea what comes next. Don’t trust anyone who tries to tell you he does. These are the same people — people like yours truly — who said this could never happen. Who said that the Obama years wouldn’t be so completely rejected, who will watch, in not a little distress, as the Iran deals goes away, as health care reform goes away, as America backs away from climate change, as a bullying Trump confronts his enemies with all the power of his office, as the forces of reaction now control the presidency, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court. If you’re among those who feels it’s a rejection of you, of the educated classes, of, well, the future, you are right.

What the news tells us now is that the unashamed, unabashed birther succeeds the first black president and the world, every bit of it, has turned upside down. Markets are crumbling. The Canadian immigration website crashed. But what will history tell us? The red-blue divide was replaced by a class divide, by a white-nonwhite divide. Running on a platform of resentment, capturing what Fox News captured in the media world years ago, Trump delivered those who aren’t ready to deal with a changing America and instead chose to lean on a would-be strongman who leaves us with no idea how he’ll govern the country.

If everyone got this election wrong — and everyone did — it’s because it was impossible to imagine otherwise.

If everyone got this election wrong — and everyone did — it’s because “everyone” didn’t include all those people who voted for Donald Trump, the political “other.”

If everyone got this election wrong — and everyone did — we must now wonder what it means to those who got it wrong and those who got it right. Is there regret from Republicans who didn’t speak out, who enabled Trump, who made it OK to vote for a racist demagogue, a George Wallace with gold-plated seat belts?

If everyone got this wrong — and everyone did — it’s because no one could imagine we’d elect someone who says the National Enquirer should win a Pulitzer or who’d make Breitbart his personal propaganda sheet. On Twitter, the jokes were that Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity would be Trump’s press secretary. But they’ll be far more powerful than that.

We’ve been somewhere like this before, what Adlai Stevenson described as “the land of smash and grab and anything to win. That is Nixonland. But I say to you, that is not America.”

Nixonland wasn’t America, but it was. You can say the same things about Trumpland. And now, once again, we face a truly existential question: What in God’s name, what in America’s name, have we done?

 

Photo credit: William Garrett, Creative Commons, Flickr 

Like this story? Steal it! Feel free to republish it in part or in full, just please give credit to The Colorado Independent and add a link to the original.

Got a tip? Story pitch? Send us an e-mail. Follow The Colorado Independent on Twitter.



About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

19 Comments

  1. Will Morrison on said:

    I no longer look at the average American as anyone I want to have much to do with. They are selfish, small minded, listen to sociopathic scum bag snake oil salesmen and see a savior, are racist, bigoted and misogynist and don’t care about the future of this country at all. I have very little in common with them other than we all live in this country. How a people can look at a complete grifter and emotional cripple and decide that’s who they want running the country is completely beyond me.

    I now have to admit that I’m not an average American. I’m in the minority. I’m in the group that GIVES A DAMN ABOUT THEIR COUNTRY and it’s future and is at least smart enough to see that you’re NOT going to turn back the clock and have a future at all.

    Enjoy getting shafted for the next 4 years, at least. You have NO idea what you’re about to lose and give up. And when every one of those things happens and you lose more ground and more of a life that you SHOULD have had, just smile and tell yourself this is what you voted for. Because you did.

    At least Colorado has enough sense to not fall for the crook. Just wait until that child rape trial is over with. We’ll see how the country feels about him then.

    Shame on you, America. Since Reagan, you’ve never failed to live down to my lowest possible expectations. I wish you’d stop it.

  2. Mary on said:

    Do not agree with anything you said. I was not in favor of either candidate, but feel the people voted against a corrupt media and government, a career criminal, and being ignored by those who assume are the elite. More of a voting against instead of voting for. Sad but true.

  3. Will Morrison on said:

    Mr Sanchez: In just a few months, it will start becoming very clear to more and more Americans that they stuck it to THEMSELVES. The media isn’t being punished, though they should be. It’s WE wh will be taking it up the rear quarters, not them.

    And when that starts happening, don’t you DARE complain. If you voted FOR the worst possible person for the job, then it’s on YOUR head. Don’t you DARE complain when it’s YOUR ox that is getting gored. And it WILL be. Count on it.

  4. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. Sanchez,

    I enjoy your comments and hope you’ll continue to contribute.

    Please do not take seriously the remarks of one bitter, angry, out of touch outlier.

  5. JohninDenver on said:

    Plenty of blame to go around, for sure. I don’t pretend to know the motives of other voters and do not want to try to paint a large group of 60 million people with any particular point of view or attitude – on either side of the election.

    The people I don’t understand are the ones who did not choose to participate. There are approximately * 230 million citizens of voting age eligible to participate in elections.
    * 200 million registered to vote, and
    * 125 million voted for President.

  6. JohninDenver on said:

    Will Morrison –
    the “child rape trial” is no more. The anonymous plaintiff dropped the civil case (again), ostensibly because of threats made against her.

    I guess you have to pin your hopes on something else.

  7. Will Morrison on said:

    John in Denver: No, it’s still on. It was refiled, and it’s on for next month. The press conference was canceled, not the trial. That goes on as scheduled.

  8. Will Morrison on said:

    Don Lopez:

    You keep voting against yourself as well. And when Trump and his buddies turn this country into something that even YOU can’t stand, I don’t want to hear one word of whining. You did this to yourself and everyone else. How anyone can be SUCH a bad judge of character is beyond me. But then, ALL of right wing “thought” is. Punishing oneself because you don’t like a politician is a foolish move. You and your party need to stop doing it.

  9. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. MORrissON,

    Thank you for the very kind invitation to join the losing side but I’ll pass.

    Just a couple of questions:

    “You keep voting against yourself as well.”

    How do you know that?

    “How anyone can be SUCH a bad judge of character is beyond me.”

    Are you suggesting President-elect Trump won because of 60 million American voters who are bad judges of character?

    “Punishing oneself because you don’t like a politician is a foolish move”

    Do you routinely vote for politicians you don’t like?

    And by the way, happy Veterans Day to those Americans who served honorably to protect the freedoms and rights all Americans enjoy today. Even those who frequently abuse them.

  10. Will Morrison on said:

    Don Lopez:
    Am I being abusive to you? I see NO reason for you to be a jerk because we’re having a difference of opinion. But if you insist, I can join in with the best of them. I prefer not to. I’m trying to think of you as an adult, but your salutation to me tells me that you’re NOT. You’re just being a childish ass.

    So the rest of your comment means absolutely nothing to me. Nor does your opinion on anything else. I have no interest in trying to have an intelligent discussion with a child.

    And yes, it’s pretty clear that 60 million people ARE terrible judges of character.

  11. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. MORrissON,

    You do realize you answered one of my questions after saying “my comment means absolutely nothing to you”.

    But I do agree with your description of the 60 million Clinton voters.

    And I understand, now more than ever, why you enjoy Mr. Littwin.

  12. Tom Fiore on said:

    Don Lopez,
    Littwin has a pretty good handle on why people voted for Trump, or at least why some of us think they did, they were voting their resentment. They aren’t supporting Trump because he has any solutions to anything or has a means to build a better future. They are as Mike said, “If you’re among those who feels it’s a rejection of you, of the educated classes, of, well, the future, you are right.” Your people are rejecting the future and voted your hate.

  13. Red Rocks Rockin on said:

    Rather ironic that Littwin posted a picture of a rural farm–the same class of people that his fellow urbanites gleefully mock at every given opportunity–witness his own friend, bitter nerd jock-sniffer and degenerate Masshole Charles Pierce.

  14. Will Morrison on said:

    Don Lopez:
    Classless as always, aren’t you? Just like your party and everyone in it. And you want to claim some kind of moral superiority? Eat it, pal. You are everything I detest in modern Americans and you’ve proved it AGAIN. You are a miserable person, I’ve FAR more than enough of your CRAP to know that.

    Have a REAL nice day. JERK!

  15. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. MORrissON,

    “Nor does your opinion on anything else. I have no interest in trying to have an intelligent discussion with a child.”

    So, I assume that you disagree with this:

    “And by the way, happy Veterans Day to those Americans who served honorably to protect the freedoms and rights all Americans enjoy today. Even those who frequently abuse them.”

    If my opinion doesn’t matter why do you keep responding?

    “Classless”, “Eat it, pal”, “you are a miserable person”, “JERK””?

    Stay classy!

  16. Don Lopez on said:

    Mr. Fiore,

    “Littwin has a pretty good handle on why people voted for Trump, or at least why some of us think they did, they were voting their resentment.”

    I disagree.

    If Mr. Littwin had “a pretty handle” he’d have known it before the election.

  17. Don Lopez on said:

    “But I’ve always had a pretty good handle on politics. For one thing, it’s not that complicated. And for another, when I get confused, there’s always Nate Silver to straighten me out.” – Mike Littwin January, 2016

    “……and no one has any idea what comes next. Don’t trust anyone who tries to tell you he does.” – Mike Littwin November, 2016

    Mr. Littwin seems conflicted.

    Donald Trump is “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, a sexist, an authoritarian, a boor, a crypto-fascist and the least-prepared person ever to be nominated by a major party.” Mike Littwin May, 2016

    If you had Hillary Clinton and 31 electoral votes, you lost!

    And Mr. Littwin has lost his mind. Bigly.

    Christmas has come early: The so-called Clinton dynasty is over, the Obama years are ending and those voters who put President-elect Trump in office have publicly displayed their total contempt for Washington elites, career politicians, pollsters and know-nothing pundits. In fact, what Trump voters put on display Tuesday more closely resembled a double-fisted middle finger salute.

    But judging from this column, Mr. Littwin, apparently, has learned very little outside of bitterness and self-pity. You can almost see the tears falling on his keyboard as he was writing it. This column makes Rachel Maddow’s response to President-elect Trump’s victory on MSNBC seem mature. Mr. Littwin sounds like he needs a hug but at least the smugness has evaporated.

    – “the darkness that will surely descend upon our country.”

    – “by electing a con man, a carnival barker, a reality-TV caricature of a reality-TV caricature to be leader of the free world.”

    – “a victory for the left-behinders and the resenters”

    – “It was an America most of us failed to recognize, an America, as one friend wrote me, in which all the darkest elements of the American soul conspired to give us Donald Trump.”

    – “Something has happened, something dark, something frightening, and no one has any idea what comes next.”

    It’s at this point that delusion replaces self-pity:

    – “Blame Hillary Clinton as the truly flawed candidate whose most compelling message was that America would never elect Donald Trump.”

    It must be pointed out that Mrs. Clinton wasn’t the only one “whose most compelling message was that America would never elect Donald Trump.” Mr. Littwin adopted—-in typical follow-the-leader fashion—-that identical single message ignoring both policy and issues along the way.

    – “Blame a country still apparently unready to elect a female president.”

    That’s total nonsense unless Mr. Littwin believes President-elect Trump was elected solely by male misogynists.

    – Markets are crumbling.

    Not sure which markets Mr. Littwin is referring to but this is what money.cnn.com said about the American stock market:

    “The Dow rose 218 points Thursday and closed at a record high for the second day in a row.

    And why not? It’s fitting that following the most unusual presidential election campaign in recent history, the stock market is also reacting in atypical fashion.”

    And if, as Mr. Littwin claims, President-elect Trump is “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, a sexist, an authoritarian, a boor, a crypto-fascist and the least-prepared person ever to be nominated by a major party.” what does that say about Mrs. Clinton and/or the quality of her campaign?

    And when Mr. Littwin said this in May, 2016 what 55 percent was he talking about?

    “I have faith in the American people, by which I mean I have faith in about 55 percent of them.” – Mike Littwin May, 2016

    I don’t expect answers anytime soon.

    And this from the Colorado Independent prompts another question that I’m sure will likewise be ignored:

    “If you’re otherwise occupied on Sunday morning, join (The Colorado Independent) the evening after the election, Wednesday Nov. 9th from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., for a post-mortem at The Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Pl, Denver 80204. Littwin will help you wrap your head around what happened at the polls.”

    Who will help Mr. Littwin wrap his head around what happened?

    And since I’ve asked so many questions I feel obligated to attempt to answer at least one of Mr. Littwin’s:

    “If the polls are right — and, while they’ve been wrong before, they’ve never been quite this wrong — the only remaining question in the presidential race is how badly (or, if you will, how bigly) Donald Trump will lose.”

    That’s hard to answer since he didn’t lose. And yes, the polls have now been quite that wrong. Never say never.

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    This, to me, is where the oft-mentioned parallel with Britain’s vote to quit the European Union is closest. Yes, plainly, Trump’s election and the Brexit vote are rebellions against elite opinion — that is, against political orthodoxy and its defenders. In both cases, the question is, how does one account for the uprising?
    Elite opinion admits of only one answer: People are more stupid and bigoted than we ever imagined. Without denying that there’s plenty of stupidity and bigotry to go around, I think it’s more a matter of elite incompetence. Elite opinion heard the rebels’ complaints, but instead of acknowledging what was valid, it rejected the grievances in every particular and dismissed the complainers as fools or worse.
    The elites weren’t deaf. They were dumb. – Clive Crook bloomberg.com

    “Speaking with Erik Schatzker at the Bloomberg Markets Most Influential Summit, (Barry Diller, the founder and chairman of IAC Interactive) vowed to pick up stakes if Trump becomes President Barack Obama’s successor. “If Donald Trump doesn’t fall, I’ll either move out of the country or join the resistance,” he said. But Diller expressed his certainty that a Trump presidency will never happen. He said he’d put his money on it.” – bloomberg.com

    “But then the impossible happened. As Salena Zito had presciently written in The Atlantic: “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” Maureen Dowd

    “Pollsters and election modelers suffered an industry-shattering embarrassment at the hands of Donald Trump on Tuesday night.” – thehill.com

    “You’d think that Trump’s victory – the one we all discounted too far in advance – would lead to a certain new found humility in the political press. But of course that’s not how it works. To us, speaking broadly, our diagnosis was still basically correct. The demons were just stronger than we realized.” – cbsnews.com

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation
    Garysinisefoundation.org
    Memorial Day – May 29, 2017

Leave a Response

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>