Time passed, and into 2016 we went. I’m familiar with primary politics, even though I’m not allowed to participate. I’m a registered Independent, as in NO PARTY at all. This was a choice I made a while back, after coming to the recognize that I cannot accept a base party line as my standard for belief, and that partisan politics are probably the greatest threat to a functioning government.
As an Independent, I cannot participate in the primary system, but I can watch and wait. The GOP stack of candidates put me in mind of the 2003 California gubernatorial recall, with such an interesting cast of characters. All of them were your standard GOP brand, with the exception of Mr. Trump. The list was so full for debates the candidates were separated into two different groups at first, until the field winnowed down a bit. For the record, I’d have considered voting for Pataki, but he dropped out early.
The field cleared quickly, coming down to 4 at one point, none of whom I could vote for. Jeb Bush I had objected to on the grounds aristocracy. 3 presidents of the same family to me denoted a ruling class, a conservative Camelot, which to me seemed antithetical to democracy (See: North Korea). Ted Cruz was about as unlikable person there could be on the stage, with a hard evangelical bend. Marco Rubio looked every bit a ladder climber, ready to ditch one office to move up the system with little experience. He has the air of an opportunist, which I find distasteful.
And then there was Trump. He would turn the debates into an outright circus. For a while for me it was good comedy, but soon it became a train wreck. I felt bad for the satirists, night after night having to pick the low hanging fruit. I think I first realized how serious the problem was when Jeb dropped out.
With Jeb gone, Trump was the strongest man left on the stage. His nomination started to seem inevitable.
When Trump announced his candidacy, I made a post on my Facebook account laughing at him. I think I used the works “Bring it on, you big bag of nuts!” I don’t recall exactly, but it sounds like something I’d say.
I’m prone to such sentiments. When George Bush Jr was election, my response to my wife was “Well, whats the worst he can do?” This is a bad habit I have to learn to break. In the case of GWB at that time I wasn’t terribly concerned. He came from a long family history of public service, and Washington being what it was, I didn’t think things could get so far out of hand. Then came 9/11, and all of that changed. The climate in government became a blank check for wrong-headed thinking in all directions… But I’m not interested in looking too far back in this post.
Just looking back a little over a year I can see how certain I was in my dismissal of him. Was I so flawed in my thinking even so long ago? I’m planning on hashing out my flawed thoughts and projections as we go, but back to the very start, mid 2015, was I so far off base?
Here we had a bloviator, a bombastic loud mouthed, know-nothing celebrity whose shtick was being a, well, jerk. Back then it was really inconceivable to me that he stood a chance. That news was really easy to mock back then.
I’d never watched Trump on his TV show, not being a fan of either reality TV or assholes in general. What I did know of Trump I saw across my life. I saw a man born rich, who continued to be rich despite bad business decisions. I saw a man whose mouth could run away from him. I saw a man whose personal life decisions were highly questionable for a political party that has for years relied on the evangelical vote. I saw a lot of things that looked like perfect comedy to me.
And yet… Well, I guess the gravity hadn’t sunk in. The reality of the situation would gradually take shape across the next year.
My wife and I, the more political minded of our group of friends offered to host a small get together to watch the 2016 voting results. By this point, following Comey’s letters to Congress, we had no certainty of the winner. A week and some days prior we had a certainty, but by this point all we had was a hope.
We started well; hugs, drinks and joking. Levity would dissolve across the evening as hope vanished. The party broke up before 1AM. The result known, everyone went home for the night.
The following day I woke up ill. I’d been fighting a sinus infection for a week, and my body just had enough. I had a day I could take off from work, so I used it. I would sleep most of the day. I woke up occasionally in my nest of covers surrounded by tissues to check the news and confirm that nothing had changed. In my waking times I’d watch stand up comedy or bad movies on Netflix, but I didn’t think much. I didn’t want to.
I’m a thinker. I spend a lot of time thinking, considering, analyzing. My job requires a lot of thought, which is why I guess I’m good at it. I spend a good deal of time analyzing the possibilities for this past election. I worked up several viable models… which were dashed by James Comey. When his first letter was written my models were dashed. His second letter did nothing to reinstate those models. By election night I was left with but hope.
Hope means nothing to me. Hope is only thought. Hope is a wish without action, because no action can be taken. I knew before that night what the result was likely to be, but I didn’t want to believe it however, so I held to a hope, a slim chance that against my reasoning things would work out.
Clearly hope had failed.