I Am Saddened and Embarrassed

November 29, 2016

 

A Letter From TEACHER KEN:

 

Like so many who tried to predict based on normal use of data, I was woefully wrong.  I admit it.

But that is neither my sadness nor my embarrassment. My embarrassment starts as a white male when I look at the voting results.  The sexism and racism that has been validated in this election makes me ashamed to look in a mirror and to see what I have in common.

As someone with a Jewish last name, the validation of the Alt-Right as it is euphemistically called is something I suppose should scare me.  I noted to my wife as she drove us home from where we had been watching is that I assume I will probably be on some watch lists.  At age 70, recovering from a heart procedure, that is the least of my worries. The rest of the world is in horror at what we have done. That is shown in financial markets around the globe.

 

People’s net worth has been crippled, if you were directly, in a 401K, through a mutual fund, or through a pension, invested in capital markets. But as great as the additional financial suffering of which that is just the beginning, that does not begin to measure the depths of my sadness.

 

As many here know, as a teacher my primary course has been US Government for much of my career.  Perhaps my only satisfaction as the clock ticks past Midnight where we are and we are now ironically on the anniversary of Kristallnacht is that fortuitously I am not teaching, and thus not teaching Government. Kristallnacht — over the night of November 9-10 and those like me were subject to attacks in their homes, their businesses, their synagogues. No, that has not happened here. But I fully expect to see a lashing out at the “other” by religion and race.  We have already seen it during the campaign. Many of our institutions have failed us.

 

Our media failed us in helping this monstrosity to grow from a joke. Our political leadership failed us by not standing up forcefully enough soon enough.

 

Religious leaders failed us by being willing to support someone they should have condemned both on his personal morality and his business ethics, to say nothing of his almost lack of honesty in his public pronouncements. He cannot be shamed because he does not care. A narcissitic sociopath is not subject to shame. We as a nation, as a society, we now bear that shame, because he becomes the face of our nation.

 

Upon departing the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was approached by a woman who asked him, Dr. Franklin, what kind of government have you given us? Franklin’s answer was “A republic, if you can keep it.”

 

Nominally we do not YET pass the leadership of the nation directly through family inheritance — we are not yet the hermit kingdom of North Korea which describes itself as a Republic because officially the fact that the third generation of the same family remains in dictatorial control is not automatic.

 

Are will still a democracy? We will have to see what rights we are allowed to retain. After all, the right vote was severely limited in this election, in a way that in at least one state (NC) may have made the difference in the outcome of 15 electoral votes. One can argue that  people in a democracy have the right to vote to surrender their liberties, to chose to become something else. Certainly our constitutional framework does not necessarily prevent it, as we have just experienced.

We will probably again be where we were 16 years ago, albeit perhaps not so narrowly — Mrs. Clinton will almost certainly with her huge margin in California win the national popular vote even as like the man who tried to succeed her husband she will have lost the electoral vote.  That is our system for this election, and for better or worse we are stuck with the results. I am not at this moment consumed with trying to determine who to blame — I will leave to others that task, at least for the present.

 

I had hoped to spend the time left to me caring for my wife and trying to make a positive difference in the world in which I live. But there is another side of me.  That side is at times almost monastic, very withdrawn, and at a moment like this it is hard to imagine what I can do constructively in the world in which I am about to go to sleep.  If I can go to sleep. Perhaps instead I need to sit in silence, unconnected electronically, and see how much of the pain I know there is around me I can take upon myself to alleviate that suffering.

 

I don’t know. I feel as if the country I knew is no longer here. I have watched it slipping away in some ways over more than a decade. Did I do enough? What of those who, like my spouse, like those here who read me, I tried to calm in recent weeks based on the data upon which we all relied.  Should I have paid more attention to the increasing overt expressions of misogyny and racism and seen that it was not sufficient for people to reject what was happening?

 

Have I failed to prepare myself, and those who turned to me, friends and family, for what in fact has happened? What do I do now? Is there a point to my trying to share what I see if what has happened is so far outside what I could have imagined? Do my words to others have any value at this point?

 

I don’t know. Do not worry — I am self aware enough that I will not talk myself into self harm or even psychological self-destruction. I feel broken, amidst vast fields of others who feel broken. So many of the states lost were by such narrow margins. We are so divided.  I do not want to contribute to that division, but feel incompetent to help heal the vast national wound this country has just suffered.

 

I have a pension, but the market value that supports it could get wiped out. I have Social Security, but the change in government means there is no guarantee it will keep its buying power. My spouse could retire perhaps on disability, we could move someplace less expensive or even outside the borders of a country we are not sure wants us to someplace where we could be sure at least of acceptance. 

 

All of these are things we would not have even considered, but which now must be discussed. After all, if the new administration wrecks the economy government jobs like that of my spouse could easily disappear, or have their salaries slashed greatly. I do not claim this is a coherent piece. I wonder if I am capable of coherence. What I want to do is to weep, but I find I am unable. So I write. I stop.  I look at the vote totals in states not yet called.  15 vote margin in New Hampshire. 36K out in MI but in theory enough votes out to recover. Only 2000 votes behind in Penna.  In theory it is not over, but when I look at Wisconsin, unless there is something wrong there or in some other close state that gets corrected upon canvassing, the final results in the electoral college remain clear.

My words must be pointless. My tears will not come. I am empty, broken. I am saddened and embarrassed. But I already said that. So I will just shut up!  

 

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