The U.S. Election Experience

This is what it felt like to watch the U.S. election results last night, as filtered through Hergé's Tintin in America (the first 12 pages).









31 comments:

LondonKdS said...

If you know anyone in Windsor, tell them to read up on what happened in Denmark and Sweden in October 1943 and start planning how to get people out of Dearborn. Please.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

It sucks- but from the perspective of most of my family and friends, it was going to suck with either candidate. Right now is just the point where we have to pick our jaws up off the floor and make lemons out of lemonade.

Keep in mind that- much as the last two presidents have tried to circumvent it- the US government does have a system of checks and balances. Trump can talk a big talk (and he will), but he doesn't actually have the unfettered power to enforce his will. It looks worse than it is. He's more than a figurehead... but less than an absolute dictator. :-) We'll survive.

Siskoid said...

As did all the characters in my little montage. It's pain and disappointment, not the oncoming apocalypse.

I don't buy into the equivalence concept between the candidates though. If you're a member of a minority right now, I think you're feeling the difference in suckage. As all branches of government fall to the Republicans, a lot of those checks and balances are weakened.

Survival shouldn't be the silver lining is what I'm saying.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

It's not meant to be; rather, it's the reassessment and reality check to those who are panicking and feeling like this is the end of the world. I don't see a silver lining to this election (sorry, I *do* see the candidates as equivalently bad, in different areas), but also, realistically, as you said, I don't see it as the coming apocalypse.

But seriously, 'fall to the Republicans'? *sigh* That's the 'us-vs.-them, the other is evil' thinking that got the people who've been on the losing side of the culture wars for the last several years to feel defensive enough that they'd turn to even a man like Trump to save them from 'the other side' that seems to see them as the veil incarnate, and (from their perspective) certainly seems to want to wipe them out. All I'm saying is, a little more understanding, a little less vilifying, and I don't think that people on the right would've felt so estranged and threatened by their political counterparts that it drove them into the arms of our current, lamentable president-elect. (And I get that to someone on the left, that probably sounds like whiny, contemptible nonsense... but, that's kind of what I'm saying. The message 'there is no room for you, your beliefs deserve only ridicule' is kind of all that political discourse has been for the last several years- and I think that's exactly what prompted the kind of backlash that propelled Trump to power). And it's a little more understanding and empathy- on both sides- that is our best hope for preventing such a disastrous knee-jerk-reaction result in 4 years, when an almost-certainly-one-term presidency comes to an end and we get the chance to pick again (and hopefully do it right this time). Alienation and hatred (both the existence of it in self and fear of it from others) drive people to extremes. Conciliation encourages more rational choice. Today, we got the greatest of all extremes- but if we can unite a bit more by next election, that doesn't have to happen- in *either* direction of the political extreme.



(Plus, I would argue that President Obama, a Democrat, did plenty to try and bypass those checks and balances, by some pretty shady tactics, as well. :-) Presidents in the 21st century seem to all be after more power than they're due. But thus far, the system has remained intact enough to stymie them. I do believe that it will do so again here; I have seen enough Republicans as utterly horrified by Trump as their Democratic counterparts- myself included- that I sincerely doubt that the House and Senate are going to go along with that man's nonsense just because they share a political party.)

Andrew Gilbertson said...

Please forgive me if that came off too strident. Striking the right tone today seems difficult. My point- if indeed, I can find one among the jumble of emotions today- is that I think both political 'sides' feel attacked by the other right now. Both sides feel as if their opponents want to wipe them out entirely; not that they disagree on issues, but that in the mind of the other side, their is no room for their beliefs anywhere in society. And yes, both sides are equally as guilty of *giving* that impression as they are of getting it form their opponents. I am no exception; I know that. I'm trying to work on it.

But I think it's that division that drove the election here; that fear of the other side's contempt, and reciprocal contempt for the other. Both sides were engaged in a vitriolic war; both sides were pushed toward their farthest extremes, seeking a champion to 'defend' them from the other side that wanted their demise. Sure, that's alarmist and extreme... but the way political discourse and emotion having been running over this last year, alarm and extreme emotion seem to be the rule of the day. There's not a lot of room in fear- in the feeling, however irrational, that one is fighting to defend one's very way of life- to make wise, rational choices. And we may continue to make such irrational choices as long as our political climate remains one in which each side both hates and fears the other; at the very least, it won't encourage sanity. :-) The best thing we can do, I think, to keep something like this from happening again is to not be so extreme in our views- so villifying of 'the other'- that we create an environment where that hatred and fear draws us toward making poor choices.

Siskoid said...

"Fall to", though I would have used it interchangeably if the Democrats had won either House, is an unfortunate expression and I apologize for using it.

Obviously, I'm not an American, there's a distance there. Your country is at arm's length. I'm still left-leaning, but I don't have any beef with conservatives. My problem is with the Republican party that has been co-opted by Tea Party extremists led by the nose by corporate interests (i.e. the Koch brothers etc.) This is the party that's been host to several parasites that HAVE done great evil.

I'm not letting your Democrats off the hook any more than I am our own Liberal parties, which are Centrist to the point of interchangeability and irrelevance.

That all said, I'm not in panic mode like many of my friends both in and outside the U.S., and I understand how Americans are now doing the "time of healing" thing. It's a worthwhile endeavor; more power to you. It's just hard for me to take all the news anchor smiles this morning and that kind of talk, no matter how sincere, when the candidate who won did so on such a divisive platform. Happy to see his victory speech was balanced and comforting, but I can't forget everything that went before.

I wish us all the best.

LiamKav said...

My main concern is that the Democrats will decide the problem is that Clinton wasn't "left leaning enough" and that "Bernie would have won", repeat the mistakes that Corbyn is currently making in the UK, and make themselves way more unelectable.

I do kinda get what Andrew is saying. But then I can also see why people wouldn't want to embrace a group that wants to strip away rights from gay people, think that women are not equivalent to men, and a whole host of other "deplorable" actions. If Brexit showed us anything, it's that now they've got what they wanted, it's just going to empower the bigotry.

Siskoid said...

Because let's be clear about this, Andrew made the political case, but I don't think this is about your "tribe" having lost. We win and lose elections all the time. It's about finding out your country has apparently embraced values that are not your own, and that you believe are wrong. Not politically wrong, but morally wrong. That is what I'm mostly hearing from my American cousins. It's not four years of policy they don't agree with, so much as the feeling they are not welcome in their own country, that it's about to regress as a society.

And I share that concern, because the campaign has leaked over the border and emboldened sexists, racists, homophobes and Islamophobes over on this side as well.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

LiamKav - That is a fair point. And honestly- being a Republican- I don't think that's true of the majority of the right. (Maybe that's naivette; I don't know, but that's what I believe from the many people on the right that I know personally.) That's not who I'm primarily talking about. But even then... those people do exist. They do have votes. And finding a way to live with them is, realistically, going to be a part of the healing process. Because it's easy to just say "Yeah, they're scum, and they should be given no quarter"- but again, that is exactly what drives them to desperation, and like their views or not, they can still vote their will into effect. (And lumping the entirety of the right in with them, and extending them the same contempt and lack of quarter, is exactly what drives the mainstream-right to enough desperation to join their fringe in dooming something foolish). I get that there are 'deplorable' people out there- and others who do not share their beliefs, but whose views on gender roles and sexuality and a host of other social issues would still make them equally deplorable to someone left of center. And from their perspective, the left's position on sexuality and gender roles and a host of other social issues are equally deplorable.

But in the end, they're all people (and if you prefer the pragmatic view, voters). They are still trying to achieve what they believe is right and good, as you are. And when both sides come at each other with dismissal and contempt, even if you believe that their beliefs SHOULD be met with dismissal and contempt... well, as I said int he post above, I believe the result is this. I'm not advocating building bridges with the people you just thought were kinda confused; it's those ones that are your ideological opposite that I'm taking about. (And vice-versa to them, of course!) Because in the end, they still have enough voice and power to do... well, what happened yesterday. We can dismiss them because they're deplorable, but their effect won't go away. Which means coming to some sort of peace is, really, the only option to avoid these acts of desperation.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

"It's about finding out your country has apparently embraced values that are not your own, and that you believe are wrong. Not politically wrong, but morally wrong."

The sad thing is, if you asked someone on the right- heck, if you asked me- exactly what they thought of the country in the last decade, these are the literal and exact words they'd use to describe it. (And no, I don't see Trump making it better). We are in an age where the idealism of tolerance is running into the cold, hard truth that some viewpoints are directly opposing, and it is impossible to accommodate both. You can see it in Israel vs. Palestine, in American social and political movements... all over the place. Differences that are, apparently, irreconcilable, because they're directly oppositional. To give one what they want is to deny the other, and vice-versa. It is a dilemma that we're running increasingly into in the modern world, and one that we need to find a way to solve.

And it's a breakdown int he ability to resolve that, I think, that is causing the increasing polarization of society and politics. Because we are reaching a point where what we believe to be right and good and true is directly opposite of what the other guy believes to be right and good and true. But since you both get a voice, and neither of you are going to back down... well, the choice is to either find a way to live with one another and compromise- or just found the loudest, strongest voice on 'your side' to bludgeon the other one into submission. And that's where we got Trump. :-(


For the right, society has regressed, America has embraced values that are hostile to their own; to the left, it is on the verge of doing so. (Not universally, I should hope in either case; there are some societal gains that either side can recognize, and hopefully both agree on. But other particulars were 'progress' for one side is 'regress' for the other.)

The good news is... everyone is equally unhappy now, so the only way left to go is up! :-) ...I hope.

Brendoon said...

Interesting times.

Siskoid said...

I agree with you Andrew. The downward slide began a while ago; this has only concretized it with a vote, and probably shocked people who (and this is the echo chamber that's talked about) didn't see it coming.

LiamKav said...

The thing with "the right find the current stuff as morally wrong as the left are about to" is that it assumes morality is something completely personal, that's impossible to objectively. To take your line:

"To give one what they want is to deny the other, and vice-versa."

This is exactly the argument that's been used to deny equal marriage. And it's bullshit. Two men getting married does not make my heterosexual sexual marriage any less valid. But the tea party movement acts like "gay marriage" does somehow weaken "straight marriage", that it's possible to argue that equal marriage is morally wrong. You can convince me that there might be folks who are scared of gays. But you can't convince me there is any sort of argument against equal marriage that doesn't rely on stoking that fear.

Siskoid said...

I've come to understand Tea Party/Hard Christian Right/Alt-Right (what a euphemism!) as the Party of Evil, the party that sells out the citizens it's meant to protect by catering to greed, the party that divests people of rights rather than expands them (EXCEPT->), the party that absolutely needs to put AK 47s into people's hands with the least amount of oversight possible... These are not conservative, family-oriented, fiscally-responsible values. They are the politics of greed, intolerance, and discrimination. None of which are virtues. And I find this entirely intolerable coming from politicians who call themselves God-fearing Christians, because they go against Christian teachings. It's hypocrisy.

This isn't to say the Dems haven't committed their own sins, but it's the Republicans who are dead set against women achieving equity, it's Republican states that curtail the ability of poorer citizens to vote, it's the Republicans who campaign on revoking marriage equality and defunding the social net... If your policies are based on selfishness (i.e. the Objectivist argument), that is a path to evil. "Good" is based on helping others, not oneself. That's a baseline definition I cannot move away from, and it's how I judge policy. So I'm of Liam's mind here.

LiamKav said...

It's the "Christian" part that always astonishes me. I'm largely atheist these days, but most of what Jesus says is good advice. Be good to each other. Don't kill. Don't judge people harshly. It just amazes me the number of people who claim to be followers of the man who ate with lepers, who told people not to by hypocrits, who literally said (twice!) "rich people aren't getting in to heaven" can sometimes be the most judgemental, hypocritical, anti redistribution of money people there are.

(Still depressed. This plus Brexit had left me terrified both from a socially progressive POV, but also from a "how weak is Europe/NATO now against an emboldened Russia?" fear.)

Tony Laplume said...

The problem is really one of false equivalency, the protest movements of the '60s having so far outlived their usefulness that we no longer have any semblance of objectivity. The LGBTQ community, while traditionally marginalized, does not really represent today what black people have experienced in this country for hundreds of years. The black community itself has not experienced in recent years what it did fifty years ago. We refuse to admit we've had any progress, and this is a dangerously unstable mindset for those who are feeling betrayed today. It's just not true. Talk about opposing beliefs, we're a country where opposing beliefs have existed together from the very beginning, when Loyalists really did exist alongside Patriots across the thirteen colonies. Where it was dangerous actually led to Civil War, which is not going to happen here tomorrow, and neither will Trump turn into Hitler. That's nonsense rhetoric, scare tactics that have now been proven to fizzled somewhere along the way to the voting booth. Yet the people who bought into them are feeling terrible today, and that's the real problem. They seem to forget where they live, and for that I feel doubly sorry for them. They have more power to enact change today than ever before, without bloodshed, and this has been proven time and time again. But sometimes there's very little you can change about attitudes.

Bradley Walker said...

First, Hillary actually WON the popular vote. Unfortunately the electoral college is how the game is scored.

Second, if you think there's no difference between the parties, just wait until President Trump fills out the Supreme Court. Goodbye, Roe vs. Wade. Au revoir, voting rights act. Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, it's all on the table.

"Sometimes there's very little you can change about attitudes." Or as another blogger put it, "Hell hath no fury like entitlement scorned."

speedball said...

This reminds me. Any of the Hot or Not girls looking to get married to let an American into the country?

Siskoid said...

Sorry Speedball, they've declared no such intentions.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

LiamKav, I'm not quite sure what you're getting at. (Or at least, objecting to). Even in your example, for one side to have the law as they want it is for the other side to feel that something morally wrong is occurring. It's as simple as that. You may not agree with the validity of one of the positions (that's rather the nature of holding an opposing position), and see no valid reason for it (rest assured, the exact same is once again true on the opposite side), but I'm not talking about the morality of either side. I'm not talking about who's right and who's wrong. I'm simply talking about the basic equation- that what one side believes is right is quite literally monstrous to the other side, and vice-versa; that there is no option to satisfy both at the same time. You may believe that's because one party's demands are unreasonable (and again, they believe the same of you; that's the point), but regardless, it is what it is. The problem is, both of you are voters, both of you are countrymen, both of you are people. So without a way to at least live with each other, to keep from a constant act of vilification, every issue is going to become a war of all-out hatred, and the consequences are going to be... well, exactly what we're seeing.

And saying 'But the other side is WRONG, inherently,' is... exactly what I'm talking about in action. The point is not 'Reconcile with them once their beliefs become unrepugnant to you (and yours to them),' because that's not going to happen. The point is 'Reconcile with them even *though* their beliefs are repugnant to you (and yours to them), because we can't afford the consequences of the ongoing, polarizing hostility.' You're still going to think their beliefs are evil and nonsense; they're still going to think the same of you. But if we can't find a way to get around that, at least in the political dialoging, the way we relate to one-another, then we're not going to be able to prevent another 'Trump.' And another. And another. They're a natural result of the tension and vitriol reaching 'There is no place for your beliefs or you in all of society; your way of thinking must be wiped out!' levels, as they currently seem to be at.

LiamKav said...

But that's still proposing that both sides are evil. That's putting a man who thinks "its okay for rich men to grab a woman by the pussy because she can't say anything" next to a woman and asking them both to meet in the middle. Sometimes one side is wrong, and sometimes that side needs to be called out on it. They may have beliefs that say that women should be subordinate to men, that black people are an inferior race to white people, but those beliefs are incorrect, repugnant, and should be challenged at every opportunity.

So, to take equal marriage. Your argument hinges on the idea that "letting gay people marry" is as morally wrong to some people as "not letting gay people marry" is to others. But why is it morally wrong? How can you get to the point of denying something to some people and not others for no reason at all and call that moral? If someone wants to say "letting gay people marry would be monsterous" then he has to actually give a reason why he thinks that. It can't stand on its own.

(As an aside, I do think that city-folk/townies/whatever you want to call them have been guilty of looking down on country-folk for decades. I can understand why someone who grew up in a small town completely dependent on a single company that has now gone out of business and left everyone without a job would look at people from urban areas with anger and resentment. I can see why they'd be saying "I don't give a shit about whether people potty in the ladies or the gents. I just want a job like I used to have." Urban liberals have a lot to answer for in terms of being smug and elitist. You can understand where some of the "-isms" are coming from. But understanding doesn't mean you don't challenge and excuse them.)

Andrew Gilbertson said...

I'm sorry, I don't see where I was proposing that both sides are evil, or equivalent. I personally believe one side is right and the other is wrong as well. That isn't the point. The point is how two groups can relate to one another. I get that you don't find any validity in the reasons people hold for believing other than you do about marriage; I get that. I'm not trying to argue that with you; you've already stated that nothing can make you see their reasons as valid. And that's fine; whether you can see a point of commonality with these people- whether these people are right or wrong- is immaterial to the point I'm trying to make. The whole point is how you actually relate to those you think are horrifically wrong. And how they relate to you, from the other POV. The fact that both of you hold opposing views isn't meant to be a claim of relativism, or a statement on which is right or wrong. It's more simple than that; it is about how one American deals with another American that is, to them, horrifically wrong, and that's a principle that applies equally to the person who is the most 'absolutely, perfectly right' in the entire country, and the person who is the most 'absolutely, horribly wrong.' Because it isn't about the actual positions- that's a whole separate issue. It's about you deal with the gaps between them. (And whether you agree or disagree with what I say about it, I'll make this my final word on it, lest we end up going around in circles for all eternity.)


What I'm saying is that the guy who holds reasons you believe are nonsense about marriage, and you, who holds beliefs about marriage that are nonsense to the other guy, both have a vote in electing leaders. It doesn't matter that you think his reasons are worthless; he still has a vote. It doesn't matter that he thinks your reasons are worthless; you still have a vote. What you think of the other guy's beliefs are beside the point. The point is how you (universal you; a.k.a. 'how people') dialogue, whether you choose to vilify and attack, whether you choose to lead with your revulsion and hatred and determination that the opposing viewpoint must be eradicated from society. Or whether- despite an equally strong disagreement- you choose to dialogue in a respectful manner, seek to understand the other party (even if you will absolutely never agree with them), engage in a fervent defense of what you believe is right without resulting to vitriol against those you believe is wrong.


Because as long as the discourse doesn't rise above "But you don't understand, the other guy is WRONG, so he must be belittled and attacked and aggressively insulted, because civility to someone we disagree with is not an option," then this syndrome is going to persist. You are going to get a right that feels like the left is trying to wipe it out, and a left that feels like the right is trying to wipe it out, and fear and resentment driving each to look for the best warrior they can in that ongoing crusade to eradicate all opposing views. This is going to happen again. And getting hung up on 'But you don't get it, his position is WRONG' is missing the need for changing communication by hanging onto what's being communicated about, and using it as a justification to go on communicating the same way.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

Pt. 2:

Think about it this way: at the height of the Cold War, the US and Russia certainly both seemed to hate the other's guts. They didn't agree with each other any more than you do with people who hold a different position on marriage. If you'd asked them to be conciliatory, to engage in civil rather than vitriolic discourse, the response may well have been 'But you don't understand, they are awful people and they're wrong.' At the same time, they knew that if things descended into slinging nukes, everybody lost. So despite not actually changing their opinion or the strength of their conviction on how absolutely wrong the other was, they still pulled back from open war. They found diplomacy; they held an uneasy peace. Not because they decided 'Oh, the other guy isn't so bad,' but in *spite* of the fact that they still believed otherwise. And not because the rival nation was something either of them wanted to embrace, but because they knew that the consequences of mounting hostility- no matter how justified that hostility felt- would destroy them all.


That's where we're at. Depending on how you want to view the metaphor (and how the ext 4 years unfold), Trump is either the Cuban Missile crisis, or the first nuke itself. But either way, it's a warning to us- if we just keep up with the hate and the vitriol because we deem it justified by the other side, then this is how it's going to go. Back and forth. Until, like 'Let That Be Your Last Battlefield' from TOS, our hatred of each other amidst the cinders of what we used to have is all that we have left.

Siskoid said...

To reduce the whole argument to its simplest, I think what you're driving it is that the middle ground where the two sides meet should be in education. Both sides of any coin (whether Right/Left, Black/White, Urban/Rural, etc.) must come to understand where the other is coming from to even start untangling misunderstandings, whether that misunderstanding is "country folk are dumb" or "gay people are predators".

Unfortunately, we have devalued education in North America, and catered to the school bully much more than that the smart kid. We have celebrated ignorance and superstition, condemned the educated as an "elite", and cut funding on education at all levels (unless you're rich, then you have no problem and continue to exploit the class system to your advantage).

But even outside the classroom, we could all strive to meet that challenge, talk things through, challenge assumptions in (at once) a reasoned and compassionate way, and stay open to being convinced by another's arguments.

Siskoid said...

Of for people who came in to see Tintin get hit in the head... He's Belgium's Hal Jordan. Discuss.

Metal Mikey said...

All I know is after these past two days in the States, I'm itching to record about an issue of Justice League of America that's about tolerance, I've ordered a blu-ray set of Batman '66, and stocked up on some liquor.

The USA, and the world, won't fall into apocalypse, and Trump won't rule as an absolute Lord and Master, but damn... What a headache these next four years will be. Just be sure to save us American citizens plenty of poutine as comfort food when we visit for a breather.

Anonymous said...

If you're a white person in America, you're going to have plenty of opportunities to stand up for the right thing, or let the wrong thing go unchallenged in the next few years.

If you want to be at all like the characters you admire in comics, you'll stand up for the right hting. Yeah that's probably going to make you unpopular with some of the people in your life. The question is, do you have the guts to do the right thing?

There are already reports of swastikas being spraypainted in Philadelphia, middle school kids being picked on for Mexican ancestry, and black women being harassed by groups of white guys. If you're just going to make excuses for them, you're no better than they are.

Be better.

Siskoid said...

Moral outrage must be expressed then and there, and firmly, as the bigots will often be cowed by a group consensus, which leadership brings. You won't gain in popularity, but in respect, and it WILL change minds and attitudes.

This was based on a true story. Mine. Of course, I don't live in an area where people are allowed to carry guns, so I may feel more secure than others. Be safe, whatever you do.

LiamKav said...

I used to hang out on a Star Trek message board back in the last 90s. There was a home schooled ultra Republican kid on there. Believed the Earth was 4,000 years old, that gay people should just try not being gay, that if a business does great then all the little people all do great. We got into constant arguments with him. Constant. I honestly don't know why he stayed around. Maybe the conversations about the new First Contact ship designs were just that interesting. Anyway, I see him now on Facebook. He's done a complete 180. So it does happen. I just wish I knew a better way than shouting at someone for 3 years and hoping he doesn't just double-down.

I do get what Andrew is saying. What's needed is dialogue. But compromise doesn't mean anything when one side refuses to move. And in some cases (again, equal marriage) there isn't a middle ground.

Person A: "I, a man, would like to marry by boyfriend, who I love."
Person B: "I don't think you should be allowed to marry someone of the same sex as you."

There's no compromise there. You either agree with it, or not.

Siskoid said...

Liam's example has the benefit of being about separate realities. Who I marry has nothing to do with you. Just like my religion has nothing to do with you. Curtailing ANOTHER'S rights when those rights are exclusive to anyone else's reality isn't something that needs to be a compromise.

To use my religious example, no one would be asked to find a compromise between one person's Catholicim and another's atheism. "You can have your service, but you can't have confession." Because the atheist in the story really shouldn't care less what happens inside another person's faith.

LiamKav said...

To be sure, the hardcore Tumblr atheist is at least as annoying as the hardcore religious guy.

 

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