George Santayana is famous for coining the phrase “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Considering the preponderance of Americans who ignore that golden truth, he should be even more renowned for saying “I told you so!” Moreover, after Tuesday night’s Presidential election, were he still around to witness the outcome, he’d be shouting it in a purely bipartisan voice.
On the one hand you have white people, mostly the rural-based or working class variety, both men and women, who feel left behind by a government striving to address all Americans. Donald Trump spoke to their loneliness. He stroked their damaged egos like so many house cats who have run home after being chased by the neighbor’s dog. They purred. He said he would return America to the good times they remembered. He would make it great again. They elected him President, and gave him a Republican majority in both Houses to do as he
Never mind it’s been Republicans writing the laws which have left their demographic out in the cold for the greater part of the past quarter-century, and obstructing legislation that would have helped them. Even before then it was Reagan who began dismantling labor unions with his actions against striking air traffic controllers. Successive conservative majorities have followed his lead to the point where the only powerful representatives for any trade are police unions who shield officers involved in excessive force cases to the point investigations are toothless, and reform to hold the trigger-happy, jack-booted thugs among them accountable is virtually impossible.
Who in their right mind loses their right hand to a hungry lion then tries to feed him more meat with the left? Another sage philosopher had a saying for this. “Stupid is as stupid does.”
Forrest Gump and George Santayana’s words aren’t limited to Trumpists, however. They also apply to the Democratic candidate and many of her followers. After a primary campaign, during which hacked emails confirmed suspected bias for one candidate by those in charge at the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton added recently pressured to resign Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz to her campaign staff, leaving young Bernie Sanders supporters, who could have been the next generation of Democrats, feeling betrayed. One has to wonder whether the many Clinton supporters who criticized Bernie-bots for being poor losers and not getting on board the Hillary Train recognize the irony in their #NotMyPresident protests and conservative derision thereof.
Clinton also proved surprisingly adept at shooting herself in the foot for a staunch gun control advocate. Whether or not she was especially proud to have Mitt Romney announce his support for her candidacy, she probably should not have emulated his “47%” remark without anticipating a similar backlash. Equating historically disenfranchised minorities seeking help from their government with a far more recently disenfranchised majority who want to see other demographics denied entry or expelled from the US is admittedly ridiculous from an ideological perspective. Yet, the two groups have one thing in common. Neither takes criticism well.
Call the first set moochers, they will vote for your opponent out of spite, if solidarity wasn’t sufficient motivation. Call the second lot deplorable and, sorry to disturb your peaceful repose, George, but it should be no shock when history repeats itself.
So, here we are. Because the various ethnic, intellectual, sexually oriented, and spiritual varieties of working and middle class, who share far more common interest among themelves than with the wealthy and influential, cannot find sufficient grudging trust for their fellows to see they are being pitted against one another by the elite class, we have potentially sold away our rights, and definitely our dignity. If, in reading this, you turn to point blame at your neighbor, only to discover them doing the same to you, I fervently hope you’ll come to realize, while there still may be time, you’re both right.